1. Smokeless Tobaccos

This broad category of tobacco product includes any oral or nasal tobacco preparation that is used without burning it. The names for them are confusing. Below is a delightful, historical perspective on snuff, snus and dip, provided by squeezyjohn, a member of the Fair Trade Tobacco Forum from Great Britain

The confusion is an historical one connected with the spread around the globe of different tobacco types, which took them through several languages as well!


Snuff is an old English term for anything powdered you took medicinally through the nostrils, related to the word sniff. It was one of the many techniques used to get old herbal remedies in to the body, and we still use related words like snuffling or snuffly to describe the sound of a person with a cold (or an animal that sounds similar).

Around the year 1500 the first travelers to the new world of the Americas discovered tobacco being used by the native elders in a snuff format, via types of tubes, and brought the plant back with them to Spain and Portugal, where it was touted as a new medicine to be used as a powdered form taken in to the nostrils.

In the 1560s a Frenchman called Jean Nicot was ambassador in Lisbon. He sent some tobacco back to Paris, where Queen Catherine had been suffering from chronic headaches, and advised her to use it to relieve the pain. It worked very well, and became fashionable amongst upper class and courtly circles throughout France and wider Europe. Jean Nicot's name lives in history as the Latin name of the plant family Nicotiana...and by association, the chemical nicotine is also named after him.

Snuff gained it's English name when it arrived in the English courts of the early 1600s, as this was already the name for a medicine taken nasally. Over time, the word snuff became almost exclusively associated with this form of tobacco. Meanwhile, this nasal tobacco spread to Sweden via the courts as well. The word Snus is of a similar Germanic origin to the English word snuff, and is first documented in Swedish in 1637. At that time it still referred to nasal snuff. By the 1700s, nasal "snus" was very popular in Sweden, and tobacco farming had become a common thing throughout the country (unlike in England, which relied on it's American colonies to provide tobacco).

By the early 1800s, tobacco use had filtered down to all levels of Swedish Society, however the farmers and workers had taken to using their ground up tobacco by wetting it a little, and placing it in their upper lips, instead of using their noses. Presumably this was an easier way to use the product while actively working. This method became the default way of using snus, while nasal snuff was rapidly going out of fashion amongst the upper classes. Certain brands and recipes were set up in this period, including Ljunglof's Ettan (Ettan means number one in Swedish) which is still available today, made by Swedish Match. Many other brands followed including Generalsnus (regular snus) and RÖda Lacket (Red Seal).

In the late 1800s, more than a million Swedes crossed the Atlantic to set up new lives in the USA, and brought their snus habit with them. Brands were set up to serve the demand, and some used old Swedish names like Copenhagen and Red Seal. Throughout the 1900s the styles of recipe used in this oral tobacco diverged in it's Swedish homeland and in the USA, so the products now are very distinct from each other. The word snus was still in common use as an alternative to dip as late as the 1950s in some parts of the USA. Nowadays, "dip" or "snuff" is the normal word used in the states to describe American moist oral tobacco [even though dry, nasal snuff is still its own distinct product in the US]. But the term dip has yet another nasal-snuff related origin from much earlier in history. During the British colonial period, the French-inspired upper-class snuff habit had also made the journey across the Atlantic. Whereas cigars became the favourite form of tobacco use amongst gentlemen, ladies took to dipping a moistened stick in nasal snuff and rubbing it in to their gums, which was considered more discrete and ladylike than either snorting it or smoking cigars! Dipping became the term for this, and at some point in the 1900s the term became confused with the recently imported Swedish form of using snus in the upper lip. The American preference for dipping in the lower lip also happened at some point in time near this.

So there you have it. Snuff, snus, dip. It's all really the same thing, separated by cultural evolution over time, and several language changes.

2. Dry Snuff

At its most basic, nasal snuff is simply fully cured and aged tobacco leaf, pulverized to a fine or coarse dust. A screen can be used to remove any larger bits or pieces. Some have used a burr mill coffee grinder to pulverize the leaf, after stemming it. The variety of leaf used is your choice.

It can be used unflavored (or unscented), or essential oil can be added to modify its character. This is usually dissolved in water or plain alcohol (e.g. vodka), then mixed into the powder. For nasal use, it needs to first be fully dried.

An Example of an American-style loose dry snuff

3. Moist Snus

Moist snus is intended for oral use, either loose, or enclosed within a permeable packet.

A recipe for Swedish snus from jojjas, a member of the Fair Trade Tobacco Forum from Sweden:

You could use any kind of tobacco leaf you want, even stems could be used (I prefer burley and or Virginia), but they must be very dry or it becomes to heavy to grind them. You could even use unfermented leaves, but only if they are dry.

Grind tobacco leaf to a fine powder, something between fine sawdust and oatmeal flour. When that is done, add equal weight of tobacco flour with boiling water, with approx 50-70g salt (2-2.75 oz weight). You could use more salt if you prefer.

example: 0.5kg tobacco you should mix with 0.5 liters water (1 pound tobacco: 1/2 quart of water).

