Learn the traditional way of making Swedish snus. It is easy and you can do it at home in you own kitchen with ordinary kitchen appliances. Follow these easy steps and you get a batch that will last for months as well as save you a lot of money.
Ingredients you need to make Swedish snus
Tobacco – A type suitable for making snus.
Salt – Without additives that can affect the taste
Sodium carbonate – Also called potash, potassium sorbate, soda, barilla
Benzoate – This is a preservative that prevents mold forming in your snus.
Propylene glycol – E1520 preserves moist and makes the snus hold together better, optional
Glycerol – E422 same as above but thick and sweet tasting
Flavoring – Can enhance the overall flavor, optional
Swedish snus recipe
If you follow this recipe you get a 2.5 kilo (5.5 pound) batch of Swedish snus when ready.
Information – The weight of the finished Swedish snus and the moist content depends on the water content. Be aware that the type of tobacco and the grain size may need more or less water. I use this recipe for a coarse-grained Virginia tobacco.
You may have to experiment a little here to get the moist content you prefer. Many people that use snus portions prefer a little dryer snus while other prefer it a bit more moist. This comes down to personal preference.
If you find that you get a to strong snus you can use a bit less sodium carbonate. This depend on the nicotine content of the tobacco. The sodium carbonate helps the nicotine to get into your bloodstream through the mucous membrane. To much sodium carbonate can burn your lip and gum as well.
This is what you need
- 1 kg tobacco flour (2.2 pound)
- 1.6 liter of water (33.8 fl oz)
- 180 gram salt (6.3 ounce) (Personal preference, you may use less)
- 80 gram (1/2 deciliter) sodium carbonate (2.8 ounce (1.69 fl oz))
- 1 – 2 gram benzoate. This is a preservative.
- Propylene glycol or Glycerol, the recommendation is 3% or 30 gram per kilo snus. Preservative and enhance flavor. Glycerol is thick and sweet and often used in sweet food like ice-cream, cookies, candy and beer as it prevents mold and fermentation, also called propanitrol or glycerin.
- One kettle for the water
- A bucket, dishpan or other container for mixing, plastic, glass or stainless is to prefer.
- Oven, rice cooker, Crockpot or other heat source.
- Weigh scales
- Measuring jug
- A Fridge for curing and storage.
- A freezer for long time storage.
This is what you do
- Boil the water to kill any bacteria
- Add salt and sodium carbonate to the water
- Stir until it is dissolved in the water.
- When the water cools to 70° degrees centigrade (160° F). The preferred baking temperature 60 – 90° centigrade (140 – 195° Fahrenheit)
- Pour the water over the tobacco powder.
- Stir and mix the tobacco and water thoroughly so you don’t have any dry tobacco left. If any of the tobacco is dry it will not be fermented.
- Put the tobacco mixture in the rice cooker or crock pot and compress it slightly with your hands. Remember the hygiene and wash your hands before you start. You don’t want bacteria in your snus. If you are using your oven, put the tobacco mixture in a heat resistant container. There’s plastic containers that withstands the baking temperature in the oven. This is not the most energy effective way to bake your snus and the oven will be occupied for a couple of days.
- Cover the cooker with a lid and aluminum foil. The foil can increase the temperature with 10° centigrade (50° F)
- Put an oven thermometer in the tobacco mixture so you can check the temperature of the mixture. A temperature between 60 and 90° centigrade (140 – 195° F) is preferred. It is the temperature in the snus that is important, not the temperature you set the oven at.
- It is important that you use the “Warm” setting if you use a rice cocker or a Crockpot. Do not use the cook setting “Low” and “High”, it is way to hot.
- Let the mixture ferment at 70° centigrade (160° F) for five days.
- Stir the mixture once a day. This is smelly, so you may want to do it outside or under the kitchen hood.
- After five days, or when the mixture has turned dark brown or black, the snus is ready. You also notice a change in smell when it is ready. It smells the most the first day and less and less as it bakes.
- Dissolve 1 – 2 gram benzoate in 20 ml of water. (0.035 ounce / 0.034 fl oz) and add it to the snus and stir well. This is a preservative that prevents mold. You may omit this if you store your snus in the freezer until it’s time to use it.
