Blunt wraps or simply "Blunts"
have been around for a few years. Their origin can be traced to the alternate
"herbal" market sector which includes some head shops - yes, there are a few
left. Before there were actual manufacturers of these tobacco by-product wrappers, users
would seek out cheap grocery store cigars, split the outer tobacco wrapper, throw away the innards, rolling whatever was their pleasure inside.
This practice was almost never enjoyed by tobacco users with most folks using this
technique for smoking herbs of all kinds both legal and illicit. There are at least a
dozen or so brands of these newer products and the list is growing but the viability of
the blunt market, particularly as it addresses tobacco use, is not yet clear. In fact,
most within the tobacco industry consider them to almost never be used for tobacco. We
felt that such beliefs were a bit premature and decided to see for ourselves the
possibilities and practicalities of these increasingly popular wrappers. We emphasize popular
because it is necessary to understand the economics of small tobacco retail shops in order
to accurately evaluate this
category. The fact is that most small shops are sorely tempted to sell glass pipes,
screens, and many other "alternative" market items in order to service the wide
audience these things attract and to bolster sagging profits due to excessive state
tobacco taxation and other restrictive legislation.
Last time we covered a number of blunt wraps, some more suited for tobacco use than others. This time we will look at a few new entries and discuss further the future of blunts as a viable tobacco accessory.
Some of the blunts we tested last time with TOBACCO actually provided a pretty nice smoking experience. One of the finest and more in the tradition of the rolling paper continues to be Golden Wrap from Republic Tobacco (www.allinthepapers.com). This particular paper comes in regular and cognac flavor and is generally accepted as very nice for wrapping tobacco in order to achieve that slightly stronger, cigarillo-like flavor that most of the legitimate blunt wrap market is striving for. They are much less expensive than true blunt wraps and have adhesive strips to aid in their rolling. We have successfully used these products in hand-rollers and can consistently make beautiful brown wrapped cigarettes like shown at above. The fact that they have adhesive is an important part of what we think the blunt market must incorporate to be viewed as a true tobacco appliance. This brings up an interesting subject that we will talk about in a moment, but first we need to revisit the Kardel Blunts we reviewed last time.
Kardel has made a concerted effort to create a wrap that is specifically for the tobacco market. They achieved this by making their wraps very thin and pliable which aid in their use in hand rollers. We have yet to see a decent looking tobacco cigarette stick made from any true blunt wrap that was hand rolled. Most blunts are too thick to work well in hand rolling machines and they are simply not that easy to work with for finished looking tobacco sticks. The Kardel, as you can see above, makes a very nice stick and adds a bit more tobacco flavor as well as a number of flavorings to the stick. The only thing it lacks is an adhesive strip, but as they come in a sealed pouch and are pretty moist, this is not as big a problem as with some wraps. Still we would like to see Kardel take the ultimate step towards tobacco specific use by adding such a strip. The Kardel flavors are wonderful and do add a nice ambience to the smoke. We are not great fans of flavored cigarettes but a large market for such things already exists and it is possible that this market can be increased considerably with the right products.
Randy's (of Randy's Wired Papers ) has finally marketed their new Connecticut Shade tobacco wrapper we alluded to in our last issue and it is a truly outstanding product. They opted not to produce a 70 mm wrap, but instead started with a 79mm and will have a 100 mm soon. This wrap is unlike anything else we have seen on the market. It is a true 100% leaf of tobacco, and some of the finest you will find, even when compared with many premium cigar wrappers. Ken Solomon at Randy's was determined to produce a product that was unique in its ability to make the creation of an authentic small cigar/cigarillo that one could smoke like a cigarette but with the added ambience of a great tasting tobacco wrapper. The samples we received were outstanding. As we said earlier about the Kardel blunt, we feel this wrap would do better to have an adhesive (gummed) strip. We were able to make some really nice sticks but it did take a little time to get them to stick together. I have watched cigar makers create sticks and they use an adhesive substance (don't know what it is) either from a dish or from a sponge like tool when they are applying the final wrapper to the cigar. The Randy's Urban Wrap is a moist leaf, but not as moist as the Kardel and it needs quite a bit of licking or wetting to stick. The sample we show at right was produced pretty easily but an adhesive, gummed edge would make this product instantly acceptable and usable to the vast number of tobacco enthusiasts who are looking for a true upscale tobacco flavor.
With all the talk about adhesive, we have discovered that a patent exists (there are actually dozens of patents on tobacco wraps of one sort or another dating back as far as 1877). Many of the patents we looked at are similar with small variations as to use and assembly. Our interest in the patents of these items was aroused when we were contacted by Robbie Garner of Bozak Corporation who holds the most current patent on an adhesive blunt wrap. He wanted us to try his Bozak Cigarillo Sheet. There is only one newer patent that references blunts, but concentrates more on the little straw or stick that comes with some blunts like BluntWrap USA (who holds this patent). The straw is used to maintain the rolled shape of the wraps and to somehow help you fill the finished roll. Interestingly enough, some of the other patents actually imply a wrap that can be smoked by itself with no filler added. Bozak and Robbie Garner instead concentrated, in his patent, on the adhesive strip and the fact that the wrap would be filled with tobacco. The patent drawings actually show a finished rolled stick. His sheets accomplish this quite nicely. These are not 100% tobacco wraps like Randy's but are tasty and have several flavors in the offing. Frankly, it seems to us that the patent issue in many cases are rather whimsical at best and some are so similar that we are surprised they survived the patent research process. Nonetheless, Bozak's patent addresses specifically the issue of adhesive strips and therefore we would recommend both Randy's and Kardel work with Bozak to create a true tobacco use wrap that will work in hand-rolling machines as well as any rolling paper and that will enjoy the added advantage of a patented design. When a product of this sort is finally produced, we are confident that the tobacco industry will look at the blunt (tobacco wrap) in an entirely different light and the consumer will have a product that is efficacious for rolling their favorite tobaccos with some true panache.
