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Snuff making 101



  • "After studying some more I have realized the dangers of essential oils, I hope maybe airing it out will help? I'm shocked how deadly they can actually be!"
    where did you see that essential oil can be dangers ?
  • volungevolunge Member
    edited October 2018 PM
    It depends on amount and particular oil, I would guess. Certain oils might be safer than others. Some snuff manufacturers use eucalyptus oil (up to 4.5% of total weight) and star-anise oil (up to 0,5137%). I'm not sure, though, but I think these oils are essential.

    By far safest ways to scent snuff are addition of herbal distillate ( and indirect scenting.

  • SammyD13SammyD13 Unconfirmed
    edited October 2018 PM
    As some members have pointed out, it's safest (when flavoring directly) to go with food-grade additives.
  • Making snuff is easy. To make long story short, I used locally grown tobacco (55-58 N, Latvia). Surprisingly, this pretty much unsmokable northern baccy makes really good snuff!

    7.4 g tobacco, 3 ml water, 0.4 g sodium carbonate anhydrous, 0.2 g salt.

    Leaves (two unknown varieties, both air cured, 2016 harvest; 50/50 blend used):

    Setup: bowls, potato masher, sieve, scales. Powder in the foil is sodium carbonate (0.4 g), powder in the lid is salt (0.2 g; scales display shows the weight with WoS 5 g tin lid). I used plastic glass for measuring (weighing) water and baking paper for sieving (no photos, sorry).


    Unsieved flour:


    Left: sifted blended flour (dry). Right: the snuff after 48 hours, warm-fermented on the top of the stove (26-50 C).

  • SammyD13SammyD13 Unconfirmed
    @volunge excellent piece and nice work! The potato masher is a great idea, too.
  • Awesome. Can't wait to have a go. What was the final yield? Trying to work out what my wastage would be on an order of whole leaf.
  • @volunge : after finished sieving and adding those sodium carbonate + salt, you toasted them again? I used microwave to toast those finished tobacco flour :D
  • volungevolunge Member
    edited February 2019 PM
    @Sammy, I don't have a proper mortar and pestle, but potato masher and ceramic bowl worked like a charm. Next time I'll try a rolling pin (kudos to @linguist for the idea: I've used electric coffee grinder years ago and was quite content with the grind. This time I wanted to go in old-timey manner, just to enjoy the whole process more, including the olfactorial part of grinding pleasure.

    @junior, just above 10 g. I have limited amount of baccy (100 g) for experiments and want to try out different alkalizers in various ratios, so I'm micro batching only. I got my tobacco leaves in broken / scrap-like condition and it would be a pain to separate all the midribs and larger veins. However, after longer usage I find stem particles a bit cloggy, so I'll definitely try a pure lamina batch someday, saving the midribs for a toast or chewing (I really dig them midribs as a straightforward chew!). If you like moist snuff, you can add water up to 40-35 percent and this will relatively compensate the midrib/stem wastage.

    @artificialme, I didn't. My leaves are close to bone-dry, so no toasting was needed for grinding. Only bigger particles which didn't pass the sieve were extra dried for some minutes on the radiator for easier regrind. I aimed for the moist snuff. Actually, even if you are making dry snuff, you need to allow tobacco flour to stay moist (talking about 20-40 percent of water) after the addition of alkalizer (i. e. water solution of it) for some time (at least overnight) to properly absorb the alkali. You can reduce the moisture later. Be careful with microwave, I had wasted mine while drying some herbs in my teens :)

    Some tips for small batch runners.

    Get yourself a set of proper precision balance scales with weights (10 mg-100 g), you won't regret it. Cheap digital scales with 0.1 g accuracy I use now is a headache for weighing those tiny amounts of salts. If you prefer digital, go for precision one (jewelry grade) with 0.01 g accuracy. Still, it won't beat the good old balance scales.

    Avoid wearing fabrics which have tendency to build up static electricity charge. Statically electrified tobacco powder is really annoying to work with.

    20 percent of water (with alkalizer dissolved) is enough for moisturizing tobacco flour. Most probably you will want to add more water at this point. Resist it. Just use a teaspoon to blend the solution with the tobacco powder. It takes time (5-10 minutes for 10 grams), but eventually your tobacco will become evenly moisturized. You can taste your snuff right now, you'll be fascinated with the natural tobacco aroma!

    Don't hurry with the salt, it inhibits fermentation. Add it to taste later (after 24 hours, at least; or even later, if you want your snuff to undergo deep fermentation in warm environment and turn dark), i. e. small amount of aqueous solution, 200-600 mg for 1 ml of water (that is per 7.4 g of tobacco in my case).
  • More snuff out than tobacco leaf in. That sounds great
  • volungevolunge Member
    edited March 2019 PM
    I'm really fond of this potato masher grind, which is fairly close to my favourite Molens:
    Molens Hermbstedt's Brasil with Kashubian sauce (left, dried out) and my homemade before the addition of aqueous sodium carbonate solution.

    Coarse grind and sufficient moisture (20-30 percent) are the key factors for rich tobacco aroma delivery. If you love natural tobacco flavour, go coarse and moist. I tried it really fine and dry and didn't enjoy it at all. Salt, while acting as preservative and taste enhancer, should be used with caution - 2 percent (by weight) is enough for both purposes (snus contains 1.2-3.5 percent of salt). I upped the salt to 4 percent in my latest batch and found this amount excessive, resulting in pronounced forward drip and sharper nose burn. Extra burn is OK, but I prefer minimal drip, so will stick to 2 percent (or less) in my next batches.

    And a word of warning - making snuff is addictive, probably even more than the snuff itself.

  • Looks good !

