A small but steadily growing market is emerging in the United States for Dokha tobacco. There are plenty of questions around this exotic treat from the East that seems to be hitting smoke shops across the country. Most individuals view it on shelf with question and intrigue. Some don’t believe it to be tobacco. Rather, some type of potpourri, salvia, or herbal smoking blend. Once someone realizes it’s an actual tobacco product many questions often arise. Why is this tobacco green? Where does it come from? What else is in it? Why is it so strong? How is it different than cigarettes and other tobacco?
Cigarettes have a notorious reputation as one of the most toxic products consumed by people. Depending on the particular company and brand, cigarettes can contain up to 600 different ingredients. When combusted, the smoke itself can contain up to 7000 different chemicals including 70 know carcinogens. One may wonder why cigarette companies add these ingredients and go through the effort to process tobacco and strip the plant of it’s natural properties. The answer in simple terms is a combination of growing factors, flavor/taste profile, and nicotine absorption.
The breakdown of the average commercial cigarette is 50% Nicotiana Tabacum in several varieties that go through curing and aging, 30% reconstitute or “reclaim” tobacco, and 20% legal herbs and flavorings. Reconstituted tobacco is the so-called “filler” that makes the cigarette much smoother than natural tobacco or other smoking products.
By utilizing low-quality material and reclaiming remnants of the tobacco leaf after the manufacturing process, cigarette producers are able to increase their profits dramatically. This also allows them to create a unique product as far as smoothness and taste profile. Reconstituted tobacco starts as low-quality or diseased leaves, the sweepings on the floor of cigarette or cigar manufacturers, the stems and flowers of the tobacco plant, tobacco dust created by other processes, and in some cases any cheap plant material the manufacturer has available. Manufacturers will soak and wash this otherwise useless material in an extremely corrosive chemical bath. Ammonia, acetone, acetic acid, formaldehyde, hexamine, and toluene are just a few of the compounds in this chemical soak. The purpose of this step is to strip the plant material of all of its natural properties. The pulp is then mashed together, dried, and put through a machine that is used to produce paper. Liquid neo-nicotide is sprayed on this flavorless, mild tobacco paper. It is then put through a mechanical shredder and processed into small tobacco-like strips and added to the mixer where the higher quality tobacco and legal herb and flavoring. From there the cigarette blend is manufactured into the finished product.
Reconstituted tobacco is a major factor why cigarettes contain so many toxic chemicals, but not the only reason. Most commercial tobacco farms utilize cheap, high nitrogen, fertilizers that contain small amounts of cadmium, cobalt, copper, nickel, lead, zinc, iron, manganese. Although often in trace amounts, over time these metals build up in the soil to higher concentrations. The tobacco plant in turn soaks up the elements from the soil which ends up in the finished product. Pesticides and anti-suckering hormones are the other culprits that add to chemicals to cigarettes. Although tobacco itself is a natural pesticide, large farms still apply it to control weeds and some stubborn pests. Suckering chemicals help control “suckers” or nodes that grow above the main leaves. Traditionally, growers remove them by hand when they grow to about an inch in length. However this is very labor intensive on a large commercial scale and growers often rely on a chemical solution to cut costs.
A Higher Standard
Dokha tobacco grown in the Persian gulf completely eliminates these chemical processes.
Farmers grow Dokha organically with a high nitrogen fish fertilizer called “jeish”. Due to the hot and dry conditions of the deserts where dokha grows, no pesticides are necessary throughout the process. The Dokha strain of tobacco is naturally far higher in nicotine than other popular strains that manufacturers use to make cigarettes such as burly, brightleaf, and oriental. This is another added layer of protection from pests. Unlike large commercial farms that use suckering chemicals, dokha farms utilize labor to remove the suckers by hand at least once a week.
Processing after harvest is completely different with dokha and much simpler than cigarettes. Unlike air or flue curing leaves followed by a long fermenting and aging process, dokha is air or sun-dried for a period of short period of a few days. There are absolutely no reconstituted filler, legal herbs or flavorings present in dokha blends. Pickers harvest by hand and only highest quality leaves selected for the finished product.
The comparison in nitrosamine levels in cigarettes is an interesting factor when compared to dokha. Nitrosamines are essentially carcinogens that occur in the finished product or form chemically during combustion. Research shows that most of these cancer-causing chemicals form during the fermentation and aging of tobacco products. This creates nitrosamines and is part of the reason why you do not inhale cigar smoke. Dokha, requires neither fermenting nor aging which results in minimal levels of nitrosamines. It is interesting to note that cancer rates among Native Americans that smoke traditional tobacco are astonishingly low. The style of tobacco they smoke, which is very similar to dokha, may attribute to that.
Although Cigarettes and dokha are both technically tobacco products, but is where the similarities end. They are completely different styles of smoking with a different histories behind it. A more traditional and unadulterated smoke, dokha is without a doubt a cleaner product. The user smokes far less plant material and it is far less invasive to others around it in comparison. Although there are no “safe” tobacco products, dokha is a better choice when one wishes for a more satisfying, interesting, and health conscious alternative. You can find all of our amazing blends right Here.