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Your Guide to Nicotine & Vaping

guide to nicotine and vaping

Most vapers have invested in an e-cig because they are trying to quit smoking. There are several reasons why vaping can help you to quit. The most significant of these is that vaping gives you a nicotine hit.

Vaping equipment and e liquids are constantly evolving. It’s incredible just how many devices and flavours are now available. However, until recently, you could choose the nicotine strength of your vape juice, but not the type of nicotine it contained. Now, life is a little more complicated!

Which nicotine strength is best for you and which form of nicotine should you choose?

What is freebase nicotine?

Freebase nicotine is the purest form of the chemical. It is the type of nicotine used in replacement therapies such as those itchy patches or unpleasant chewing gums. Freebase nicotine used to be your only option with e liquids. It would be easy to think that the purest form of nicotine would be the best form of nicotine. However, freebase nicotine is highly alkaline which means it is harsh on your throat. You might be forced to take fewer puffs than you need to relieve your cravings.

What is salt nicotine?

Salt nicotine is identical to the nicotine found in tobacco leaves. In its natural state, this form of nicotine is not absorbed quickly by the body and so would need to be vaped at very high temperatures to alleviate your cravings. When manufacturers began to realise the potential of salt nicotine (nic salts), they realised that it would require modification if it were to be an effective addition to e liquids.

Much experimentation followed and it was discovered that the addition of benzoic could make all the difference. The benzoic acid produced nicotine which delivered smoother throat hits. It was also absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. Salt nicotine no longer needed to be vaped at high temperatures, making it ideal for those using low wattage e cigs including pod systems.

What benefits do you get from a dose of salts?

If you have recently quit smoking, salt nicotine e liquids are excellent options. They enable you take as many puffs as you need without irritating your throat and they are suitable for most entry level devices. You will benefit from more immediate relief of your cravings due to the quicker absorption and many vapers feel that the effects of each hit are longer lasting. This could be a major boon if there are long periods of the day during which you cannot vape. 

Unlike freebase nicotine, salt nicotine does not impact the flavour of your vape juice. You will benefit from purer flavour which could be important if you enjoy the more subtle blends. This form of nicotine could also enable you to vape menthol flavours which might otherwise be too harsh for your throat.

The advanced and powerful equipment you need to vape at high temperatures can be costly. With salt nicotine, you don’t need a high wattage device or temperature control mode to achieve a satisfying fix.

What are the benefits of freebase nicotine?

Salt nicotine delivers smoother throat hits. If you are looking for a more noticeable throat hit, you might find that freebase nicotine gives delivers greater satisfaction. As salt nicotine is quickly absorbed, it is possible to overdose if you vape at high temperatures. E liquids with salt nicotine tend to boast bases that are no more than 50VG. These are unsuitable for sub ohm devices. If you favour this type hardware or you are a cloud chaser, your device will only be compatible with high VG e liquids. These will contain freebase nicotine as salt nicotine would be too intense.

What is hybrid nicotine?

E liquid manufacturers would have been aware that both varieties of nicotine had their disadvantages. Some have chosen to address this situation by creating a hybrid option featuring both salt and freebase nicotine. Hybrid nicotine is unsuitable for sub ohm vaping. But if you use a lower wattage device, it is a good option. You will enjoy the noticeable throat hit that you get with freebase nicotine but also the quicker nicotine absorption of salt nicotine.

What nicotine strength should you choose?

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. If you are trying to quit smoking, it is tempting to think that you need significant nicotine hits to free yourself from your fags. But that might not be the case. Vaping not only provides you with a nicotine fix but also a replacement ritual and a throat hit. In other words, it addresses every aspect of your habit unlike nicotine replacement therapies. 

E liquids are available with a variety of nicotine strengths. These are usually expressed in milligrams per millilitre and range from 0mg (nicotine-free) to 20mg which is the maximum strength permitted in the UK and EU. Occasionally, nicotine strengths are expressed as percentages. A nicotine strength of 2% is equivalent to 20mg.

The nicotine strength you need will depend on how heavily you smoked, which cigarettes you smoked and your vaping style. There are so many variables that you may have to engage in a little trial and error. If you have recently quit smoking and smoked heavily, you may require a nicotine strength of 20mg when you first start vaping. You can then reduce this over time. But if you were a lighter smoker, you might find that a strength of 12mg suits you well.

It is important to remember that your choice of electronic cigarette will impact the nicotine strength that you need. Sub ohm devices deliver a greater amount of vapour and therefore more nicotine with every puff. You will need a lower nicotine strength when using a sub ohm device than you would with a low wattage vape pen or pod system. This is why most high VG e liquids for sub ohm vaping boast a nicotine strength 3mg or 6mg.

Can you overdose on nicotine?

Nicotine is a toxic chemical. You can overdose on nicotine and become seriously ill. However, you are more likely to suffer mild or moderate side effects. These could include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Arrhythmia
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Hearing and vision issues

If you experience any of the above symptoms, stop vaping immediately. You should start to feel better quite quickly. If you don’t, seek medical help.

Children and pets are at greater risk of nicotine poisoning. Always ensure that youngsters and pets cannot access your e liquids or vaping equipment.