Everything about Snus
Want to learn more about Swedish snus? Whether you’re interested in its history, how it’s produced, how it’s used, or even just general questions, you’re in the right place. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about the product. Enjoy!
What is Swedish snus?
The term "Swedish snus" simply means that the snus is produced in Sweden. It includes a number of different types of snus—loose snus, portion snus, stronger snus, slim snus and many other types. There are a number of snus-like products around the world, mainly in Asia, but they don’t taste the same as Swedish snus. They often look different and have other characteristics.
What is snus and how to use it?
Swedish Snus is a moist, ground tobacco product originating from a type of dry nasal snuff from early 18th-century Sweden. Unlike American snuff, snus is placed between your top lip and gums, so no spitting is required when using it. You can have a snus in your mouth between 30–60 minutes before it starts to drip and lose its flavor.
There are also tobacco-free and nicotine-free products and they come in a number of different formats, strengths and flavors.
While Snus is particularly popular in Sweden, the product can also be found in many other countries like Norway, America, Russia, Denmark and Finland, to name a few. Similar oral tobacco is also popular in parts of Asia, where hundreds of millions of people use it. Snus is currently used by over one million Swedes and the average Swedish snus user consumes about 4 cans per week.
Where can you buy Swedish snus?
Swedish snus is mainly sold in Sweden, both online and in physical stores. But it can also be found in other places around the world. Snus is popular in other Nordic countries as well as in the U.S. However, Sweden is the only country within the European Union where it’s legal to sell snus.
Where is tobacco grown?
The tobacco plant is a hardy crop that adapts to the climate and the soil, which means it can be grown in both tropical and temperate regions. Today, tobacco is grown in 125 countries—a third of which is grown in China alone. Due to profitability problems, Sweden stopped growing tobacco for commercial use in the 1960s, but started again in the early 2000s.
How is tobacco grown?
The process of growing and harvesting tobacco takes about 4–5 months.
1. It all starts with a seed
The tobacco plant is an herbaceous plant with large sticky leaves and white, pink or yellow flowers. Just 0.1 ounces (3 grams) of tobacco seeds can produce up to 3 tons of tobacco before drying. The cultivation starts with putting the seed in a seedbed where it’s watered and carefully taken care of.
2. In the soil
When the tobacco plant has grown to about 0.4 inches high, it is planted in the soil. At this stage, the plant does quite well on its own but it’s thirsty and needs lots of water to grow. During this time, you also do something called thieving. This means removing unwanted plant shoots to give the leaves as much nutrition as possible.
3. Time to harvest
It takes about three months for the tobacco plant to grow. Ready for harvesting, a fully grown tobacco plant is about 3–10 feet tall and has 20–30 leaves. The tobacco plant ripens from the bottom up, which means that the leaves are harvested in that order, with a few leaves at a time.
How snus is made—from tobacco leaves to snus
There’s a wide array of tobacco varieties and they all have different uses and characteristics. For instance, Makhorka (Nicotiana Rustica) and Virginia (Nicotiana Tabacum) are the most common snus types. Within these groups, there are also lots of different subgroups. To create a unique taste, it’s common to see different kinds of tobacco from various countries mixed into a snus.
1. Harvest and drying
When the tobacco plant is fully grown, the leaves are plucked. Then the leaves are dried. During this process the moisture content of the leaves drops from about 80% to 20%. There are several options for drying:
● Air-drying: The tobacco is dried hanging under the roof of an open barn with good ventilation. The leaves turn from green to golden brown. The tobacco has a low sugar content which gives it a soft and slightly sweet taste. Around 1/5 of the tobacco produced in the world is air-dried. The process takes about 4–6 weeks.
● Su-drying: This process is similar to air drying but the tobacco leaves hang outdoors in the sun instead of in a barn. The tobacco has a slightly higher sugar content than air-dried tobacco and a slightly lighter color. This is a common way to dry tobacco in dry and warm areas. The process takes about 25–30 days.
● Smoke-drying: A poorer alternative, the tobacco leaves are dried with smoke, which often adds certain undesirable substances. This process causes the tobacco leaves to have a dark brown color, low sugar and high nicotine content.
After drying, it’s time to transform the tobacco leaves to a flour-like powder. This can be done in various ways depending on which characteristics you want. Grounding is most common when making snus.
The tobacco is weighed and mixed with water and salt while stirring the mixture. The mixture is then heated in a process much like pasteurization (steam-pasteurization). This is done to render microorganisms harmless, give the snus longer shelf-life, and enhance flavor and smell. After this process is done, the mixture cools down and the rest of the ingredients are added. The ingredients vary depending on the type of snus.
When the snus is ready, it’s time to pack it in cans. Depending on if it’s a loose snus or portion snus, the steps from here are a bit different. Loose snus is packed directly into cans while portion snus needs a bit more work. The portions are measured up and put into a cellulose fiber pouch, the same type that is used for tea bags. Then the snus portions are sealed and cut apart, ready to go into cans. The cans are weighed, labeled and stowed in multipacks, which are then packed in cardboard boxes
Swedish snus is classified as a food product in Sweden, monitored by the Swedish Food and Drug Administration.