Then mix tobacco and salty water together, so everything is well mixed, and then put it in the plastic container and press it hard with the end of a wooden plank or something similar, to remove excess water. Put on the lid and make sure its tight.

Place the container in a 90°C (~194°F) oven for 24 hours (Here is where the fermentation occurs.)

After 24 hours, take out the container and mix the tobacco so there are no lumps.

Next step is a little bit critical. Do this out side. If its hot direct from oven, it can irritate your eyes and nose when you mix it together.

[ Editor's note: Sodium carbonate is a relatively strong alkali, and will react with iron, aluminum and other metals. The mixing and heating with sodium carbonate should be performed in a non-reactive container—stainless steel, ceramic, glass, a well-enameled pot without interior scratches, or an oven-safe plastic container, in order to avoid dissolving some metal into the snus. The oven temperature is below the boiling point of water.

Sodium carbonate can be made from sodium-bicarbonate—common baking soda (not baking powder) by heating it in the oven at ~ 93° C (200°F) for about an hour.]

Boil 0.25 liters (1 cup) water with 40-70 g of sodium carbonate, and add to the tobacco. (I prefer 45-50g.) If you want stronger (more nicotine, stronger) snus use, the high dosage. Put it in the plastic container and press it hard with the end of a wooden plank or something similar. Put on the lid, and make sure its tight. Place it in the oven for 12 hours at 90°C (~194°F).

After 12 hours, take out the snus from the oven, let it cool down, and mix it well so there are no lumps. Now its the time add flavor if you want, and perhaps some substance to keep it moist (glycerin or PPG). Store it in refrigerator to keep it moist and fresh.


A recipe for Swedish snus from POGreen, a member of the Fair Trade Tobacco Forum from Sweden.

This is how I make 5.5 Ibs of ''Swedish Snus '':

2.2 Ibs tobacco powder (I use a meat grinder to grind my leaves.)
1.75oz to 3.5oz of Salt
1.2 liters or 2.5 pints of water

Heat the water in a saucepan to lukewarm, take the pan off the burner, and pour the salt into the water to dissolve it by stirring it until the water is clear.

Have the tobacco powder in a bucket, and pour the lukewarm saltwater over the powder. Mix them with your hands, or a spoon, if it's too hot. MIX VERY WELL.

You should have 2 plastic boxes with lids to put the mixed, wet tobacco powder into.

Take a little at a time. Give the powder a light packing all the way to the top. There should be no holes in the lids.

Preheat the oven to 194°F.

Make sure the boxes can take 200°F in the oven. [Microwave-safe food containers should be fine.] Heat for 24 hours.

Warm 1.5 pints of water in a non-reactive saucepan [stainless, ceramic, glass, or well-enameled] to lukewarm. Take the pan OUTSIDE, then add 1.75 ounces to 3.5 ounces (weight) of sodium carbonate. Dissolve it by stirring until it is clear.

Remove the box of heated tobacco from the oven. Pour the tobacco into a clean bucket, together with the sodium carbonate solution, and mix it very thoroughly with a spoon.

Transfer the mixture back into the boxes, and cover it. Return them to the oven at 194° F for another 12 hours.

Allow the heated boxes to cool with THE LID ON. When it's cooled to about room temperature, store it in the fridge.

The longer you keep it in the fridge, the better.

The sodium carbonate raises the pH (makes it more alkaline), and increases nicotine absorption. For increasing the apparent strength of the snus, consider using a stronger tobacco instead of using too much sodium carbonate, which can irritate the mouth.

I have used both a Swedish type of Virginia called Alida, together with rustica. Rustica is great for snuff, in my opinion.


A recipe for snus from Nic, a member of the Fair Trade Tobacco Forum from Finland.

We need:

--An oven

--A meat thermometer to monitor oven temperature

--Roasting bags (that are designed for oven use) and a baking dish to support the bag

--Something to grind the tobacco with, like a meat grinder


--Big bowl or bucket

--Tobacco leaves

Remove the midrib of each leaf. Allow the leaf to dry for a few days at room temperature. You can add some of the midrib, so long as it's not moldy, to the leaf for grinding. A hand-cranked meat grinder that is connected to a power drill is one way to grind.


--100 grams of salt

--100 grams of sodium carbonate or potash. If you do not have access to this, painting soda

or soda ash can be bought from the local hardware store and serves as a good substitute

--1 kg of tobacco flour.

--1-1.5 liters of water.

Step 1: Mix the boiling water with salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Mix the saltwater with the

tobacco flour in a bowl. Stir well until all the tobacco flour is "wet".

Set the oven at 90°C (~194°F) and let snuff bake in the sealed roasting bag for at least 24 hours.

Step 2: OUTDOORS, mix the sodium carbonate with about 3-5 cups hot water and mix with the baked tobacco flour. Stir well!

