Once upon a time, if you wanted to quit smoking but still wanted to get a nicotine hit, a few meagre ‘cig-a-likes’ were your best option.
Your choice of flavours was limited, with very few interesting varieties available, and if you used a mechanical mod, your battery was liable to blow your face off at some point.
However, today, smokers have a wealth of options at their disposal, thanks in no small part to nicotine salts.
Seen as a game-changing creation of the vaping world, nicotine salts first hit the market in June 2015. American vaping company Pax Labs released a pod mod device containing these salts, and the rest is history.
Nicotine salts were introduced in order to make nicotine more palatable. Juul’s nicotine salts contain up to three times the amount of nicotine found in previous e-cigarettes, but they use softening chemicals to allow people to take deeper drags without vomiting or burning their throats.
As such, nicotine salts provide a smooth, satisfying vaping experience whilst curbing smokers’ cravings for sustained periods of time.
Our article will explain in more detail what nicotine salts are, why they’re beneficial, and whether they’re right for you.
Nicotine salts are salts formed from two key ingredients:
Benzoic acid is the game-changing ingredient here. It not only facilitates a smoother throat hit, but it also makes vaping at high nicotine strengths possible.
When this acid is mixed with nicotine, this process reduces the pH, which reduces the nicotine’s harshness. The acid reverts the nicotine back to its original form, making it potent, bioavailable, and perfect for high-temperature vaping.
In simple terms, your body can absorb nicotine more easily thanks to the addition of benzoic acid. It makes the whole vaping experience more enjoyable.
This information leads us nicely onto our section.
As we touched on above, the major benefit of nicotine salts is that they provide a smooth, satisfying throat hit due to their low pH level. They’re much less harsh than freebase nicotine, which we’ll come on to talk about in more detail.
Nicotine salts also deliver faster nicotine hits. They deliver nicotine into your bloodstream in a matter of seconds – in fact, the nicotine delivery is as fast and powerful as if you were smoking a cigarette.
Another key benefit of nicotine salts is that they improve the flavour of your e liquid. You’ll notice that the flavour you get when you vape an e liquid is pure and moreish – this, again, is down to their neutral pH. They certainly don’t affect your juice’s flavour anywhere near as much as freebase nicotine (we’ll expand on this point later in the article).
Furthermore, you can vape nicotine salts at lower temperatures and with higher concentrations of nicotine than you can with traditional e liquids. You don’t need a rocket-powered mod delivering the equivalent of molten lava to your throat and lungs in order to achieve an impressive throat hit.
Nicotine salts can even help you save money. We don’t just mean they’re much cheaper than cigarettes, which is a given, but they’re designed to be enjoyed over a longer period of time.
They usually contain a concentration of 50% Propylene Glycol (PG) and 50% Vegetable Glycerine (VG). This concentration means that, compared to high-VG e liquids, nicotine salts will deliver a faster hit and are better suited to low-wattage devices, meaning you’ll not use them up as quickly.
To further emphasise our point here, you can get four 10ml Vampire Vape Heisenberg nicotine salts on our website for just £9.96. One single 10ml bottle should last you around a week – and that’s if you’re used to smoking roughly 15 to 20 cigarettes a day.
So, essentially, if the average vaper bought these nicotine salts from Vapekit, they’d be spending approximately £2.50 a week! That’s about a quarter of the cost – if not less – of a standard pack of cigarettes in the UK.
Check out our guide on the benefits of nicotine salt e liquid to learn more.
The three main differences between nicotine salts and freebase nicotine are:
We’ll expand upon these differences further down. But first, here’s a quick definition of freebase nicotine for anyone who isn’t very familiar with the term.
What is freebase nicotine?
Freebase nicotine, also known as ‘de-protonated’ nicotine, is the purest and most original form of nicotine.
Its origins date back to the 1960s, during which time tobacco companies such as Philip Morris began to ‘freebase’ their nicotine.
In the simplest terms, these companies created reduced-nicotine cigarettes that still gave their customers the kick they were looking for. And they did this by adding a chemical called ammonia –usually in the form of diammonium phosphate– to pure nicotine.
The ammonia strips away protons from the nicotine (a process known as ‘de-protonation’, which we alluded to in the introduction), which converts it into its freebase form. De-protonation makes freebase nicotine easier to absorb and enables it to travel across the membranes of our body much faster and more easily.
Therefore, this type of nicotine is commonly used in nicotine replacement therapies, such as gums and patches.
How do nicotine salts differ from freebase nicotine?
Now that we’ve explained what freebase nicotine is, let’s look at the differences between this and nicotine salts in greater depth.
As we alluded to above, freebase nicotine provides a harsher throat hit than nicotine salts and suits vapers who prefer this feeling or who like to puff little and often throughout the day. This hit can feel especially potent and strong at high nicotine strengths or if you’re a new vaper.
As such, freebase nicotine is most suited to sub-ohm vapers who are used to more powerful flavours and bigger clouds.
This term may sound complex and scientific to anyone who’s not come across it before. But it’s not as complicated as you may think.
Basically, bioavailability means the extent to which a substance circulates in – and is absorbed by – the body. So, nicotine salts have a good bioavailability because they can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream – within around six seconds, in fact!
They enter the bloodstream faster than freebase nicotine, meaning you’ll get a nicotine fix in a shorter amount of time.
The addition of benzoic acid facilitates this bioavailability. Because of this addition, nicotine salts are more readily available and absorbable than traditional freebase nicotine.
Effect on flavour
Nicotine salts don’t overpower or dominate the flavour of your e liquid as much as freebase nicotine due to their more neutral pH level.
Freebase nicotine has more of a peppery-like taste, and this tends to impact the flavour of your e liquid if you vape with it.
If you’re looking for simplicity, value for money, and an authentic, smoking-like experience (without the same detrimental health implications), nicotine salts are perfect for you.
They’ll give you a smooth throat hit if this is what you're looking for, and they’re ideal for use with a low-wattage device*.
However, if you’re more interested in big clouds and complex devices, you might prefer to stick to sub-ohm vaping. It's also worth noting that the throat hit you'll get from nicotine salts, although smooth, is less noticeable than the hit you get from freebase nicotine. Therefore, this may be problematic if you're a recently reformed smoker, as you'll no doubt be craving the same noticeable throat hits that you're used to from cigarettes.
*NOTE: Nicotine salts should only be used with a low-wattage device. A nicotine overdose is possible if you vape nicotine salts quickly or use them in high-wattage, sub-ohm devices. This is due to their smoothness and close-to-immediate absorption rate.
Now that you’re aware of the makeup of nicotine salts and the many benefits they provide, you can explore your favourite nicotine salt juices.
To get started, check out our recommendations of the best nic salt e liquids on the market right now.
If you’re trying to quit smoking, these e liquids are ideal for helping you in your quest.
Our nicotine salts range includes the best nic salt e liquids from Dinner Lady, Vampire Vape, Element (gusto mini pods), Solt, IVG, Blu, and other premium brands. You have a huge range of options to choose from.
You can also enjoy your vaping without needing a variable-wattage device. Simply select your nic salt vape or pod vapes and your desired nicotine levels to get started.
Click on the link below to explore our nicotine salts range and find out why nicotine salts are all the rage among vapers.