Thursday, 29 October 2009 10:03

Up to Snuff

Written by Mick Hellwig
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Nasal Snuff - Another Smokeless Tobacco

Nasal snuff is a finely ground tobacco powder. Meant to be inhaled via the nostrils, but not into the sinus or lungs. It just sits in your nostrils and nicotine is absorbed through the mucous membranes in your nose.

Snuff was first used, that we know of, by the Mayans. Brought to Europe by Columbus, and used at first by royalty, then slowly filtered down to the masses. Snuff was at one time as popular as pipe smoking. Kings, Queens, miners, farmers and U.S. Presidents have all used snuff. There are still, unused, snuff boxes in the U.S. Senate Chambers. Roderick, the owner of Toque Snuff has done a great deal of work putting together a history of snuff. Instead of me trying to paraphrase it, please go read it for yourself.

Toque SnuffSnuff comes in many flavors, grinds, moisture, and preparation methods. Super fine to super coarse, wet to bone dry, fermented to air cured. The only way to find what you like is to try’em all. I suggest starting with a German snuff, Poschl or Bernards, both are easy to take and forgiving of mistakes. One good snort of an American Scotch snuff probably has ruined more new snuffers than anything else. Which brings up my first piece of advice…DO NOT SNORT! It’s not cocaine, people. Gently bring the snuff to your nostril and sniff. The goal is to get it into your nostrils, not into your sinus or lungs.

The very first time I tried snuff,  I sniffed hard and I still swear the snuff went clean up behind my eyeballs. Within seconds my eyes were watering, as well as my nose, and then I sneezed. A handful of brown snot is not a pretty sight. Second piece of advice keep a hankie or Kleenex handy when snuffing. Some snuffs need it, some don’t, again you won’t know until you try them.

This brings us to blowing your nose. Do it as often as needed. Listen to your nose. If it wants to be cleared out, do so. If not don’t force it. I sometimes can go for hours without a good cleaning, other times the snuff only lasts for a couple of minutes. Should one pick their nose? That’s up to you, but please do it in private. No one wants to see that.

Is snuff safe? Well, maybe. There are conflicting reports. Most reports I have read that say it will cause cancer are based on studies that include American moist (lip) snuff. I have never seen a case of nose,A Snuff Box throat or lung cancer attributed to nasal snuff alone. There is a report of an Englishman getting cancer and suing back in the 1800’s but that has since been proved false. He was mad at his snuff supplier for something. Also there is the guy who got ear cancer after putting snuff in his ear for decades. So is it safe? It’s got to be safer than smoking and is generally considered as safe as Swedish snus. Just avoid snuffs made by unknown makers in small 3rd world villages.

How does one use snuff? There are many methods. The traditional methods are the pinch, where you pinch a bit between your finger and thumb. Also the anatomical snuffbox, which is when you tap a bit out on the depression formed on the back of your hand right behind your first knuckle. (Hold your hand flat, palm down, now bend you fingers…see it?) Other methods include bullets, snuff machines ( not for the faint of heart) and my personal favorite, wrap your forefinger around the end of your thumb and place the snuff in the cavity, then sniff.

One other method is practiced mainly by older Southern ladies, and is actually where we get the term dip as applied to tobacco. First get a can of American Sweet or Scotch snuff, then find a hickory tree, pull a twig off, either chew or carve with your trusty pocket knife ( you do have a pocket knife, right?) to get a slightly fuzzy end, moisten the twig, dip it into the can of Carhart's Sweet and put it in your mouth. You can also use Scotches like Skoal and just dump some into your lower lip. I think this is why American brands are sold in 1.15 or 4.65 ounce containers; European snuff mostly comes in 10 or 25 gram containers.  Either of these methods kind of skips the whole nasal part, I don’t recommend them, but they are possible.

Finally, where to buy snuff?  There are many online snuff shops. Recently a lot of European shops cannot sell to the US, due to credit card processors declining to allow international purchases of tobacco products. 90% of my snuff dollars go to Tom at NicotineRush. Huge selection, he has most of the commonly available snuffs, and getting more all the time. Shipping is fair and quick. On another forum his nickname is “Two Day Tom”. I once placed an order on Monday morning at 7 AM. At 7:30 AM I had e-mail confirmation that the order had shipped, and the box was in my mailbox Wednesday at 1:30PM. I have nGeorge Washingtonever had an order from NicotineRush take longer than 3 days to my house in Ohio. Plus, Tom is just a plain nice guy and a gentleman who takes his customers seriously. He even gives a free sample of random snuff out with every order. Giving you a chance to try snuffs brands you may not have thought you might like.

Snus and Snuff both have fascinating historical connections. Being a history buff I love that facet of them. The thought of being able to sniff the same or quite similar recipes as George & Martha Washington or Ben Franklin really gets my mental juices flowing. Even Popes have snuffed. My personal heroes all lived during the founding of America as a nation, and I love having something tangible in common with them. My other passion in life, beyond tobacco is firearms. While I can’t buy one of George Washington’s flintlocks, I can buy a SP style snuff from Wilson’s Of Sharrow that is possibly made from the same recipe book as the SP snuff that Mr. Washington used.

Snuff said for now....

Mick Hellwig
WHAT I THINK at SnusCENTRAL.org

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