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Considerations For Choosing Rolling Papers

July 8, 2021 in General Education

Who knew that there were so many considerations when choosing a type and brand of rolling papers? In this article I will chronicle the history of rolling papers and list the different materials used to produce them, giving the pros and cons for each. I will also discuss types of adhesive, explain the danger of using papers that are bleached and present interesting information on different rolling paper brands.

The History of Rolling Papers

Rolling papers were invented in Spain and the first company to produce them was Pay-Pay, formed in 1703 in Alcoy, Spain. More than 300 years later, the company is still in business. The papers are made from hemp with a sugar-based glue.

Legend has it that in 1532, a Frenchman, Alexandro Rizlette de Cramptone Lacroix, traded a bottle of Champagne for some rolling papers that French soldiers were bringing back from Spain. He copied the design of the papers and the Lacroix family started producing them in 1660. By 1736, they had purchased a mill and founded the LaCroix Rolling Paper Company which ultimately became the RizLa+ rolling paper company. In 1865, the formula for the rolling papers was changed to include rice paper. Riz is the french word for rice and La+ stands for Lacroix; croix is french for cross.

Here’s a fun fact. The first big contract of the Lacroix Rolling Paper Company was with the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte who granted them a license to produce the papers. French soldiers had previously been using pages from books to roll their cigarettes.

In 1883, the Lacroix family invented the cigarette rolling machine. Their basic design is still in use today. By 1900, RizLa+ rolling papers were sold throughout Europe and in the US. In 1906, they introduced flavored papers; menthol and strawberry. In 1942, the company patented their unique method of applying glue to the papers for sealing, making them the top company in the rolling paper market. The Lacroix family remained in control of RizLa+ until 1978 when they sold the company to Fernand Painblanc.

Composition of Rolling Papers

Natural wood-pulp was the first material used to produce rolling papers. By the beginning of the 19th century, various rolling paper companies starting using additional materials of hemp, rice and flax. A few companies use a cellulose fiber called esparto, also known as needle grass, grown in southern Spain and northwest Africa. However, it is more carcinogenic than the other materials used to make rolling papers, making it a less popular source.

Natural Wood Pulp

Pros: Thicker, easiest material to roll, incredibly sturdy and best for novices.
Cons: Burn fast and hot which often makes the joint smoke too quickly or unevenly which wastes product.

Brown or light brown in color. If they are white, they have been bleached.

Hemp

Pros: Hemp is a very sustainable crop, so it is environmentally sound and it just seems right to have an all cannabis joint! The papers are medium-thin, rough and sturdy, providing a good grip for rolling. The mild hemp flavor will not impact the taste of your favorite cannabis strain. Light brown in color and unbleached. Medium burn rate and they stay lit longer than rice papers.
Cons: More difficult to work with than wood pulp but easier than other materials; tendency to absorb and release humidity.

Rice

Pros: Very thin so they burn slowly, good for your health and has almost no external aftertaste.
Cons: Smooth paper makes them more difficult to handle, they do not smoke well in damp, humid conditions.

Flax

Pros: Thin as rice but easy to roll like wood-pulp and hemp. Flax joints are less combustible so there is less smoke and more flavor.

Fiber Blends

Some companies use a combination of different plant fibers which results in a joint which is easy to roll and which burns slowly and evenly.

Bleached versus Unbleached

Many of the most popular brands of rolling papers are bleached. They use chemical treatments that are bad for your health, for the environment and they taint the flavor of your favorite cannabis strain. The most common chemicals are chlorine and calcium carbonate. Oxygen, ozone and hydrogen peroxide are also currently being used for bleaching. The agents make the joint burn more slowly. Avoid using bleached papers!

Types of Adhesive

Avoid brands where the adhesive ingredients are not listed on the product.

  • Gum Arabic is a natural product made from the sap of two different species of the Acacia tree. It is safe, non-toxic and is the most common type of adhesive; also used on stamps and envelopes.
  • Sugar-based glue

Novelty Papers

While it may be appealing to use flavored blunt wraps for your joints, please be aware that they are higher in pesticides such as Cypermethrin and Chlorpyrifos and heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury. Clear cellulose papers contained the highest rate of contaminants.

Interesting Facts About Different Rolling Paper Brands

  • Zig-Zag Papers
    Zig-Zag combined wood-pulp and organic hemp fibers to produce their papers using the natural glue, gum Arabic. Their white papers go through an oxygenation process for whitening which uses no bleach or chlorine and leaves no residue on the papers. The company was founded in Paris in 1855 by the Braunstein brothers. In 1882, they built a cigarette paper production plant near Mantes-la-Jolie, 30 miles from the center of Paris. In 1894, they invented what is now the most popular packaging process of “interleaving” the papers in the packet in which each paper is folded in such a way that it links to the next paper. They named the company Zig-Zag after this unique packaging process.
  • JOB Papers
    In 1838, artist Paul Harvey was commissioned by the company to paint pictures which featured the brand in the style of art nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha
  • Bugler Papers
    This brand was used by prisoners for many years
  • RAW Papers
    This brand raised awareness of their use of organic materials for their papers as vegan and additive-free
  • Elements Papers
    The makers patented a magnetic system to keep the paper booklet closed after every use

Sources:
leafly.com, Everything You Need To Know About Rolling Papers, Explained, presented by Zig-Zag, Dec. 18, 2020
rollingpaperdepot.com, The History of Rolling Papers
everyonedoesit.com, Why Should You Avoid Bleached Rolling Papers? Adrian V, May 07, 2017
royalqueenseeds.com, The Different Kinds of Rolling Papers Explained, Dec. 5, 2018
leafly.com, Rolling Papers, Blunt Wraps May Harbor Heavy Metals, Pesticides, Mitchell Colbert, Sept. 2, 2020

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