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Soaking tobacco for nicotine and flavor - A chemists' perspective

Published by DVap in the blog DVap's blog. Views: 255

Here's a topic I've addressed a number of times in various threads, but I thought I might discuss it here.

What can one expect from soaking tobacco in various solvents (alcohol, PG, VG) to get some real tobacco flavor and/or nicotine?

As far as getting flavor, that's a pretty easy question. If you soak and get a result that you like (either as a liquid in itself or as a flavor additive to regular eliquid) and you don't mind the extra wear and tear on your attys, you've done good. (Assuming you accept that anything that involves soaking tobacco will be less "safe" than good clean regular e-liquid).

As far as getting an appreciable nicotine concentration, soak procedures are self-limiting. What I mean by this is simply that the more tobacco you soak (your nicotine source), the more solvent it's going to take to get nicotine to come out of the tobacco.

Here's a practical example:

You have 1 gram of tobacco. It's likely that this 1 gram of tobacco contains around 20 mg of nicotine. If you use 1 mL of PG to extract it, you could get as much as 20 mg/mL, right?

Wrong.

How much of the nicotine will come out? Maybe 50% if you're feeling generous, probably less. So now we're down from 20 mg/mL to 10 mg/mL. But what's this? When we add 1 mL of PG to 1 gram of tobacco, the tobacco just slurps up the PG.

So we add more PG, say 5 mL total. Now we've got some liquid on top to extract into.. but now we're putting that 10 mg nicotine (tops!) into 5 mL of PG, so we're down to 2 mg/mL and we've still made brown goo.

You see the problem.
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