What Are Nicotine Pouches Made Of?
Unlike whole leaf tobacco or the ground tobacco material found in snus, nicotine pouches contain no tobacco material. Most products are filled with nicotine-soaked cellulose, made from plant material.
The thin white pouch itself is also made from plant fiber. Between these two elements, cellulose makes up the bulk of nicotine pouches.
Nicotine Pouch Ingredients
Cellulose makes up the bulk of nicotine pouches but there is clearly a lot more to the science behind these little nicotine satchels. There are also pH modifiers, as a higher pH level increases absorption, ingredients to provide shelf stability and artificial flavors.
Here is the ingredients list for Juice Head ZTN Nicotine Pouches:
Cellulose, Non-Tobacco Nicotine, Salt, Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Alginate, Flavoring, Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerin, Potassium Sorbate, Acesulfame Potassium, and Sucralose
Made from plant fibers, this is the material the pouch is made from and adds volume to the pouch. In many designs, cellulose granules are soaked in nicotine as a carrier. This adds the softness and mouthfeel which many users seek.
Nicotine is an addictive chemical. This product is intended for adult vapers, smokers, and smokeless tobacco users. The nicotine in these pouches is synthetic, specifically Zero Nicotine Tobacco in the case of Juice Head Pouches.
The nicotine enters your bloodstream through the oral mucosa under your lip. Nicotine pouches use nicotine salt, which has a faster absorption rate according to some studies and a lower pH when compared to freebase nicotine that is derived from tobacco. Juice Head and most other brands are available in 6 and 12mg strength, a specificity not found on tobacco dips and snus.
Also known as baking soda, sodium bicarbonate is a food grade product that is used to regulate pH in nicotine pouches. It also reduces stomach acid, which is a feature for a spitless product with the potential for swallowed nicotine. In the words of Phillip Morris International Science, “If the pH level is too neutral, then nicotine won’t transfer across the mucosa. Anything above 9.1 becomes too basic and can be an oral irritant, which is why existing industry standards set that upper limit. Sodium carbonate or bicarbonate is commonly used to regulate the pH.”
Another food additive classified as safe by the FDA, WHO, and FAO, sodium alginate is obtained from Atlantic Ocean Sea Weed (hence its name) and binds moisture. It is used in toothpaste, face masks and in nicotine replacement therapy products as well. It serves as a glidant and lubricant that reduces irritation.
Nicotine pouches use artificial flavorings, much in the same manner as e-liquids. Globally, most popular flavorings with adults are of course fruit inspired. Juice Head launched the first line of fruit-forward nicotine pouches, taking advantage of the fact synthetic nicotine is free from the tobacco heavy notes found in snus and tobacco derived nicotine products.
Propylene Glycol-Vegetable Glycerin
A pair of familiar names for vapers, these two ingredients enhanced user experience. Propylene glycol is colorless, odorless, slightly sweet, and non-toxic. In conjunction with vegetable glycerin (glycerol), these serve as stabilizers that maintain moisture levels, and maintain flavor consistency and distribution.
Potassium sorbate is a common food preservative. It is found in many medicines as well and helps prevent yeast and mold growth. It is viewed as one of the safest additives found in cosmetics, foods, and pharmaceuticals. It is non-toxic.
Acesulfame Potassium is a sweetener and flavor enhancer. It also enhances the smell of products. Approved in the EU and US, it is stable during thermal processing. Water soluble, it is 150 times sweeter than sugar but has somewhat bitter taste which is why it is often paired with other sweeteners.
A high-intensity artificial sweetener, sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar. Sucralose is a general-purpose sweetener. It is heat stable, making it especially popular in baked goods. But it can be found in beverages, chewing gum, and frozen dairy desserts as well.
No Tobacco in Nicotine Pouches
Missing from this list is of course tobacco. Apart from allowing a product like Juice Head to provide the exact flavors that adults nicotine users seek, free from tobacco, it also means that nicotine pouches are free from carcinogenic tobacco specific nitrosamines.
According to a BMC Chemistry Journal, not only were the nicotine pouches studied free from nitrosamines but they contained no more potentially harmful constituents than nicotine replacement therapy products like gums and lozenges. The absence of nitrosamines and tobacco ingredients is why nicotine pouches are not under the umbrella of the FDA.