Fed up of the harsh, chemically taste of cigarettes and the way your clothes smell the next day. Had enough of paying the extortionate tax and lining the pockets of the global giant cigarette manufacturers. Rolling your own cigarettes, rollies or roll-ups may just be the answer. You get full control over the length and width of your cigarette and get to choose the quality and flavour of the tobacco you smoke.
Learning to roll a fag, make a roll up, RYO, or however you describe it requires a good amount of patience and practice. However once mastered it is a skill for life that will never be forgotten.
You can’t just pick up some papers and tobacco and start rolling. You have two options you can either use a rolling machine, which is generally easier or learn to do it by hand. Good results can be obtained from either but relying on a machine can leave you stuck if you break or lose the machine. Rolling fags freehand also means you have total control over the size and shape of the cigarette. You will probably have to make a good 20 roll ups before you get it right but then it’s like riding a bike you'll never forget how and then you will learn to do it with one hand holding a pint and your eyes closed. And don't fear mistakes will not leave you out of pocket. Just lick down the full length of the paper and it will then easily break open so you can re-use the tobacco and filter. All you will have wasted is half a packet of papers and at 20p it’s not going to break the bank.
If you have the time and patience to teach yourself how to roll a cigarette free-hand, this is by far the most versatile way of making a fag. You can use any size, shape papers and filters and you can gauge how tight the cigarette is rolled to avoid getting any tight spots.
Get a few packs of cigarette papers, a good wedge of tobacco, some filter tips, a glass of wine/beer and a packet of ready rolled fags just in case things get overly frustrating.
Take a cigarette paper from the pack and place it on the table (or place im-between the thumb and forefinger if you want to be really adventurous)
The gum should be facing up and at the top (furthest away from you.) There is usually a crease in the middle of the paper. If not fold the paper in half and make a crease, this will help hold things in place while your learning.
Take the desired amount of tobacco from the packet. This will vary depending on the size of the filter and how fast you want the cigarette to burn. Loosen the tobacco by pulling it apart then spread it on to the paper.
Now pick up the paper with the tobacco in and lay it lengthways with the crease between the thumb and forefinger. Spread the tobacco along the crease so it is fairly loose and an even consistency with no clumps.
Now roll/slide the bottom (un-gummed) end of the paper back and forth over the tobacco with both thumbs while supporting the tobacco from behind with your forefingers until the tobacco forms into a cylindrical/cigarette shape. The cigarette should feel firm but still springy across the full length.
THE AWKWARD BIT
Open the paper back up to reveal the shaped tobacco. This is the point that most people add a filter. A filter is recommended to reduce the harmful effects of the tobacco and it stops you getting tobacco bits in your mouth stained fingers.
Place the filter at one end of the paper. The diameter of the filter should be roughly 0.5 to 1.0mm smaller than the shaped tobacco. If not go back to step 1 and adjust the amount of tobacco in the cigarette.
The aim is to tuck the bottom (non-gummed) side behind the tobacco while keeping a roll of paper neatly around the shaped tobacco. If you have evenly distributed the tobacco this will be easier.
The tuck is fiddly and awkward and takes practice to get it right. For the first few attempts don’t concentrate too much on getting it tight. Just get one rolled up then practice on getting it tight.
Roll the cigarette upwards by rolling your thumb over the tobacco and in turn rolling the tobacco and paper over your forefinger and middle fingers taking attention to keep the same pressure and not over tighten either side. Again if you have evenly distributed the tobacco this will be easier.
Be careful not to roll it as firm as a tailor made cigarette as you will likely find this is too tight and will not draw easily.
When you get to the top moisten the gum and keep rolling until the gum has stuck to the paper. Hopefully (but unlikely) you will have a cigarette that resembles the illustration below. It will more likely resemble a bent twig but do not fear all is not lost.
REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT
These are the basics to help you roll out some fags that should be just about smokeable. They will probably be very un-even, slack and if held on-end the tobacco will likely fall out. It’s up to you if you smoke it or lick the full length of the paper, pull apart and re-use the tobacco and filter. You will probably need to roll a good 20 fags before you start getting professional looking rollies. You will find your own method and everyone rolls slightly different. Once you've found your own way to tuck the cigarette paper tightly around the baccy you’re off. Experiment with different sizes and thickness of paper and start showing off in front of your mates.
The dual roller style rolling machines have a single cloth or rubber blind/belt that is fed around two rollers. One of the rollers moves so that you can pull the rollers apart. Designs vary and some have levers to pull the rollers apart but they work the same way.
Open the roller (with adjustable roller facing you) and place the desired amount of tobacco (and filter if used) into the recess depending on how thick you want the cigarette.
The thickness of the cigarette will be dictated by the size of your filter to some extent. If you put too much tobacco in, the paper will not grip the filter and leave a gap. If you don't put enough in the roller will roll the paper to the diameter of the filter and the tobacco will fall out.
