The vaping industry has come a long way with continuous improvements and advancements in technology. E-liquids is no exception to this. In 2018, you may have come across ‘Nic Salts’ or ‘Nicotine Salt’ e-liquids. Nicotine Salts is a type of nicotine designed by Philip Morris with JUUL Labs being one of the first to launch it. It was created to help people quit smoking or convert to vaping. People who have used Nicotine Salts found it to be more satisfying than ‘Freebase’ Nicotine (also referred to as Normal Nicotine). It did not take long for other companies in the vaping industry to take advantage of this new development and that is why in 2018, nicotine salt e-liquids are now available in many different brands and strengths.

What are Nicotine Salts?

The terms nicotine salts, nic salt, salt nic, or salt nicotine all mean the same thing. Don’t let the name fool you because it is not table salt (sodium chloride); it doesn’t make your e-liquid taste salty and it certainly won’t increase your sodium intake. In chemistry terms, a salt is a neutrally charged ionic compound made from an acid and base.

Nicotine salts are not ‘crystals’! Nic Salts are smoother than regular/normal e-liquids and even at high nicotine strengths like 25mg, they still remain smooth.  Nicotine Salts allow you to vape higher nicotine strengths and therefore get more nicotine in your bloodstream faster, without getting the harsh throat hit that you would get from normal nicotine e-liquids. You will, therefore, end up vaping less because you get a lot more nicotine to satisfy your cravings. If you love the light-headed feeling/buzz that a cigarette gives you but hate having to vape all the time or if you are on a budget and don’t want to use too much e-juice, then Nicotine Salt e-liquids are just the thing you need.

All of you may know that as you go to higher nicotine strengths using ‘Normal Nicotine’, the throat hit you get becomes harsher. This harshness sensation puts off smokers and makes it challenging for those trying to quit and this also includes those transitioning to vaping. The reason for them quitting is because they have to endure the harsh throat hit and at the same time they do not get the level of buzz or satisfaction that they would otherwise get from a cigarette. Not to mention, it is quite difficult for new vapers who just want a nicotine fix to figure out which device or kit to get with the amount of different and advanced vaping devices available now. Nicotine salts and pod devices simplify this process and make it easy to choose a device and get your fix in the simplest yet effective way.

How is it different from Freebase/Normal Nicotine?

There’s a fundamental difference between the conventional ‘freebase’ or ‘normal’ nicotine used in all e-liquids and the newer ‘Salt Nicotine’ that are becoming increasingly more popular in the market. It is this difference that, not only classifies it separately but also creates an entirely new experience for vapers.

Without getting too technical with the details, ‘Freebase’ Nicotine is the purest form of nicotine and is the “go-to” type of nicotine for almost every juice manufacturer. It is also the type of nicotine found in nicotine replacement therapies—like gums, patches, sprays, and lozenges etc. The only similarity between nicotine salts and freebase nicotine is that they are both derived from tobacco leaves.

The biggest difference between Nicotine Salts and Freebase Nicotine is that while nicotine in tobacco is purely just nicotine without any additional compounds, Nicotine Salts contain both nicotine and other additional organic compounds which make it more stable and much more easily absorbed into the bloodstream. This modification to the organic compounds was made simply because salt nicotine in its natural state wouldn’t be easily absorbed into the bloodstream the way freebase nicotine would. The key ingredient here in Benzoic Acid.

We won’t try to bore you with the chemistry details, so let’s stick with the basics: Freebase nicotine has a higher pH, which leads to increased alkalinity. This dramatic increase in alkalinity causes a harsher throat-hit, therefore it causes people to vape at smaller amounts than they may need and not get satisfied.

The benzoic acid used in salt nicotine has the opposite effect, it lowers the pH levels of the nicotine, therefore reducing alkalinity in the process. The end result is a much smoother, more satisfying vaping experience whilst getting your nicotine fix.

Are Nicotine Salts for you?

To know if nicotine salt e-liquids are for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  •       Am I a heavy smoker (one or more packs a day)?
  •       Do I want a more genuine smoking experience?
  •       Do I want a smooth vape?
  •       Do I need a stronger and more subtle nicotine ‘buzz’?
  •       Do I want less clouds and a stealthier experience (more discreet)?
  •       Do I want to spend less or save more money?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then nicotine salt e-liquids may just be what you need. You will get your nicotine satisfaction without the harsh throat hit or tight chest pain all without having to break the bank. Since you will be vaping at low wattages and high nicotine strength, you will vape less and therefore spend less money on e-liquid. Your wallet will thank you for this!

This is just a guide. Starting off with a small, stealthy pod device and using nicotine salt e-liquid is a good approach to moving away from cigarettes and converting to vaping. You could always switch to a sub-ohm setup and use freebase nicotine e-liquids once you wean off your nicotine addiction.

How do you vape Nicotine Salt E-liquids and what devices should you use?

It is imperative to note that nicotine salt e-liquids should be operated in lower wattage devices such as pod systems. It is strongly recommended to avoid using high powered devices to vape salt nicotine. Using high strength nicotine salt e-liquids at high wattage or on a sub-ohm tank will be extremely unpleasant due to the fact that these liquids contain a high concentration of nicotine. Doing so may result in getting ‘too much’ nicotine in your bloodstream and experience nausea or headaches, or much worse.

Our Recommendation:

We believe that our customers deserve only the best and highest quality e-liquids to help quit smoking. We were once smokers and understand how challenging it is for one to quit or transition to vaping. After testing many e-liquids available and doing research, we have found that unlike smokers who stick to a specific brand/blend of cigarettes, vapers love a variety of flavours which assists them and make it easier to transition into vaping. For this reason, we have partnered with UK’s fastest growing e-liquid brand, Prohibition Vapes. Their range is thoroughly enjoyed in the UK and other countries across the world and consists of over 20 delicious varieties of flavours to choose from and a strong selection of nicotine strengths including Salt Nics.

[Vapes and Tobacco would like to thank Riaz Bassa (KZN) for his help in writing this piece.]