Tracking Mold (not a complaining thread!)

Greenbriar

Well-known member
#1
OK so I would like peoples' ideas on this. What I do not want it to turn into is a b*tch fest about thus and thus brand. Not that I think everyone would be wanting to do that, I just want to make sure mods and everyone know my own attitude on the matter. I want us all to help, not just complain.

Some of us have had mold issues with our pipe tobacco. Sometimes straight from the tin, others, after having transferred and jarred it. The latter is possible that it is our own fault, but seeing as this has only happened one time to me and with a C&D blend that I had previously ordered another tin that came with mold already on it, and based on others' experiences with C&D, i think it is a fair hypothesis that C&D itself has a problem. HOWEVER , while my idea is mostly with C&D in mind, i recognize other brands may have this happen and this is not just about C&D.

So I was wondering, could it be not just a mostly C&D problem but possibly a certain blend problem, or a certain tobacco that C&D uses that is the problem tobacco, or something...

My idea was to come up with some way for all of us to report mold problems, have some way to log the brand, the blend, maybe the tin date if we have that info, whether the mold was straight upon opening the tin or if it happened later, etc. If we could crowdsource this info and compile it into some kind of document that keeps updating, perhaps we could see a pattern emerge with certain blends or leafs. Not to be hard on C&D but to help both us as consumers make better decisions about what we're willing to risk buying, and also maybe even enough info would become helpful that maybe C&D itself may be interested in seeing the data, and possibly changing something based on it. again, i'm saying C&D because it seems we have more stories from them, but in my mind we should be reporting all brands we encounter issues with. then we would also have hard data from our sample to support whether it is in fact a c&d problem or we are making too much of it and suffering from confirmation bias.

now maybe no helpful patterns will come up from this, but I am kind of tired of being scared to order from C&D or a favorite blend of mine. C&D has some amazing blends out there and i would like to do something to make some progress on fixing this issue, or at least knowing whether or not i'm takign more of a risk with one blend over another.

so do you guys think this would be useful, and have ideas of how we might do this? maybe a google doc spreadsheet with sharing priviledges open to users who can click on a list on a sticky in the forum or something? that was only one idea i had but i wanted to hear from other people about how this might best be executed, assuming everyone was on board with it and the mods were cool with it.
 

dmkerr

Fabulously non-descript
Staff member
#2
Interesting thread idea, but I'm not sure anyone can really say what causes a tobacco to mold. Personally I have had no issues with C&D blends molding, but I recognize the problem others have had. And I don't smoke anything from that blending house currently for reasons that have nothing to do with mold, so I'm obviously unlikely to see mold in C&D as a problem.

My one and only mold issue was with Mac Baren's Old Dark Fired in bulk. Two separate batches that were purchased in two different years molded. It was fine when I got it. I sterilized the jars I put the tobacco into, just as I always do. The tobacco wasn't overly moist (this was one pound of flake, one pound or ready rubbed) and I dried it out to a degree before I jarred it. I typically do not dry out my tobaccos too much before I jar them, preferring to store them more moist and dry them just before smoking.

ODF was my only Mac Baren in my cellar. I did have Symphony for a few years before it was replaced in my rotation. I have no idea what caused the mold in ODF. I have a few tins left that are 5+ years old and I checked them - no mold. It can't be a batch problem, unless it happened twice in two separate years. So I'm stumped. I've had no issues with anything else, and I have several pounds of aged tobacco in my cellar that has been jarred for a long time.

No clue on this one.

C&D folks, did your tins show mold as soon as you opened them? What about bulk purchases?
 

Greenbriar

Well-known member
#3
Interesting thread idea, but I'm not sure anyone can really say what causes a tobacco to mold. Personally I have had no issues with C&D blends molding, but I recognize the problem others have had. And I don't smoke anything from that blending house currently for reasons that have nothing to do with mold, so I'm obviously unlikely to see mold in C&D as a problem.

My one and only mold issue was with Mac Baren's Old Dark Fired in bulk. Two separate batches that were purchased in two different years molded. It was fine when I got it. I sterilized the jars I put the tobacco into, just as I always do. The tobacco wasn't overly moist (this was one pound of flake, one pound or ready rubbed) and I dried it out to a degree before I jarred it. I typically do not dry out my tobaccos too much before I jar them, preferring to store them more moist and dry them just before smoking.

ODF was my only Mac Baren in my cellar. I did have Symphony for a few years before it was replaced in my rotation. I have no idea what caused the mold in ODF. I have a few tins left that are 5+ years old and I checked them - no mold. It can't be a batch problem, unless it happened twice in two separate years. So I'm stumped. I've had no issues with anything else, and I have several pounds of aged tobacco in my cellar that has been jarred for a long time.

No clue on this one.

