Sunday, October 30, 2022

Tobacco As An Explosive

Well, it's not actually an explosive, but my fermentation chamber did experience a blast. 

I had the thing outside, plugged into an outdoor outlet. It was wrapped in insulation. I'd replaced the 40W and 60W bulbs with a 250W bathroom heat lamp to see if I could get it to heat faster. It did indeed heat faster. It also exploded when we got some drizzle that seeped through the insulation and onto the hot heat lamp. Fortunately, the blast was contained by the plastic bin and the insulation. The tobacco, protected by its glass jars inside the fermenter, was unharmed.

I've since moved the fermenter inside and went back to a 60W bulb. My insulation layer is more complete and the heating-cooling cycle is now about 2 1/2 hours instead of only 1.

Finally, I managed to kill all of the mold that might have been clinging to the leaves. Mold, including the spores, is killed at temperatures above 140 and my new setup hit 147 a couple of times before I dialed back the thermostat.

Does that make this pasteurized tobacco?

I'm afraid you'll need to click on this one. In any case, I've got 2 weeks down and 1 week to go before I can test it in a pipe.


Ohioan@Heart said...

So what are the two frequencies interfering at the end there? Do you understand that behavior?

tim eisele said...

As an alternative to heat lamps, we've been using these "ceramic heat emitters" for things like keeping chicks warm and providing supplemental heat to overwintering beehives.

They're a lot more rugged, and don't burn out after about a few hundred hours like heat lamps do. I'm pretty sure they won't explode if a drop of water gets on them. The only downside is that you can't tell at a glance that they are working.

tim eisele said...

Oh, and yes, it does make it pasteurized tobacco.

To really get rid of the mold, you could do this at maybe weekly intervals. This is called "tyndallization". The basic idea is that you heat something to pasteurization temperature to kill the actively growing bacteria and fungi, but this doesn't kill the spores, which are much more heat tolerant. So, you wait until the spores decide that it is time to start growing, at which point they become vegetative cells that can be killed by a second pasteurization cycle. Do this two or three times, and it will be sterilized without needing to autoclave it.

Of course, if you actually need something to be alive in there to ferment the tobacco, you probably don't want to kill everything like that.

K T Cat said...

Ohioan, I think that my mechanical thermostat is sticking. It's taking much longer now to wind and unwind in response to temperature changes.

Tim, that was excellent as usual. The bulb looks like a good idea if I ever do this again.