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Introduction: Nicotine Salts!

Recently there has been a lot of discussion about a new kind of nicotine E-liquid.

Called “Nicotine Salt” or “Nic Salts” for short these liquids promise a better absorption of the nicotine and promise to help those who are struggling with nicotine cravings.

nicotine salt liquids 10mlAs we know the addictive compound in cigarettes and tobacco is the substance Nicotine.

When giving up smoking you try to replace this nicotine by absorbing it in a safer manner – such as nicotine replacement therapy or through vaping E-liquid which contains nicotine.

We have a handy beginners vape guide for anyone looking into starting vaping and the choices to make when purchasing.

Being someone who is still sadly smoking as well as vaping – I have become more and more interested in nicotine salt e liquids so thought it might be worth a bash to see if they can get me off the smokes forever.

Please also remember I am not an expert by any means so just giving my take on what I can interpret from various findings. Plus as you can imagine there are so many different interpretations so I have tried to draw my own conclusions from what I have read and experienced myself.

Pop on over to our E-Cigarette Research Page to read more articles de-bunking some of the scare stories around vaping to see how often it is difficult to find un-biased information.

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What Is Nicotine Salt E Liquid?

Basically in Nic Salt E-liquid the nicotine is present in a slightly different form.

Nicotine is Alkaline and in high concentrations unpleasant to vape. So Benzoic Acid is added to the process to lower the PH (reduce the alkalinity) to make this strength more palatable to vape.

Also this form of nicotine absorbs much quicker.

One of the Pioneers of Nicotine Salts and the holder of a Patent was PAX Labs, maker of the Juul Device.

juul
Image via Juul Vapor

In tests the Juul device was used and it showed a higher and quicker uptake of nicotine in the blood using the nic salt liquid than standard E-liquid.

When smoking a cigarette the nicotine is absorbed quickly and to a high level, whereas with standard nicotine e-liquid this is more gradual. You will probably notice when you chain vape you keep your nicotine level stable.

However if you haven’t had nicotine for a few hours it can take a while to get your levels back up with standard e-liquid.

Nicotine Salts Vs Standard Nicotine E-Liquid.

Nic Salt vs E-Liquid - What is the Difference?In standard E-liquid the nicotine is extracted and then processed. This is in general more suitable for easy vaporising. The nicotine is then mixed with a carrier liquid such as PG and/or VG for vaporising.

Standard nicotine is called “Freebase”. High strength Freebase nic can be very unpleasant to vape with it being alkaline.

In Nic Salt juice the format of nicotine used is different. It is extracted in the same way as the standard freebase nicotine however it goes through an extra process to change the characteristics of the nicotine.

The salt form of Nicotine is absorbed better and quicker by the body than the standard “freebase” nic. So you will feel a quicker uptake of the nic in the salt version.

This also more stable form of nicotine which then allows it to be mixed with Benzoic acid to allow a better vape.

High strength nicotine in standard E-liquid is very harsh to vape. In nic salt e liquid the PH is reduced to make this easier to vape.

Are Nicotine Salts Safe?

Apart from one ingredient they contain the same formula as standard E-liquid.

However the grey area is the Benzoic Acid used in production to alter the PH of the liquid making it more pleasant to vape.

I have been reading through a study online based on the findings that there was a higher level of Benzoic acid found in the Juul device.

However the Juul is a fixed wattage device so the readings taken would be stable for the majority of time using this device.

With other devices running at different temperatures and wattages etc it’s difficult to pin down the actual amounts of this absorbed.

The study did conclude that there is more Benzene exposure from just breathing air than there is from vaping 100ml of liquid per day.

Also when you consider Benzoic acid is one of the 1000s of chemicals that are found in tobacco cigarettes this feels less of a danger when compared to tobacco.

But I do understand if people want to wait for more research to take place on this.

I only intend to use the Nic Salts for the minimum amount of time I can. It is more expensive than my usual E-liquid and hopefully just getting into the habit of vaping and off the habit of smoking means I can go back to my normal Sub Ohm equipment and standard E-liquid soon.

So with all this in mind I have decided that Nic Salts is for me no worse than smoking tobacco and I will only be using it on lower powered equipment for a short period. That is my personal opinion.

Legality Of Nicotine Salts

In the EU we have the TPD regulations, limiting the quantity and strength of nicotine E-liquids.

If the nicotine content is below 20mg and the bottle is 10ml or smaller then it is legal.

Just be careful if importing from other countries as if found at customs you could lose your purchase or worse. While we have not had issues it needs to be considered.

Can We Use Sub Ohm Equipment With Nicotine Salts?

