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Is it possible to make your own snus?

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  • Is it possible to make your own snus?

    Hi everybody,

    I was thinking as I`ve grown my own tobacco in the past, would it be possible to make my own snus? The ingredients are very simple, and it`s cured with steam, yes? If anyone has any experiences or info about this, I would be more than happy to hear them.

  • #2
    It must certainly be possible to make your own snus, although I'm not sure how easy it would be. Here is at least the qualitative process given by Swedish Match for making Kardus (the most detailed description of the snus-making process I've seen) - the first bit explains the snus-making bit more and the last bit focuses more on the tobacco selection and aging, etc. The tobacco preparation is quite well documented, but the critical steps are quite vague. Up to drying and cutting it seems quite clear, but the snus-making part is a bit sketchy.

    Snus is about 3% salt, so that's easy enough to estimate for quantity, and it ends up about 55% moisture, which is also easy enough to sort out, but whether "sweating" means steaming, which I think it might be, or whether it means to cook it, like in a pot, which it also sounds like it might be, is hard to say. Also, the amount of soda would be critical in getting right - snus has a pH of around 8-9, from what I remember, so that may be a bit of a guide, albeit one needing a bit of chemistry and trial-and-error to zone in on the right amount.

    Kardus is also cut, but you could powder the tobacco as well, I'm sure, to get a more traditional snus consistency.

    The E-number ingredients usually listed in commercial snus are

    Glycerol (E422) probably as some combination of solvent (for nicotine), an emmolient (to be nicer on the skin), and as a moisturiser.

    Propylene glycol (E1520) to hold the moisture in the snus and keep it from drying out too quickly

    Soda (E500) - for crashing the nicotine. Whether they use NaHCO3, Na2CO3, or NaOH is anyone's guess, but I would suspect probably NaHCO3.

    Best of luck, dude - sounds like a big project. 8)


    The Manufacturing of Kardus

    To retain the pure tobacco flavour the Kardus tobacco is cut not ground. With tobacco it's just like with garlic, there is a very big difference in taste between the cut and the ground product. After the tobacco is cut it's dried with heat and then cooled off. Salt is added for two reasons, to preserve and enhance the flavour, otherwise the taste will be flat. Then the tobacco is heated again this time in water while stirring, to get a tasty and mild flavour and then quickly cooled off. After that they "crash" ( Störtas ) the tobacco, it sounds worse than it is. To crash the tobacco is to add soda to increase the pH-value. Now the tobacco is ready to be called Snus tobacco. It has to mature for a week before packaging. That's the story of Kardus.


    Eight steps to Kardus – the world’s premiere snus


    The difference between snus, a smokeless tobacco product from Sweden, and smoking tobacco is big, not
    to say enormous. Cuba’s greatly admired tobacco, not matter how good for cigar manufacturing, is
    uninteresting when it comes to snus. Tobacco used for cigars is fermented, which causes it to exude a
    typical cigar aroma.

    There are 67 different types of tobacco in the plant family Nicotiana. The most common snus is Nicotiana
    tabacum and in certain cases Nicotiana rustica. What complicates the picture is the fact that there are
    several thousand varieties of Nicotiana tabacum alone. And new ones are continually arising. It is not
    unusual for a tobacco farmer to discover that a variety has developed in a new direction because of the
    cultivation methods and soil conditions of that particular farmer and that particular farm. In this way,
    tobacco is like wine. Pinot Noir grapes cultivated in Australia yield a completely different wine than those
    cultivated in the United States or South Africa, depending on differences in climate, hours of sunshine, and
    soil. The same is true for tobacco.

    Tobacco is a fickle plant where several variables determine if the harvest is good – among them chance.
    The plant is an annual, and in contrast to grape vines, has only one year to develop a root system that can
    absorb nutrients and moisture. Most snus tobaccos need hearty, rich soil and a warm climate. And a skilled
    and experienced farmer is a must.

    Tobacco must be topped. When and how varies, but the plant’s resources must be channeled to the leaves
    the grower wants. Topping occurs when the plant either reaches a pre-determined height or develops a predetermined
    number of leaves.

    Harvest methods vary. The tobacco to be used in Kardus is harvested exclusively by hand: the entire plant
    is cut by machete, so-called stalk cutting.

    2. CURING

    Curing dehydrates the tobacco. During this step, the tobacco matures and aroma and taste qualities are
    developed. There are generally four different curing methods. For Kardus, we use sun curing and air
    curing, but avoid curing by heat or fire.

    For air curing, the farmer fastens the tobacco plant to a wooden frame, which is then hung in a barn. During
    curing, which can take a month or more, the tobacco leaves change color from greenish-yellow to brown.
    Sun curing is most common in very warm countries. The methods are often deeply rooted in tradition. In
    India, for example, the leaves are thread one by one onto jute strings that are tied to special frames in the
    field. The leaves age for 25 to 30 days. It is easy to see if a leaf has been cured this way because it has a
    small hole in the stalk where the string went through.

