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The Pinch - how to take snuff

AbraxasAbraxas Member
edited May 2012 in Snufftaking
A lot of new snuffers struggle with the technique of taking snuff, and this can mean that a potential snuffer stays a smoker. There are quite a few threads and comments about how to go about it, but the following are just some personal points from over 30 years of taking snuff, and the move to full time snuffing has been a great thing for me. Any smoker can ditch those cigarettes with snuff and I was a heavy, heavy smoker: If I was not convinced about this I would not waste your time! I don't pretend to be an expert on the snuff world, as I say this is just how I do it:

1. Use a snuff box. I find that getting used to the feel of a nice snuff box just enhances the whole experience. For me, its important to have something that represents some of the routine I had as a smoker - so I use a nice box and make it part of the ritual.

2. Go SLOW! You can take a quick pinches when you have got the hang of it, but for the most part take your time; if you are at work you will be replacing your five or ten minute smoke breaks with something that takes five seconds to do, so draw it out, luxuriate in the flavour and nicotine boost. I would take three or four pinches when I started to replace my smoke breaks with snuff. Your co-workers are taking their time over their cigarettes so do the same. Slowing it down will also make your pinching more accurate. Now you are a snuff user you don't have to take your breaks in the rain either, but do leave your desk or workstation.

3. The amount - about the size of a pea seems to be natural. You will share this pinch between both nostrils. Tap the box or tin to free any snuff from the lid and open the box carefully. Close the box as soon as you have the pinch and just give the fingers a little tap against the box to free any snuff that is sticking to the sides of your fingers.

4. The insufflation. This is (obviously!!) the most important part and the bit that goes wrong most easily. You need to learn by practice exactly how hard to sniff to get half of the pinch in the nostril and how much to release the pressure on the pinching fingers. You can practice getting the amount right by pinching some snuff and just dumping into the palm of your hand - is it pea sized roughly? If it is you have got that bit off. The inhalation should be just enough to get the powder in your nose, dont worry about trying to get it into a certain part of the nose - the area we are talking about is tiny - just get it up there!

5. Sniff half of the snuff into one nostril and repeat for the other.

There you have it. 

My personal recommendation is that you try this method and stick with it. I have tried all the other ways, and still vary it a bit sometimes, but the pinch - when done correctly - is neat, tidy and you can easily vary the size of the pinch to suit your needs. You can also do it very quickly and discreetly if you need to. 

I believe that a lot of snuff users learn how to tolerate snuff but not really get to grips with what it can give you. You need to take decent sized, regular pinches - maybe the first few times will make you sneeze but get through this with some determination and you will find that you are craving snuff not smoke - and you will be enjoying it, not just enjoying the sensation of feeding the addiction. Someone once wrote that the pleasure you get from cigarettes is just like the pleasure you get from taking off a pair of ill fitting shoes. That's no way to live. Snuff, used properly and regularly will soon win you over and the enjoyment is genuine.
There is a big choice, and a lot of comments, on what snuff to begin with, so I won't go into that, but I do think that if you get this method off correctly that you will find it a very useful technique. As I said, just personal points and thoughts....


  • tom502tom502 Member
    I still prefer the back of the hand. I find pinching more messy, and I find I have more control and amount control off the back of the hand. I mean, and can put a big line, or just a little apple seed size on there. One thing I think I may be doing wrong alot, is snuffing too much amount wise in a single snuff. And then my nose all waters up, sneezing, etc. I often feel inclinded to lay out a big Tony Montana line, but I almost always pay for it. I'm thinking for best flavor appreciation, and less nose irritation, a small little apple seed amount is best.
  • Thank you,snuffster. That ought to help any newbies still having trouble.
    I also tend to use the back of the hand, like tom502, as I find I can control my intake of toasts & scotches better that way for some reason, but you're right, a pinch is neat, quick and definitely the way to start.
  • Well its all personal at the end of the day, nothing wrong with a monster line if thats what you want to do. One thing though,I've found snuff is best snuffed at a steady pace - if you are doing a big line just hoover it up a bit more slowly. The back of the hand is ok but I find more control with a pinch, but for some reason it seems to be a difficult thing to do for a lot of people, the back of the hand doesn't require any practice so I guess thats why its popular. Ultimately its about putting powder up your nose, how much science can there be!!
  • I reckon my method would be difficult for some. I do a head stand and spoon the snuff up the nostrils, the biggest problem is sometimes I get the tin up-side-down.
  • tom502tom502 Member
    edited May 2009 PM
    Use a small funnel.

    A drinking straw right into the can might work.
  • Well I think some people think its as hard as doing a headstand, I pinched my first ever snuff, maybe I'm just destined to be a snuffer..........

    Its not hard, honestly!!
  • Seriously now, I pinched from day one. From the new boxes I tap the snuff onto my thumb nail.
  • Me too, for me giving advice on how to pinch is like telling someone how to walk, but for some folks it is a bit of a mystery..
  • Snuffhead, that's pretty damn funny! lol

    As someone mentioned before, regarding the pinch method, you can rub the fingers together while sniffing, and it controls the rate very well.
  • good point
  • Brought an older post back to the fore simply to brag a little.

    After about 2 weeks I finally have gotten to where I can pinch with out damage to my ego!

    Would have been much simpler if I'd found this particular thread a bit earlier, alas some of us, me, take longer to suss things out.

    Also for what it's worth, regardless back of the hand or by pinch, I always seem to go left nostril first...
  • I tend to hold my tin with thumb over tin. I scoop a bit on my thumbnail and bring tin and thumb up for my sniff.

