The Wrap on Rolling Papers
When shopping for rolling papers, knowing what goes into them is important. Besides branding, you want to consider texture, flavor, thickness, and health profile. Most rolling papers have something to offer smokers, so here's some background on the most prominent materials used to make them.
Wood rolling papers, primarily made from acacia trees, are the most common form of rolling paper due to their relatively low cost. Wood rolling papers are made of processed wood pulp (often with added flax) and occasionally recycled paper. For those who smoke commercial cigarettes regularly, these papers offer the most familiar taste. They also have a texture that makes them easier to roll than other materials. Despite the notion that other rolling papers have a monopoly on healthy materials, high-quality wood rolling papers can also be produced without bleaching or any other additives. You can determine the naturalness of wood papers by how brown they are, like those produced by Zig-Zag and Futurola. Arabic gum, the most common gum used to help seal rolled cigarettes, is also derived from acacia wood. Transparent rolling papers are generally made of wood pulp as well, but manufacturers use eucalyptus wood instead of acacia. Eucalyptus pulp has a large amount of cellulose (which is the natural substance that connects plant cells), which is what gives the papers their transparency. For the health-conscious, transparent papers indicate a lack of additives.
Aside from wood papers, hemp is probably the most well-known material used in smoking. Hemp begins as a sturdy stalk plant that is turned into a pulp to make papers with. Hemp papers are particularly loved for their naturalness; hemp grows so easily that farmers don’t have to use pesticides when farming. Hemp adds a mild, pleasant, taste that some may describe as sweet or musky. For the environmentally-conscious, hemp is also a great alternative for those who dislike the over-logging of trees. Hemp papers are chlorine-free and vegan-friendly. The natural thickness of hemp fibers makes the papers easy to roll for many smokers. Several hemp paper manufacturers also produce pre-rolled hemp cones that can be filled with tobacco. Brands that sell hemp papers include RAW and Kush Papers.
Rice was one of the first crops to be converted into smoking paper, originating in Alcoy, Spain in the early 20th century. Independent paper artisans originally made these papers by processing the rice into pulp and then using machines to press the rice into thin sheets, a method that is still currently used. It isn’t uncommon for flax, sugar or hemp to be mixed into these sheets. Due to how it’s processed, rice paper can be made thinner than other papers. This means that rice rolling papers burn slower and more evenly. The thinness of rice papers make them more of a product for seasoned smokers who are good at rolling and like to conserve their paper. Brands that sell high-quality rice papers are RAW, Elements, SMK and Kush Papers.
Often known for it’s health benefits as an oil, flax is a multi-faceted crop. Flax is used in many linens due to its silky texture, which also makes for smooth rolling papers. Flax rolling papers do not have any overpowering flavor, so they won’t interfere with the natural taste of your dry herbs and tobacco. Flax is a common additive in other rolling papers due to it’s smooth texture and neutral flavor. Brands that sell flax papers include OCB and Zig-Zag.
Easily the least common material used for rolling papers, the only commercial producer of corn husk papers is T. Ras Rolling Co. While unorthodox, these papers offer quite a few benefits. For one, they’re incredibly easy to roll due to their rough texture, which also makes them sturdy. The corn husk offers a unique yet subtle corn flavor that can bring out some of the subtle flavors in tobacco or herbs. As with hemp, rice and flax, corn husk offers an environmentally-conscious alternative to wood and also supports the farming industry. Corn papers are unbleached, untreated and unprocessed. Unlike most rolling papers, T. Ras Rolling Co. uses vegetable gum to help seal their husks.
As you can see, all rolling papers have their pros and cons. Knowing what’s in them is important for the discerning smoker, so keep some of these facts in mind the next time you’re thinking about rolling one up