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What is snus

What is Snus?



Snus: a type of moist powdered oral tobacco that is usually held in the mouth between the upper lip and gum. Snus or the tobacco pouch has always been culturally attached to Sweden. This is mainly because the Swedes were the first one's to produce it and bring it overseas when Swedes migrated to the US during the 1900s. However, snus is rapidly spreading further afield and is generating curiosity among Brits. 
But what really is snus? Read on to find out more about what snus really is, the types of snus, top brands and even the snus side effects!


What is Snus Made Of?

What is snus

The main ingredient of snus is, of course, tobacco. However, the other core ingredients are:

  • - Water
  • - Salt (usually the same kind you use for cooking)
  • - Sodium carbonate 
  • - Aromatic compounds (often bergamot or juniper)
  • - Moisture preserving agents

Types of Snus

Snus comes in many varieties: from loose, to portioned.

Loose Snus

Loose snus is a moist powder that can be made into portions and packed using your fingers to make a pouch shape. It is quite a messy way to use snus and can result in dripping, but is the original way to use snus. 

Portioned Snus

Portioned snus is where the moist snus powder comes pre-packaged in sachets for a less messy experience. It is considered more convenient and discreet than traditional snus (which is why the most popular type of Swedish snus). There are several forms of portioned snus:

  • - Original Portion: A product where the moist tobacco mixture has been placed in a small bag. Most popular brands of original portion snus are Kapten, Thunder, Skruf, Odens and Grov snus. 
  • - White Portion: A dry and less runny tobacco pouch. The most popular brands that have white portion snus are General White, Lundgrens, Göteborgs Rapé, Siberia and Knox Portion.
  • - Mini Portion: An extra small pouch for discreet use.
  • - Slim Portion: A slim version for a more discreet look and better fit under the lip.

Swedish Snus vs American Snus

The main differences between Swedish snus and American snus are in portion size and flavours available. 
Swedish snus traditionally has much larger portions than American snus, which also means they tend to have a higher nicotine content. It is also common for Swedish snus to taste less sweet than American snus, as the US market tend to prefer to mask the tobacco flavour. 

Snus vs Nicotine Pouches

What is snus
Both snus and nicotine pouches are portioned oral nicotine products, so what is the difference between snus and nicotine pouches? The major difference between snus and pouches is that nicotine pouches are tobacco-free, whereas Swedish snus is not. 
Tobacco is the base ingredient in most types of snus, however in nicotine pouches the nicotine is either produced synthetically or extracted from the Nicotiana tabacum plant and crystalized into nicotine salt (making it tobacco leaf free, as there is no tobacco plant in nicotine pouches). 
It is also important to note that snus is illegal in the UK - however, nicotine pouches are legal (if you are over 18 years old). 

The Best Snus Brands

Top 4 Tobacco Snus Brands

Based on data from one of the most popular retailers of Swedish snus in Sweden, Nettotobak, the top 4 Swedish snus brands are:

  1. 1. Ettan. Ettan has been produced for hundreds of years and remains the most popular snus in Sweden. Around 1/5 of the snus  sold in Sweden is Ettan.
  2. 2. General. General snus was founded in 1840 and is made with a signature blend of over 20 types of tobacco, and is infused with bergamot oil (for the classic Swedish snus flavour)
  3. 3. Göteborgs Rape. This brand has been sold in Sweden since 1919, and is a classic snus infused with juniper berries for a lightly sweet tobacco pouch experience.
  4. 4. Lundgrens. Lundgrens snus is produced by Fiedler and Lundgren: another of the classic Swedish snus brands. While they experiment with new concepts, they still use traditional methods to craft their snus.


Want to learn more about Swedish snus brands? Check out the full list of all Swedish snus brands.

