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The definitive snuff flavoring technique thread

kjoerupkjoerup Member
edited March 2010 in General
There is scattered info throughout many threads at Snuffhouse on snuff flavoring techniques and procedures; since this information is not easily found, I think it's a good idea to have a single focused thread devoted to this topic, discussing the pros and cons of various methods. There are several different ways to flavor snuff. Apparently, some (most?) commercial snuff is flavored by first soaking and then aging the tobacco leaves in a flavor stew prior to milling. How widespread is this approach, and how exactly is it accomplished? I do have 100 grams of Roderick's rustica leaves that I'm trying to figure out what to do with.

What are the commercial snuff mills doing? Are they flavoring raw tobacco leaves for each variety, or are they adding flavor to different types of ground tobacco base? I would guess the latter.

As for ground snuff, there is no real consensus on how best to flavor it. Some say that they add essential oils or potable liquor directly to the snuff, while others prefer the indirect method of keeping the snuff in close proximity to the flavoring agent -- allowing the tobacco to absorb the scents only. I have tried both methods and am undecided about what is the best approach to take. Really, I think I have no clear idea on how best to do either method.

I am not looking to have any trade secrets revealed. I just want to get a more clear idea of the basic techniques.


  • JuxtaposerJuxtaposer Member
    edited January 2012 PM
    A complicated subject worthy of contemplation indeed. I will leave my notes here for you all. I may have to edit a few times to complete data and add experience notes. Please whisper me with additions or corrections and suggestions. Here we go...POST IN PROGRESS...
    @ Grind your main ingredients: Using snuff mill, coffee grinder, blender, chopper, knife, mortar and pestle. The drier the better, remember that when (if) rehydrated the small particles will gain size.
    @ Sieve: pantyhose, screen, silk, even chaffing with gravity works o.k.
    ------Main ingredient: Tobacco or herbs; or blends of such. Used as the base ingredients.
    ---Tobacco: Depending on what style of snuff you want. a single tobacco may have outstanding characteristics that may not be able to be duplicated. Very much like single barrel, single malts. Blends will balance and tone the character for a more consistent outcome.
    -Virginia; high sugar,mostly air or flue cured, also steamed ,ferments and ages exceptionally well
    - Burley; low sugar , nutty
    - Oriental; spicy , floral, usually sun cured
    - Kentucky; moderate nicotine , used as filler
    - Perique; special fermentation.
    - Rustica; super high nicotine and other alkaloids, harsh character
    -Latakia; piney herb smoked
    -Other: Glauca; no nicotine, other minor alkaloids. rarely used, may be in sheesha,
    -- Tobacco Curing methods;
    -Sun cured; lighter and sweeter -Flue cured; brown -Fire cured; dark - Air cured; plain - Smoked; as in Latakia
    --Sweating; to bring out the natural oils
    --Pressing; intense pressure effects certain beneficial reactions in tobacco. periques, plugs, cakes, twists and ropes provide this pressure to some extent.
    --Fermenting? as in Perique, also found in aged tobacco, cigar tobacco. It's not actually fermenting that is going on it is oxidization. Pressure can rupture cells within tobacco which release oxidizers inherent in tobacco.---Herb: non tobacco snuff bases are viable options with unlimited potential, Care must be taken as to any "slow poisoning" effect. Most herbs (as in any plant with an annual or bi-annual life cycle) are safe. Roots, bark, perennial "herbs" require adequate research proofs.
    -Gota kola; one of the best snuffing herbs there is. research ayurveda. makes a great herb base.
    -Herbs; sages, mints, chamomile, hemp, echinacea, goldenseal, and most other non-perennial species of such can be used directly in grinds to a large degree. Some perennials like licorice, calamus, orris, saffron, ginger, horseradish, etc. can also be used though studies of reaction symptoms should be done. Other herbs and spices warrant using only small amounts as mentioned in [flavors].
    -Corn silk; can be used as a neutral filler of base for the stronger herb snuffs if no tobacco is wanted.
    - Fructose powder; is used as a base in non-tobacco snuff
    --Additives: May be used to control the fermentation process, adjust PH balance for free basing nicotine, as preservatives, or to moisturize and texturize snuff.
    -salts ;sodium bicarbonate (aluminum free) sodium carbonate, potassium carbonate, iodine free salt (netti pot salt) sal ammoniac= ammonium chloride -ash; stem or leftover large grind tobacco ashes, fungus ash(not recommended), aloe ash (not recommended)
    -lime; (not recommended)
    -humectants; glycerine, propylene glycol, glyceryl triacetate. Other humectants; polyols. sorbitol, xylitol
    -Oils;; mineral oil, lard, ghee (clarified butter) for oil based snuffs like schmalzlers.
    @ Flavoring: All the minor ingredients if not used on or with the main ingredients before grinding can be mixed together and added to the snuff as a sauce to rehydrate the base.
    @ Stir, stir, and stir!
    --Flavors: Liquors, sugars, juices, herbs, spices, absolutes, oils, extracts, beans, reductions, sauces, masalas, seeds
    --Scenting: some scents can or should only be used indirectly for scenting snuff.
    -Flowers; orange, lemon, lime, ginger, plumeria, jasmine,
    -Beans; vanilla, coffee, tonka,
    -Leaves; bay, citrus, allspice
    -Spices; clove, allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, can be used indirectly
    -Incense; amber,
    --Aging: with or without air,
    --Storage: airtight and dark with a stable temperature is best for a finished product,