- Add glycol or glycerol (optional), in my opinion it gives the snus a more mature and rich flavor. Glycerol gives the snus a sweet taste.
- After cooling the Swedish snus is ready to use.
- If you prefer you can add flavoring to the snus at this stage. More on flavoring below.
- Store the snus in the fridge for two weeks or more. The storage enhances the flavor.
Keep as much snus as you consume in two to three weeks in the fridge and put the rest in the freezer. I don’t bother with the small round boxes, I use 1/2 liter storage containers when I freeze the snus. A half liter of snus will last for two, tree weeks. Just use a table spoon to fill your snuff box each day.
Swedish snus is classed as a food product and the same hygiene rules apply for snus. When you bake your own snus, remember to wash you hand or use disposable gloves when handling the mixture.
It is also important to use clean tools and buckets. If you don’t you may get contamination in the mixture and a poor result.
Baking temperature and baking time
The baking time is dependent on the baking temperature. The taste is also affected by the baking temperature.
|Centigrade||Fahrenheit||Baking time (days)|
|50 – 60°||122 – 140°||6|
|60 – 70°||140 – 158°||5 – 6|
|70 – 80°||158 – 176°||4- 5|
|80 – 90°||176 – 194°||2 – 3|
|90 – 97°||194 – 207°||1 + 12 hours|
The higher the temperature, the darker the snus and a more cooked taste. If you bake it in the lower temperature range you preserve more of the aromas of the tobacco. When the snus turn from brown to dark brown or black it is ready.
In my opinion you get a better snus if you bake in the mid range, 60 – 80° C ( 140 – 176° F), and bake
for a bit longer time.
I use a Crockpot set to “Warm” and get a baking temperature of 65° (149° F) centigrade in the snus. If I cover the lid with aluminum foil the temperature raise another ten degrees centigrade. You can start with the lid covered with aluminum foil because the “Warm” setting raises the temperature very slow.
A common mistake is to measure the temperature in the oven and not in the snus mixture. This leads to a to low temperature in the snus mixture. It is also important to stir the mixture regularly once a day. I you don’t you can get mold in the mixture. Always measure the temperature in the mixture.
Besides all the flavoring aroma you can buy, you can flavor the snus with spiced or flavored spirits. Gin, whiskey and cognac are popular to use for flavoring.
Moist content & consistency
You may use glycerol to preserve moist content in the snus. An additional benefit is that the snus holds together don’t fall apart as easily. You can also add corn starch to get it to hold together even better.
In commercial snus they put Gummi Arabicum to get the snus to hold together. This is very effective, so be careful and don’t add too much at once. Add a little bit at a time until you get the consistence you
I have heard of people that add a small amount of cooking oil to get it to hold together. But remember that it can affect the taste of the finished product. I don’t use any of the above, I do not think it is necessary. I think that is the case if you use portions as well. The bag holds the snus together. Read more on portion bags below.
If you experience that the snus is to wet and sticky you may have added too much water. If that happens you can spread it out on a baking plate and place it in an oven on low temperature to dry it out. Alternatively you can spread it out to dry on a newspaper. Remember to add a little less water the next time. It’s easier to add water than to remove it.
If you keep the weight at 2.5 kilo (5.5 pound) for the finished snus, you get a perfect moist content I think. The moist content can vary depending on how much water evaporate during the baking. If you bake it in the oven and too much water evaporates, you can put the container in a roasting bag during the baking. When you store it in the freezer it can dry out as well, if that happens just add a couple of drops of water until you get the preferred moist content.
So if your finished snus weigh less than 2.5 kilo (5.5 pound) when the baking is done, all you have to do is to add more water until it does.
If you find hard lumps in your snus, it can be that the sodium carbonate don’t have been dissolved and thoroughly mixed with the mixture. This happens if you don’t dissolve the carbonate in the
water but add it dry to the tobacco flour as you can see in other recipes. So be meticulous when stirring the mixture, or better still, dissolve it in the water. If you get a lump in a pris you can burn your gum and your lip.
This is the subject you find the most information about around the web. This comes down to personal preference and taste, but don’t be afraid to try different flavors. You can keep the main batch without flavoring in the freezer and add different favors to each storage container as you take them out.
