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What is Nicotine Salt e-Liquid

12 January 2022

Beginner's Guide to Nic Salts E-Liquid

Nicotine salts, also known as nic salt e-liquid, is a relatively new vaping innovation and ideally suited to pod-style vaping devices and all-in-one kits, ie straightforward beginner/intermediate devices with no power adjustments.

Some users do use other types of devices with nic salts, but they keep the power low and their nicotine level low too. This is to keep the nicotine 'hit' comfortable to vape because at higher power it will hit too hard.

Avoid using nic salts with high levels of nicotine with devices or coils that have to operate at higher wattage because it will just hit too hard, you won't be able to vape it.

Increasingly there are coils being specifically designed for use with nic salts, but you can use many of the traditional regular coils.

Although basically similar, in that both types of e-liquid usually contain nicotine and flavourings, traditional e-liquid contains what's called 'freebase' nicotine, and the more recent 'nic salt' liquid contains a different ingredient and creates a different vaping experience. The delivery of nicotine in nic salts when vaped is much smoother, despite, potentially, higher levels of nicotine. 

Just to put that into context, standard e-liquid and nic salt e-liquid may have the same amount of nicotine, but the nic salt will usually be smoother and you will feel the nicotine being absorbed into the body differently. Current maximum nicotine level in e-liquid is 20mg (0.2%).

Standard E-Liquid (with freebase nicotine)

Freebase nicotine is very pure nicotine and it's been the default form for the majority of e-liquid manufacturers (and traditional cigarette manufacturers too). You won't see e-liquids labelled as freebase by the way, it's simply e-liquid or e-juice, etc. Some people call it oil, but this is just a name people use, there is no oil.

In e-liquid, freebase nicotine is usually added to a blend of VG (vegetable glycerine) and PG (propylene glycol) which act as base or 'carrier' fluids, along with flavourings and any other ingredients such as sweeteners.

Nicotine Salt E-Liquid

Nic salt e-liquid contains nicotine in varying amounts, and flavourings etc, in just the same way as standard freebase e-liquids contain these ingredients. Nic salts also usually contain VG and PG as well, most commonly 50/50 but the amounts can vary.

Where nic salt e-liquid is different is through the addition of benzoic acid, which enables the nicotine content, even at higher levels, to be vaped with a much smoother hit, and at relatively low temperatures, ie without needing to adjust the temperature, hence the suitability to non-variable/non-adjustable devices such as pod systems and AIO (all-in-one) kits.

Becoming a little more technical, freebase nicotine has a higher pH, which leads to increased alkalinity. This increase in alkalinity causes a harsher throat hit, which usually leads to lower levels of nicotine being vaped.

Benzoic acid in nic salt e-liquid creates the opposite effect as it lowers the pH levels of nicotine and reduces the alkalinity, which results is a much smoother hit.

Advantages of Nic Salts

The advantageous use of nic salts depends on the needs of the user and the device.

Vapers left feeling unsatisfied by a lack of nicotine in one way or another may benefit from using nic salt e-liquids, ie vapers looking for a higher dose of nicotine can use nic salts' smooth delivery of nicotine. In addition, there is usually less impact on flavour with nic salts compared to freebase e-liquid. Generally, nic salt juice has a negligible impact on flavour which provides a richer and more flavourful vape.

Nicotine salts can be a good option if you need a strong dose of nicotine (but not harsh) and prefer a more cigarette-like experience.

Disadvantages of Nic Salts

There's less choice of flavours, but this is rapidly changing and probably won't be an issue. There will soon be something to please all palates.

Users of high output sub-Ohm devices/coils, will need to stay with their 3mg and 6mg nicotine levels in freebase e-liquid. Nic salts won't be an option for these users unless they opt for nic salt with low levels of nicotine and keep their power turned down, which is what some people are doing.

Nicotine salts are not suited to all devices as the temperature of the vape needs to be restricted, and there can be other factors too.

The smooth hit with salt nic e-liquids can mask the high levels of nicotine, so be aware not to over-vape (without realising) as this can result in headaches and other unpleasant side effects.

Are Nicotine Salts Right for Me?

Only you can answer these questions. A yes to them makes a case for trying nic salts, no's means stick to standard e-liquid.

  • Are you a heavy smoker (one or more packs per day)
  • Do you want a more cigarette-like experience
  • Do you feel you need a stronger dose of nicotine when vaping
  • Do you want the nicotine hit to be smooth or harsh (nic salts are very smooth)

Other considerations, if you don't already have a device:

  • How much will the device cost (stick to a good well-known brand)
  • How much are the replacement parts (these could be pods and coils for example)
  • How long do the parts last (on average)

Useful internal links on our website

Nicotine Salt E-Liquids (see our flavours)

Learn about the different types of E-Liquid Blends (PG and VG explained etc)

Standard E-Liquid Blends (see our flavours and deals)

There's no need to spend a fortune, just starting out with something simple and see how you get on. If you are new to all of this, we highly recommend you go to a good local vape shop and get their advice and see the items in person.

Our Guide to Vaping

We have lots of useful information, guidance and helpful tips regarding vaping, plus you'll be able to read about common problems (and solutions) ...

Learn More