    Fire curing is not used because of GothiaTek®, Swedish Match’s own quality standard that ensures
    consistently high, quality snus tobacco. Fire curing causes the tobacco to exceed the limits for given
    constituents. Heat curing is avoided because the tobacco is exposed to a high temperature for a short time,
    which causes the tobacco’s sugar to caramelize. This would result in a snus product that is sticky or gooey.

    3. GRADING

    There is a difference between the tobacco varieties available. Not only because of climate in various areas
    of cultivation, terrain conditions, soil, harvest methods, etc. There are also differences in the plants

    Tobacco ages from the bottom up. The leaves closest to the ground are called lugs. They are thinner and
    have weaker taste qualities than the large leaves in the middle of the plant. Between the lugs and the leaves
    are cutters. The leaves at the top, the tips, are not fully-developed in either size or character.

    Grading means sorting tobacco according to different qualities or grades. The first grading to be done, farm
    grading, is a rough division that the farmer does him/herself. Most often, the farmer grades the leaves only.
    Raw tobacco dealers do their own grading. He – because of tradition, it is almost always a man – judges the
    quality of the whisks (bound bundles of tobacco leaves) more carefully using five criteria – body, gum and
    oil, color, luster, and aroma.

    Body refers to the leaf’s thickness, feel, and structure. It is a highly subjective judgment based on how the
    tobacco feels in the hand. Gum and oil refers to the leaf’s wax and oil. This has a lot to do with the current
    seed type, but also with growing conditions, which are influenced by the weather and soil. Color judgments
    are based on a brownness scale. Tobacco is usually classed as light brown, medium brown, or dark brown,
    but there can even be shades of green, yellow, red, or orange. Luster refers to the leaf’s shine. Snus tobacco
    can be everything from flat to shiny. Certain tobaccos are so shiny that they seem to sparkle. Describing
    aroma requires a way with words because the dealer uses the same kind of language that is used to judge
    wine. Some common terms are dried fig, bouquet, hay, jute, grain, and nut.

    Then it is Swedish Match’s turn. We choose what we want from the large selection offered by the raw
    tobacco dealer. We also choose the quantities. It may, for example, be a question of choosing a gold nuance
    in a basically medium-brown grade. The grades we choose and their respective quantities comprise our
    own grade.

    The grading for Kardus tobacco is comprehensive and time-consuming. Three crops come from our own
    fields in Vietnam, Hungary, and Spain. These are small crops. From Hungary, for example, we procure
    only one carton of tobacco, and the quality check is, therefore, more stringent than that done for ordinary
    snus. The only crop we buy on the open market comes from India.

    4. AGING

    The next stop on the road to Kardus is the packaging factory where farmers’ tobacco bales are opened and
    where we do a through inspection of the grade to be used. Inside the packaging factory, the tobacco is
    placed on a conveyor belt. The order of the grades on the belt is already determined. The grades are
    arranged successively so that the flow always represents our own final grade.

    The next stop in the process is re-dehydration, i.e. the tobacco is dried again so that its storage condition is
    stable. At this point, the leaf is transformed from a living plant part to a raw tobacco good. Prior to this
    step, the water content of the tobacco leaves can vary by three to four percent. After this process, the
    tobacco grade has uniform water content.


    Kardus consists of a number of crops, for the same reason as the manufacture of cognac: it is required for
    the creation of the complex, nuanced flavors that make this snus an outstanding, pleasurable product.
    For the production of Kardus, we selected from among all harvests in 2004. There were more than 50, and
    they came from all over the world; but only four were considered for Kardus. Which four they were, and
    that there were only four, took months to decide.

    The recipe is our core knowledge. Through the testing of innumerable combinations using objective and
    subjective criteria, Kardus was born. The objective criteria are nicotine content and chemical qualities. The
    subjective criteria are taste, flavor, and aroma. The subjective criteria often result in discussions that are
    very lively, not least because the discussions determine the grade.

    The four selected crops are the basis of a snus that – according to our tobacco masters – is balanced,
    flavorful, and mild.

    Kardus has a smoky, spicy, tobacco taste that is reminiscent of dried fruit, figs, and plums. It has a
    noticeable sharpness and a balanced salty-sweet taste, with a touch of cacao. The aroma carries hints of
    raisin, strong wine, vanilla, and hay. Most interesting, but at the same time most difficult to explain, is the
    smokiness and hints of dried fruit. We neither smoke the tobacco nor add flavoring. This says a lot about
    the complexity of snus tobacco.

