Nicotine salt e-liquid has been one of the hottest topics within the vaping community over the past few years. Originally brought to the market in the mid-2010s, nicotine salt was marketed as a better and more satisfying form of e-liquid for smokers who were just getting started with vaping.
Today, it’s just one more option for vapers of all experience and skill levels – and if you haven’t tried nic salt juice yet, maybe it’s the right choice for you. In this article, we’re going to help you make that decision by explaining what nic salt juice is and what its benefits are.
There are two different forms of nicotine used in e-liquids: freebase nicotine and nicotine salt. Freebase nicotine is the standard form of nicotine used in most e-liquids. It’s also the form of nicotine used in nicotine replacement products like gums and patches. If a bottle of e-liquid doesn’t say “salt” on the package, you can assume that it uses freebase nicotine. The two forms of nicotine are never mixed.
Freebase nicotine is extracted from tobacco leaves using a solvent – usually ammonia – that increases the yield of the extraction. Ammonia also raises the pH of the nicotine and converts it from a salt to a free base.
To create nicotine salt, a mild acid, such as benzoic acid, is added to freebase nicotine by the manufacturer. The acid lowers the pH of the nicotine and converts it back to a salt. So, now you understand the definition of nicotine salt e-liquid – but what does it actually mean for you as a vaper?
You’ll often see nicotine salt e-liquid marketed as a more satisfying form of e-liquid. As we’ll explain in a moment, that’s actually only true under a limited set of circumstances. In actuality, freebase nicotine is the more satisfying form of nicotine because it’s more bioavailable. It’s more volatile and converts more easily to vapour form.
If the nicotine strengths of two different types of e-liquid are the same, it’s likely that you’ll find the one with freebase nicotine more satisfying. Freebase nicotine e-liquid does, however, have one shortcoming: It has an alkaline pH, and you may find it irritating to inhale at higher nicotine strengths. That’s important for new vapers for two reasons.
If you use a small vaping device and prefer the mouth-to-lung inhaling style, you’ll use a relatively small amount of e-liquid. If you use a small vaping device, your e-liquid should have a fairly high nicotine strength, or vaping won’t be as satisfying for you as smoking.
The problem with freebase nicotine e-liquid is that, at high nicotine strengths, the fact that the nicotine is fairly alkaline can cause it to be irritating to the throat. A new vaper who uses freebase nicotine e-liquid, therefore, may have to decide between using a nicotine strength that’s satisfying but irritates the throat and a nicotine strength that’s easy to inhale but isn’t satisfying. Neither option is particularly attractive, and that’s the problem that nic salt e-liquid fixes.
The difference between freebase nicotine and nicotine salt liquid isn’t that nicotine salt is more satisfying. In fact, freebase nicotine should be the more satisfying of the two if the nicotine strength is the same. Where nicotine salt juice really shines is in higher-strength e-liquids that you might not otherwise want to use because the alkalinity of those e-liquids makes them difficult to inhale comfortably.
Nicotine salts have a more neutral pH, and the difference in pH is really evident in a higher-strength e-liquid. So, should you use nicotine salt e-liquid? Nic salt juice may be the right choice if either of these situations apply to you.
Before you begin using nicotine salt e-liquid, remember that liquids using nicotine salt almost always have higher nicotine strengths than freebase nicotine e-liquids.
If you’re currently using a large mod with a glass tank – and you use the direct-to-lung inhaling style – there’s a good chance that you’re currently using a vape liquid with nicotine that is a very low strength. In direct-to-lung vaping configurations, the most popular nicotine strength is 3 mg/ml.
Nicotine salt juice with a strength as low as 3 mg/ml isn’t common, and as we’ve explained, you probably wouldn’t find such an e-liquid more satisfying than what you’re already using anyway.
You shouldn’t use high-strength nicotine salt e-liquid with most direct-to-lung vaping devices because you’ll consume far too much nicotine.
The ideal vaping device for nic salt e-liquid is one that is small, operates at a low wattage and has tight airflow characteristics for mouth-to-lung inhaling. A small refillable pod-based vaping system is ideal. If the device fits easily in your pocket and has automatic puff-based activation and no manual airflow control, it will probably give you a great experience with nic salt juice.
You can also use nicotine salt vape juice with a vape pen if that device is designed for mouth-to-lung inhaling. You can tell that by looking at the vape pen’s mouthpiece. If the mouthpiece is small like the filter of a cigarette, it’ll probably work well with nicotine salt juice.