When we think about tobacco products, we typically think of cigarettes. And, while these are certainly one of the most common tobacco products on the market, they’re not made from pure tobacco the way that you might think.
In fact, cigarettes are actually made using something called reconstituted tobacco leaves, or RTLs. While there’s certainly some pure tobacco in cigarettes, reconstituted tobacco helps to subsidize the rest of the tobacco and make better cigarettes.
If you’re a fan of cigarettes and don’t know much about reconstituted tobacco leaves, read on! We’re here to walk you through what these are and how they affect your cigarettes.
How Is Tobacco Produced?
Before we dive into how to use reconstituted tobacco leaves and what makes them different, let’s talk about tobacco in general. That way, you’ll have a better understanding of what sets pure tobacco apart from reconstituted tobacco.
Tobacco plants are quite large. In fact, the leaves of the plant actually grow to be about 24 inches in size. This plant comes in three different varieties:
- Oriental tobacco
- Virginia tobacco
- Burley tobacco
Each type of tobacco is harvested a little bit differently. Burley tobacco farmers harvest the entire plant. In contrast, only the leaves of Virginia and Oriental tobacco are harvested.
After the harvest, the plant is sent off to get cured. The taste of the tobacco depends greatly on the way that the farmer chooses to cure the plant. Just like the harvest process, each variety of tobacco is cured differently:
- Burley tobacco is usually air-cured in a barn. This process takes roughly two months.
- Virginia tobacco is flue-cured using a steady stream of hot air. This process takes about 4 to 6 days.
- Oriental tobacco is usually cured in the sun. This process takes between 12 and 30 days.
Once the farmer has finished curing the tobacco, it gets processed one last time. During this phase, any contaminants and non-tobacco materials are removed from the tobacco.
On top of that, all the parts of the tobacco except the leaf are removed. These stems, roots, and other non-leaf parts of the plant get turned into reconstituted tobacco.
How Is Tobacco Made Into Cigarettes?
Now that you know how tobacco is produced, let’s talk about what’s in a cigarette. Have you ever taken a cigarette and unrolled it? If so, you’ll have seen a dark material that resembles coffee grounds. This material is almost entirely reconstituted tobacco leaves.
At the very end of the cigarette, you’ll see a little bit of pure tobacco. This pure tobacco gets rolled into the cigarette along with the reconstituted leaves. The mixture then is wrapped in paper with burn rings to help slow the burn of the cigarette.
The tips of the cigarette have ventilation holes and a filter. These parts of the cigarette help to control how much air gets into the cigarette.
What Are Reconstituted Tobacco Leaves?
So, you understand how tobacco is produced and what goes into cigarettes. But, we still haven’t talked about what reconstituted tobacco leaves are. Let’s dive in!
Reconstituted tobacco leaves are the pieces of the tobacco plant that are leftover during the production phase. Reconstituted tobacco leaves include leaf scraps and stems that remain after the farmer strips the tobacco leaves.
The reason why these are so important to tobacco products is that they help limit waste in the manufacturing process. Plus, they also mean that less tobacco dust is produced when manufacturing tobacco.
What Are the Different Types of Reconstituted Tobacco?
Reconstituted tobacco can be made in a few different ways. There are three primary methods for doing so:
- Nano-fiber process
- Papermaking process
- Slurry process
Each type is made slightly differently. Once again, the taste of the cigarette will vary depending on how the reconstituted tobacco was made.
In the nano-fiber process, manufacturers start by grinding the tobacco and removing debris and contaminants. Then, they mix the tobacco in a solid, liquid, and turbo mixing. Afterward, the manufacturers laminate the tobacco, dry it, cut it, and pack it.
In the papermaking process, manufacturers grind the tobacco and mix it with water. Then, the fibers are turned into laminated paper. After this, the manufacturers spray the fibers with the tobacco water mix to add the reconstituted tobacco back to the sheets.
In the slurry process, the fiber and solubles are kept together and mixed into water together. This creates a slurry that is spread out and dried to create the reconstituted tobacco sheets.
How Is Reconstituted Tobacco Used?
Reconstituted tobacco leaves are important for creating high-quality cigarettes. There are a few different reasons for this.
For one, sheets of reconstituted tobacco are much easier to roll into a smooth cigarette shape. Pure tobacco is much harder to roll up consistently, giving the cigarettes a lumpy appearance. With the sheets, however, you get smooth and easy-to-pack cigarettes.
On top of that, reconstituted tobacco leaves help control component ratios. Manufacturers carefully control how much sugar and other ingredients end up in a cigarette by monitoring how much is present in the reconstituted tobacco sheets.
Finally, reconstituted tobacco helps manufacturers reduce waste. They provide a way for people to create cigarettes more economically.
Reconstituted Leaves Complete Your Tobacco Products
The bottom line on reconstituted tobacco leaves is that they’re an essential part of your tobacco products. Without them, a lot of waste is produced, the cigarettes lose their quality, and the component ratios are thrown off.
If you’re interested in ordering high-quality tobacco products to create your own cigarettes, be sure to check out Star Tobacco. We grow unrivaled tobacco that gives your products a unique flavor.