US 3132651 A
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United States Patent 3,132,651 SMOKING PRODUCTS AND MANUFACTURE OF THE SAME Julius E. Kiefer, 3951 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee 11, Wis. N0 Drawing. Filed Aug. 23, 1961, Ser. No. 133,334- 6 Claims. (Cl. 131-141) This invention relates to smoking products and to the manufacture thereof, and more particularly to the processing of tobacco to elfect rapid aging or conditioning thereof and to eliminate or substantially reduce the nicotine content. i
In the conventional preparation of smoking tobacco,
tobacco leaves are dried or cured, as by flue-curing, aircuring, or otherwise, for a period ranging from several days to several Weeks, depending on the drying method. The drying removes substantially all of the water from the leaves and also about 20% of the dry weight. The dried leaves, which are quite brittle, are then permitted to regain about 20% moisture to render them pliable, so that they can be safely handled. At this stage the dried tobacco has a rank, harsh odor and is not suitable for smoking. Before the tobacco is ready for manufacture the tobacco undergoes a relatively long aging or conditioning process which involves fermentation, oxidation, esteriflcation, hydrolysis and many other chemical changes. The aging period ranges from six months to five years, a three-year process being generally used for cigarette tobacco. This has necessitated maintaining a large and expensive inventory in warehouse storage. Various methods have also been suggested for denicotinizing tobacco, but these are relatively complicated and of long duration and have been found to adversely aiiect the flavor and quality of the tobacco.
An object of the present invention is to provide a method of treating tobacco which will effect a relatively rapid aging or conditioning of the tobacco, the aging or conditioning period being normally shorter than one day.
Another object is to provide an improved and relatively inexpensive tobacco treating method which will eliminate or substantially reduce the nicotine content of the tobacco, while retaining desirable flavor, taste and aroma of the tobacco Still another object is to provide a relatively rapid tobacco-treating method which will simultaneously age and denicotinize the tobacco.
A further object is to provide a tobacco of good quality from which all or a substantial part of the nicotine has been eliminated.
The invention further consists in the several features hereinafter described and claimed.
In the method of the invention, dried tobacco, preferably in a slitted or shredded form, is subjected in a water-wet condition, as hereinafter described, to the enzymatic action of cellulase to effect rapid aging of the tobacco and to simultaneously eliminate the nicotine content, or to substantially reduce the nicotine content as may be predetermined and desired. 'The tobacco is treated in its natural acid condition, which minimizes,
been uniformly dispersed. The weight of the water-may sirably of the Aspergillus type.
tobacco is soaked for approximately /2 to 1 hour in the Water bath andis then placed in a sieve to drain, after which it is repeatedly rinsed with flowing warm water. In some cases, a small amount of the wetting agent may remain in the rinsed tobacco. A second Water bath at a temperature of approximately 68 to 140 F. has uniformly dispersed therein a small quantity of cellulase, which is readily water soluble. The cellulase usedis de- A suitable commercial cellulase enzyme preparation, derived from Aspergillus niger, is known as Takamine Cellulase 4000. The weight of the cellulase may range from 0.001 to 0.1% of the weight of the water. In some instances, a small amount of a suitable organic acid, such as citric, malic or acetic acid, is added to the second Water bath to provide a pH of 3 /2 to 5, which is the optimum pH range for cellulase. The tobacco is then placed in the water, the weight of which is 10 to 30 times the weight of the tobacco, and is left in the Water for A: to 2 hours. However, the treatment time is not critical. The enzymatic action of the cellulase attacks the cellulosic material, and not only ages the tobacco but also simultaneously removes all the nicotine. The cellulase treatment also removes or substantially reduces the content of tars, resins, and phenols. If some nicotine content is desired, the treatment may be shortened or reduced in intensity and less cellulase may be used. The cellulase-treated tobacco is then drained, repeatedly rinsed with warm water, and dried under Whole tobacco leaves can also be similarly treated, but they require a longer treating period. Optionally, either or both of the first and second tobaccocontaining baths may be mildly agitated. If desired, the first Water bath treatment may be omitted. After the tobacco is treated by the method of the invention, it is cased with any of the flavoring materials and humectants commonly used with tobacco.
In some instances, a proteolytic enzyme, such as proteinase, pepsin, pancreatine, and the like, can be usefully employed to replace up to approximately 30% of the cellulase, so as to reduce the treating cost.
The tobacco treated in accordance with the invention has a mild and satisfying taste and flavor and provides a pleasant smoke, particularly in cigarette form.
The enzymatic treatment of the invention may also be used to eliminate or substantially reduce the nicotine content of tobacco which has been fully aged by conventional methods. The treatment will also remove or substantially reduce the content of tars, resins, and phenols.
Although the cellulase used in the treating methods of the invention has an optimum activity within the range of pH 3.5 to 5.0, it operates fairly efficiently between pH 3.0 and 8.0. i
51. The method of treating tobacco, which comprises subjecting the tobacco for a relatively short period of time in a Water bath to the enzymatic action of cellulase of Aspergillus derivation, said cellulase being dispersed in said bath in a relatively low concentration.
2. Thefmethod of treating dried tobacco to improve the same, which comprises subjecting the tobacco in, a water-Wet condition to the enzymatic action of cellulase and a proteolytic enzyme fora relatively short period of time, said cellulase being of Aspergillus derivation, and
both said cellulase and proteolytic enzyme being dispersed same and to eliminate or substantially reduce the nicotine be about 10 to 30 times the weight of the tobacco. The
content thereof, which comprises subjecting the tobacco 7 1n a water-Wet condition to'the enzymatic action of cellulase fora relatively short period of time, said cellulase 1 being of Aspergillus derivation and being dispersed in a relatively low concentration in the water.
4. The'rnethod of treating dried tobacco, which comprises soaking tobacco in an aqueous bath containing a wetting agent, rinsing the soaked tobacco, and then subjecting the soaked tobacco in a water-Wet condition to the enzymatic action of cellulase of Aspergillus derivation for a relatively short period of time, said cellulase being dispersed in the water in a relatively low concentration.
5. The method of treating dried tobacco, which com prises subjecting the tobacco for a relatively short period of time in a Water-wet condition to the enzymatic action of cellulase of Aspergillus derivation in a pH range of approximately 3.5 to 5 and in a temperature range of approximately 68 to 140 F., said cellulase being dispersed in the water and having a concentration therein in which the weight of the cellulase is 0.001 to 0.1% of the Weight of the Water.
6. Tobacco Which is aged and at least partially denicotinized by having been subjected in a water-Wet condition to the enzymatic action of cellulase of Aspergillus derivation for a relatively short period of time.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS OTHER REFERENCES The Enzymes, by J. B. Sumner and Karl Myrbach, pp. 727-736, published 1951 by Academic-Press, Inc., New York, NY.