Can I Sub ohm vape nic salt e liquid?In general I would say no.

Nicotine salt liquid is usually higher in PG which means the liquid will be thinner so in a lot of sub ohm equipment designed for thicker high VG E-liquid you could get leaks.

For more info about PG and VG in E-liquids read our guide.

Also using sub ohm equipment you will be getting a higher heat/warmer vape which heightens the nicotine hit further, resulting in overdoing the nicotine and making it pretty unpleasant to vape anyway.

Saying all this the brand “Element” nic salt liquid, is high in VG and is not great to use with high resistance, low power MTL equipment – as I explain below!

Best Nicotine Salt E Liquid Brands

There are quite a few brands now offering Nicotine Salt E-liquids including:

Nicotine Salt Shots

If you have a favourite E-liquid already and want to add nicotine salt shots to this there are some companies who will supply just the nic Salt shots that can be used with short fill e-liquid.

Choosing Your Equipment to Vape nic Salt E Juice

Basically any equipment designed for MTL vaping and above 1ohm resistance should be good for nic salts.

MTL is Mouth To Lung style vaping – which is generally what most ex-smokers do by default when they start vaping.

Gusto-With-PodsDevices designed for MTL usually have a more restricted airflow to give the feeling of drawing on a cigarette and are often designed for higher nicotine strengths.

We have a guide to help you understand MTL and DTL vaping styles.

Some kits Are Available Specifically for Nic Salt E-Juiceaspire gusto mini

Other Vape Devices Ideal For Nic Salts

On top of that there are many devices which will be ideal for nic salts. Low power pod mods for instance.
on off button and USB on Suorin Air

Vape Tanks For Nic Salt E-Liquid

Some tanks have also been designed specifically for high nic users including:
Wismec Amor NS tank

However I must urge caution. I have struggled with the equipment side of things.

Using the Elements Nicotine Salts E-liquid this was quite thick and some of my tanks could not cope with it at all. However other brands using a lower VG percentage were fine.

Upon nosing around the internet it appears this Elements liquid could be 80% VG which is possibly why!

I found the following did work…

Innokin Endura T20-S Starter Kit Features

tron s tank

ego one tank

Nicotine Salts Pros:

  • Can be used at lower power levels
  • Can be used with starter kits
  • Quicker nic hit
  • Smoother throat hit than the equivalent nicotine strength freebase E-liquid
  • More efficient E-liquid use
  • Longer shelf life of liquid

Nicotine Salts Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Doubt over ingredient – Benzoic Acid
  • Restricted range of flavours
  • Can’t generally use with sub ohm equipment
  • Some MTL equipment really struggles with high VG nic salt liquid giving dry hits.

My Experience With Nicotine Salt E-Liquid

As you may have read in my article Stoptober and Me I am struggling to finally let go of the ciggies.

I love vaping and really enjoy it.

However life has taken some very cruel turns over the last few months and I have relied on tobacco more.

Sat at home I chain vape and have little need or want for a cigarette.

However when I go to visit my mom I am unable to vape or smoke for a few hours. If I come out and vape I find I am not getting an instant hit and still craving a smoke.

I also find the first, last ciggies of the day and after meals really hard to let go of.

So with this in mind I have bought some nic salt liquid to see if this will help me.

Dr Salt Liquid With Innokin Jem/Goby

I purchased the Dr Salt e, Straw High 20mg nicotine liquid in a 10ml TPD bottle.

Dr salt bannerI have the Innokin Goby kit here (it is the US version of the Innokin Jem which Neil reviewed).

Innokin goby and dr saltThis is a beginners mouth to lung kit, low power, for high nicotine high PG e-liquid so this should be ideal.

This e-liquid is 50% PG/VG so should be ideal in this little kit!

Well first couple of vapes – it reminds me of the old school E-liquid many years ago with a slight chemically taste which put me off vaping the first time round – which is such a shame. But I will persevere.

Not a harsh throat hit and didn’t make me cough.

Good vapour which was more than I expected – however I am taking it really easy as I can get the vaping voms on much lower nic liquids!

So within a about a minute I am getting the rush – the first fag of the day rush! This is definitely working!

So far so good – this could finally be the answer to me booting out smoking for good!

Using High Strength Nicotine Salts

I do have to advise caution – this isn’t going to kill you obviously but the vaping voms (too much nic at once) can make you feel pretty ropey – so try not to go too mad to start with, this isn’t still the instant hit you get from a ciggie it takes a minute or so to kick in and you could have already had a few extra vapes in that time and suddenly get too much.

So I would say 2-3 vapes then wait a couple of minutes.

