The Enzyme Experiment – setup.

Okay, as I said, there will be six test bags. These are, slightly modified while I did the setup –

1. No treatment, just water, 24 hours.
2. No treatment, just water, 48 hours.
3. Treated with 1 tablet per 100 ml water, left 24 hours
4. Treated with 1 tablet per 100 ml water, left 48 hours
5. Treated with 2 tablets per 100 ml water, left 24 hours
6. Treated with 2 tablets per 100 ml water, left 48 hours.

First of all I weighed out five grams of over-dry leaf. Dry enough to break but not so dry as to shatter into dust.

5gramThe spoon-thing is a measuring set. I can’t work in ‘tablespoons’ but I am aware that not everyone will have access to pipettes and measuring cylinders. So, unless you also have one of these sets (they’re in the shops), here’s how it works.

Roughly, but close enough, one tablespoon = 15 ml, one teaspoon = 5 ml. The other two are half- and quarter-teaspoons, we don’t need those here. Oh, it’s level teaspoons, not heaped.

Six lots of five grams each, weighed into bags. I used small freezer bags because they were handy but I think heavy-duty zip-lock bags would be better – and reusable.

5grambagsThe bananas and herbs are not used in this experiment. Maybe next time.

Next, I started adding water to the two control (no enzyme) bags until they looked about right. Not too much, but a little, spare water sloshing around and all the leaves wet after a bit of compression. That worked out at 50 ml (three tablespoons and one teaspoon) of water.

My water is filtered because it’s laden with chloramine and tastes awful. I don’t know what chlorine, chloramine etc would do to enzymes but I doubt it would do anything good. If you have horrible water, use filtered or boiled and cooled water. Enzymes are susceptible to protein-buggering things and chlorine is one of those things.

Next step. Crush one tablet in 100 ml water. It was hard to make it dissolve completely so I mashed it fine and mixed while measuring 50 ml into bag no. 3. Then poured the other 50 ml into bag no. 4

Oh yes – label the bags first or keep them in strict order. Six bags of wet leaves all look the same!

Same again but with two tablets in 100 ml – 50 ml into bag 5, 50 into bag 6.

Carefully press out as much air as you can without squirting water all over the kitchen. Let the leves soak up the water, that way they won’t shatter. If you lose a few drops, don’t worry. Even if we do this with gross inaccuracy we’re still doing better tobacco science than any of the paid mob.

Fold over the bag and tape it shut. In my case I ended up with six bags that look like this –

5gramwetNext I put them into one of those boxes that come free with takeaway curries so that even if a bag swells and bursts, it won’t soak all my bedding and clothes in the airing cupboard with stinky fungus-laden water.


This is on the hot water tank, currently without the min/max thermometer because the bloody things are hiding from me again. I have three of them, and they are in the way when I don’t want them and invisible when I do. I suppose it’s not too important, I have no control over the range of temperature. I’d just like to know what it is.

I hope the exclusion of air will be enough to stop mould. The enzymes don’t need oxygen because they aren’t alive. They’re just proteins. And no, antismokers, they will not dissolve the smoker because real humans contain no starch or cellulose and because burned proteins are best described as ‘gone’.

Okay, so I have risked 30g of tobacco on this little venture. At supermarket prices I guess that’s about ten quid’s worth? I hope it all comes out smokeable, even the controls. It was smokeable when it went in, if a bit rough.

Tomorrow I take out the 24h bags, open them and dry them. That might take another day or two.

It feels good to be experimenting again. Maybe one day, an antitobacco drone in a white coat will try it. Hint: don’t write the conclusions until after you get the results and maybe you’ll one day get to be called scientist.



… I wonder if any leftover water would work in Electrofag? Damn, once you get started on the experiment thing there’s just no end to it!


12 thoughts on “The Enzyme Experiment – setup.

  1. As one would expect from a know-all, your experiments are far more disciplined than mine! But I give way happily to your expertise.
    I am thinking more about next year since all my produce has been gathered in. Most of my leaves go yellow when towelled, but some are stubborn. I can see the value of the enzymes in treating such leaves. But, of course, such experiments will have to wait until next year.
    If the object of the exercise is to speed up fermentation, then I see no significant advantage over wadding. Wadding helps fermentation to take place sufficiently over a couple of days. I see no great advantage in reducing that period of time to one day.
    But we must remember that the guy in the video was talking about pipe tobacco. The flavours that he desired might be quite different from fags.
    The way I see it is totally different from tobacco control. TC see tobacco as a totally homogeneous thing. All tobaccos are exactly the same. That is equivalent to seeing all wines as cheap plonk, or all cheeses as being cheddar.
    I ought to thank TC. Had it not been for them, I would never have given any thought whatsoever to the quality of tobacco or the potential flavours which can be achieved. I would have gone on buying a packet of fags as before and I would have missed completely the joys of producing a superior product as compared with the sweeping-ups of tobacco companies.
    Whatever we do should be aimed at producing a superior product.
    Very quickly, there is no reason that one should not towel leaves until they become yellow and, at that point, dry and shred them. One might also wad and ferment some of them. One might then blend the results and add flavours to one’s taste.
    We have been slaves to tobacco companies for decades. Now we are coming into our own.