    6. CUTTING

    Kardus is cut, as opposed to nearly all Swedish snus, which is ground. Kardus’s taste, therefore, is closer to
    that of pure tobacco, especially that which has not been flavored. This has to do with cut surfaces and
    oxidation. Ground versus cut snus has different characteristics similar to pressed versus chopped garlic.
    The cut structure conveys flavor nuances and highlights that ground snus can never achieve.

    Tobacco is cut in one of mainly three ways: fine cut, cross cut, and long cut. Kardus is long cut, which
    provides a structure that is reminiscent of the long threads of pipe tobacco. This type of cut holds together
    well in the mouth, despite what one would think. Novice snus users can find it difficult to fit snus of this
    cut in the mouth comfortably. But by the second try, they have learned. Removing the snus is not a problem


    After cutting, the tobacco goes directly into the snus mixer. Ordinary salt, which acts as a preservative and
    flavor enhancer, is added. Snus without salt easily acquires a flat taste.

    No flavoring, however, is added to Kardus. We want the taste to be as original as possible, i.e. pure tobacco
    taste. Flavoring would also destroy the hard work behind the choice of grade. By adding flavor, the effort to
    find and compare various tastes, and to find new tastes through mixing, would be in vain.

    The tobacco is then sweated. Raw tobacco is bitter and does not taste especially good. After a thorough
    sweating, it is both milder and tastier. Sweating also pasteurizes the tobacco since it still contains bacteria.
    Now, for the first time, the tobacco is called snus. It is now time to evaluate the aroma. Evaluating finished
    snus, for example a can of General, can be done by most people. But Kardus is a very special snus. Only a
    handful of people, with over 100 years of collective snus manufacturing experience, from Swedish Match’s
    snus factory in Göteborg have the right nose. They look for aromas that in some way deviate from our
    expectations. No machine in the world can evaluate aroma.

    The snus is then inspected and put in a large cooler to mature for a week. After storage, the aroma
    evaluated again to be sure that nothing unexpected happened during refrigeration. Even consistency, which
    is important for Kardus, is checked.

    8. PACKING

    Kardus is hand-packed, which is extremely unusual. But in this case, it involves very small volumes. This
    year, only 4,000 packages of Kardus will see the light of day.

    After a certain amount is placed in the package, the tobacco is pressed. The tobacco cannot be too loose
    because too much air causes the snus to age faster. But it cannot be too tight either because cut snus needs

    Kardus’s shelf life is at least the same as that of ordinary snus. Provided that the conditions are right, a
    certain amount of aging can actually heighten its flavor.

    In anticipation of delivery, Kardus is stored in the factory’s cooler. The temperature is about 4° C. Only one
    person is responsible for transporting Kardus, under perfect conditions in a specially-designed portable
    cooler, from Göteborg to tobacconists and gourmet restaurants. On site at the tobacconist or restaurant, this
    person is responsible for making sure that Kardus is immediately refrigerated. Swedish Match must
    approve the refrigeration capabilities of everyone who orders Kardus.

    And so – finally – Kardus is ready to be served.

    © 2006 Swedish Match North America Inc.


    • #3
      I can't believe they'd use NaOH :lol:

      Ahh damn how I dread the stuff. A long time ago I was using a pipette in chemistry class with a solution of NaOH and had forgotten that it had laid flat on the table after being used. Some of the solution still inside had creeped to other end. I put it to my lips to use it again and I ****ing yelled from the pain and ran to the faucet to wash my mouth.
      The next few days I felt like a chunk of my inner lip (where we put snus these days) was eaten away.


      • #4
        I agree it's unlikely, but it should provide the same effect of deprotonating the nicotine salt to increase its potency - and with a lot less of it than the carbonate or bicarbonate. I mean, cigarette companies put ammonia in cigarettes to do the same thing - and that stuff is vile, if you've ever washed your floor with it. :shock:

        The only reason I mention it, at any rate, is that E500 can refer to all three. :idea:


        • #5
          Found a Swedish site from where you can order different kind of 'snus-kits' for creating your own (VERY CHEAP) snus. For the cost of about 30 US Dollars you get 1.4 kilogram of snus.

          Theres also a range of snus aromas for flavouring your won snus ... NB: The site is in swedish! There surely must be some international sites offering the same ... ?


          • #6
            ^ ah, well that answers the above question as well - it's Na2CO3 (natriumkarbonat) with a recipe and all :

            250g tobacco
            22g Na2CO3
            72g salt

            plus a dab (?) of glycerol and propylene glycol :idea:

            Good place to start - nice find


            • #7
              Originally posted by Zero
              plus a dab (?) of glycerol and propylene glycol :idea:
              The word 'flaske' means 'bottle'. I'll see if I can get the time to do a translation of the entire 'bruksanvisning'


              • #8
                Complete list of all the things that Swedish Match use in their snus production (warning: geaky stuff :wink: )



                • #9
                  Heres the translation of the 'bruksanvisning' from

                  Boil 4 dl water (for 250 g snus powder) with kitchen salt. Be sure that the salt is completely dissolved. When the salty water has cooled to about 50 degrees celcius, you can start mixing in the snus powder. Let the mixture rest for a while before mixing it completely. You can use any kin of bowl to mix it in; plastic, glass, porcelain or stainless steel. Finish by covering the bowl with foil, make sure light can't get in.

