Thinking About a Post

I don’t know how many people will have heard about ‘The Iron Triangle’. I was thinking about writing a post about it, but I have been too busy today to do the necessary homework. Maybe tomorrow night…….

In the meantime, I hope that readers are not bored by ‘The Curing Box”.

JB from Ireland and I have been working together to create a baccy flue-curing chamber which works as near perfectly as possible. If the system works, the it is possible to produce smokable tobacco in around five days. She has been using an old chest freezer, while I have built a box out of white chipboard which used to be a wardrobe. JB’s freezer is roughly around 4′ x 3′ x 2’, or thereabouts; my box is 40″ high x 20″ long x 17″ wide. She tends to have a lot of leaves maturing at the same time, and thus needs more space, whereas my leaves tend to mature over a longer time-scale, so that I can take leaves a few at a time. A ‘lot’ of leaves in this context is around 100 – a ‘few’ is around 30.

Since I posted this pic:

2014-08-17 16.07.29

Since I took that pic, I’ve insulated it with scraps of polystyrene which I had in the garage. It is all very ‘Heath Robinson’ at the moment. (I was going to put hinges on the ‘flap’ (bottom front) and the lid, but I’ve decided not to bother – it’s easier just to shift them, and that is not often required)

Very briefly, on the base of the box is an electric ‘slow cooker’ (aka, crock pot). It seems to have two electric heating elements so that it can be operated on a ‘low’ setting or on a ‘high’ setting. As far as I know, it has no thermostat control. It is essentially a simple device which you can use to gently cook food over several hours. Excess heat is dissipated to atmosphere.

It’s ‘gentleness’ is what makes it perfect for our purpose because we want heat levels of only 35ºC at first, and only 65ºC later on (with the possible need for somewhat higher temperatures at the end of the process). There is no danger from having it switched on with nothing in the pot.

A minimum requirement is a thermostat to switch the cooker on and off. Here is a pic:

2014-08-20 01.05.00

The thin black wire is the probe. When the probe ‘senses’ that the temp is 35ºC where it is positioned inside the box, the thermostat switches off the power. I have the ‘difference’ set to 1ºC, so that, when the temp falls to 34C, the stat switches the power back on. Simple but perfect.

Again briefly, the ‘fermentation’ of the leaves (turning starches into sugars) takes place, ideally, between around 30C and 40C, and takes around 3 days. During the ‘fermenting’, the leaves turn from green to yellow. But the leaves do not have to be at 30C/40C to turn yellow! But they will not ferment unless they are between 30 and 40! You see the problem? In the old days in the mid 1800s, it was the experience of curers of tobacco which dictated processes. Needless to say, Universities got in on the act and started to dictate – precisely how hot should a barn be; precisely how damp should it be; precisely how should the ventilation be controlled; precisely how much fuel should be used to heat the barns, etc. These ‘studies’ became ‘the knowledge’, but I wonder how many experienced curers of tobacco took any notice?

Needless to say, there are lots of complexities, but not in the machinery. The complexities revolve around the maturity of the leaves, their size, their number in the cabinet, venting, premature drying of the extremities of the leaves, and so on. Lots of them.


So we have been conducting experiments. JB says that a specific leaf produced a pleasant smoke. That leaf was in a specific state of yellowness, having been subjected to the right temperature for the right period of time and dried correctly.

Now, this might sound as though the prospect of correctly curing works with only one leaf out of a dozen! No!!!! It is a matter of finding out how your particular ‘curing chamber’ works best!

Mine has produced a mix of about 50/50, so far. Half of the leaves are as perfectly yellow as possible, and have been cured at the perfect temperature, but the other half are rather browner than they should be, and, possibly, have ‘over-fermented’, even at the temperature of 35ºC. That depends upon the state of the individual leaves.

Are we describing an impossible situation? Certainly not! We are learning to pick leaves which are more or less in the same ‘state’ (of pale greenness, for example), and to place them in the cabinet in the best position, depending upon their size. Or, in my case, to towel them according to size and maturity. It is not difficult – it is a matter of understanding and experience. Thus, to be sure that I am correctly understood, I used to just pick leaves indiscriminately. Now, I look at their ‘condition’ in the first place. I pick leaves according to their condition, and then sort them out for towelling according to their size. It is very easy, once you know what you are doing.


Enough. But is there not something in these experiences which can be applied in other areas? For example, take the ‘Doctors Study’. Doll et al took the simple path of counting the number of dead doctors and the cause of their deaths, and drew conclusions that condemned the enjoyment of tobacco. Their methods of gaining information were simple enough  – death certificates and enquires derived therefrom, but only to confirm that lung cancer deaths were definitely so (whether they were or not).  But, as we have seen in the above about curing tobacco, there is not one single FACTOR involved in anything. When a person dies, it is not from one single factor (apart from bullets and accidents).

The WHO, acting on the directions of ‘THE ELITE’ (aka Doll et al), put it about that only ONE FACTOR caused LC – tobacco, and upon that ONE FACTOR has been built the whole, massively expensive, citadel of ‘The Tobacco Control Industry’ and its offshoots.

Is there an answer?

Well, at the moment, No. That is because of the ‘Iron Triangle’. More about that tomorrow – hopefully.



4 Responses to “Thinking About a Post”

  1. woodsy42 Says:

    In the old days when needing a warm box (eg for wine fermentation in a cupboard) one could use a 100w light bulb, might be easier and cheaper than a slow cooker.

    • Junican Says:

      I read about that somewhere. The propagator also worked. The problem with those devices has been lack of consistency. Using the box is giving me very consistent yellowing of the leaves. The drying is not quite right yet – some inconsistencies still there, but they are not as bad, and I’m fairly sure that I can sort them out.

  2. brainyfurball Says:

    I have been bad: I nicked your idea about the iron triangle and posted it on Facebook – Actually I could not steal it because you have not written it yet. however that is just a technicality… Here is the post… I am feeling guilty and will take it down if you wish.

    • Junican Says:

      No problem whatsoever! I got the idea myself from someone else.
      “All in it together”.

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