I’m used to chain vaping on sub ohm tanks on 6mg nic and it takes a few hours to start to feel a bit sick however you can’t chain vape this. So your style of vaping might change if you already vape. If you are a smoker you will only need a couple of vapes then sit and wait for the effects.

I am not sold on this flavour it really is chemically tasting – this might improve when the bottle has been open and exposed to air for a week or two.

Chatting online and had the Element e-liquid come well recommended so have ordered a bottle of that to see if the taste is better as the taste of this Dr Salt liquid isn’t for me.

Element Designer Nic Salts Liquid

I have also got myself some Element Designer Nic Salt liquid in the Strawberry Whip flavour which is 20mg nic strength.

Element NS saltsHowever I am really struggling to find out what the PG/VG ratio is of this. The VG is the first ingredient listed so must be at least 50% VG. I have seen on a few retailer sites this is possibly 80% VG which explains a lot! Elements own website does not say sadly.

After a day of use I have come to the conclusion that the Element liquid must be slightly thicker as I have been having a few dry hits with the Goby kit.

I also tried this liquid in my Joyetech Cubox AIO which usually copes fine with 80% VG E-liquid and this was struggling too – so many dry hits!

cubox aioThe taste of this is much better than the Dr Salt.

Day 3 Vaping Nic Salts

Well today the backy tin is empty. I am not buying any more as that will commit me to another week of smoking.

no backy leftLast night I had a huge breakthrough.

I went to visit mom and didn’t take my backy with me. It sounds simple but through the last few months of coping with mom in intensive care, on the brink of losing her and watching her suffer so much physically and mentally I have used smoking as a form of escape.

I have relied heavily on being able to run outside for a smoke to calm me and compose myself.

So last night I visited mom at the nursing home without taking any tobacco. Just my Eleaf iStick Melo which I use in the car and the little Innokin Goby with the nic salts in.

And I coped! I wasn’t feeling deprived or lost or panicky. In fact the whole 4 hours I didn’t even look for my backy tin.

I got home and didn’t smoke again until the last cigarette worth of backy I had when I got up today.

I went to bed not craving, I was lying there thinking I was free and I had made such a breakthrough.

Not needing to smoke when visiting mom was what scared me the most and being able to handle that means being at home not smoking would be a piece of piss.

So onward and upwards.

I was also given some advice, keep your nicotine levels high. The worst that will happen is you will get the vaping voms and feel a bit sick. However when the levels drop too low you will start thinking about smoking, so try and keep your levels topped up.

Day 12

Well look at me! 9 days of no smoking! Yes finally I have kicked the tobacco and its all down to the nic salts. Honestly.

backy tin nic saltsI am getting a good nic hit and keeping my nic levels up have worked really well. The only time I face cravings is when I awake from a long sleep due to the nic levels having dropped. A quick blast of the Nic Salt and within a few minutes all sorted.

I have got so fed up with trying to find equipment this Elements liquid is happy with that I have now ordered an Aspire Gusto and after watching our Dean The Devil Vaper’s review there is a possibility the pods can be refilled which I will definitely be trying now.

Salt Nix Nicotine Salts

I have added this as I recently reviewed the Vladdin Pod Mod system and one of the flavours I really enjoyed was the Northern Tobacco Pod.

I have been looking online and this flavour was made by the brand “Salt Nix”.

So I have bought a couple of bottles and it is beautiful! It is a 50/50 PG/VG mix so been ideal for use in my Innokin Jem/Goby and my Joyetech Exceed Edge. So I highly recommend this!

Nicotine Salt E Liquid Conclusion

Nicotine Salts really work. I am now 4 months tobacco free!

I am a believer.

Make sure you experiment to find the liquid which suits you best for flavour and hit.

I found a lot of trouble having the right equipment to cope with the Elements liquid in particular. Other brands didn’t pose the same problem.

This is a lot thicker than usual MTL equipment will cope with. However you can’t really use this version in Sub Ohm equipment.

I ended up digging out some right old tanks – eventually settling on the Innokin T20 and the Joyetech Ego One (The Ego One kit won the Best Vape Pen 2015!).

My other MTL set ups could not cope with this E-liquid and kicked out dry hits.

I intend to now reduce my usage of the Nicotine Salts liquid because they are more expensive for me and I am limited to what equipment works with them.

So I am starting to use my standard Sub Ohm gear and 6mg liquid more.

Have you used Nicotine Salt e-liquid? Did you find it helped more in kicking cigarettes in to touch? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear your experience!

