What is a clove cigarette? Important Facts and Health Risks

Most people are familiar with tobacco cigarettes, but not all people have the privilege to experience a clove cigarette. If you are going to try this exotic smoke, you should know more about clove cigarettes.

Clove cigarette or kretek is made in Indonesia. It can be found almost anywhere in this tropical country. It isn’t just smoke with clove in it, and there is so much more about it! So, what is a clove cigarette?

What is a Clove Cigarette?

A clove cigarette or kretek is a cigarette made in Indonesia with a blend of clove and tobacco. Clove oil or ground clove are usually used to produce the kretek. There will be a 60-80 percent tobacco and a 20-40 percent clove inside kretek’s blend. 

Sometimes, a kretek maker will add other spices, like cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, and nutmeg to enhance the clove cigarette’s aroma and flavor. There are many types of clove cigarette based on how it is manufactured, such as:

1. Klobot Clove Cigarette

In the early era of clove cigarettes, klobot was used as the kretek’s wrapper. Klobot means corn husks in Javanese. When making klobot clove cigarette, the kretek maker will mix clove and tobacco before rolling the blend inside a dried corn husk with their hands.

Nowadays, klobot clove cigarettes can only be found in rural areas of East Java and enjoyed by the older generation.

2. Hand-rolled Clove Cigarette

The unique klobot soon was replaced by wrapping paper and thus marking the era of hand-rolled clove cigarettes.

The blend of clove and tobacco is manually rolled with paper wrap by skilled workers in the factory. Until now, hand-rolled clove cigarettes are still sold and manufactured for the public.

3. Machine-rolled Clove Cigarette

To increase the production for the mass, the clove cigarette company began to use machines to roll the kretek. Unlike hand-rolled clove cigarettes, machine-rolled kretek has a filter and resembles the western cigarette. 

The Story of Clove Cigarette

In Indonesia, clove cigarette is called kretek. The word ‘kretek’ was taken from the ‘kretek’ sound of the burning clove in the cigarette. 

The birth of clove cigarettes can be traced back to the 19th century when tobacco was grown extensively in Indonesia after it was introduced by the Dutch in the 17th century.

The history of clove cigarettes is quite fuzzy. It was believed that the inventor of clove cigarette was Haji Djamari. He combined clove with tobacco and rolled it into a cigarette using corn husks or klobot. The idea came after he used clove oil to treat his chest pain.

His clove cigarette was known as a ‘medicine cigarette’ after Djamari cured his chest pain by inhaling the kretek.

There is another version of the story that says a woman named Nasilah was the one who created clove cigarettes. Nasilah made the kretek by mixing clove and tobacco then wrapping it inside corn husks. She sold the clove cigarettes for dokar drivers and merchants. 

Later on, Nasilah married Nitisemito who used to be one of her clove cigarette customers. Nitisemito saw the kretek as a business opportunity and created a clove cigarette brand called ‘Tjap Bal Tiga’. The business grew into a successful company, making clove cigarettes popular in Kudus, Central Java.

Inspired by Nitisemito’s growing brand, many people started their clove cigarette companies, like Djarum and Sampoerna. Kretek began to spread locally and internationally.

How to Make a Clove Cigarette?

Clove cigarette consists of three main ingredients, clove, tobacco, and ‘sauce’. First, the kretek maker will choose the finest clove before chopping it into pieces.

Afterwards, the kretek maker must measure the number of chopped cloves and tobacco for the blend. One clove cigarette can contain more than 30 different types of tobacco.

The next step is to add the ‘sauce’ or a mixture of herbs, spices, and fruits extracts into the clove and tobacco blend. Each company will have its unique sauce recipe. Approximately there are more than 100 different materials in the sauce. 

The clove, tobacco, and sauce types can differ from one brand to another and give each of them its unique flavor and aroma. 

A sweetener, usually saccharin, is rubbed on the paper wrapping to give the kretek a sweet taste to complete the clove cigarette. 

Clove Cigarette Health Risks

Despite the pleasant taste and aroma, a threat lurking beneath clove cigarettes. Similar to tobacco cigarettes, kretek also poses the same damaging effects on health.

Consuming clove cigarettes regularly will put you at risk of having lower oxygen levels, inflammation, and fluids in your lungs. There are harmful substances in clove cigarettes that can endanger your health, such as:

1. Clove

The chemical compounds in clove can potentially increase your risk of having lung disease, allergy reaction, lung damage, and asthma.

The eugenol substance in the clove can numb the throat and possibly make the smokers unaware of the damage to their respiratory system due to tobacco smoke. The deeper you inhale the clove cigarette, the bigger the numbing effect.

Consuming clove or clove oil in a large dose can give you negative side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, rapid breathing and heartbeat, seizures, lung damage, sleepiness, burns on the mouth or throat, and tighten throat muscle.

2. Carbon Monoxide, Nicotine, and Tar

These three substances are ‘the dangerous trio’ in a tobacco cigarette. The bad news is those compounds are higher in clove cigarettes. People who smoke kretek have more risk of suffering from nicotine addiction, lung damage, lung cancer, respiratory infection, and asthma.

Trying to Figure Out Where to Buy Clove Cigarette?

In the U.S, flavored cigarettes, including clove cigarettes, are banned. Therefore, importing, selling, and manufacturing kretek is illegal. You can only find menthol-flavored cigarettes, flavored tobacco pipes, and cigars in the States.

Fortunately, if you are still interested in trying a kretek after knowing what is a clove cigarette, just quench your curiosity about the exotic kretek in Clove Cigarettes Online!

Clove Cigarettes Online has been providing various types of clove cigarettes to kretek lovers worldwide since 2009. Remember to check if you are allowed to have and consume clove cigarettes in your state before buying them.