The Weight of Cigar Smoke

Hang around a cigar shop long enough and you will no doubt run into the old question, “Can you figure the weight of cigar smoke?”

The conversation starts out light enough (no pun intended) but it can get serious real quick as more and more people weigh in (pun intended).

First off, here is the history.

Rumor is, Sir Walter Raleigh once said that a large portion of a cigar is “smoke” and that he could effectively weigh it.

Here is what he did…

1. Weighed the cigar before smoking.

2. Smoked the cigar while carefully saving all of the ash created.

3. Weighed the ash (along with the remaining butt).

4. Subtracted the end weight (ash and butt) from the start weight (whole cigar).

5. The difference, he surmised, was the “weight of cigar smoke.”

Sounds simple enough huh? Probably best to leave it at that.

Enter the geeks…

As the evening progresses (and possibly some drinks) someone in the crowd knows more than they should and still gets an issue of popular science delivered to their home.

Then something like this comes up…

“But what is ash? I mean generally there are oxides of Si, P, Ca, Fe, Cu, Zn, and K. You need to consider what those elements were bound to before combustion. You also need to consider the temperature and pressure of the surrounding environment. I suppose a muffle furnace would suffice.”

What the hell?

OK Sheldon, sit down in your favorite cigar chair and shut up. Sheesh. Some people take all the fun out of it.

 

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