Michelle
My name is Michelle - I am 42 and an engineer and Technical Author by trade. I started vaping many years ago in the days of Tornado tanks, Ego batteries and Variable Voltage. My journey in vaping began again last year and have started to move up in the shiny shiny gadget department and love vaping! I have finally stopped smoking as of February 2018 and that is all thanks to vaping! I am a huge dog lover and volunteer for my local dog rescue.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I’m 43 years old now and I have RA in hips and hands and back I smoke stinkeys from 12 years old and I gave up when I was 32 and I bin vapeing a long time and apart from vapeing I say it’s a hobby to as I build my coils and make my juices and it help me a lot and the vapeing community is going to get better but people out there think that all vapeing products are going to be gone and we all don t want that to happen. All I can say vapeing help me a lot.

  2. Interesting read. I have only been just over 2 weeks without the death sticks after 22 years of smoking. Lots of disapproval from family but stressful job has always been the excuse not to give up cigarettes. I used a Vype e-stick when I could not smoke smoke properly and it took some of the edge off but not enough as a quitting device for me. I’m amazed I have managed it (so far but coping ok). Using the Aspire Gusto Mini and now refilling pods as it is expensive. I find a better hit from the Aspire Gusto Mini if I use it DTL as MTL does not satisfy me. Thinking of moving to sub-ohm. I note Elements have NS10 (10mg) pods and liquids in 10ml bottles. I was wondering if the NS20 liquids would be suitable for a sub-ohm pen like the KangerTech K-Pin Mini. I also see Elements now have a NS10 and wondering if this would be better. Well done on quitting!

  3. Sorry I came here to read up on information but after reading I quickly learned you have no clue what you’re talking about (maybe some information from google, but nothing close to scientific).

    NICOTINE SALT ELIQUIDS DO NOT CONTAIN SALT – this is the dumbest thing I read on here.

    You are also spreading a ton of misinformation, mostly on what nicotine even is and the freebase vs salt version, a Jr College (for you EU people) or high school for Americans has a class called “introduction to chemistry” that would’ve taught you this if you paid attention.

    I personally did not go to school, but I know a lot about chemistry.

    Here is a good analogy that most people know about but understand it the same way you do: cocaine vs crack. Cocaine = cocaine SALT, usually in the HCL (hydrochloride salt) form. Crack = cocaine FREEBASE. They are the same exact chemical, just in different forms (salts vs unsalted – there is also many other salt forms than just HCL but that is the most common).

    Freebase vs HCL salt vs other farms of salt will all be the same chemical base. The difference comes in its physical properties: liquid/solid/gas @ what temperature / pressure, appearance of the substance, absorption rates if we are talking about consumption, etc.

    But the final chemical is “Nicotine HCL” it is not nicotine with “salt” floating around. The hydrochloric acid that was mixed with Nicotine Freebase has completely disappeared and combined to create the 1 single substance: Nicotine HCL.

    It also does not “have more of the chemicals from the tobacco leaf”, it still only contains nicotine, Nicotine HCL (like most substances) absorbs better than the freebase form, but it hits faster (faster absorption rate) and also doesn’t last as long (half-life doesn’t change, but since you get more absorbed all at once, you have a higher tolerance to the substance, as the amount in your bloodstream decreases, and now the same amount that you would’ve felt when the nicotine slowly absorbed in freebase form, will no longer be enough to create a feeling, but the nicotine will will be there).

    I’m sure I missed a lot more, but as I was typing this I forgot a lot of what I read. Either way, this is misinformation to a society that doesn’t go any further than reading any random article online before making it fact. So please change this false information, I thought you were just dumbing it down for the general audience but it’s just completely wrong. Sorry.

  4. I have been vaping and tobacco free for 3 months after 20 years of smoking. From the beginning I found freebase nic to be too harsh, even at 3mg… My current setup is adding 18mg nic salt to 50ml shortfills (resulting in 3mg liquid), and I use it in a subohm tank. The result is really smooth and doesn’t make me choke.

    As long as you are not putting 20mg in a sub-ohm, lower concentrations work just fine.

    Keep up the good work and stay away from the stinkies!

  5. I too have found Nic salts to be the answer to quitting smoking Michelle, I’m using the Jac Vapour Quick mix nic salts eliquid (much cheaper and i can get my fave cherry flavour this way) in my Innokin T20s without any issues and haven’t had or wanted a cigarette for about 8 weeks now! And i was a heavy duty 20= a day smoker!

    • Wow amazing news well done Vanessa you have cracked it now!
      I’m on 3 months ciggie free! All down to the nic salts! My T20 and an Aspire Gusto were my weapons of choice!
      Shell

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