Loosen the tobacco by pulling the tobacco apart and spread it out evenly in the recess.
Close the rollers so the tobacco is hidden and using your thumbs over the top of the roller slowly roll towards you until you make one full rotation, this shapes the tobacco into a cylindrical shape.
Take your paper and slot it into the closed opening between the rollers. Make sure the gum side of the cigarette papers is at the top and is facing you Using your thumbs on the front side of the roller, and your index fingers on the back, slowly roll both rollers towards you and stop BEFORE the gum is out of sight.
Moisten the gum by licking it. You want just enough to moisten the gum, too much or too little and the paper won’t stick or it may leave a gap in the paper, which will affect the draw of the cigarette.
Keep rolling so that the paper is no longer visible then carry on rolling until you have completed another full rotation. Then pull the rollers apart and you should have a perfectly shaped cigarette.
It will still take a bit of practice to get the correct amount of tobacco but other than
Automatic rolling machines are by far the easiest way to roll a cigarette and have space to hold your tobacco and smoking accessories. However please note that you are often restricted by your choice of filter. Automatic Cigarette Rolling Boxes roll to a fixed size. Usually the machines can be adjusted between two set diameters such as 6 and 7mm, which refers to the diameter of cigarette filter you can use.
Firstly you need to setup your machine. At the end of the blind or band you will see it is held in place by two protruding rods, which are slotted into holes in the side of the automatic tin. At the bottom fixing you will see there will be another set of holes. One set stretches the blind further, which will make it roll tighter and vice versa.
Open the automatic rolling tin.
You will see the blind/band inside is held in place at both ends. As the lid is opened a roller moves downwards behind the blind.
Loosen up the tobacco by pulling the strands apart.
Press the blind down behind the roller and spread the tobacco evenly across the recess and place the filter tip (if used) at one end. (With new machines the band can be springy, especially plastic ones but after you’ve rolled a few cigarettes the blind will break in)
Moisten the gum on a cigarette paper and lay it on the blind, gum facing forward and tucked behind the tobacco.
Now close the lid and a perfectly rolled cigarette will pop out of the top.
If the rolled cigarette feels very firm it is unlikely the cigarette will smoke well. On your next go put less tobacco in.
If the roll up feels very soft it is likely to burn very fast (that's if the tobacco doesn't fall out before you've lit it.) Try again and put slightly more tobacco in.
Again a little practice is required to determine the correct amount of tobacco to put in but you will soon get the hang of it.
There are many types of filter available for RYO cigarettes. The idea is to remove as much of the tar and nicotine from the smoke as possible without sacrificing on flavour. Some people don't use a filter at all as they like the full hit and bite from the pure tobacco taste. This is obviously worse for your health but is down to the individual to decide. If you are new to smoking we recommend you use a filter from the start so you don’t know the difference.
Filters come in varying lengths and diameters. The bigger the diameter the fatter your cigarette will inevitably be. The longer the filter the more Tar, Nicotine and impurities are absorbed but you also lose some flavour and will have to suck harder to get the smoke through. A longer filter can also be used to prevent nicotine staining on the fingers. Cigarette filters range from 5mm up to 8mm. 8mm being the standard thickness of a pre manufactured cigarette. If you wish to use a cigarette holder they tend to be made to fit an 8mm cigarette so you will need to use 8mm filters.
For smokers who don’t use a filter. Without a filter there is nothing to stop loose bits of tobacco getting in your mouth. A rolled up piece of card will filter out some tar as it passes over it and stop tobacco bits getting the mouth. Roaches absorb very minimal impurities from the tobacco but will prevent tobacco bits getting into your mouth.
Cigarette holders often have built in filters. Some have a filter trap, which uses condensation to remove some of the Tar and Nicotine. After a few smokes you pull the filter apart and wipe it with some tissue. Some Cigarette Holders use disposable filters built in, which contain crystals. As the smoke passes through the filter and over crystals, the highly absorbent crystals absorb a lot of the Tar and Nicotine, without affecting the flavour of the smoke.
The most common filter design. A fibrous white filter, which is highly absorbent. As the smoke passes through the fibre it absorbs a lot of impurities from the smoke.
Charcoal has a very high surface area. The smoke passes through a fibrous filter with a gap in the middle. The gap is filled with small charcoal pieces. As the smoke passes over the charcoal it absorbs a large amount of tar and nicotine without affecting the flavour and without restricting the draw as much as a fibrous filter.
Fibrous filters are soaked in a flavoured liquid. As the smoke passes through the filter it takes on the flavour. The most common is Menthol cigarette filters but recently fruity flavoured cigarette filters have come on the market and will no doubt be followed by more flavours.
