There was an interesting discussion on Reddit I got into in the past day or so. Oddly this tobacco-related question came up on the SeattleWA sub.

On a thread about a pipe smoking club — TIL there is a pipe smoking club in Seattle — someone asked:

If I got a bit of pipe tobacco and stuck it in a sachet on the wall to help the den smell nicer, would the nicotine also be transmitted there?

Initially this was a joke, right? Well, we can just science the hell out of this!

Before I hopped in the shower I did a bit of quick googling…

The answer is yes, but incredibly little of it assuming you’re not burning your sachet and house. The vapor pressure of nicotine is non-zero (https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/nicotine#section=Vapor-Pressure) at room temperature so some would evaporate out.

If you’re asking “would there be any nicotine effect from it?” Assuming the sachet is normal sachet-sized, you’re good to go. This would make a good what-if for XKCD — how big would the sachet be for you to have effects without your house catching fire first.

Then as I was in the shower, more thoughts… so many variables and questions!

  • What’s the threshold for affecting humans?
  • How big is the room?
  • What type of airflow is in the room?
  • Surface area of the tobacco, along with how that affects the propagation of nicotine.
  • How long would the effects last? (i.e. How much is left of the nicotine in the tobacco as it evaporates)

It’s too bad that I took chem nearly three decades ago and those brain cells have long since atrophied. Hell, this gets some calculus into the mix as well dealing with the partial pressure of the nicotine as it reaches equilibrium. Those brain cells are long gone too.

If you stuck your head in a garbage bag of tobacco (with a bit of air being added so you don’t suffocate) you’d likely get some of the effects. But it’s not really that practical.

Because science!