Top 5 Tobacco Free Snus (Nicotine Pouches)

While you cannot buy traditional snus in the UK, you can still buy nicotine pouches (or tobacco-free snus) - which is a great alternative. The top 5 best snus brands in the UK that are tobacco-free are:

  1. 1. Nordic Spirit. Nordic Spirit has one of the most unique flavour ranges in the nicotine pouch market. However, what makes them completely unique is that all Nordic Spirit pouches have a base note of bergamot added to them, which gives them a flavour profile similar to that of traditional snus. 
  2. 2. VELO. A Swedish brand of pouches, VELO pouches are made from plant-based fibres, flavouring and nicotine with a gum base. 
  3. 3. LYFT. LYFT is a relaunched brand with a range of artisan nicotine pouches. 
  4. 4. ZYN. A brand of all-white nicotine pouches made in Scandinavia. ZYN is the most popular nicotine pouch brand in the U.S. and are becoming increasingly popular with U.K. users too. 
  5. 5. LOOP. LOOP is a Swedish brand of pouches launched in 2019, developing new and innovative nicotine pouches.

What is Snus Used For?

When people buy snus, why they are using it will vary from person to person. Some users see it as a smoke-free nicotine product for adults who are looking for a smoke-free alternative to smoking, vaping, chewing, dipping, and dissolvable and snuff tobacco products. However, there are many motivations behind choosing snus. 
Snus, including tobacco-free snus, has a stimulating effect due to the nicotine which can lead to increased alertness, a sense of relaxation and even a temporary boost in mood. The body absorbs the nicotine through the lining of the mouth, and once it is absorbed you can start to notice some of the snus side effects. Some of the snus effects can include an increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and the release of dopamine in the brain. 

Snus Side Effects Overview

The snus effects start to occur as soon as the ingredients, mainly the nicotine, in the snus are activated by your saliva. The buccal mucosa (lining of your mouth) absorbs the "free" nicotine from the pouch - this is nicotine that is not connected to any other molecule. As a standard rule of thumb, there is more “free” nicotine when the pH of a pouch is higher. This oral absorption process allows nicotine to travel through your bloodstream, reaching your brain. Users also feel happy and calm when using snus, as nicotine stimulates the body to release dopamine, the body's "feel-good" neurotransmitter, and adrenaline giving the feeling of energy. 
Regardless of the flavour or strength of snus you buy, a snus user will feel the snus effects shortly after placing it under the lip. After that, how long does the snus last? The sensation can last between 20 minutes and an hour, after which you take out the snus. 

Snus Effects Timeline: What Does Snus Do For You?

The effects of nicotine or snus pouches can vary based on factors like weight, metabolism, and how you use the snus. However, here's a general timeline of the snus effects

  • - Immediate - 10 minutes: The nicotine is absorbed through the mouth's mucous membrane, leading to increased heart rate and blood pressure.
  • - 10 - 20 minutes: The nicotine reaches the brain, triggering the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine for pleasure and relaxation.
  • - 30 - 40 minutes: Nicotine levels peak in the bloodstream, influenced by individual metabolism and pouch strength.
  • - 2 - 3 hours: Nicotine's half-life is around two hours, resulting in decreased concentration and potential cravings or withdrawal symptoms.
  • - 8 - 10 hours: Most nicotine and its byproducts are eliminated through the kidneys. However, regular users may experience prolonged clearance times.


Snus Side Effects

Nicotine products, such as snus, can have various side effects due to their stimulating properties and addictive nature. Here are some possible snus side effects and why they occur:

  • - Addiction: Snus contains nicotine, an addictive substance.
  • - Increased heart rate and blood pressure: Nicotine stimulates adrenaline release, leading to elevated heart rate, constricted blood vessels, and higher blood pressure, potentially increasing the risk of heart disease.
  • - Gastrointestinal problems: Some individuals may experience upset stomach, heartburn, or nausea, particularly when starting or using high-nicotine snus products.
  • - Oral health issues: Regular snus use can contribute to gum recession, tooth discoloration (if it contains tobacco), and, in some cases, oral lesions due to direct contact with the gums and teeth.
  • - Insomnia and sleep disturbances: Nicotine is a stimulant that can interfere with sleep, causing difficulties falling asleep or insomnia.
  • - Decreased appetite: Nicotine can suppress appetite, but relying on tobacco products for weight control is not a healthy or sustainable approach.
  • - Withdrawal symptoms: If you're attempting to quit or reduce snus usage, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating.

However, research also suggests some potential positive effects of nicotine, including improved attention and focus, reduced body weight and appetite, increased metabolic rate, and potential benefits for psychiatric illnesses and dementia-related conditions. Learn more about the effects in our Snus Effects guide.