    • I agree – tobacco control have done us a great service in pushing us to find out more. I’ve been adding a few shreds of pipe tobacco to tubed cigs (burley/virginia) to produce smokes nobody can buy off the shelf anywhere. Also, before the ban, I’d never have believed I could grow tobacco in Scotland!

      Maybe these experiments won’t work or will be unneccessary but with access to the raw product, I can’t help trying things out!


  2. Question: What is pink and hard?
    Answer 1: The Financial Times Crossword
    Answer 2: A pig with a flickknife

    Actually neither of the above is correct. The correct answer is ‘Norfolk tapwater’! So yes for my totally failed experiment I used britta’d water. I also scrubbed and sterilized pretty much the entire kitchen and all apparatus! I may be a crap scientist but three decades ago I very nearly died from an unsanitary piece of liver pate and since then you could perform open heart surgery in my fridge . I have used, over the years, so many ‘sharp’ cleaning fluids without gloves (I’m male) that the last time I was arrested the police couldn’t scan in my fingerprints and had to get me to moisturize twice before my skin was supple enough for the scanner to read!

    Anyways my real question is: What about bacteria? That’s my big worry. Surely heating via water tank will heat the samples to ‘Perfect Nasties ‘ Breeding Temperature’? Does microwaving (approx 1 minute a leaf at 700w) the leaves dry -as I did- kill all bad bacteria? I seem to remember Kim & Agony telling us that that was a good way to sterilize a wet cloth.


    • There is a small risk – not from the leaves but there’s the possibility of a bit of bird/insect crap on them. It’s a small risk but any bacteria will die instantly when a flame is applied. Simple handwashing after handling the leaves is enough to deal with any potential risk.

      Maybe I can rig a simple incubator that anyone can make at home. I’m just trying to avoid coming up with a method you’d need a full micriobiology lab to copy.


  3. Maybe a full account of this would make an ebook. Perhaps with Junicans parallel but different approach. I promise to buy it before the next curing season.


  4. Actually, to be completely sure of what is going on, you really need to be using artificial tap water. Yes, this actually does exist; a bloke working at Newcastle University fifty-odd years ago, doing experiments on freshwater shellfish needed a water source which would keep them alive, but be reasonably pure. He rapidly discovered that Newcastle tap water was (and remains) a variable hellbrew of all manner of chemicals which is actually quite toxic, especially in summer. Water companies have problems with bacterial growth in supply pipes, so in summer when water demand is high, they often bump the chlorine levels up very high to give the pipes a good chemical scouring out.

    The way to shift chlorine is to store the water with air bubbling through it from fish tank aerators, preferably overnight or at least a few hours. That brings the chlorine out of solution and leaves you with dechlorinated, but still variable water; the solute and salt levels can vary quite widely even then.

    Hence artificial tap water. Three large measuring flasks, each with a set solution of salts in it (calcium carbonate in one, sodium salts in another and so on). Take 1 litre of distilled (preferably milli-Q ultra pure water), and add a ml from each stock solution to it. Hey presto, a duplicate of tap water that is guaranteed-stable and the same every time. For use when dealing with water-living or soil-living wildlife that needs water, but cannot cope with the osmotic shock of pure distilled water (and not much can, actually).

    Honestly, the obscure things I know or have discovered over the years! I’m a world expert on the sex life of potato cyst nematodes, you know; I also hold the record for producing the world’s most boring sex-related videos. This was of male nematodes responding to female sex pheromone; no actual nookie, and had to be watched on fast-forward to see any movement at all.

    These masterpieces of micro-videography have, fortunately, been lost to posterity.


    • I remember making artificial seawater for a model estuary. This was to ecxamine chitin production and breakdown in estuarine sediments. The damn thing even had a tide!

      Looking back, it could have been made simpler… but then I had all the little beasties growing quite happily in there and was able to observe their burrows through the glass. That helped explain why I was getting aerobic reactions in the anaerobic depths of the mud. Aerated burrows.


  5. Temo control on the hot water tank would be easy. A couple of folded blankets either beneath the tray or on top of it. If the temps were warm enough but too variable you could even them out that way as well with the right proportions of blankets above and below!



  6. Having given some thought to this experiment, would shredding the tobacco first (more surface area), spreading on a tray and applying solution with a spray bottle to just dampen (moisten untill it stops being absorbed) it and then cram into something like a kilner jar, put in airing cupboard to digest anaerobically?


    • The enzymes don’t need oxygen so doing it anaerobically would be best. That would stop mould growth. Shredding first would open up the ‘sides’ of the cells so the enzyme could get in faster.

      The spray bottle would be the problem from what I saw with those tablets. They take a long, long time to dissolve. It would be better to use actual pure enzyme.


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