The History of Nicotine Pouches
Alexclere, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Today, nicotine pouches represent one of the most technologically advanced methods for consuming nicotine and tobacco products. But how did these products come to be? The final product we see today is quite different compared to the first instances of nicotine pouches in history. It has been a long and arduous process, filled with scientific innovation and technological advances. Today, we have to be thankful for the past researchers and scientists because modern nicotine pouches are extremely safe and effective.

Snuff Came Before Snus

The precursor to snus is snuff, and this first emerged way back in the 1500s. Snuff is essentially pulverized tobacco, and it bears little resemblance to modern snus. While snus is pure white, snuff has the color of tobacco leaves. Funnily enough, one of the first notable mentions of snuff is associated with the French royal family. A French diplomat named Jean Nicot recommended snuff to Catherine de’ Medici, who was suffering from migraines at the time. Although this might sound quite ridiculous, snuff is undoubtedly better than smoking cigarettes. Numerous studies have determined that snuff users enjoy a much lower risk of cancer compared to cigarette smokers.

Snuff quickly became popular among upper-class citizens in various nations, including within the French royal court. The fact that it doesn’t involve smoking or spitting made it a more “socially acceptable” form of tobacco consumption. One nation which seems to have fallen in love with snuff quite early is Sweden. By the 1600s, Sweden was completely on board with this new trend. By the 1700s, the Scandinavian nation had begun an extensive manufacturing operation to produce large snuff quantities for its demanding citizens.

The Swedes Invented Snus

During the 1700s, the Swedes popularized a snuff form that was so different that it earned its unique name – snus. This was different because it involved a moist form of tobacco that users could place in their lower lip. It did not require spitting. Later, Swedish snus would be placed between the upper lip and the upper gum.

During the 1800s, some of the first snus brands started to become quite innovative in their production methods. One early innovator was Jacob Ljunglöf, who theorized that fresh tobacco would result in snus with a better overall flavor. He and Jacob Berzelius (a world-class chemist) then created a new form of snus with a mixture of tobacco, saltwater, and potash. Not only was this new form of snus more flavorful, but it could also be produced in just one week rather than several months.

Packaged Snus

Nicotine pouches
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Before introducing packaged or “portioned” snus, this product was sold in loose form as a moist powder. Users would create their portions by molding it into a cylindrical shape – often by simply shaping it with their fingers. Like packaged snus, this loose snus is placed between the upper lip and the gum. While loose snus is still in use today, it has decreased significantly in popularity with the introduction of portion snus.

Portioned snus was first introduced in the 70s, and it represents a much more discreet way of using snus. Because of this, portion snus quickly became extremely popular. Many people have compared portion snus to teabags because of their characteristic appearance. The first portion of snus products was moisturized during the manufacturing process, which resulted in a brownish, moist pouch.

White Portion

Eventually, snus went through yet another transformation with the introduction of the “white portion.” The name is slightly misleading, as the term “white portion” refers to the style and overall approach to the manufacturing process rather than the actual color of the final product. White portion snus is milder, and the taste is released gradually. Unlike “original portion” snus, the white portion is not moisturized during the manufacturing process. This results in a package that has a whiter, drier appearance. The actual tobacco within is entirely identical to that of the original portion snus, but users enjoy a slower delivery due to the package’s dryness.

Snus is different compared to dipping tobacco and chew because it does not undergo a fermentation process. Instead, the tobacco undergoes a complex steam-pasteurization process before it becomes snus. This process eliminates dangerous compounds like nitrosamines. Many brands also adhere to strict regulations that limit the levels of heavy metals, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and other potentially harmful ingredients.

The Rising Popularity of Nicotine Pouches

Tin of Nicotine
Bystroushaak, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

While many people use the terms “snus” and “nicotine pouches” interchangeably, they are technically different products. Nicotine pouches have emerged fairly recently, and they’re different because they don’t contain any tobacco. Some don’t even contain any nicotine. In addition, the synthetic powder itself is entirely white, whereas snus contains powder that is brown or even black. Once again, Swedish brands seem to be leading the charge, and they have released nicotine pouches with many different flavors and styles.

Many brands started to offer nicotine pouches because they realized that many users were getting stained teeth from snus. An advanced heating process separates the nicotine from the tobacco leaves entirely, leaving a white powder. In some instances, the nicotine is synthesized in a lab without any tobacco involved whatsoever. Like people back in the 1600s, various users start to enjoy nicotine pouches because they are more “socially acceptable” and discreet than even snus.

Advanced Science

Modern nicotine pouches are the result of incredible scientific innovation. Many brands use pharmaceutical grade nicotine with purities exceeding 99.9%. This is often a form of freebase nicotine extract that is odorless, flavorless, and crystal clear. In addition, nicotine pouches are subject to stringent and lengthy laboratory tests to determine whether they are safe for consumption.

The Future of Nicotine Pouches

The future of nicotine pouches seems exciting and bright. Brands are continuously experimenting with new flavors and styles, such as sting-free options, light flavors, and even sweeter varieties. Many Swedes now enjoy a coffee-flavored type of nicotine pouch with their morning breakfast. We will undoubtedly witness more remarkable innovations in the years to come.

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