Don’t add a flavor to the whole batch until you have tested it on a small sample. It’s not fun to have to throw away a whole batch just because you cannot stand the flavor.
The most common snus flavor is Bergamott, a citrus flavor. It comes from the Rutaceae family of plant and citrus xlimon Bergamia group of plants. It is mainly grown in Italy and north Africa and it shares its origin with lemon.You find this flavor in the Swedish snus General.
Another available variant is Armé which is a mixture of Bergamott and rose oil.
Rapp is a mixture of juniper berries and bitter almond.
Some experiment with spirits, essence, coffee, lavender, zingiber officinale, clove. At Christmas-time you can use cinnamon and cardamom to get a Christmas snus.
In general, you can use just about anything you can eat and it can be properly mixed with the snus. But don’t add anything that makes the snus to wet. But use a bit caution here, add a little at a time and test. It is very easy to put too much essential oil in the snus at this point. If it is to weak, add some more a little at a time.
Remember that you can’t take flavor out if you add too much at once. You may have to throw it away if you can’t use it. I normally use half of a bottle of Bergamott to 2.5 kilo (5.5 pound) Swedish snus. I don’t want the Bergamott flavor to be to dominant oven the natural tobacco flavor. That is about 5 – 8 drops in a regular 40 gram box. The flavor develops and get stronger as the snus age.
- One obvious heat source available in most homes are the oven. But remember that you are occupying the oven for up to 6 days.
- As alternative to the oven you can use a rice cooker or a Crockpot. If you use one of those you don’t have to occupy the oven. Buy a Crockpot at amazon.
- Yet another alternative is the Swedish snus oven, this is the budget variant. It is just a Styrofoam insulated cardboard box with a standard old fashioned light-bulb, 25-60 W, as a heat source. The effect is depending on the ambient temperature where you place the box. You have to check regularly to ensure a correct and consistent temperature in the box when baking. You make the lid out of Styrofoam as well.The trick here is to get the same temperature everywhere in the box. I have seen people using a computer fan to circulate the air in the box to get even heating in the box. You can find a wide range of home-made ovens if you search on Google: snusugn
Storage & aging
This is the step where the reaction with the alkali is fully completed and some ammonia escape from the snus. Before the aging is fully completed you can’t fully appreciate the flavor of the snus. Swedish snus fresh from the baking process can really taste awful before the aging process. It is now any flavoring will really mingle and mature with the snus.
It makes a big difference on the result if you store the snus in the fridge for at least two weeks before you use it. You let the mixture rest and mature. I have kept my snus in the fridge for up to four week before I put it in the fridge. I have often found that the last container in a batch is the one with the best flavor and quality. I think the snus matures even when you keep it in the fridge (after the two weeks in the fridge).
Make your own Potash
If you don’t have any sodium carbonate you can make your own from ordinary baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). All you have to do is:
- Put the baking soda in a heat resistant baking pan
- Bake it in 200° centigrade for about ten minutes (392° F)
Swedish Snus Portions
A real man use loose snus, portions are for girls, bloody Smurf diaper 😉
Even if you don’t use loose snus, you can still enjoy your own home-made snus. You can buy (here in Sweden) empty portion bags and use it with your own snus.
When you buy it you get it as a paper tube. From that you cut the length you need. With a dispenser you fill your portions with preferred amount. Then you can just fold the end and put it under your lip or seal the ends more permanent with a curling iron.
I have never tried home-made portions, I prefer loose snus. My friend Andreas has provided me with the pictures on Swedish snus portions. But I think you have to have much staying power to pack 2.5 kilo snus in small portions.
I used the original (40 gram) round boxes for my first batch. And that came to over 50 boxes and was a bit too much work for my taste. Now I just use 6 or 7 1/2 litre storage containers for the whole batch.
Update: Read my article on cooking temperature, TSNA and the benefits of glycerol here.
If you find this article interesting you may find my article on what snus is and the history of Swedish snus interesting as well.
What flavor do you use for you home-made Swedish snus?
Leave a comment and let me know what you think, and don’t forget to share this post with other snus-lovers out there if you like it!
Pictures: The pictures on home-made Swedish snus portions I have borrowed from my snus-making friend Andreas blog.