C&D folks, did your tins show mold as soon as you opened them? What about bulk purchases?
Right, we don't have any real answers to anything, and part of that is that we don't have real data to look at, just anectdotes thrown around. My idea is if we could track the data in a single chart we may find something. Not just a thread of more stories, but something tallying up the numbers of reports, and what tin dates, and info like that.
 

dmkerr

Fabulously non-descript
Staff member
#4
Right, we don't have any real answers to anything, and part of that is that we don't have real data to look at, just anectdotes thrown around. My idea is if we could track the data in a single chart we may find something. Not just a thread of more stories, but something tallying up the numbers of reports, and what tin dates, and info like that.
It's worth a shot.
 

Greenbriar

Well-known member
#5
if anyone has a better idea than a shared google doc, would love to hear it! (I know not a lot of people have seen this thread yet) Also, if you are good at setting up something like this, would be helpful. I'm not sure i'm the person to make the spreadsheet, i don't know if i would know the best way to make it. I'm sure there are more scientific, data-logging heads in here than mine
 

dmkerr

Fabulously non-descript
Staff member
#6
if anyone has a better idea than a shared google doc, would love to hear it! (I know not a lot of people have seen this thread yet) Also, if you are good at setting up something like this, would be helpful. I'm not sure i'm the person to make the spreadsheet, i don't know if i would know the best way to make it. I'm sure there are more scientific, data-logging heads in here than mine
@dwaugh. He can make graphs, too.
 

Ozark Wizard

Well-known member
Old Ted Award Winner
#7
Other than the already mentioned blending house, I've seen/heard of/experienced these with mold....

Sam Gawith boxes of St. James Flake
Sam Gawith boxes of FVF
Sam Gawith boxes of Firedance Flake

Germaine Brown Flake
Germaine RDF

Mac Baren Bold Kentucky
Mac Baren ODF

Mold is everywhere. The only thing I can think of that I have not seen mold growing on is a MacDonald Happy meal left in an abandoned vehicle for seven years according to the receipt in the bag of trash it was in. Even the toy was clean.
 

dmkerr

Fabulously non-descript
Staff member
#8
Other than the already mentioned blending house, I've seen/heard of/experienced these with mold....

Sam Gawith boxes of St. James Flake
Sam Gawith boxes of FVF
Sam Gawith boxes of Firedance Flake

Germaine Brown Flake
Germaine RDF

Mac Baren Bold Kentucky
Mac Baren ODF

Mold is everywhere. The only thing I can think of that I have not seen mold growing on is a MacDonald Happy meal left in an abandoned vehicle for seven years according to the receipt in the bag of trash it was in. Even the toy was clean.
Woody sent me his jar of St James Flake a couple of years ago to see if I thought it was mold. It was mold. I don't think he had anything to do with it getting there but it was almost pure white by the time I saw it.
 

HDXR

Hammer down.
Sales
#9
Other than the already mentioned blending house, I've seen/heard of/experienced these with mold....

Sam Gawith boxes of St. James Flake
Sam Gawith boxes of FVF
Sam Gawith boxes of Firedance Flake

Germaine Brown Flake
Germaine RDF

Mac Baren Bold Kentucky
Mac Baren ODF

Mold is everywhere. The only thing I can think of that I have not seen mold growing on is a MacDonald Happy meal left in an abandoned vehicle for seven years according to the receipt in the bag of trash it was in. Even the toy was clean.
The more McDonald's I eat, the more preserved I'll be!
 

Hunter Hughes

Well-known member
#10
I totally get it. Not complaining just wanting to find if there is a common pattern that can maybe be linked by year, tobacco, storage, etc. Mold is a problem that we have to accept and deal with as pipe smokers, but why not see what our experiences have been. Maybe a the least we can see what blends are most prone to being moldy, or we may discover that a certain blend in a certain year is prone to mold.

My only mold experience so far has been C&D Bluegrass. There wasn't mold when I got it but it did develop in the jar.
 
#11
Hi Guys, I am the Head Tobacco Blender for C&D and I would like to suggest that you check out some of what I have posted if you havent' already, over on the C&D, You'd Think I Would Learn... thread.
I would also like to address the subject of discussion here a bit.

First, C&D has worked with mycologists, mold analysis labs, chemical labs, air quality specialists, and other tobacco experts from across the tobacco industry, regarding the prevention of mold, and we have learned a lot over the past 5 years. We take this all quite seriously and have looked extensively into our processes, materials, and environment during this time. And we have learned a lot and made a lot of changes. Comparing the Cornell & Diehl of 5 years ago to now, we are very proud of where we have gotten and look forward to our continued improvement and innovation. Here are some things we have learned through this process, that may be useful information to you.