Your choice of cigarette paper will have a big impact on the final result. From the size of the cigarette to the flavour and health impact.
The length of the paper will obviously affect how long your cigarette is and the size of the filter that can be used. However the width affects the flavour and your health. A wide paper is easier to roll but smoking paper is worse for your health than smoking tobacco and affects the flavour of the smoke. Slim papers obviously use less paper and don't wrap round and round but are more fiddly to roll.
Weight refers to the thickness of the paper. Like the dimensions the heavier the paper the easier it is to roll but the more paper you are smoking and the more the smoke tastes of paper. Using Lighter weight paper reduces the effect on the flavour and isn’t as bad for your health but is more fiddly to roll.
Flavoured papers are becoming ever increasingly popular. The flavour is soaked in a scent, which can be tasted on the lips and tasted in the smoke. Originally Liquorice was the only flavour available but sweet flavours have been introduced over the last few years such as Banana, Strawberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Vanilla, Coconut, Chocolate and many more.
The material the cigarette papers are made from makes a big impact on the end result. Budget cigarette papers have chemical additives to make them burn quicker and thus make you smoke more and buy more papers. The gum is also cheap and can have chemical content as well as being very thinly applied, which stops them sticking as well. There is nothing worse than papers un-ravelling as you smoke them. Pure Hemp papers are made from natural fibres, which are not as bad for you as bleached paper and do not contain any chemicals. The best gum to look out for is Arabic gum, which is a natural tree sap.
Finally there are Blunts, these are a cigar leaf that you use to roll the cigarette. They can also be flavoured to enhance the smoke. They burn very slowly like a cigar, getting you the most out of your tobacco and giving the cigarette more body.
Cigarette papers with cut corners are intended to make rolling (the tuck) easier. They are by far the most popular paper, but it’s open to debate as to whether it helps. Some smokers swear by them where as some can’t roll with cut corners.
Some smokers don’t like the standard sizes of cigarette papers so Cigarette paper on the roll was introduced by Rips, who are one of the most famous cigarette paper manufacturers alongside Rizla. The paper can be pulled out and torn off at the desired length, up to 7 Metres!!! If desired.
Choosing Tobacco to Roll Your Own (RYO) is much easier than choosing a pipe tobacco as there is much less variation and little change manufacturers of hand rolling tobacco can make without affecting the smoking character of the tobacco. If the blend is made too damp it will not smoke and if it is made too dry it will bite the tongue. There are also a limited number of tobacco leaves that are suited to hand rolling tobacco.
Generally a mild flavoured hand rolling tobacco is made up of Virginia tobacco leaf. To obtain more bite and strength Burley leaf can be blended with Virginia leaf. Medium strength tobacco is mainly made up of Burley and can be tweaked by adding Virginia or fire cured tobaccos. Full strength tobacco is generally made from fire cured tobacco leaves such as Kentucky, which provide plenty of bite.
Better tobacco's are made from better leaves and more of the stem will be removed giving a cleaner taste. All though hand rolling tobacco has substantially less additives than cigarettes some very cheap offerings from the big global companies can contain more additives to make the tobacco burn quicker, which makes you smoke more.
This can be gauged by colour. A light coloured tobacco will be very easy going with little bite. The darker the blend the stronger and harsher it becomes. A LIGHTER TOBACCO OR FLAVOUR DOES NOT MEAN THE TOBACCO IS LESS HARMFULL.
Up until recent years all hand rolling tobacco had some additives. Sugars can be added during the blending or fermentation process to add sweetness and some additives will help slow down the burn rate. However some of the big tobacco manufacturers have gradually added additives for profit. The faster a tobacco burns the more you will buy. In some cases the additives begin to affect the flavour and start to smell like pre-manufactured cigarettes. This has led to the introduction of additive free tobacco's. These guarantee that no additives have been used anywhere during the growing or manufacturing process. This gives a very pure tobacco taste but does also affect the burn rate. Some smokers prefer the way it smokes but others cannot get on with additive free tobacco's at all.
Flavoured hand rolling tobacco is increasing in popularity on a daily basis. The flavour can take away some of the bite and make the tobacco much more enjoyable. Flavour is a very personal choice and we cannot really advise on this. If you get the opportunity, smell the tobacco to see if it appeals. If you don't like the smell you are unlikely to enjoy the taste
Why does my rolling machine make really fat cigarettes?
Some rolling machines are designed to roll a specific diameter cigarette. Check the packaging or manufacturers website for adjustments or ask your retailer. Some machines are a fixed size, some have different settings, some are self-adjusting and some have a lever on the side.
My Filter keeps falling out of my roll ups!
The rolling machine you are using isn't designed to roll the cigarette with the size filter you are using or you are using too much tobacco. Try using bigger filters or adjusting the machine. If this doesn’t work reduce the amount of tobacco.