The Tobacco Cellar … The Proper Method of Storing Pipe Tobacco

I recall listening, as a boy (often with far less
appreciation than I now possess almost 50 years later),

to my grandma and grandpa’s instruction and examples
on all aspects of husbandry in the house and garden,

and am deeply saddened that the Edwardian sensibility
– the insistence upon effort and diligence –
which they passed on to me, has been supplanted

by modern “innovations” designed to appeal
to the gross laziness of the 21st century.

In the matter of storing perishable provisions,
personal opinion does NOT enter into consideration:

There is a Right way.

And a host of Wrongs ways.

And pipe tobacco is certainly no exception.


Quality pipe tobacco is supplied in tins of
50- or 100 grams which are sealed, in the factory,
in a 40% vacuum.

Provided that that seal is never broken,
this will keep the tobacco from deteriorating
for a decade, at least.

It is ONLY upon opening the tin,
that thoughts need to be given
to proper tobacco storage.

Would you listen to me if I pass on to you
an essential principle about the STORAGE OF
PERISHABLE food and ingestible ingredients
which most definitely includes pipe tobacco?

The medium for that storage … is GLASS.

Just glass.

Only Glass.

Not plastic,
Not zip-seal bags,
Not ‘air-tight’ containers,
or any other modern “innovation” …


Around the time that I had had enough, and left it,
I had seen the most outrageous assertions advocated
on YouTube – that platform of the “Instant Expert” –

one of which, advocated that various samples
of tobacco may be placed in sealable bags,
and stuffed – together – into one large jar.

The absurdity of such a suggestion beggars belief,
exhausting, as it does, any supply of reason.

It is ludicrous.

Multiple bags of varying tobacco …
placed together in a large closed jar
… will “ghost” each other …

that is to say, the disparate aromas
will contaminate the tobacco samples around it,
and the individual flavours and aromas
will be corrupted.

Without sickening myself to recall any other
novelties of “advice”, permit me to simply
recommend emphatically, that you use

ONE sealable, sterilised GLASS jar
for EACH type of tobacco.


Purchase SMALL sealing (or, canning) jars

– small, as opposed to larger sized,
because each time you open the lid of that jar,
more air is allowed in

which will further speed up the potential drying
or spoiling of the tobacco.

It is far better to have the contents of
an opened 100g tin
stored in two small jars
of (approximately) 50g each;

than one larger jar which will take all 100g.

This way, only half the tobacco will be disturbed
with each opening; rather having than the whole
quantity subjected to constant opening
and closing of the storage jar.

Canning jars are often sold in a cardboard box
– the top of which, is either glued flaps
to make the box complete; or a top consisting
of stretched plastic.


A word about hygiene seems, tragically, to be in order:

I had presented this method for tobacco storage
in a video, on YouTube, in 2009,
and am presenting it once again
to offer an alternative to the bizarre “advice”
that not only floods YouTube particularly,

but even displays a cavalier attitude towards
– incredibly – even basic hygiene.

You may well choose to enter into a supermarket,
purchase a knife, fork, and spoon;
go home;
take the items from the shopping bag,
and immediately commence to eat
with those utensils …

For me, the very idea is repellent.

Does it really have to be pointed out that,
before any item arrives in your shopping bag,
it has sat on a shelf;

been fingered and poked by dear-knows
how many people;

has been transported in lorries, trains,
or aeroplanes;

and before all that,

has sat in factory shelves and storage warehouses
for weeks, months, or years.

Dust, Dust Mites, Lice, Flies, and Spiders can all
work their way into just about any conceivable
space, hole, or opening.

As can the dripping urine of Mice and Rats.

Surely ( – surely ??? ) common sense
would reveal that much?

When canning jars are purchased,
remove them from their box …
AND effectively STERILISE THEM !!!

If not for the patently obvious (to anyone
possessing a sense of hygiene) reason,

then, because pipe tobacco carries
a fragrance all its own – an aroma and flavour
which will not combine favourably
with any thin film of dust, or air-borne grease
that might well coat the inside of the jars.

Just because jars are boxed and then
shrink-wrapped in a factory, does not mean
that this is done in a sterile environment;
or that jars have not sat overnight, or over a weekend,
waiting to be wrapped by the next ‘shift’.

Regardless of Any of This – WHY
(other than sheer laziness) would anyone

refuse to personally wash and sterilise ANY container

that will hold something which you will eat, drink,
or place in your mouth?

Thoroughly CLEANING Jars

Set your home oven to the Minimum baking temperature
(usually, about 125 degrees).

Using care, or tongs, or both, take jars and lids,
and wash thoroughly in boiling hot water

– use HAND SOAP in the water, as opposed to
dishwashing soap: the hand soap will rinse more cleanly.

As each jar is washed out in the hot, soapy water,
run it under a cold tap to thoroughly rinse out
all soapy water;

Place on a drying rack until all jars
are washed and rinsed.

The oven should now be up to temperature.

AS quickly (and carefully) as possible,
place each of the glass jars into the oven.

Close the Oven door.

Turn the heat OFF. OFF !

LEAVE the jars to heat and dry thoroughly
in the (slowly cooling) oven for three or four hours.

DO NOT open the oven door …

allow oven and jars
to cool GRADUALLY to room temperature.

Taking heated jars from a warm oven
will only result in condensation forming in the jars
which defeats the whole purpose of the hot oven
which is to remove all moisture completely.

After three or four hours’ Cooling IN the oven,
( along WITH the oven ! ), open the oven door
and remove the Room-Temperature jars.

They are now ready to be filled with tobacco
from any opened tins.

Be certain to carefully label the lids with the type
of tobacco that that particular jar contains.
STORE the pipe tobacco in a room temperature
(or slightly cooler!) area; in the dark,

Store all unopened tobacco in its original,
vacuum-sealed tin;
And opened tins (or plastic pouches) in the
glass canning jars.

Using this system, pipe tobacco may be kept
in the freshest possible condition for far longer
than you should conceivably require it to be stored.

In other words, you will begin to deteriorate with age,
long before your tobacco.

Many and varied are the opinions of the masses,
and many and varied the people who come to the Internet
for advice … only to be fed with utter absurdities,
which they are then gullible enough to adopt
and pass on to others.

I can assure you that the above method is the
optimum method for storing perishable items
including pipe tobacco.

I took the time – both growing up, and as a young man,
to shut my mouth and learn from those who had
more experience in life than I.

I thanked them, and was grateful,
that they were teaching me something
that would benefit me in my life.

I hope, then, that the thoughts outlined here
will be helpful to one or two conscientious folk.

P Livingstone
Traditional Methods of Pipe and Tobacco