    I tend to pinch when I'm in public though.
  • @OTD......Very good thread to ressurect! I have my pinch method down pat.The only thing that differs if the size of the pinch based on the strength of the snuff(Fruity=Big Pinch/Scotch=Small Pinch).Have you bought a snuff-box yet? Still deciding whether to pick one up or not!! :) The Wiz!
  • I have a couple of snuff boxes but only use them for decanting. Unless the snuff comes in a dispenser type container, everything goes into recycled Packard's boxes. I have snuff bullets and a spoon but never mess with them any more. I use the back of the hand or a pocket knife blade if I'm scooping directly from the tin.
  • I have snuffed for a long time and have never owned a snuff box. It just seems like such a luxury. I just carry tins or smash boxes. Maybe someday if I am really good I will deserve to reward myself with one.
  • Prior to getting the pinch figured out I was using the web twixt thumb and index finger.
    Whatever was handy used in place of a proper spoon. One experience with a bullet, pheh.
    Considered getting a box simply to have someplace to carry a spoon, success with the pinch obviates that as a "need".
    I'm of a mind with Nachman as to a box being a luxury. Especially so as I'm just starting this particular voyage. More of the precious dollar to put towards different snuffs!
    I do have extra smash boxes in a coming order to assist in decanting or mixing or, or, or...

    As the lessons are learned the practice gains in pleasure!
  • I have a box now and one on the way just because I've had tins open in my pocket. Not often, but enough for me to justify it. I don't see it as a luxury unless your buying a pewter/silver one or something.
  • Snuff boxes are a luxury and can be annoyingly expensive. Luckily I have been bought a few as all of my friends and family know I snuff so when birthdays and Xmas come round Im an easy guy to buy for. As said, it just makes the ritual a bit more pleasant and for me is just part of the whole thing. I carried snuff in the brand tins for years though before I could justify the expense of getting a proper box.

    Its amazing to see all these posts about folks different methods - pre-internet if you snuffed you were on your own. The main thing is just about enjoying it and maybe, if its right for you, ditching the smokes. Back of the hand, spoon, whatever are all good. But I always come back to the pinch.
  • Some time ago I used to pinch all the time, even with the "new" boxes I tapped snuff out on back of my hand and then took a pinch. But now I snuff usually from back of my hand, when a snuff is in a tin I use my guitar pick to transport it to my hand.
  • Having a tin open in your pocket is a scenario I'd not envisioned, yikes! S'pose the smash boxes will not be prone to that.
    Too late for me to score a box as a Christmas gift, I'm sure I'll end up with some eventually though.

    There is the ritual aspect, absolutely. Maintenance snuffing for the nic, a bit slower and reflective for the experieance.
    While I'm pleased with having a grasp on the pinch, the back of the hand increases the visual appreciation along a with allowing for a 'broader' airflow that accentuates the scent, the smell of the snuff.

    Pinch, back o' the hand, tip of a knife blade, I start to see where they all have their time and place.

    And those Triple Tech boxes really aren't that much scratch for what they are... ;-)
  • The methods are all good, my view is that you take your life back and add a few years as well, and people that don't smoke can enjoy tobacco in a more or less harmless way.

    I don't mean to brag but I am using a silver Georgian snuffbox that my friend got me. He saw it in a shop and they had no idea what it was, he got it for a few pounds, hundreds less than it is worth. The moral is look around sometimes you get lucky. For me the ritual - and using a nice box - keeps me off the dreaded smokes.
  • A find such as that is certainly priceless snuffster. Brag on it for sure!

    Since March I was averaging 1 to 2 smokes a week, started using snus and it's just short of 2 months now w/o a single smoke.
    With the cigarettes out of the way, snuff adds a welcome level of pleasure to the daily go!!

    Believe that calls for well practiced pinch!
  • Thanks man, and well done on the smokes.
  • If I actually had some money, I'd surely collect snuff boxes. I might even carry and use one regularly. Until then, I'll keep re-using my plastic Packard's containers. So far they have proven indestructible and have never come open on me. Oh, and I've also used a guitar pick as well. They do make for cool snuff spoons in a bind.
  • Packards tins are good too and you can have just as much ritual with one of those.

    Spyro: another guitar player? Been playing blues since I was 14, I have a very battered strat and Marshall amp and looking for a band.
  • My playing is certainly nothing professional. I have a quite cheap acoustic guitar and play just for fun, actually still learn, mainly some metal tracks and some blues too, lately I'm also into a Spanish style.
  • Ah, well, being new to snuffing this topic grabbed my attention quick. Much appreciate the how to's. I almost always carry a small screwdriver in my shirt pocket and seems to work well for me in a controlled environment, but it's not so handy in the current 45 mi/hr wind today. I hadn't tried pinching, but the controlled release method seem like a good way to go. A tip I've soarly needed.
  • Thanks man, don't forget snuff bullets if you are in a lot of windy situation through work or whatever, they are ideal for that kind of thing.

    Hope you are enjoying snuffing. What brands are you using?
  • Yeah the bullet is for wind and rain mostly. Today I noticed that if you rub out a pinch (rub your thumb and finger together like you're playing the worlds smallest violion) either as you sniff or onto the back of your hand it seems to release some of the tobacco oils and the base tobacco smell becomes more noticable.
  • Actually, I only play air guitar. I carry around a guitar pick that I got free in a bag of Doritos a few years back. I had a base guitar and an acoustic as a kid but never really learned to play. I am amazed at the number of musicians on this site and I secretely envy you guys. Some day I may unleash my idea for a metirc music system so the rest of us idiots can learn to play instruments without having to memorize archaic forms of musical expression.
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