The Snuff Tobacco Reference

Alkalinisation of Tobacco

Alkalinisation is a tobacco manufacturing process that involves raising the basicity of the product with the use of an alkalising agent or agents, which is done most commonly so as to increase for the consumer the bioavailability of the alkaloids that are naturally present in the tobacco.1 Agents used for the alkalinisation of tobacco are numerous. In Great Britain, alkalising agents for snuff tobacco are restricted by law to the carbonates, chlorides, and sulphates of potassium and sodium and the carbonate of ammonia, at a total quantity not exceeding twenty-six per cent of the snuff measured as dry weight basis, and, permitted only for certain sorts of snuff, limewater, at a total quantity not exceeding one per cent of the amount naturally present in the tobacco from which the snuff is manufactured nor thirteen per cent of the snuff measured as dry weight basis.2 Agents that are typically used for alkalinisation may also be included with snuff for other purposes, such as to adulterate the product.3


  1. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans: Smokeless Tobacco and Some Tobacco-specific N-Nitrosamines. International Agency for Research on Cancer. Volume 89; Page 261. 2007. Digitised version
  2. Customs and Inland Revenue Act. Chapter 15; Part 3; Section 25. 1878.
  3. The Medical Press & Circular. The Legalised Adulteration of Snuff. Charles A. Cameron. Issue 1869-06-30. 1869.