Cigarette Butts Research

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!

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Research About the Only-Partially-Burnt Remnants of Smoked Cigarettes
compiled by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, Improbable Research staff

Cigarette Butt Odor in the Headspace
“Odor Analysis of Cigarette Butts by a Headspace Technique,” Katsuya Fukuhara, Takeshi Sakaki, Hirohiko Sakuma, and Shiro Sugawara, Agricultural and Biological Chemistry, vol. 49, no. 7, 1985, pp. 2177-2179. The authors, at the Central Research Institute of Japan Tobacco Inc., report:

The odor of cigarette butts is rather more unpleasant than that of the cigarette smoke. A study of the odor of cigar butts has been done [“Preliminary Study of Cigar Butt Headspace Vapors,” R.L. Peck, S.F. Osman, and J.L. Barson, Tobacco Science, vol. 13, 1969, pp. 38- 39], but no reports on the odor of cigarette butts have been found. In this paper... Unblended cigarette samples, namely flue-cured, Burley and Turkish, were smoked under standard conditions. Five mm lengths of the charred side of butts were cut off leaving 25 mm pieces. Two butts were placed in a vessel... and helium gas (20 ml/min) was passed through it for five minutes. The headspace volatiles of the butts... were analysed by gas chromatography according to a method previously reported.

Introducing Cigarette Butts Into Bricks
“Density, Strength, Thermal Conductivity and Leachate Characteristics of Light-Weight Fired Clay Bricks Incorporating Cigarette Butts,” Aeslina Abdul Kadir, Abbas Mohajerani, Felicity Roddick, and John Buckeridge, World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, vol. 2, no. 4, 2010, pp. 179-184. The authors, at RMIT University, Australia, report:

Several trillion cigarettes produced worldwide annually lead to many thousands of kilograms of toxic waste. Cigarette butts (CBs) accumulate in the environment due to the poor biodegradability of the cellulose acetate filters. This paper presents some of the results from a continuing study on recycling CBs into fired clay bricks.... The results found so far show that cigarette butts can be regarded as a potential addition to raw materials used in the manufacturing of light fired bricks.

Detail from the study “Density, Strength, Thermal Conductivity and Leachate Characteristics of Light-Weight Fired Clay Bricks Incorporating Cigarette Butts.”

Auto Defenestration of Cigar and Cigarette Butts
“Device for Ejecting Cigar and Cigarette Butts and Ashes From Automobiles,” U.S. Patent 2,646,164, issued July 21, 1953, to Morris Mermelstein. The inventor describes:

[A] device adapted for use on automobiles, and particularly in conjunction with draft windows thereon, for ejecting cigar, cigarette and ash materials therefrom, constituting a receptacle for such materials, ‘a receptacle holder adapted removably, to be secured to the draft window, whereby the receptacle can be swung to a position out of the confines of the automobile, and means pivotally securing the receptacle to the holder in order that the receptacle, when so positioned, will be adapted to remove the materials therefrom.

Effect of Cigarette Butts Extract on Steel
“Study of Cigarette Butts Extract As Corrosive Inhibiting Agent in J55 Steel Material,” S. Vahidhabanu, B. Rameshbabu, P. Suresh Babu, and H. Abdul Rahman, International Journal of Research in Engineering and Technology, vol. 3, no. 1, January 2014, pp. 444-452. The authors, at Anna University, CECRI (ACSIR Institute), and SRM University, India, report:

Cigarette butts are the one of the most common garbage worldwide, as an estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are deposited somewhere into the environment every year. Chemicals such as arsenic, nicotine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and heavy metals have been found to leach into water and can be the source of toxicity to life in marine and freshwater environments. The present study is to isolate crude extracts from littered cigarette butts using polar solvents, which is used as corrosion inhibitor for J55 oil well tubular steel used in acidization of oil well and gas production.


This article is republished with permission from the July-August 2017 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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