Not often, fortunately, but on rare occasions, I get tins from consignors delivered to me that either I can’t sell due to problems with the tin, or, that have been returned because the buyer found a problem that I did not see. Such was the case not too long ago with an almost two decades old 100g tin of McClelland’s Dark Star (factory date stamped to 2000). As most of you know, Dark Star is a flake tobacco and in tins with some air rather than vacuum sealed it’s difficult to tell whether there’s an issue because all air filled tins of flake tobacco have some shake. One of the things I do is chart the weight of literally hundreds of different blends so that I can weigh them if I am suspicious. As an example, a solid 100g tin of Dark Star should weigh approximately 5.7 ounces. This dried out tin of Dark Star weighed 4.6 ounces.
Tins with dark outer wrap such as the Dark Star, cause additional problems because you can’t see the rust bleed through like you can with a light colored wrap. And with rust, that stuff is kind of like the chicken pox, once the rusting process begins it spreads fast!
With this bad tin of Dark Star, I could see the problem immediately when I took off the outer plastic lid. In this photo you will notice there is a crease along the inner seam that had opened. That’s where the air got in, dried out the tobacco and allowed the rusting process to begin which went on for years.
I then took a photo of the inner walls with the dried out tobacco chunks still inside. After dumping the very dry contents into a trash can I took another photo of the empty tin after removing a couple of pieces of the inner wall lining which was very brittle due to all the rust. Not a pretty sight!
I did debate whether to do this blog. After all, I don’t want my Dark Star tin sales to go into the tank, but thought it would be interesting to share.
I am often asked what the best way to store tinned tobacco is. There is no question in my mind but that storing your tobacco in a cool, dry and dark place is the best answer. A sealed tin will last for many decades that way. If you store your tobacco in your garage or another non climate controlled area, the temperature variations in most climates will eventually cause issues with many tins. Some people say they immediately transfer their tinned tobaccos to Mason Jars. I am not a proponent of that unless you plan on smoking all of the contents quickly. Each time you open a Mason Jar to get some tobacco out to smoke, there is a transference of air and the aging process is then retarded as the fermented gassy air leaves the jar. Additionally, when the new air enters the jar that is an opportunity for the contents to dry out further. If you are going to do the Mason Jar thing, use small jars unless you are planning on long term storage. And do leave them out of sunlight!
What I do when opening a tin of tobacco that I know I will smoke only infrequently, is to to get just enough out to fill my pipe and then transfer the remaining contents to a 4 oz Mason Jar, label it, and put it back in one of my Coleman Coolers for transfer back to my off-site climate controlled storage building. If I were not a seller of tobaccos, I’d do the same thing except put the Coleman Cooler in a cool, dry closet in my home.
Good smokes to all!