What is it like to take snuff?
This will be something new and a little different. Because I quit smoking over a year ago, I’ve tried a few alternatives before and during that time without smoking.
The most obvious one to my readers is vaping, of course, since I’ve devoted a dozen or so posts to reviews of PV hardware and juices.
However, vapor isn’t the only alternative way to consume nicotine out there.
I’ve also tried Swedish snus, and I could probably devote a dozen posts to that topic alone, and to why — if you’re going to snus — you should skip the American companies’ garbage altogether and go right to the good Swedish stuff.
But I’ve also recently tried something else that’s a little unusual. And since I’ve been asked: No, my trying other alternatives to smoking doesn’t mean I’m giving up on vaping. I’m just an inquisitive sort of guy who likes to try new things.
There are, however, some smoking alternatives I won’t try — chewing tobacco and dip, I’m pointing at you. I have some criteria for smoking alternatives that I’ll give a fair shake:
1. It has to taste good.
2. It has to deliver a satisfying nicotine hit.
3. It has to be socially inoffensive.
Folks who know me on any kind of basis that’s more than casual might be surprised by that last one. Normally, I’m the first in line to be socially offensive. But not when it comes to my nicotine habit. Why? Because a delivery method that’s just plain gross is one that people won’t let you do around them.
So you probably guessed from the post title, I’ve been trying out snuff. Not the American stuff, though. Like I said, I’m not into chewing tobacco or dip.
I’m talking about the only form of tobacco to originally be called snuff. This stuff:
Well, that’s not the kind I’ve actually got right now. What I’ve actually got right now is this:
As you can see, English snuff is a fine, powdered tobacco. Unlike American smokeless tobacco, however, or even snus, it doesn’t go in your mouth.
Goes up your nose.
Stuff it up yer shnozz, Roz.
Well, okay, you don’t stuff it up your nose, you sniff it up your nose. Lightly. Let me say that again:
You want it in the nostril. If you go and hork it up there like you’re a Dyson vacuum, it’s gonna end up two places you don’t want it — in your sinus and in the back of your throat. And if it ends up in there, it is not gonna play nice.
“But what’s so good about this stuff?!”
Well, a couple things are really nice about snuff. First, it’s even more discreet than vaping, since it doesn’t even look like smoking. Although, y’know, you probably don’t want to use a snuff bullet around cops, because they see somebody sniffing a powdery substance out of a device like this:
…they’ll probably do their “excited German Shepherd” act, which is always annoying and a time-waster.
What’s that thing, by the way? Snuff bullet. Handy little device that holds a whole evening’s worth of snuff without the bulk of a tin and measures out a perfect pinch every time. And, unfortunately, looks like something Hunter S. Thompson would have snorted cocaine out of. So just, y’know… be judicious as regards to when and where you use one of those.
“You still haven’t told me what’s so good about this stuff!”
I’m getting to it. Jeez, keep your pants on. Unless you’re Christina Hendricks, and then please, feel free to… uh… sorry, I was just picturing a curvaceous redhead pantsless. Ahem. Sorry, where was I?
Oh. The other really nice thing about snuff is the way different flavors can enhance what you’re tasting. Take that Whisky & Honey Toque, for example: A cup of coffee with a pinch of that in tastes like coffee with, you guessed it, a little hint of whisky and honey. Little bit of flavor enhancement happening there.
Snuff can also mask smells. In fact, neat little bit of historical trivia — the British House of Commons has a permanent snuffbox. Why? Because, apparently, at one time the river Thames utterly reeked of shit. Snuff was a necessity in the House of Commons in order to mask the river’s piquant aroma just so that the gents could get any work done so close to the river. If I recall correctly, the U.S. Senate building has a permanent snuffbox as well, although the source of the aroma of… bovine excrement… is not so aquatically based in that city.
And the final reason, of course, is because it’s got wonderful nicotine in it. Always something I look for in a tobacco product.
So there you have it. A wonderfully discreet way to get your nicotine fix and avoid smelling politicians.
“Okay, so what’s it like to take snuff?”
Glad you asked. Yes, you did. Yes… you did. So here’s what it’s like — this is sort of a tutorial in that I’m telling you how to do it and what it’s going to feel like.
1. Hold the 3/4ths filled snuff bullet upright. On the side of the bullet is a valve with a sort of arrow shape facing upward.
2. While keeping the arrow on the valve facing upward, rotate the body of the bullet until it is up-side down. Now the bullet’s chamber (which holds the tobacco) is on top
3. Tap the bottom of the bullet (which is now on the top) firmly three of four times with a fingertip. This will cause a portion of snuff to fall from the chamber into a tiny scoop area in the valve.
4. Continuing to keep the valve upright, rotate the rest of the bullet until it is right-side up again. If you look into the opening at the tip of the bullet, you will now see that a tiny portion of snuff is waiting to be sniffed.
5. Place the end of the bullet to your nostril. Angle the bullet so that sniffing lightly will draw the snuff into your nostril but not up into your sinus.
6. Sniff lightly. You will feel a burn along the inside of your nostril. If this is your first time using snuff, this will be very uncomfortable at first. Ride it out.
7. You may experience the urge to sneeze. Don’t resist. In time, this reflex will fade. Go ahead and sneeze if you need to.
8. You may also experience the onset of a runny nose. This is also normal and should fade with time. If you need to, blow your nose.
9. Once the sneezing and/or runny nose pass, you should feel the familiar surge of alertness and contentment that is a good, solid nicotine rush. You will also notice that you smell the “flavor” of the snuff. Depending on the snuff, the olfactory effect can last anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour.
As you become more and more accustomed to snuff-taking, the sneezing and runny nose should subside entirely, allowing you to skip directly from step 6 to step 9.
Aside from using a snuff bullet, snuff can also be taken with a pinch, in several ways — from between thumb and index finger or middle digit (the “walking away finger” as an older English gentlemen named it), from the back of the hand or the back of the wrist.
As an older method of tobacco consumption, and one which has largely never been in style in the United States, snuff taking hasn’t been subjected to the same overbearing, howling nanny-statism as smoking.
Leave a comment if you have tried English snuff or if you do in the future. As for me, I think it’ll be something I add to my store of vices, for use in those times and places where even vaping is unjustly yowled at.
Until next time, please remember to support this blog; do good work, and be good to yourselves and each other.