How to extract nicotine from cigarette tobacco

Written by joel le blanc
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How to extract nicotine from cigarette tobacco
Nicotine causes addiction, cancer, high blood pressure and lung problems. (Getty Images)

People attempting to stop smoking might find it helpful to reduce the nicotine levels in their tobacco. Nicotine is a potentially toxic alkaloid present in tobacco leaves and stems. It is the major addictive substance in cigarettes. By reducing the nicotine content of tobacco, you can make cigarette smoking much less addictive. Reducing nicotine also helps when trying to quit smoking.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Cigarettes
  • Glass preserve jar
  • Distilled water
  • Fine strainer
  • Muslin cloth
  • Cookie tray

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  1. 1

    Remove the nicotine from tobacco with water. Nicotine is a water-soluble chemical. By using a cold-infusion method you can extract much of the nicotine from cigarette tobacco. In the process, you also may be removing other toxic chemicals in cigarettes.

  2. 2

    Place the tobacco from several cigarettes into a clean preserve jar. Save the papers and filters for later. Cover the tobacco completely with clean distilled water.

  3. 3

    Cover the mixture with a cloth or lid and allow it to sit in a cool, dark place for up to 24 hours. The water will immediately begin to darken from a light brown to a viscous near-black. When it reaches a thick black colour, you know the tobacco has finished steeping.

  4. 4

    Strain the tobacco out from the mixture through a fine strainer or muslin cloth. After you strain it, rinse the tobacco thoroughly with clean water to wash away any residue of the nicotine-rich mixture.

  5. 5

    Throw away all of the water used in the mixture immediately. This fluid is toxic as the nicotine content is extremely high. Nicotine can poison children and infants if they eat cigarettes. You also can use the substance as an insecticide. Wash away the liquid with soap and thoroughly rinse anything that comes into contact with it.

  6. 6

    Dry the tobacco using an oven or hot-water cupboard. If using an oven, set the oven to bake at 85 degrees Celsius (185 Fahrenheit). Place the moist tobacco leaves on a baking tray and remove when fully dried. This process may take 15 to 25 minutes. Drying tobacco in a hot water cupboard may take several days and runs the risk of the tobacco leaves collapsing into powder.

  7. 7

    Roll the dried tobacco back into the paper and filters you saved. You can do this by hand or use a metal cigarette-rolling machine purchased from a tobacconist. When you're finished, your low-nicotine cigarettes are ready to smoke.

Tips and warnings

  • Smoking in short, quick puffs produces lower levels of nicotine in the blood than long, deep puffs.
  • While this method removes nicotine, it may not remove all harmful chemicals found in tobacco. Increasing the number of cigarettes smoked daily to compensate for the low nicotine may result in receiving more harmful chemicals than before to get the same level of nicotine.

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