April 29, 2022 6 min read

Whether you’re browsing the selection of vape juice here at Simply ELiquid or reading about vaping online, there’s no getting around the fact that nicotine salt e-liquid is an incredibly big deal these days. It’s such a big deal, in fact, that you might start to wonder if you’re doing something wrong – or if you aren’t having the best possible vaping experience – if you aren’t using nic salt e-liquid.

In this article, we’re going to set the record straight on nicotine salts. You’re going to learn what nicotine salt vape juice is and how it differs from regular e-liquid – and by the time you’re done reading, you’ll have a better understanding of whether nicotine salts are right for you.

Let’s begin with the simplest question of all. Exactly what is nicotine salt e-liquid?

What Is Nicotine Salt E-Liquid?

To understand what nicotine salt e-liquid is, the first thing you need to understand is that there are two different forms of nicotine. The nicotine molecule is naturally a salt before it’s extracted from the tobacco leaf. However, the process of extracting nicotine from tobacco – which involves the use of ammonia as a solvent – converts the molecule from a salt-based structure to a free base. Freebase nicotine is used for the vast majority of the nicotine products in the world, including vape juices and nicotine replacement products like gum and patches.

Nicotine salt vape juice starts out as freebase nicotine e-liquid, but it contains a mild acid – usually benzoic acid – that triggers a chemical reaction and changes the nicotine molecule from a free base back to a salt.

As you’re about to learn, though, the fact that nic salt e-liquid uses the salt form of nicotine isn’t really the most important aspect from a user experience standpoint. The truly important aspect of nicotine salt is that is has a lower pH than freebase nicotine, which is alkaline as a result of the ammonia extraction process.

So, why are pH levels important in e-liquid? That’s what you’re going to learn next.

Why Does Nicotine Salt E-Liquid Exist?

The reason why nicotine salt e-liquid exists is because it’s hard for users of smaller vape starter kits to achieve the blood-nicotine levels that they need if they’re using freebase nicotine e-liquids. That’s because lower-powered devices produce small vapour clouds and will therefore only deliver nicotine efficiently if they’re used with higher-nicotine e-liquids.

Many people, however, find high-strength freebase nicotine e-liquid difficult to use because the alkalinity of the nicotine results in a throat hit that’s overly strong to the point of feeling irritating and unpleasant.

The reason why nicotine salt vape juice exists is because the reduced alkalinity of the nicotine makes it possible to create a high-strength e-liquid that doesn’t cause throat irritation. With nicotine salts, it’s no longer necessary for people to use ultra-powerful vape mods in order to get the same satisfaction that they’d get from smoking cigarettes.

It’s now easy to have a completely satisfying experience with a small vaping device such as a vape pen or pod kit, and that has made nicotine salt vape juice a complete game-changer for new vapers and people who prefer pod systems and other types of small vape kits.

Nicotine salt may be the perfect type of vape juice for new vapers, but what if you already vape? Should you give up your freebase nicotine e-liquid and vape nic salt instead? We’ll explore freebase nicotine vs nicotine salt next.

What Are the Differences Between Regular E-Liquid and Nicotine Salt?

As you’ve already learned from reading this article, the primary difference between regular e-liquid and nicotine salt is that freebase nicotine is alkaline, and nicotine salt has a more neutral pH. You’ve also learned that the primary reason why nicotine salt e-liquid exists is because it provides an option that allows people to use higher-nicotine e-liquids with smaller vaping devices without experiencing overwhelming throat hit and irritation.

Because of the factors listed above, the other primary difference between regular e-liquid and nicotine salt e-liquid is that nic salt vape juices usually come in higher nicotine strengths. Although it’s possible to find any type of vape juice in any nicotine strength, the popularity of nicotine salt vape juice has caused most e-liquid brands to separate their offerings into two ranges of nicotine strengths.

  • Freebase nicotine e-liquid is usually available in nicotine strengths of 3 mg/ml and 6 mg/ml.
  • Nicotine salt e-liquid is usually available in nicotine strengths of 10 mg/ml and 20 mg/ml, although a few brands use slightly lower strengths.

