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What is Nicotine Salt e-Liquid

25 May 2021

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 experienced users do use other types of devices with nic salts, but they keep their power low, and their nicotine low.

Avoid using nic salts with high levels of nicotine with devices or coils that have to operate at higher wattages.

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

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 the levels being potentially much higher.

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.

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

Nicotine Salt E-Liquid

Nic salt e-liquid contains nicotine in varying amounts, and flavourings, 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 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 overvape (without realising) as this can result in heachades 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