Factors That Can Change the Snus Effects

While we have covered the basics of snus effects, how do snus effects change when other factors come in? We look at some of the most asked questions, such as how snus effects change when you eat and drink and how snus effects sports performance.

The Snus Effects if You Eat or Drink While Using Snus

It is known that some snus consumers eat and drink while using snus. However, it is more common to remove snus before eating. Regardless of whether you eat and drink while using snus, it is important never to swallow snus as it can cause chaos in the stomach – it's better to dispose of it like gum (back into the packaging or into the bin... please, no littering). Especially children and adolescents are affected by snus use – imagine how strongly nicotine affects small bodies – so please keep your products out of the reach of children.

Snus Effects on Sports Performance

The use of snus among professional athletes, particularly football players and ice hockey pros, has seen a significant increase, with an estimated 1 in 4 athletes using oral nicotine products. The question of snus use in sports remains a topic of discussion, with organizations like the FA (Football Association) warning players about the dangers of drug use while monitoring the World Anti-Doping Agency's stance. In its 2015 report titled "Effects of Snus Administration on Sport Performance", the WADA clearly states that nicotine is not prohibited in competition and does not provide unfair advantages in terms of performance. Although nicotine remains on their monitoring list in 2022, there is currently no ban against it.

To investigate the potential impact of snus on stamina and determine whether it should be banned in sport competitions, the WADA conducted a three-year study involving 18 participants. The study included evaluations of overall fitness, the effects of snus during exercise ranging from 80% exertion to total exhaustion, and the impact during high-intensity short interval exercises.

The 2015 results indicated that, on average, the test subjects experienced a 13.1% decrease in performance when exercising without snus, highlighting the significance of maintaining a regular nicotine level for individual performance. However, in research involving archery athletes, a different outcome was shown. Nicotine supplementation enhanced cognitive function in the archers and stimulated the sympathetic adrenergic system (part of the nervous system), resulting in significantly improved archery scores.

Whether people use nicotine in sports or not, it is important to note that its use can potentially impact performance, either positively or negatively.

Tips to Help with Snus Effects

While using snus responsibly can help avoid most side effects, there is always a possibility you may feel some side effects when using snus. If you're experiencing side effects, here are some strategies to help combat them:

  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help you avoid a dry mouth or itchy throat.
  • Take breaks: Consider taking breaks or reducing the frequency of nicotine pouch use to minimize potential side effects. 
  • Choose lower nicotine strengths: Opt for pouches with lower nicotine levels to reduce the intensity of side effects. Start with lower strengths and gradually increase to avoid discomfort.
  • Try different flavours: Some flavours may enhance the strength of nicotine, leading to more intense side effects. Experiment with different flavors to find one that suits you.
  • Proper placement: Place the nicotine pouch comfortably in your mouth and adjust its position if you experience discomfort or irritation. 
  • Monitor your usage: Pay attention to the number of pouches you use per day and consider reducing the quantity if you experience adverse effects - if in doubt, ask yourself “how many pouches have I been using a day?”and take a good look at how many you are using.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth regularly and practice good oral hygiene to minimize potential negative effects on gums and teeth.
  • Listen to your body: If you experience severe or persistent side effects, consult a healthcare professional for guidance tailored to your situation.

Remember, everyone's sensitivity to nicotine and response to snus can vary. Find the right balance for yourself and make sure to prioritize your overall well-being. 

What is Snus? Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Buy Snus in the UK?

You can buy tobacco-free snus (also known as nicotine pouches) in the UK. However, you cannot buy tobacco snus in the UK. 

How Does Snus Work? 

In short, snus works orally with the nicotine being absorbed via the lining of your mouth and into the bloodstream. 

How Long Does Snus Last?

How long it lasts varies from person to person. On average, one pouch will last around 30 minutes.

Is Snus a Drug?

No, snus is not classified as a drug.  People may think that snus a drug due to its nicotine content. Nicotine acts on the brain's reward system, leading to feelings of pleasure and can even result in feelings of dependency. However, it's important to note that snus is legally marketed as a tobacco product in many countries, including Sweden, where it is widely used. While snus contains nicotine and can be addictive, it is not classified as a drug in the traditional sense but rather as a tobacco product (but is not legal in the EU, apart from in Sweden). The same goes for tobacco-free snus. 
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