Water activity and tobacco

Water activity and tobacco

Curing tobacco causes changes in both chemical composition and moisture.  Tightly controlling moisture allows quality control managers to deliver a consistent product.  Traditionally, this has been done with a loss-on-drying moisture balance, but water activity offers a better alternative.

Measuring moisture

For a particular product, water activity and moisture are linked: if one goes up, so does the other.  So if you want a better way to measure moisture, water activity can give it to you.  Why? Water activity meters are much more sensitive to changes in moisture than most moisture content meters.  This is because on dry tobacco products, a tiny change in moisture creates a large change in water activity.  When compared with AOAC approved moisture methods like oven drying, water activity gives you about 10x more precision.

Fungal growth

“Wet” agricultural products are susceptible to fungal growth until their water activities are brought into a lower range.  Usually, this means getting your product under the water activity level of 0.7aw as soon as you can.  Measuring water activity will always tell you if your product is at risk, regardless of which product you’re measuring.  

Regulatory compliance

Tobacco products are regulated by the FDA, and water activity is the only moisture-related reading that is accepted by the FDA as a critical control point.

Master the basics

Get the essentials of water activity condensed in this 20 minute webinar. You’ll learn:

-What water activity is
-How it’s different from moisture content
-Why it controls microbial growth
-How understanding water activity can help you control moisture in your product.

Get the complete picture

Learn everything about how water activity can increase your profit and improve product quality and safety—all in one place.

Download The Food Manufacturer’s Complete Guide to Water Activity—>

Learn how to predict shelf-life using water activity.

Download The Food Manufacturer’s Complete Guide to Shelf Life—>

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Microbial growth

Water activity predicts which bacteria, mold, and fungal growth.

Measure water activity in 5 minutes

Not a “quick mode” reading, but a direct measure of water activity to 0.003. No calibration, no approximation.