    Whisper me here to add your junk to my lists please. Will do this anonymously but you can claim it any time.
  • With regards comment #2, I would be very wary before grinding up any pills and adding to snuff. I would say avoid this, but if you do choose to do it make sure you have thoroughly researched dosage, side effects etc. It would be very difficult to ensure a standard dose and very easy, if you used the snuff long term, to take too much and overuse of vitamins can cause problems in itself. I was found to be B12 deffcient at Xmas and given a supplement by my doctor which made me quite sick - so my advice is don't do this unless you are a 100% sure what you are doing.
  • Good call copper, I'll just edit that out. It never really belonged there, now that you mention it.
  • kjoerupkjoerup Member
    edited March 2010 PM
    I found a somewhat informative report on how Wilsons of Sharrow flavors their snuff. They add their essential oil mixes directly to ground snuff. It is good to get confirmation on their methodology.
    [/b]With the family’s permission, I have listed the blended tobaccos and ‘essential oils’ that are added to create each individual bouquet of Wilson Snuff and Fribourg and Treyer Snuff, yet the ratios will never be exposed to me.

    Once these ingredients were mixed into a container in the family scenting room, the door was opened and the container was handed to awaiting employee, who poured its contents into the mixing machine.

    Located on the first floor of mortars and pestles, a large geared water powered barrel, capable of holding 1000 pounds of ‘flour’ (ground, unscented snuff works), was the mixing machine. This water powered barrel simply spun around at a slow revolution, mixing together the family secret ingredients as well as the blends of Burley, Golden Virginian, Flue cures and, sun cures, that create each individual flavor of snuff.

    The table on this page listing the natural ingredients of many Wilsons and Fribourg & Treyer snuffs is extremely handy to have.
  • Samuel Gawith do it the same way, though on a rather smaller scale - I've seen it done at the factory.
  • XanderXander Member
    edited March 2010 PM
    I wrote and asked for a list including all the snuffs (the one on there is truncated), but they won't give it; claiming secrecy. I found that odd, since it looks like it was clipped from something that had been published at one time.
  • With the exception of Schmalzer and carrottes, most commercials snuffs are scented after grinding. The indirect method is best for home grinding. The multiple sieving and rubbing out lumps necessary with the direct method gets to be a royal pain in pretty short order.
  • xapkenxapken Member
    I'm moving toward flavor first then grind. Direct for me just makes a royal mess. Indirect is friendly but slower than what I'd prefer.

