How to roll a filtered cigarette

By Tasha Costa

Before we start here, I wanted to point out that I normally put a paper plate or a tray of some sort under my rolling area so I can catch my tobacco clippings and toss them back into the can (waste not, want not! - plus, it does leave quite a mess). I didn't in this instance because the white of the paper plate was bleaching out the pictures. I highly suggest investing in some paper plates or a tray so you don't have to deal with this.

I also want to say that this is not a way around the 18-or-over smoking limit in the United States - you still have to be 18 to buy papers, filters, or tobacco (or a roller). Plus, you really shouln't start smoking anyway. It's a horrible habit - but I always say, if you're gonna kill yourself, you might as well do it on the cheap.

If you choose to use this information for illegal activities (IE, rolling joints, etc.), I am not going to take the fall. This is for LEGAL use only. Drugs are bad, mkay?

Things you need:

Tobacco (note that this is not the amount you need, it's just some random tobacco)

A roller (the thing there that's on a clear plastic stand - I like Zig-Zag brand rollers, but any normal-sized cigarette roller will do. Do not buy a 100mm roller unless you have 100mm papers)

A filter (the little white thing - I recommend Rayo brand long filters - filters that are too short will often pop out while you're smoking)

A rolling paper (best to keep the whole pack nearby, though - I often rip mine if I'm in a hurry)

Note that the roller has two bars that the vinyl goes over: a stationary bar and one that's made to slide. You want the one that slides facing you.
Place the filter in the roller and slide it up against the side of the roller, and pin it down with your forefinger. It doesn't matter which side you put the filter on; I'm right-handed and I want to use my right hand to stuff the tobacco, so I pin it with my left hand. Your preference.
Load some tobacco into the roller. I like to push a bit of it up against my filter so that my cigarette doesn't crumble when I flick it, but you can actually stuff too much so don't be too hard on it.
A properly filled roller is just under even with the filter throughout the cigarette. Do not overstuff the roller, or you will not be able to smoke the resulting cigarette (smoke will not be able to get through).
Close the roller by sliding the bar up and over to meet it's sibling. Some stuff will stick out the top; don't worry about it. You'll roll it up and you can tap out any hangers-on.
Roll the tobacco into the roller, pulling the vinyl towards you with your thumbs. It may take a little pressure to get the thing rolling; be careful, though, because you can pop the bar out. When you're done there should be a nice even gap like shown.
Put a rolling paper in the gap, crease facing outward, glue up and toward you. Try to make it even.
Using your thumbs (you'll probably need both of them), begin to roll the paper through the roller. Try to keep it as even as possible. It doesn't have to be perfect, but too much and the paper will overhang on one side and whatever's on the other side will stick out too much.
Every so often the nonglue side of the paper will come out the other side of the tobacco, instead of tucking in like it's supposed to. This isn't a big deal; simply unroll with one thumb and grab the glued side with the other. Do this slowly to back up the paper, and try again. It takes even experts a few tries sometimes.
When the paper has gone through like it's supposed to, it should look like this - the unglued side should have tucked into the cigarette nicely. At this point you can lick the glue (not too much spit there, or else it won't stick) like you would a stamp, and finish rolling, toward you.
Your cigarette is now ready to be smoked. Make sure to light the tobacco side, and not the filter side. If you notice that your cigarette isn't smoking well, that it's really hard to suck tobacco through, you put too much tobacco in. Put the cigarette out and try again - you can toss out the cherry part of the cigarette and you should have the right amount of tobacco. Tobacco that has had smoke go through it will taste a little different, so do not put this tobacco in with your fresh tobacco. If you don't like how it tastes re-smoked, toss the entire cigarette and start again.

For a video of this in action (although the person who does it is using too long of a roller and advocates putting the filter in after the tobacco, and I say differently), view this video on youtube:

There are any number of reasons why a person may choose to roll their own. Personally, I do it for cost. You can buy loose tobacco (do a google search for "loose tobacco," "RYO tobacco," "roll your own cigarettes" or "bulk tobacco") for pretty cheap online, and cheaper than regular cigarettes at most smoke shops and convenience stores. You can get most kinds of tobacco loose. I prefer American Spirit, which is all-natural, and more expensive. A can of American Spirit will generally run $14 whereas a normal can would run $8-$9. A pouch of American Spirit is usually around $5, when a pouch of other kinds would probably be a buck fifty, two dollars. Your mileage may vary.
Most pouches will do approximately 50 cigarettes; most cans, 200. These are approximate numbers. I can stretch my tobacco pretty far because I roll fairly loose cigarettes so I can smoke them well.
Most cans and pouches of tobacco (but not all) come with standard sized rolling papers (think your standard Camel or Marlboro cigarette) included. I suggest buying a stock of whatever size you prefer to keep on-hand anyway.
Rollers tend to run fairly cheap, in this model. I get mine for usually anywhere from a buck fifty to three dollars. They have rollers that work on the same principle that come with a case for filters, papers, and tobacco attached, which is pretty nifty, but obviously they're going to be more expensive. You will have to replace your roller (if it's in this style - the ones with containers attached tend to be higher-quality materials) every few months or so, or clean it weekly to prolong it's life. I use a mild soap and water.
Filters in the Rayo brand (they're the best, and you do NOT want TOP brand filters - they're wayyyyy too short) tend to run about $3-$4 per pouch of 200. You can get these online; I suggest getting the longest size you can.
I tend to blow through a whole can to myself every two weeks. That's one can and one pouch of filters - remember, my tobacco came with the papers and I had a roller already. I paid $17 for two cartons worth of American Spirit cigarettes, where anywhere else where I live I would have paid $40 per carton. That's why I roll my own; your mileage may vary!

With questions or comments, please e-mail me: tashabot at gmail dot com.

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