Given the separation of nicotine strengths that has become the norm today, it isn’t easy to find a freebase nicotine e-liquid and a nicotine salt e-liquid with the same strength. If you were to compare the two types of e-liquid at the same nicotine strength, though, you’d find that nicotine salt tends to deliver a much smoother vape due to its more neutral pH.

In practice, though, it’s usually not possible – or even necessary – to compare the two types of e-liquid directly because they’re generally not manufactured in the same nicotine strengths. Therefore, the most important factor is that you must buy the correct type of e-liquid for the equipment you’re using.

  • If you use a vape mod or a high-power vape pen designed for direct-to-lung inhaling, you should use a lower-nicotine e-liquid because a high-strength nicotine will deliver far more nicotine than you need and may even cause you to feel ill. Freebase nicotine e-liquid is almost always the right choice if your vaping device is designed for direct-to-lung inhaling.
  • If you use a pod system or a low-power vape pen designed for mouth-to-lung inhaling, you should use a higher-nicotine e-liquid because that’s going to allow your small vaping device to deliver the same satisfaction you’d get from smoking a cigarette. Nicotine salt e-liquid is usually the right choice for a mouth-to-lung vaping device unless you’re currently using a lower-strength e-liquid and have already switched completely to vaping. If you’ve quit smoking successfully and are a full-time vaper, there’s no reason to switch to an e-liquid with a higher nicotine strength.

So, should you vape nic salt e-liquid? If you’re new to vaping, it’s highly recommended. For a new vaper, the ideal vaping setup usually consists of a small vaping device such as a pod system and a high-strength nicotine salt e-liquid.

What Nic Salt Strength Is Best for You?

If you’ve decided that nicotine salt vape juice is right for you, the next step is to choose the correct nicotine strength for your needs. As we discussed above, the two most common nicotine strengths for nicotine salt e-liquid are 10 mg/ml and 20 mg/ml. That’s a very wide range, with one strength delivering twice as much nicotine per puff as the other. We suggest following these simple guidelines when choosing your nicotine strength.

  • If you’re buying your first vaping device and are shopping for e-liquid for the first time, we suggest choosing the higher nicotine strength (usually 20 mg/ml). That will allow your vaping device to get as close as possible to the nicotine delivery of a cigarette, which is exactly what you want when you’re trying to quit smoking. If you’re unhappy with a perceived lack of smoothness or simply feel like you’re getting more nicotine than you require, drop to the lower nicotine strength.
  • If you’re already a full-time vaper and want to experience what it’s like to use nicotine salt e-liquid with a smaller vaping device, we suggest choosing the lower nicotine strength (usually 10 mg/ml). We make this suggestion because, if you’re currently using a powerful vape mod, you’re probably currently using an e-liquid with a strength of 3 mg/ml. You’ve already adjusted to a lower nicotine intake and don’t need an e-liquid that matches the nicotine delivery of a cigarette. We also suggest starting with the lower nicotine strength if you smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes per day. If you’re unhappy with your vaping experience because you can’t control your cigarette cravings, step up to the higher nicotine strength.

How to Use Nic Salt E-Liquid

If you’re using nicotine salt e-liquid for the first time, there’s a good chance that you’re also vaping for the first time. Before you can get started with using nicotine salt e-liquid, you’ll need to set up your new vaping device. Small pod-based vaping systems are usually best for new vapers because they’re easy to set up and feature automatic puff-based activation. Start by removing your vaping device from the package and connecting it to your computer using the included USB cable. When the device’s indicator light turns off or changes colour, the device is fully charged.

Next, remove the pod from the device and locate the pod’s filling hole. The hole will usually be covered by a silicone stopper that you can remove with your fingernail. Add e-liquid until the pod is nearly full and replace the stopper. Wait several minutes to ensure that the pod’s wick will be completely saturated with e-liquid when you start vaping.

If your vaping device has automatic puff-based activation, you can vape simply by puffing on the device as if it were a cigarette. If the device has a manual activation button, puff on the device while holding the button. Draw the vapour into your mouth before inhaling it, following the same inhalation pattern that you’d use when smoking. After you’ve had a few puffs, put the device down for a few minutes and gauge your level of satisfaction. Resume vaping whenever your nicotine cravings return.