Step 3: Bake the snus for 12h in 90°C (~194°F) oven, in a sealed roasting bag.

Step 4: Pack the snus in buckets or boxes and leave cool for about 2 weeks.

An alternative method is to extend the cooking time in step 1, to 3-5 days and skip step 3. This result

in a true black and delicious snus but unfortunately this method increases the risk of the snus getting

burned. The process requires some monitoring. Flip the roasting bag every day, and make sure it is

tightly closed. If you think your snus looks dry after some time in the oven, you can add more water.

Choosing tobacco variety.

The choice of tobacco variety affects the flavor of the end product to some degree. The traditional

types used in snus production are Burley, flue-cured, dark air and fire-cured.

--Burley gives a good tobacco taste, and is perfect for making snus. Usually rich in nicotine,

a personal favorite!

--Flue-cured usually gives less taste, and contain less nicotine. Suitable to mix with other varieties.

--Dark Air usually contains more nicotine but, according to me, it is less flavorful than the burley.

--Fire-cured varieties provide a strong, smoky flavor, and are perfect as a complement to the other variants.


4. Chew

a. Twist
Making a twist for chew begins with whole leaf tobacco (variety of your choice, or any blend) in high case, from which the thickest portion of each stem has been removed. Several leaves are clamped together at the tip, and twisted tightly, gradually adding additional leaves to increase the length to about 2 feet of twisted tobacco. Continue twisting until the length begins to coil upon itself, leaving an open loop in the middle, with the two ends twisted together. The ends are twisted out to a point, tied together in a knot, or wrapped with the end of a leaf or some string. (Sometimes a wrapper is added to the entire length. This is done by wrapping the first wrapper for as far as it will wrap, then beginning the next wrapper leaf so that it overlaps the previous wrapper leaf for at least an inch or two.) Hang the twist to dry. For use, a disc of tobacco is sliced off with a sharp knife.

Old fashion twist Old fashion twist, from the southern US. []

b. Loose
A recipe for loose dip from Jitterbugdude, a member of the Fair Trade Tobacco Forum from Maryland.
1. Pack a mason jar with shredded tobacco to which I have added a salt/water mixture to get it nice and moist (not sopping wet).
2. Cook for 8 hours at 185°F (The time is not that critical so don't get wrapped around "exactly 8 hours"). I'm not sure why you would want to do a double cook (like they do for snus making) but for dip it would be a waste of time.
3. Pour hot tobacco into large stainless or ceramic bowl, and add glycerin/sweetener.
4. Let cool/age for about a week. (I keep the bowl on a counter top with a lid partially covering the bowl. I fluff up the dip once per day.)
5. After about a week or two, I will separate the dip into smaller batches and add my various flavorings.

Into a large mixing bowl:
Add 3 cups of packed tobacco
Mix 1/2 tsp of salt to 60cc (1/4 cup) of water (You can double the water if you like. It's an art more than a science.) Add the salt/water solution to the tobacco. Stir well and let it set for about 20-30 minutes. It will seem very dry at first but after about 20 minutes the tobacco will absorb all of the water.

Place in a small pint mason jar (the flat squat kind), and seal. Place in a crock pot. Fill completely with water. You will need to add a weight to the top of the jar otherwise it will float. Make sure your jar is short enough to fit in your crock pot and completely covered in water.

Place in Crockpot, slip in a temperature probe from your Thermostat. Set for 185°F and cook for 8 hrs. I use hot tap water. It'll take about 2 hours to reach 185° but that's ok. 8 hrs, for the overall process is fine.

After 8 hours, use canning tongues (or a thick glove) and remove the jar. Pour contents into a big bowl.

Xylitol 2 tsp
pure sucralose 2 tsp
glycerin 2 Tbsp
Stir with your hands or a fork. Place partially covered on a counter top for 1 to 2 weeks. You want it to dry out some because if it is too wet it will mold. It'll initially stink. For a cover I use a fine mesh screen. This allows good air circulation and prevents bugs etc from getting in the container.
After the waiting period, try some. Then add a flavor of your choice. The amount of flavoring to add is very personal. Start light, and add till you like the taste.
I store large amounts in the freezer.

Notes: 2 Tbsp of glycerin makes a somewhat dry mix while 4 Tbsp makes a wet mix. I like things sweet, so 2 tsp of pure sucralose might be too sweet for you. You just need to make small batches to find something you like.

Flavorings I like: Wintergreen, Anise, Orange, Maple and apple-cinnamon.

For a sweetener I use Xylitol and pure Sucralose. Since I am going to have dip in my mouth I do not want to use sugar. Xylitol has excellent anti-tooth cavity properties as well as anti-microbial properties (the two being related). You can use any sweetener you want (sugar, honey) but I prefer to make mine sugar-free.

The effect of glycerin is two fold. It has good anti-microbial properties, and it adds "mouth feel" to the tobacco. This means that when you put dip in your mouth, all the flavor will not be sucked out in 30 seconds.