Snus: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Snus: you’ve probably never heard of it, although just from the sound of it, you’ve got an idea of what it’s all about. Maybe you saw it in a smoke shop once. Maybe at a 7/11, your eyes wandered around the wall behind the counter, and you caught the word. Snus is a form of smokeless tobacco. It is the most popular form of consuming tobacco in Northern Europe and is the preferred smoking alternative in Sweden. Snus has been relatively unpopular in Asia, the UK, and the Americas— their populations choosing to either smoke or vape. Even with alternatives, there’s an underlying current of: “if you’re going to smoke, just smoke. Don’t waste your time with that robot thing.” Indeed, the maverick attitude of the Wild West is still alive and well, even in tobacco culture. But that’s slowly changing.

Snus is making its way into new markets with a growing buzz. So what exactly is snus? What’s the difference between that and other forms of tobacco? How does it even work? Here, we’ll explore the ins and outs of this new-old means of consuming tobacco, the long and rich history in Scandinavia, and how you can potentially benefit from it.

What Exactly Is Snus?

Snus is a moist form of smokeless tobacco that generally comes in little 2-3 centimeter bags. It’s packed into the upper lip and left there until the contents are devoid of any flavor. The Snus bag, because of its higher moisture and salt content, tend to produce less saliva in the mouth. The saliva that is produced and swallowed like normal. It’s a pretty straight forward product. Like most tobacco use, except for vaping, it’s got the one-step process and an immediate payoff. With Swedish snus bought online in the UK, you’ve got a whole range of flavors, packs, and different sized bags you can choose from.

You can even go through different brands and see which you like better. It’s economical, easy to use, and readily available online.

A Brief History of Snus

Snus has a fascinating history in Europe. It’s always been a Swedish tradition, dating back to the 1600s. The colony they set up— “New Sweden” now Delaware in the United States, was the primary source. The process that the Swedish took in terms of curing and preparing it was different than any other, even today. While most tobacco producers hung the leaves out to dry, the Swedish method involves pasteurization. When you let the leaves hang to dry, you initiate the fermentation process. This allows for natural microbes on the leaf to render the leaf more acidic.

The outcome is a more readily absorbed nicotine delivery system. This is why when you light up a cigarette, the feeling you get is immediate. Snus is seen as “the gentleman’s” means of taking in nicotine. It takes longer for the nicotine to absorb through the lip. Even then, it delivers about 15 nanograms of nicotine per mL of tobacco for half an hour. A cigarette delivers over 20 in the span of a stack—roughly 10 minutes. To compensate for this, snus manufacturers add baking soda and salt to the mixture to increase the permeability and delivery of the nicotine.

Differences In Quality

Snus comes in a few forms. First, you’ve got loose snus. The loose form is probably the most similar to American “dip,” although Scandinavians would argue that the American way is much dirtier (not a surprise). In the American dip protocol, you take the moist leaves and pack it between your lip and your gum, much like snus. The problem is, the leaves are processed differently and have untold amounts of additives and preservatives. As we know, with anything American, it’s a highly manufactured process.

The main difference is that you have to spit out the saliva produced by the dip. Why? Probably because it tastes disgusting, and the acidity can throw off your stomach and get you sick. Swedish loose snus is similar but milder, poses less of a health risk,  and more agreeable. You have the same process, and still pack it in your lip like the others. The portioned bags are the most popular. It’s pretty much a teabag of varying sizes and flavors that you pack in your lip. It’s the most convenient and produces the least amount of mess.

The Science of the Snus Buzz

You might be wondering how it gets you that buzz. Well, the inside of your mouth is lined with a type of tissue called the mucosa. The tissue itself has multiple glands and specific features that keep it moist, much like the rest of your alimentary canal. Like the alimentary canal, the mouth and it’s oral mucosa have the capability of absorbing substances that cross the tissue border. Being a highly vascular structure, the substance has immediate access to the bloodstream and can be circulated all around within minutes.

It’s the same reason why certain tablets are meant to melt under your tongue. The only difference is, if you had snus under your tongue, you wouldn’t be able to talk much, and there’s always a chance for discomfort and accidentally swallowing the bag. Plus, keeping it in the lip is such a perfect place, especially with the smaller, flavored bags.

Stick to The Classics

New snus products have been popping up all over the world. This is primarily due to tobacco giants looking for new ways to introduce their products to new markets. A word of advice: stick to the Swedish brands. There’s a lot of strangeness going on when it comes to the American adaptations of the product. There’s emulsifiers, adaptogen, and odd things that are meant to give you as much of the experience as possible without actually shelling out for the actual meat of the product.

It’s like the Wonder Bread of tobacco. Suppose you’re going to use snus, quality matters. What better way to ensure quality than to buy products that have been sold for hundreds of years?

There you have it! Everything you ever wanted to know about snus, how it’s used, and the differences between its American counterparts. Because it’s a clean product and it has much less of an impact on oral cancers, people have been opting to use snus over virtually any other tobacco product. Why? Well, you’d have to try it yourself to see.

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