    My only concern is drying before grinding. I don't want to lose expensive flavorings into the air in my shop,

    I'm also thinking that some flavors, especially oil based ones like florals, might work best if added in a blend step right before packaging. I'm guessing that oils would sit on, rather than infuse into the leaf powder. Hopefully no clumping. Also, this should make an impressive fragrance bloom on opening the tin and provide a lingering nasal fragrance since oil won't transfer through nasal membrane (at least I think not).
  • xapkenxapken Member
    edited June 2011 PM
    Here's what I've come up with so far from testing.

    Indirect flavoring is where a highly aromatic flavoring is placed in the same enclosed airspace as tobacco. Since the aromatic scent takes to the air, and tobacco is extremely absorbent of airborne scents, the tobacco picks up the flavor with no direct contact. This is very ideal when the aroma of a plant or other material is non-toxic, but the material itself would be harmful or otherwise detract from the quality of the tobacco. Rose flowers are an example of something where this is useful.

    Direct flavoring is the inclusion of a flavoring into the tobacco itself. This is normally a liquid. Such could range from essential oils, natural flavor extracts in a solvent, synthetic flavors such as liquid artificial flavoring used for candy, fruit juices, fruit peel oils, etc. I should note that not all flavorings work well with tobacco. Most should be okay for snuff providing the concentration is kept low enough as to avoid nasal irritation. Also, care should be taken to not add flavorings prone to spoilage.

    So far in my testing:

    Soda syrup concentrate (flavoring but no sugar) did very poorly. They are predominantly a fruit or other acid mixed with non-aromatic synthetic fruit flavorings. The acid does nothing in terms of aroma and lowers ph making the nicotine hit greatly reduced. The non-aromatic fruit flavoring is subtle at best and easily missed. Using more flavoring trying to increase aroma wasn't effective. (note: smoked, this flavoring for tobacco was equally ineffective)

    Synthetic candy flavor oils are incredibly concentrated and highly aromatic. On the other side, nasally most of what I tried gave a fairly poor presentation of the flavor. Just imagine shoving those little red candy red-hot hearts from valentines day up your nose. Flavorful? Yes. Pleasant... hardly. As far as smoked, they actually did better than expected, at least a few flavors.
  • Contd.

    Extracts in solvent as used for flavoring baked goods fared somewhat better than the candy flavor oils. Made with natural ingredients the aroma was closer to what would be expected from a commercial product. However, the same issue I had with soda syrup came to play. Non citrus fruits have very little oil in the juice, much of it is simply sugar water and acid. Because of this, flavors like raspberry and cherry didn't transfer well at all into the tobacco. Others like orange and aniseed did extremely well. Both sniffed as snuff and smoked in a pipe, the aroma was reasonable and pleasant.

    Also in the extract category is liquor extracts, mentioned briefly because I tried it. Tests with Rum extract produced a vile tobacco, worse than I can politely convey in words. Maybe it works in baked goods, but I don't suggest it on snuff. Bleh!

    Chocolate flavoring is easy to make using cocoa powder and vanilla. 2 or 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder in a coffee cup, pour just enough hot water enough to dissolve. Cover and let it cool to room temperature, add a few drops of vanilla extract to hit a sweet chocolate smell, and then use as desired. Makes 2 or 3 ounces. Dissolving in grain alcohol is closer to a true extract, but I find water does well except the tobacco takes longer to dry.

    I've never tried pure essential oils... they're outside the budget for the project I'm working on.
  • I know it's not strictly a flavouring sense (although the tobacco of choice obviously effects the flavour of the snuff), but I'd be interested in having a go at making my own SP snuff. Is there a strict rule on the type of tobacco to use?
  • I really enjoy the warm, robust, almost leathery scent (along with bergamot and citrus, of course like all SPs) of WoS's Gold Label. Probably because they use all American tobaccos like Virginia, etc. It's pure bliss.