Mold does not grow on dried tobacco. Mold actually doesn't grow on truly dried material of any kind. If there is mold on a surface, that mold has found available excess water, that it could live on. Mold needs water and a strata or porous surface from which to extract it. Mold will grow on wood, carpet, food, concrete, drywall, clothing, shoes, any porous material, as long as it is wet. Mold is not an indictment of the material it grows on, or an indication of poor quality of the host material. The presence of mold does not mean that the original material is bad or spoiled. It means that the original material had water in it and a mold spore landed on it, fed on the water, and reproduced. Mold spores are everywhere and can travel long distances carried by tiny air currents. Swipe your hand across a tabletop: You have just made thousands of particles air-born. Those particles, totally invisible to the naked eye, can remain in the air, traveling in random and unpredictable ways, for hours, even days. Mold spores are likely among these particles. They roam, completely passively, until they come to rest on a substance that can serve as a water source. Once the spore has found a water source, it can begin to bloom and become visible as mold.

Pipe tobacco is wet. Even what we pipe smokers consider to be "on the dry side" and "perfect for smoking", has spring and moisture to it. Thus, the moisture that pipe tobacco manufacturers add to the dried leaf they work with must contain ingredients that will inhibit or kill mold. Improper or incomplete coverage with those ingredients can lead to mold, if there is even one spore present.

Due to the order driven nature of our production, we make every blend we produce multiple times a year, in small batches to fulfill the needs of our distribution company. It is true that sometimes a tin or two develops mold. Many, many more times that same blend, containing the exact same ingredients, and processed in the exact same way, doesn't mold. While these instances of intermittent failure are frustrating, both for the customer as well as for us, they are far and away the exception, not the rule, and that is true across all of our blends. I can say, assuredly that the problem is not a specific year, or a specific blend or a specific component.

We catalog every instance of mold reported to us, gathering this information from direct contact such as email or phone calls, as well as from retailers, online forums and other types of social media. And we use this information to help track times of year where spore counts in our area may be more prevalent or instances where we need to time our production QC audits carefully. The information we have gathered is useful to us and from that information we have been able to get a factual and realistic perspective on the problem. Incidentally, our rate of product failure, including instances of mold, as well as other things like issues with moisture, inconsistent cut, fluffy plug or cake instances, etc, is around .09%, or 9 units out of every 10,000. That is really, really low. But we want to continue to lower it. If you want to help, contact us if you have an issue. We can only track what we know about, and direct contact to us helps to streamline our data gathering. And it allows us to make you whole, whether through product replacement or by refund, no matter where you bought the product. Our phone number is 1-800-433-0080 and our email is info@cornellanddiehl.com
 
#12
I totally get it. Not complaining just wanting to find if there is a common pattern that can maybe be linked by year, tobacco, storage, etc. Mold is a problem that we have to accept and deal with as pipe smokers, but why not see what our experiences have been. Maybe a the least we can see what blends are most prone to being moldy, or we may discover that a certain blend in a certain year is prone to mold.

My only mold experience so far has been C&D Bluegrass. There wasn't mold when I got it but it did develop in the jar.
Hunter, I am sorry to hear about your Bluegrass. Never seen a single instance of that blend with mold, by the way. I want to help, and to do so, I want to offer you a replacement tin of this, or some other C&D 2oz. tin, or if you prefer, a refund. Your choice. Please email me at info@cornellanddiehl.com or call me at 800-433-0080 so that we can make the necessary arrangements and get you squared away.
 

Sonarman

Well-known member
#13
Looking over everything, I think the C&D probably has lower mold counts than anyone else. I think the catalyst was the Carolina Red Flake and the fact that C&D went above and beyond what other would do in terms of being public about it and recalling it. That event got it in everyone’s mind that there was an overall problem so when the occasion tin popped up it was amplified (present company included) to the level the C&D products in general had issues. I don’t know what kind of schooling Jeremy has gone through to know all that about mold, but good God that’s some knowledge. Also hearing the level of quality control that is being done at the current factory is enough for me to repopulate my wishlist on SP with C&D products. I can find maybe 4 cases of mold online that have documentation with C&D products (Not CRF) and one of them is iffy. I know exactly what it’s like to have a mistake and be labeled a goat scratcher after that, everyone after that is going to be checking their goats to see if you scratched them. Again, I think unfortunately it was because the company has high integrity and took big steps after CRF that has this mold issue being such a big part of the online pipe community.
 

Hunter Hughes

Well-known member
#14
I just want to be clear, I was in no way bashing Cornell and Diehl. C&D has been one of my favorite pipe tobacco blenders since I first started smoking. I have bought many, many tins over the years of C&D, and this was the only one in my expierence with mold. The tin with mold I received was from a friend who had already opened it and smoked some of it, which may very well have played a factor. It was in a jar for a year before I noticed the mold. I have been a loyal customer for years and will continue to smoke C&D, I'm not worried about 1 oz that I lost. That's nothing compared to the amount of it that I have smoked.

I just spoke to Jeremy Reeves on the phone and he was a really great guy to talk to, and offered to replace my tin. I told him I didn't need a replacement, I didn't feel right as I already know their customer service is great and I didn't purchase the original tin. I wasn't out any. But I really appreciate him taking the time to talk to me and to make sure I was taken care of as a customer. He even recommend a few blends for me based on other C&D blends I enjoy. Overall, I'm excited to try some more C&D blends and cellaring some Yorktown.