Whether you’re new to vaping or not – find out if nicotine salt e-liquid is for you.
Nicotine salt, sometimes abbreviated to ‘nic salt’, has been used in e-liquid for a few years now. It’s growing in popularity, yet those new to vaping, and even seasoned vapers who use it, might not know what it is. Or how it compares to the form of nicotine commonly found in e-liquids.
Without getting too technical and sounding like a chemistry professor, this article gives you some background on nicotine salt, how it differs from the traditional type, the pluses and minuses, and whether it’s right for you.
Back to nicotine basics.
Nicotine is the addictive substance found in cigarettes. It is also in most e-liquids to help replicate the sensation of smoking, although you can get zero nicotine e-liquids. Despite being addictive, it’s not been found to increase the risk of serious health problems.
The level of nicotine in UK e-liquids ranges from 0 to 20mg/ml. Users can select a level that they are comfortable with, which is often reflective of how much they used to smoke (if they did). The type of nicotine found in most e-liquids is called ‘freebase nicotine’.
What is freebase nicotine?
Freebase nicotine goes through a process to change its naturally occurring ‘salt’ state into a ‘base’ pure form. This increases potency, without increasing the dose. However, this also makes it more alkaline. It was developed back in the 1960s by a cigarette company.
Are there any downsides to freebase nicotine?
Due to it being more alkaline, it is very harsh in high doses. For most vapers, the throat hit from a high-strength freebase nicotine e-liquid is too severe to enjoy. As a result, some of those new to vaping drop the nicotine level to make it more palatable, but then they miss the nicotine hit they are used to. So they return to cigarettes to satisfy their craving.
What are nic salts?
Well, it’s got nothing to do with the salt you put on your chips. Nicotine salt forms naturally in leaf tobacco. However, in this natural state, it doesn’t travel easily to the nicotine receptors in our body (like the altered more potent ‘freebase nicotine’ does).
If pure nic salt is added straight to e-liquid, it would have to be vaped at an extremely high temperature for the nicotine to be effective. And even then, it wouldn’t do the same job as freebase nicotine.
So, the clever guys in white coats worked out, by increasing the acidity of nicotine salt, our bodies can absorb it more rapidly and it can vaporise at lower temperatures.
The pluses and minuses of nicotine salt e-liquids?
Due to nicotine salt being less alkaline, you get a much smoother throat hit compared to freebase nicotine. It’s also absorbed into the bloodstream faster. Meaning you can use a higher concentration of nicotine to satisfy your craving, without the harshness.
But before you click the ‘buy now’ button or rush out to your local vape shop, there are a few other things to consider. Nic salt e-liquids can’t handle high flavour complexity or generate large clouds compared to freebase nicotine e-liquids.
Are nic salt e-liquids right for me?
As mentioned above, there are advantages and disadvantages to using them. It just depends on the style of vaping you prefer and where you are on your vaping journey. For example, if you are new to vaping and looking to quit smoking, then nicotine salt e-liquids could be for you. They’ll help relieve your nicotine craving but without a harsh hit.
Another thing to consider is the type of vape you use or are considering using. Nicotine salt e-liquids are better suited to pod devices like our DOT Pro and lower power vape devices. High powered vapes and sub-ohm devices should be avoided as nic salt e-liquids are usually 20mg and above, potentially delivering too much nicotine. You can use nicotine in regular vaping devices if you keep the power lower.
Hopefully, this article will go some of the way to answering the question ‘what are nic salts?’. If you would like more advice on nicotine salt, please get in touch with one of our advisers who will be more than happy to help you.
For information about choosing the right nicotine strength for you when vaping, read our article How much nicotine in a vape?