    Jaap Bes.
  • I grow a Hopi Indian rustica in the summer months. The leaves are rather small, but if I age them for a year or 2, I can make a pretty decent snuff by grinding and adding some sodium carbonate mixed with distilled water and salt. Not nearly as good as the Dutch windmill snuffs of course, but it's nice to have something I made myself.
  • This is fantastic. You've become a scientist @volunge ! :) Talk soon brother
  • KhefKhef Member
    I will attempt to make my own natural flavored snuff this weekend or next. Both are samples I just ordered:

    Nicotiana Rustica (Wild Tobacco) 

    Fronto Dark Air Cured (ALO) (Kentucky and Tennessee region)

  • KhefKhef Member
    @Volunge. Thank You. I just made a batch(above recipe), of a Nicotainia Rustica and mixed leaf batch. Coarse and a little moist. Accidentally spilled a local India Pale Ale in it, when can exploded. 
     The batch is drying now. I tried as a dip and was satisfied. I don't usually dip. I did add 2 drops of cherry flavoring, and 3 drops of Orange to the water.
  • volungevolunge Member
    edited April 2019 PM
    Non-alkalized (left) vs alkalized (right):


    Same tobacco, same moisture (20%). Both plain (unscented).

    Left: non-alkalized, lightly salted (1% sodium chloride) snuff. No changes of colour and aroma in the course of one week. Low nicotine, very slow release, mild burn, no ammonia, moderate drip.

    Right: snuff instantaneously turned darker after the addition of sodium carbonate (10% of total weight, dissolved in water). Noticeable emission of ammonia at room temperature in the course of the first hour, pronounced ammonia next day and later on. High nicotine, fast release, sharp burn, strong forward drip. Smell is mildly sourish, similar to rye bread.

  • volungevolunge Member
    edited May 2019 PM
    A very simple way to scent small amounts of any coarse and moist snuff (10-15 g):


    Open a tea bag, replace the tea with a  g e n e r o u s  amount of natural scenting medium of your choice (ground coffee, spices, dried and crushed herbs, fruits or mushrooms), fold or stapple to close shut, put into the large tin or snus can with snuff, cover the lid and leave for some hours or overnight. Give occasional shake. Use large snuff tin or snus can.

    Freshly ground coffee and caraway seeds worked like a charm with my homemade, Taxi Red and NTSU.

  • OK, I've got a mortar and pestle, and have just ordered a pound of non-steamed whole leaf Rustica (and some seeds).I get the basic recipe. My eventual goal is to mimic my favorite snuffs as closely as possible. So, NB Madras I think might not be bad. Next two are White Elephant and L260. If I could get close to those, I'll be all set. Suggestions? How about a good resource for growing? I'm in Maine, so a short growing season. 


    Hand-crafted pens and other
  • SammyD13SammyD13 Unconfirmed
    edited June 2019 PM
    @mecompco it's always great to see a snuffer starting the craft! Perhaps we'll be sampling your creations some day? 
    I'd suggest reading up on the gardening threads and posting there. You'll probably see posts from other members who are experienced tobacco gardeners who could provide specific advice, too. Just a couple of them:

  • @mecompco ... for growing, curing and fermentation questions there is no better source than the Fair Trade Tobacco Forum.  It's the forum for who I also strongly support for the best whole leaf out there, IMHO.

    If you're going to want to use menthol (L260), this is what I use and it's great:

    Lastly, the M&P is great for finishing small quantities but a food processor and coffee grinder make quicker work of it for me.  

    Welcome aboard and happy snuffing!  :)

  • @Cobguy I actually ordered a pound of Rustica leaf from as well as some Rustica seeds today. I didn't notice their forum, will check it out. I've now got your recommended menthol in my Amazon cart. I'm thinking a ball mill--the M&P is already getting old. I probably go through a kilo of snuff a year, so will need to think about production. Of course, next will be making my own snus at some point. Projects never end.

    Thanks for the advice!

    Hand-crafted pens and other
  • volungevolunge Member
    edited June 2019 PM
    That's how they grind it in Kashubia (Poland/Eastern Pomerania):

  • Same size in Bavaria:
    I wish my tools were that big!

  • CobguyCobguy Member
    edited June 2019 PM

    My pleasure, @mecompco.  Have fun!  :)

    @volunge, great video and I love those old horn snuff containers.  Very cool!



    It would be interesting to browse through.
  • CobguyCobguy Member
    edited November 2019 PM

    Wow!  That looks like one interesting read!!  :)

  • volungevolunge Member
    edited December 2019 PM
    My latest 11 g micro batch of Orient Samsoun coarse:


    Ingredients: tobacco 7.5 g, water 3 ml, sodium carbonate 0.4 g, ammonium chloride (salmiak) 0.1 g.


    1. Aqueous sodium carbonate solution (2 ml water and 0.4 g sodium carbonate) worked into the tobacco flour, left overnight.

    2. Aqueous ammonium chloride solution (0.1 g of salmiak per 1 ml of water) worked into the snuff, left to rest for a couple of hours.

    3. Final sieving on the third day.

    Love this recipe, will make more! So glad I purchased some salmiak this summer, it really adds to the nose burn, ammonia content and rounds up the back drip. I'll replace sodium carbonate with potash next time to explore the difference.

  • Looks great!  :)

  • volungevolunge Member
    edited December 2019 PM
    @Cobguy, thanks! Making another batch :)

    Just found this mass fraction calculator: (really handy for quick calculation of ingredient percentage by mass; apparently doesn't work with decimal fractions, though).

  • @volunge if you were in the US, your PM inbox might have as many messages from me as @Cobguy 's B-)
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