Where Nicotine Comes From & How it's Made (Guide)
Erik Rosengren - Snusexpert
09 February, 2023

Where Nicotine Comes From & How it's Made (Guide)

You must have heard of nicotine? It's a term that's thrown around almost every day. But where does nicotine come from? Several plants are responsible for producing nicotine, including members of the Solanaceae family. These plants are more commonly known as nightshades. Surprisingly, potato, pepper, as well as certain species of wild tobacco or Nicotiana tabacum also belong to this same family.

In addition to these natural sources, it can now be artificially synthesized through a variety of processes. These processes involve the mixing of organic compounds like acetic acid and isobutyl alcohol. Most modern nicopods use synthesized nicotine, which happens to be healthier and safer, but we'll talk about that later. First, let's look at the…

Origins of Nicotine

Originally, nicotine comes from the tobacco plant also known as Nicotiana tabacum. The nicotiana tabacum is an indigenous plant from South West Africa, South America, Australia, and South Pacific. The tribes and people of the area used tobacco in their everyday lives. 

The indigenous people of the Americas would use ceremonial pipes, filled with tobacco, for numerous purposes. One of which was to improve trust. Before signing a treaty or covenant, they would pass around a smoking pipe. It was like being in a college frat party!

On October 15, 1492, Christopher Columbus got some dried tobacco leaves as a gift from the American Indians that he encountered. The plant gained instant popularity in Europe and America, as it was believed the plant had “healing powers”. We now know that it was a nicotine rush.

Though nicotine may seem straightforward at first glance, there’s much more to it than meets the eye. You'll understand what we mean when you learn… 

What is Nicotine?

Nicotine is an alkaloid, a compound found mainly in the tobacco plants from the nightshade family. Its chemical composition is C10H14N2. It has many effects on humans and animals when consumed, and its presence can be felt even in trace amounts. So…

How does nicotine affect the body?

When consumed, nicotine reacts with the nicotine acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). It leads to the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. You feel a rush of energy, and happiness, in the form of a slight tingling sensation called a nicotine buzz. (click the link to read our guide about nicotine buzzes)

Some of the things that you could experience when using nicotine products such as cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, nicopods, etc. are:

  • Increased Alertness
  • Faster Heartbeat
  • Improved Mood

There are other effects of nicotine as well, which we'll discuss a bit later. It now brings us to our next question…

How is Nicotine Made?

While nicotine exists naturally in some plants, the highest concentrations are found in the leaves of Nicotiana tabacum (the tobacco plant). Once the leaves are harvested from the tobacco plant, nicotine is extracted through steam distillation or chemical extraction processes.

It results in the production of a highly concentrated solution that can then be used for manufacturing cigarettes, e-cigarettes, nicotine pouches and other products. Afterward, manufacturers further refine and crystallize their product before finally converting it into liquid or powder for usage.

You should know that there are two types of nicotine production methods. The first type of production method uses tobacco leaves, like the one we've mentioned above. If you use tobacco products, then you've mostly experienced this natural nicotine. Snus and chewing tobacco are other products that use the refined version of this nicotine. 

Most modern nicotine pouches (which has a ton of benefits), vaping products contain nicotine made in labs, also known as Synthetic Nicotine (SN). SN is an innovative take on the classic tobacco problems. 

A tip from Snusdaddy: Nicotine users should bear in mind that even if content labels appear to have been accurately tested and measured, there are still risks associated with potential contaminants present during production. Always read product warnings and seek advice from medical professionals before making any decisions about using nicotine products.

The process of making nicotine infographic

What Are The Effects of Using Nicotine?

The most well-known effect of nicotine consumption is its ability to act as a stimulant on the human body. When tobacco is burned, it enters the bloodstream and reacts with receptors. It increases alertness and heart rate, resulting in an increased sense of wellbeing or euphoria.

Everyone knows what kind of positive effects nicotine has, but there are some misconceptions about its negative effects. Most of the negative attributes of nicotine aren't because of the nicotine itself, but of the toxins that it is combined with. There are different types of nicotine products, some of which are heated, while others are smokeless products.

Research has found that heated products cause more long-term damage, because of the additional toxins that enter your body when you use them. Inhaling smoke from cigarettes or other tobacco-based products poses significant risk to one's respiratory system.

Tobacco use may come with long-term risks such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and addiction due to tolerance building up over time. Additionally, nicotine has been linked with an increase in appetite, which could result in weight gain for some users.

Hundreds of toxins are present in cigarettes that irritate airways and cause inflammation. In extreme cases, tobacco smoke can lead to asthma attacks or even lung cancer caused by carcinogens present in the smoke. It makes smoking one of the leading causes of preventable death globally.

Awareness about this aspect and fact is one reason why people are switching to smokeless tobacco free products. Nevertheless, it is clear that there are both positive and negatives associated with nicotine use. The safety of these nicotine products for an individual depends on the type of product, the levels of nicotine, and frequency of its usage.

It is important to understand all aspects before indulging in any kind of nicotine product consumption. Otherwise, you might end up with a nicotine addition. It brings us to another question that people ask us frequently…

Is Nicotine Addictive?

It is estimated that up to 70% of adult smokers in the United States are nicotine-dependent. So yes, nicotine is addictive, if you use it regularly, without limits. If users do not consume products over a period, they may experience cravings, and nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased mood
  • Digestion problems

Nicotine affects multiple areas of the brain's pleasure, reward, and motivation systems. When used for prolonged periods at high doses, it increases dopamine levels in these regions, leading to physical dependence. In cigarettes, and e-cigarettes, the hand to mouth motion is another habit formation action that further cements your addiction. 

This means that when someone stops using nicotine after being addicted to it for a significant amount of time, their bodies will go through withdrawal symptoms due to its absence. The signs of addiction include cravings for more nicotine and increased tolerance for higher doses needed to achieve desired effects such as mood elevation or relaxation.

It is clear that overconsumption of nicotine is highly addictive and should be treated with caution by those who choose to consume it regularly. If you are taking heated tobacco or other forms of harmful products, then using an adequate Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) option would be better. Some common NRT options are:

Nicopods in particular have an established record of breaking cigarette addictions successfully. They are also healthier and offer attractive variants that almost anyone can use. 

Snusdaddy Summary

In conclusion, nicotine is a chemical compound found in the tobacco plant. It has been proven to be addictive and can lead to health problems after long-term use, especially in its heated form (Nicotine in cigarettes). The effects of using nicotine vary from person to person, but it can cause heart disease, stroke, cancer and other illnesses.

Nicotine also comes in different types. Cigarettes and heated tobacco products are by far the most harmful types of nicotine available on the market. Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) are available for those who wish to quit smoking or reduce their dependence on nicotine.

NRTs involve taking small doses of nicotine in forms such as patches, gums, etc. that provide an alternative source of the substance without having to smoke cigarettes. Nicopods are one substitute that many people are using today. You can read our comprehensive guide on how to quit smoking, if you want any guidance or help.

And remember, we are always here for you if you need any help. If you're considering nicotine pouches, you should read our list of the best nicotine pouches out there. Until next time, stay safe, and happy!