                  The bowl is now stashed in a place where the temperature is about 50 degrees celcius and should be left there for 5 days. If you don't have acces to a heating closet, you can - in worst case - use the kitchen oven, all though it might not be too popular with the rest of the hungry family members. You can build a heating box of cardboard. Just remember to put frigolit on the inside, even on the lid. The heat source can be a standard incandescent light bulb 25, 40 or 60 W depending on the season and the rooms temperature.

                  You should stir up the mix once a day. If the mix gets dry, boil and add 1 dl of water.

                  After five days you take the bowl out and mix in a bag of natriumkarbonat (Na2CO3).
                  Pour it directly in to the snus mix and stir it good. Make sure the natriumkarbonat is spread all over. Now mix in a bottle of glycerol/propylenglykol. You can also flavour your snus if you don't want the standard taste. Check out our selection of snus aromas. Mix and stir good. (You can also flavour the snus directly in your tin/can if you are sure of the results and don't want to risk it all at once)

                  Your snus is now ready. Is it too moisty, put it on a newspaper covered with paper tissues for final drying- It can take 2-4 hours depending on the room temperature. Now pack the snus in tins/cans or boxes. Remember that leaving it to rest for some time only makes it more aromatic. To always have acces to fresh snus, make sure to keep in the fridge. You can even freeze it and pick out what you need from time to time.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Subtilo
                    Originally posted by Zero
                    plus a dab (?) of glycerol and propylene glycol :idea:
                    The word 'flaske' means 'bottle'. I'll see if I can get the time to do a translation of the entire 'bruksanvisning'
                    yeah, that's why I said "dab"... flaske isn't any sort of exact quantity, but presumably one could add it slowly until the snus feels right. I didn't even notice that you could click on the Bruksanvisning, though!

                    Here's my hacked out translation with serious abuse of a swedish dictionary :lol:

                    Batch of Snus in 4 simple stages

                    1. Boil 4 dl (400ml) of water for every 250 grams of snus powder, along with one bag of salt (72g). Make sure that all of the salt dissolves. When the salted water has cooled to approximately 50 degrees (centigrade) can you can start mixing in the snus powder. Allow the mixture to stand for one hour without stirring. The container you use can be either plastic, glass, ceramic or a stainless bowl. Cover the container with aluminium foil, making sure that light cannot enter.

                    2. The container with the snuff powder mixture should now be set in an environment of approximately 50 degrees (centigrade), where the mixture will sweat for 5 days (and nights). If you do not have access to a boiler-room or heated cabinets, you can, in the worst case, use the kitchen oven, although this may prove unpopular amongst your hungry family members. You can also build a heat-box with an ordinary box lined with styrofoam. Depending on the ambient temperature and the insulation in the box, you can then use an ordinary tungsten lightbulb of 25-60W to heat the inside.

                    You should stir the mixture daily and if it becomes dry, simply add 100ml of boiled water.

                    3. After five days, open the container and mix in a bag of soda (sodium carbonate 22g). Simply pour the powder onto the snus mixture and be sure to distribute it evenly. Mix in a bottle glycerol/propylene-glycol. You can now add in the flavouring if you do not want plain-flavoured snus. Take care with the amount you use and test it on a small batch if you don't want to risk flavouring the whole batch.

                    4. Your snuff is now completed and ready to be packaged. If the humidity is too high high, lay the snus on a newspaper covered with paper towel to let it dry for approximately 2-4 hours depending on room temperature. Pack the snuff in tins or boxes. Remember that storage increases the aroma. In order to always have fresh snus, be sure to store your tins in the fridge or freezer.


                    • #11
                      gah, beaten by minutes :lol: Nice work 8)


                      • #12
                        :lol: ... yours is of course way better. And btw - nice job on the swedish!


                        • #13
                          six of one, half-dozen of the my dad used to say I had to make good use of a trusty dictionary, mind you, whereas I'm sure your swedish is infinitely better than mine 8) Just noticed I should have said "stir the mixture daily" rather than to check it :!:


                          • #14
                            Oh yeah, check/stir ... i didnt even notice that.

                            Well, my swedish is okay. It used to be better though. Reading it is no problem, but speaking it ... oh boy.


                            • #15
                              yeah, reading it, it's easy to see roots and etymology but, the phonetics are all wacky :shock: