4 Uses for Tobacco in a Survival Situation

Here are a few ways to use tobacco that you may have never considered.

Tobacco has been around since long before the advent of cigarettes, and it has had many uses throughout history. Native Americans had many uses for the tobacco plant and the tobacco leaves other than curing and smoking, which grew plentifully in North America.

While cigarette smoking in America is widely frowned upon these days, and its prevalence has decreased compared to previous decades, there are still non-smoking uses for tobacco products in a survival situation. Even with all the additives cigarette companies put in their coffin nails and dip, they can certainly come handy when it all hits the fan.

Nicotine, a strong parasympathomimetic alkaloid, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). More importantly, while it can be toxic to humans in large doses, it can be equally toxic to insects and parasites in smaller doses.

NOTE: This isn't medical advice and these aren't uses for tobacco approved by the surgeon general or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Insect Repellent

One reason to add a pack of smokes or a few cigars to you survival kit, even if you're a nonsmoker: it can make a good, fairly natural insect repellent in a pinch. If you soak a cigarette in a quart of water overnight, the liquid will leech the nicotine out of the dried tobacco.

The resulting solution makes for a decent insect repellant that can be sprayed or splashed on packs, clothes, tents, etc. It can also be used to form a perimeter around a sleeping area. Plus, unlike some bug repellents, spiders don't like nicotine either.

You can also use chewing tobacco or pipe tobacco for this purpose, too, and boiling may make the leeching process more effective. Of course, if you spray the liquid on your clothes, you can absorb some amount of nicotine through your skin (this is the same way nicotine patches work) so be aware of that, as some people can have negative side effects from absorbing the substance.

Some folks swear there's no better bug repellent than the tobacco smoke from a cheapo cigar, and they might have something there.

Gut Parasite Remedy

Another use of tobacco is as genuine medicine for what can be an awful and even life threatening affliction. People have been ingesting tobacco to fight intestinal parasites for ages, the kind that can be easily picked up from untreated drinking water. Just like the nicotine acts as an insecticide outside the body, it literally stuns parasites inside the body, if it doesn't outright kill them. This allows them to be passed.

Survival experts say you can just straight up eat about a cigarette and a half's worth of tobacco to effectively kill off intestinal parasites. Do it again 48 hours later to be sure. You don't have to eat the paper, and nobody says you can't put the tobacco in a peanut butter sandwich or something. This is obviously a last-ditch resort for when SHTF, and only a viable option if the correct meds aren't available—but it's good to know.


Tobacco poultices have been used for lots of things, historically. Tobacco is either muddled with water or chewed to create the poultice, which is then applied to insect stings or small cuts. Native Americans said a tobacco poultice could draw poison from a snake bite. While this isn't the case, it does act as a pain reliever with some topical anesthetic value.

It has also been used in this capacity to relieve toothaches. Of course, these uses will allow some nicotine to be absorbed by the body.


Cigarettes and cigars are meant to burn slowly, and specifically, meant to maintain an ember. This can make them useful as fire starting material (if it's dry) and they can also be used as the tobacco industry has designed them, to transport an ember over considerable distances.

This can be a big deal if you're relying on a bow-drill kit to start fires. You will have to puff it, though, to keep the ember going and catch some secondhand smoke, sort of, even if you don't inhale.