HBI continues to produce more and more products (they are so prolific that it is often difficult to keep up with all of their new stuff). Some of their latest include more entries into the blunt wrap market. Their latest blunts are called ZEN Wraps, trading wisely on the successful ZEN name line of products. The wraps are a bit thicker than the ones reviewed above but are much nicer and more effective for rolling tobacco into cigarillo style sticks than most of their competitors. They also, as mentioned, benefit from the ZEN name brand and, therefore, have a built in visibility factor that gives companies great advantage in niche markets. The Berry ones shown at left are but one of many flavors available and they are deliciously aromatic. The Vanilla, Chocolate, Cognac, Honey, Passion (I assume the fruit), and Watermelon are all true to their stated tastes and, if moistened sufficiently, will work in a rolling machine. They are longer than 110 mm so they will have to be cut slightly to fit. Also from HBI are a line of papers we have looked at before, namely Cool Jays. The latest "Jays" are Orange and Raspberry. Both are absolutely delicious to chew on and I am sure that if one likes a sweet, fruity flavored smoke, these will not disappoint. Because of the huge number of products the folks at HBI have created, we suggest you go to one of their websites like www.zensmoke.com, (see their banner ad at the bottom of this page) so you can see for yourself all of the options. Many online and brick and mortar retailers sell HBI products and they are priced reasonably across the product line.
In our Filter Tube Section, we covered a new brand of filter tips from The Sheffield Exchange, www.sheffieldexchange.com, their Wilson's of Sharrow brand product. They also have a rolling paper by the same name. While it is a single wide 70mm paper and every bit as good as many other papers, what is remarkable is that this paper will likely come into the market at VERY competitive prices. We have noted in other issues that rolling papers in the US are very expensive when compared with the same products in Canada and Europe. Well, Sheffield evidently intends to do something about that and this new paper is the start of what we hope will be an increasing effort to make US rolling paper prices, at least for the straightforward designs, a little more wallet friendly.
We conclude this issue's Rolling Papers Section with an update on a product we reviewed last time. We got so much positive (an understatement) email from those who managed to find it, and even more from those who could not, that we felt it necessary to be more specific as to the source. The product is the Amico Sweet Palm Wraps and they can be found at Ziggymart( www.ziggymart.com ). They have the sweetest fruity taste imaginable and are quite well suited for tobacco if you don't mind stuffing your blend into the pre-made tube with the wooden stick provided. I like to suck on them when I am in an environment where smoking is prohibited - you know . . . everywhere, but outdoors. See the previous issue (April/July 2002) for more info and our review of them, or contact Ziggymart at the website above to get them. They are a true taste treat.
Well that is about it for now. If you have a rolling paper that we have missed (there are probably quite a few) and that you feel is worthy of a review, let us know. If you are a manufacturer of such a paper, send us some. We don't pretend to know everything and are daily and gratefully surprised by new items. Go to our Contact page and email, write, or send us your samples. We value our readers for the incredible resource that they are. - the ed.
Each issue we are increasingly gratified at the emergence of new, exciting products of innovative design and packaging. After all, as the RYO/MYO market grows it is these interesting products that exhibit some flair and style that will help their entry into the mainstream of tobacco enthusiasts. However, as we made note of above, the pricing of rolling papers in the US is becoming somewhat of an issue with our readers and even some distributors. We hear more and more that prices in other countries are substantially lower than those charged for the same products in the US. We hope this situation is not a long term problem and has a reasonable and legal (non anti-trust) explanation. We will cover in a future issue more of what we are able to determine as to the reasons for this apparent and potentially disturbing anomaly. - Doug
|EDITOR'S NOTE: These reviews are solely for the convenience of people of legal age who already smoke, are trying to cut down on smoking, wish to spend less money on their smoking, want to roll their own cigarettes from high quality tobacco, and, in general, wish to have a far more satisfying, and economical smoking experience when compared with smoking pre-manufactured cigarettes. We, in no way, encourage people to smoke. Further, we prescribe to a sane, more logical approach to smoking that involves common sense as to quantity coupled with a strong desire to manage the habit until it becomes an occasional, freely chosen, diversion, that can be fully enjoyed with minimal health risks. Finally, we strongly encourage those who do smoke to take it outdoors, or to appropriate environments where tobacco can be enjoyed away from those who do not smoke, most especially children. We do not sell tobacco or related products from this site; We distribute information about our perceptions of the quality of what is available and where it can be obtained. If you are under 18, it is illegal to buy tobacco and you should immediately exit this site. If you do not smoke, it would seem illogical to start.|
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