Rolling papers, otherwise known by a number of slang terms, such as 'skins' are used to construct home-made cigarettes, with tobacco.
The variety of papers available in your local tobacconist has increased dramatically in the last ten years. Previously, you could usually only get hold of the major brand, Rizla, but nowadays companies such as Swan1 have branched out to make papers. Several rolling tobacco manufacturers also provide their own brand of papers with the tobacco they sell, such as Amber Leaf, while Drum tobacco sometimes runs promotional schemes with their own papers.
What Makes One Paper Different to Another?
Standard Rizla-type papers are approximately 70mm x 35mm, while their King Size products are 100mm x 40mm. There are also a number of speciality brands that produce papers larger than these, Rips being probably the most famous paper for length - one packet contains a roll of continuous paper (approx 70mm x several metres) and you just tear the length you require off the roll.
Weight or Thickness
Cigarette papers come in a variety of thicknesses - from the ultra thin such as Rizla Blue and Club, through to the heavyweights like Zig Zag and Rizla White. Generally speaking, the thinner the paper, the less a smoker will be able to taste the paper content of the cigarette. At the same time, the thinner the paper, the more chance there is of it disintegrating when licked.
Rizla papers use 'gum arabic', a vegetable-based glue. Some brands, such as Brownie, which is actually made from tobacco, use no gum at all, the paper itself becoming sticky when wet. Ultra-thin brands such as 'Club' also seal without gum, relying on the thin paper and the roller's saliva to stick the sides together.
Filters and Roaches
Some tobacco cigarette smokers like to include a filter in their roll-ups. These usually consist of a cylinder of tightly woven cotton-wool-like material, and come in a variety of sizes from 'King Size', which are the same size as ready made cigarettes, to 'Extra Slim', which are just 4mm in diameter. Those smoking more herbal mixtures use 'roaches', a piece of cardboard rolled into a tube.
When using filters, care must be taken not to use too thin a paper, and you mustn't wet the paper too much when licking, otherwise there is a risk the paper will tear where the end of the filter meets the tobacco, rendering the cigarette useless for smoking. This problem also exists with roaches, although to a lesser degree. The advantages of cut cornered papers for tucking in the paper as the roll begins is negated when using filters and roaches, although the advantages for rolling in the dark remain.
These are papers that come on a roll in a box and you tear them off at the required length. The 'RS' brand comes in a similar dispenser.
- Blue - Medium weight, slow burning, vegetable gum. 53mm x 5m.
- Green - Lightweight rice paper, vegetable gum, low ash. 44mm x 5m.
- Red - Medium weight paper, vegetable gum. 37mm x 7m.
- Hemp - Pure hemp paper, slow-burning, vegetable gum. 53mm x 5m.
No4 - A benchmark for other brands, which appeals to a lot of people, thanks to its ultra-thin pure flax paper and natural arabic gum.
King Size - 53 x 98 mm ultra-thin flax paper and natural arabic gum.
Slim - Ultra-thin flax paper and natural arabic gum.
1.1/4 - More commonly known as 'Spanish size'; ultra-thin flax paper and natural arabic gum, size 45 x 77 mm.
No8 - This booklet is made with an ultra thin, transparent and watermarked paper.
Waterproof - Standard size papers that come in an orange double pack, you can smoke and roll in the rain with these.
The Jungle paper - The paper is made from flax and hemp with a totally neutral taste.
Club papers are extremely thin ungummed papers, which produce almost no ash when they burn. They are made entirely from natural fibres, with no additives such as bleach.
- Cabaret - Club's standard sized papers.
- Bistro - Double-width papers.
Rizla are probably the most common brand in the UK, and have been making papers for rolling since 1796. The brand name Rizla was created from a combination of the French family name, Lacroix (the cross/la+), and Riz, the French for 'rice' of which the papers were originally made. Rizla has become such a popular brand that the word 'Rizla' has become synonymous with 'cigarette paper'. Rizla's different types of paper come in different coloured packets:
Red - Medium weight papers, and the most popular of Rizla's range. These are available in standard and king size.
Green - Similar to red, but have two small corners removed. Allegedly these were designed for use in cigarette rolling machines, however the cut corners are easier to tuck in when rolling by hand. The corners are also a convenient touch guide as to which way around the paper is, making rolling in the dark a much easier task.
Blue - The thinnest papers in the Rizla range are those in the blue packets. These are very fine, and produce very little ash. The blue packet colour is often copied as a guide to paper thickness, the only papers thought to be thinner than these are the Dutch/French brand OCB, which comes in white packets.
Liquorice - Liquorice comes in orange packs. These papers offer a more refined taste with a hint of liquorice.
White - A heavyweight perforated paper, supposedly giving a smoother smoke.
Swan's papers are very similar to the Rizla range, following the same colour code and types, with only the White variety missing from their range. Swan use a different type of gum to Rizla, which many smokers feel is inferior. Their tag line 'Taste the tobacco, not the paper' gives the impression that their papers are thinner than most other brands, when in fact they are the same weight as equivalent Rizla products.
Various Other Brands
Bambu - All-natural glue, the Caribbean's most popular paper.
Zig Zag - Double-width cigarette papers ease rolling for fatter fags2. These papers have a very strong taste, which is not to everyone's liking.
Kulu - Pure hemp cigarette papers. Super king size 110 mm. Natural Arabic gum.
E-Z - Wider ultra-light 1 and 1.5 size cigarette papers for easy hand rolling.
Mascotte - Super king-size 100 mm. Ultra-thin, finest quality rice papers from France. These cigarette rolling papers are translucent. Extra width for easy rolling.
Jamaican Blunt - 100% pure hemp cigarette papers. 1 and 1.5 size for rolling with ease. Made in Spain.
Redmont - A heavy-feeling paper, these papers are easy to roll with, and steady burning. Available in bundles of eleven packs.
Many other brands of papers are available, but those listed above cover most of the variants of types.
h2g2 Related Links
Would you like to learn how to roll the perfect cigarette? h2g2 can show you how...
Do bear in mind, particularly if you're smoking in a public place, that tobacco smoke is a highly toxic substance - so please be considerate about who you subject to it.
And if you decide to try and kick the nicotine habit, the h2g2 guide to Giving up Smoking is a great place to start.
Disclaimer - This Entry is not designed to encourage people to take up smoking. If you don't do it now, don't start just because you like the sound of rolling papers.