April 29, 2022 4 min read

Over the past few years, “nicotine salt” has been one of the biggest buzz terms in the vaping industry. The way people talk about nicotine salt e-liquid, you might start to get the impression that it’s the vape juice that everyone should be using – including you. That, however, isn’t necessarily the way that you should be thinking about nicotine salt. It isn’t necessarily the type of e-liquid that everyone should use; it’s just another new product in the vast array that is today’s vaping marketplace. What is nicotine salt e-liquid? What are its benefits, and is nic salt something that you should consider using? By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll be an expert on nicotine salt vape juice.

What Is Nicotine Salt E-Liquid?

Nicotine has two different molecular forms; it can be a free base, or it can be a salt. Inside the tobacco leaf, it’s a salt. However, the process of extracting nicotine from tobacco – which uses ammonia as a solvent – frees the nicotine from the salt that encapsulates it and changes the molecule into a free base. Virtually all of the nicotine used for nicotine replacement products such as gums, lozenges and patches is freebase nicotine. Likewise, until nicotine salt e-liquid was developed, all of the nicotine used for e-liquid was freebase nicotine.

Nicotine salt e-liquid was developed in the mid-2010s. To create it, e-liquid companies add a mild acid such as benzoic acid to standard vape juice. The acid alters the molecular structure of the nicotine by lowering its pH and by changing it back into a salt. So, that’s what nicotine salt e-liquid is; it’s standard e-liquid with an added acid that alters the nicotine’s molecular structure.

What Are the Benefits of Nicotine Salt E-Liquid?

The benefit of nicotine salt e-liquid is that, compared to freebase nicotine e-liquid, people find it smoother and easier to vape at high nicotine strengths. When smokers initially make the switch to vaping, they tend to purchase small, simple e-cigarettes because those are the devices that are ideal for beginners. The thing about using a small vaping device, though, is that you need to use an e-liquid with a high nicotine strength because a small vaping device produces a small volume of vapour. If you don’t use an e-liquid with a high nicotine strength, you won’t find the experience as satisfying as smoking and may have difficulty switching to vaping.

Until nicotine salt e-liquid was developed, though, some people had trouble using smaller vaping devices because they found high-strength e-liquid with freebase nicotine difficult to inhale. The ammonia extraction process produces a concentrated nicotine extract with a fairly alkaline pH. You can really detect that alkalinity when you use a freebase nicotine e-liquid with a high nicotine strength. For some people, the alkalinity causes throat irritation and makes vaping difficult and unpleasant.

If you use a small vaping device and experience throat irritation that prevents you from deriving enjoyment from the experience, you will probably find vaping more enjoyable if you switch to nicotine salt e-liquid.

What Are the Misconceptions About Nicotine Salt E-Liquid?

The biggest misconception about nicotine salt e-liquid is that it’s somehow stronger or more satisfying – or that it provides more of a rush – than freebase nicotine vape juice. E-liquid companies have had a hand in creating the misconception that nicotine salt e-liquid is more bioavailable than freebase nicotine e-liquid. In fact, freebase nicotine is more bioavailable. That’s why tobacco companies have been adding ammonia to their cigarettes for decades.

The benefit of nicotine salt e-liquid is that, because it has a more neutral pH than freebase nicotine e-liquid, it may allow you to use higher-strength e-liquids without throat irritation. You’ll only find nicotine salt more satisfying if it enables you to use a higher nicotine strength than what you’re currently using.

What Vaping Equipment Works Best With Nicotine Salt E-Liquid?

Nicotine salt e-liquid works best with smaller vape kits because it typically comes in much higher nicotine concentrations than freebase nicotine e-liquid. With nicotine strengths that usually range from 10 mg/ml to 20 mg/ml, nicotine salt vape juice is much too strong to use in a sub-ohm device designed for direct-to-lung inhaling. If your vaping device has a large glass tank, you’re not likely to enjoy nicotine salt vape juice unless you can find it in the same nicotine strength that you’re already using.

If you own a refillable pod-based vaping device or a small vape pen with a mouthpiece that’s around the same size as a cigarette filter, you will probably have an excellent experience with nicotine salt e-liquid.

Is Nicotine Salt E-Liquid Right for You?

So, is nicotine salt e-liquid the right choice for you? If you haven’t switched to vaping yet and are still in the process of choosing your first vaping setup, it’s almost certain that you’ll have the best possible experience with a small refillable pod-based vape kit and nicotine salt e-liquid. Unless you’re an extremely infrequent smoker, it’s usually best to start with the highest available nicotine strength of 20 mg/ml because that’s the strength that will give you the most cigarette-like vaping experience. If you happen to find that the 20 mg/ml strength leaves you feeling like you’ve had too much nicotine, you can always switch to a lower strength.

If you’re already a full-time vaper, the question of whether you should switch from freebase nicotine to nicotine salt doesn’t have a simple answer. If you’re currently using a sub-ohm vaping device designed for direct-to-lung inhaling, you probably won’t be happy unless you can find a nicotine salt vape juice with a low nicotine concentration. That won’t be easy because nicotine salt e-liquid is difficult to find in strengths lower than 10 mg/ml.

There are some people, though, who use sub-ohm vape mods but don’t really enjoy the cloud chasing experience. Maybe you only use a sub-ohm vaping device because it’s the only thing that provides sufficient satisfaction for you. Maybe you began using a sub-ohm device because you started out with high-strength freebase nicotine e-liquid and found it too irritating to inhale. If that’s the case – if you’d be happier with a smaller vaping device if you could vape without throat irritation – then you may be very happy with nicotine salt e-liquid.