Then to Now: Rolling Papers
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When you see the high-quality rolling papers available today from leading brands like King Palm, RAW, GIZEH, and Elements, it’s hard to believe that we once had to make do with papers of significantly lower quality.
We’ve come a long way in a short space of time, and you might appreciate the products you use today a little more when you learn about the history of rolling papers throughout the world.
Strings and Leaves
Mayans living in South America around 600 AD weren’t able to pop down to their local dairy or dispensary and purchase premium rolling papers for their dried herb of choice. Instead, they had to use what they had in their natural environment or develop skills that would allow them to craft things from their natural environment.
During this time, Mayans and other ancient groups would create pipes, and, if they couldn’t, they would gather leaves and tie them together with string to produce a type of rolling paper that would keep their dried herbs neatly packed together for smoking.
Palm Leaves and Tobacco Leaves
When the colonization of North America and South America took place in the middle of the 1400s, tobacco was all the rage. It was also a luxury item and a symbol of wealth. If you had it, you were rich.
As wealthy people zipped around their towns and villages in carriages, they would smoke cigars that had been created through rolling tobacco or palm leaves. When they were finished, they would toss the butts onto the side of the road. Clearly, this behavior hasn’t changed, as people still do this today, even though they can be slapped with a fine.
Although, back then, cigarette litter was less of a problem because there would always be less wealthy people to pick up the butts, remove what was left of the dried herbs, and smoke them again.
When people picked up discarded cigarette butts, they had one more problem to solve: how they were going to smoke them. Both residents and soldiers used to tear up pieces of newspaper and roll their tobacco remnants into them. However, it’s important to note that the inks used in newspapers once contained harmful chemicals like cadmium and lead.
Papermakers in Europe were horrified to learn that the poor and working-class used inky, dirty newspapers to smoke cigarettes. So, out of both horror and the desire to make money, they started creating small strips of paper in books and selling them as rolling papers.
This genius invention remained in Spain for several years until Frenchman Alexandro Rizlette de Crampton Lacroix traded alcohol for a book of rolling papers. It wasn’t long until the technology spread throughout Europe.
Napoleon had noticed that his soldiers were tearing pages out of books to roll cigarettes. Out of care for his soldiers (or maybe even a love for books), he struck a deal with the Lacroix Rolling Paper company to supply his soldiers with high-quality and, most importantly, clean-burning rolling papers.
Lacroix Rolling Paper changed its name to Rizla in 1865, which is when they started adding rice fibres into their papers.
There is an abundance of paper options on the market today, such as rice, wood pulp, flax, and hemp. They might seem like innovative offerings of the 2000s, but they were actually being offered throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
However, rice papers were still among the most popular options, and they were soon being made with gum strips, which are commonplace on many rolling papers available today.
Best Rolling Papers in NZ
It’s clear to see that the rolling paper industry has come a long way, and we no longer have to roll up dirty and dangerous newspapers to smoke our herbs of choice. Instead, we’ve got a variety of rolling papers in various materials to enjoy, like hemp, natural leaf, and rice fibres.
You can’t go wrong with GIZEH fine hemp papers, which are described as extra fine and slow to burn. They feature fine hemp of 18.5g/m2 and have a magnetic steel strip on the packaging to stop them from opening accidentally.
You might also like RAW organic hemp leaves, which are almost translucent papers with unbleached, natural, eco-friendly paper. They have a patented CrissCross watermark for even, run-free burning, and they come in packs of 32 leaves.
Many smokers also have a soft spot for Elements rolling tips. Elements are one of the finest producers in the industry and produce booklets of 50 rolling tips for an affordable price. You can also purchase pre-rolled cones, unbleached cones, gold pre-rolled cones, and even palm leaf blunts.
Ready to Roll?
You might not have realised just how many rolling paper options you have at your disposal, but there are several. If you haven’t yet looked past your stock-standard rice rolling papers, now might be the right time to explore the full range and enjoy a new, exciting smoking experience.