Tobacco infusion, both in alcohol and in water, is to be avoided because it is toxic. In this short article I explain why.
For some years now, it is very fashionable to prepare infusions with tobacco, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Those who choose to make these preparations recommend using only tobacco from Cuban cigars because they are processed by hand without the addition of any additives, and to avoid, in the most absolute way, cigarettes or similar.
Unfortunately, even using Cuban cigars or tobacco leaves is not advisable: the problem is not in the additives.
Tobacco leaves contain nicotine, a rather toxic alkaloid, soluble in alcohol and miscible in water. In the past, the infusion of tobacco in water was used as an insecticide. I would like to say that boiling tobacco in water does not reduce the amount of nicotine extracted or present in the final liquid.
The toxicity of a substance is quantified using a parameter called LD50, contraction of Lethal dose 50. The LD50 is the amount of the substance required (usually per body weight) to kill 50% of the test population. It is believed that the DL50 of nicotine on man is between 6.5 and 13 mg / kg. This value has been modified taking into account the fact that many people have survived the dose previously considered lethal (0.5mg / kg). Click here to find the scientific review.
Although the lethal value has been resized, it is good to specify that even lower doses may become toxic, causing unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting, abdominal pain, agitation, respiratory distress, tachycardia, and salivation.
If you really want to give your drinks the flavour of tobacco my advice is to use an industrial product and avoiding the home-made preparation. As I have repeatedly repeated, industrial products are not always of the lowest quality and, in any case, large companies are able to guarantee food safety. Toschi produces a syrup, Capovilla a distillate.
Concluding, it is true that some drops of tobacco tincture (or bitters) should not be a threat to health, but it is best not to hold such a toxic infusing bottle compartment: accidental intoxications are not rare (think about how many people, every year at home, accidentally drink some detergent) and it is very likely that the supervised authority will not allow you to keep a home-made insecticide in your bottle compartment.
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