    So @danw1988 although I can't help you with flavoring, I will recommend Virginia tobacco because its GREAT in an SP.
  • Thank you @transistor . I'll bear this in mind. I've never actually tried Gold Label, so I'll give this a try also.
  • snuffnpuffsnuffnpuff Member
    edited June 2011 PM
    @transistor Do they make any Latakia tobacco based snuffs that you know of? I would think that would be the "ultimate" in robust leathery scents.
  • @snuffnpuff
    Molens makes a latakia scented snuff (not made with latakia tobacco apparently)
  • snuffnpuffsnuffnpuff Member
    edited June 2011 PM
    @PikeMopers hmmmm... interesting, thanks.
  • wow! I forgot about this thread. Any pipe tobacco with Latakia makes wicked snuff no problems.
  • You might like the new toast range from Mr Snuff if you are into latakia.
  • @snuffster new toast range? by who?
  • @danw1988: For their SPs, WoS uses Zimbabwe Burley (flue and dark fired), so I think using a dark burley would be the place to start.
  • I've been using for that essential oils, and it's very good. But what I'm not confident of is using synthetic oils. On one side - their aroma is stronger than of natural aetheric oils, and usualy the variety of tastes is a lot wider. But the big question - are they completely safe? Can't they cause serious damage such as cancer?
  • After almost two years I certainly have some things to edit on my original post. Maybe sometime next year.   
  • howdydavehowdydave Member
    edited December 2011 PM

    I use Tom Buck for my base and then add whatever flavors I want to experiment with.

    I have had my greatest successes with whole coffee beans and shreaded amber (sold as perfume at my local Indian store.) Shreaded amber melts at body temperature.

  • All the esoteric information is good but what I would like to know is what specific recipes people have tried at home that have worked for them. I have ordered some oil of bergamot and lemon and I am wondering if anyone has tried adding this to a plain scotch to make a simple homemade SP? If they have what amounts did they use and how did they add the essential oils? Just simple stuff that works for someone who doesn't want to buy and grind his or her own tobacco or replicate a recipe from 1600s but wants to add some flavoring to store bought scotches. Any help and/or recipes would be appreciated. 
  • JuxtaposerJuxtaposer Member
    edited December 2011 PM

    "1 dram with 8 oz of fine Scotch snuff " 

    Answer to below question... no I have never used essential oils myself.
    I usually throw a vanilla bean in with my dry Scotch snuffs.
  • @Juxtaposer   You have used this recipe at home yourself?
  • JuxtaposerJuxtaposer Member
    edited December 2011 PM
    I have a really good recipe for making a plain moist black rappee out of any Scotch snuff.
    In a crock pot that is plugged in to a dimmer line for lower temperatures.
    Cook at 50c-75c - 122f to 167f for five to seven days.
    One part Scotch snuff to two parts water. For small batches use a ramekin to hold the snuff.
    Stir once or twice a day adding water if necessary until the last day. It will be very soupy at first but not to worry the tobacco will absorb its own weight in water and the rest will cook off. 
    The variables of time and temperature are for brown rappee to black. You can see on the fifth day what you have and continue according to your desired results. Jar air tight when desired moisture level is achieved preferably while cooling down but not necessarily so. Don't worry too much about how it smells while cooking. After about a week in the jar let it air out a little then it should be ready to go.


  • @ Juxtaposer Thanks I will save that. That is exactly the kind of recipe that interests me. Hopefully others will chime in with their personal tried and true recipes.

    As for the queen's snuff recipe I find it confusing. "Oil of lavender 2dr., essence of lemon 4dr., essence of bergamot 1 oz. : mix [1dr. with 8 oz of fine Scotch snuff constitutes Queen’s Snuff]" Do you mix the lavender, lemon and bergamot together and then use 1 dram of that mixture to combine with the scotch? 
  • Yes, that is correct. Whatever the scent mix may be.  Also note my answer to your first question above it in edit.
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