What are Nicotine Salts? Beginner’s Guide
Vaping has advanced at an astonishing rate over the years, like any technology it has to start somewhere. Many people who want to quit smoking started to test the waters and use vape pens and gas station e-cig’s. Eventually most work their way up in power to something that gives them the best nicotine and throat hit delivery.
Freebase is the purest form of nicotine and is the “go-to” for most manufacturers. Freebase nicotine solution is simply added to a mixture of vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG) which “carry” the nicotine with them when vaped. It’s also what we use in nicotine replacement therapies—like gums, patches, sprays, and lozenges.
Nicotine salts are comprised of nicotine that’s found in its natural state within the tobacco leaf. If this form of nicotine was added to the liquid that we vape, we’d need to vape it at extremely high temperatures for the nicotine solution to be effective, and it still wouldn’t be as easily absorbed (bioavailable) as freebase nicotine. Similarly, like freebase, salts need some modification too. The key here is benzoic acid.
Freebase nicotine has a higher pH, which leads to increased alkalinity. This dramatic increase in alkaline causes a harsher throat-hit, thus causing people to vape at smaller amounts than they may need. Benzoic acid has the opposite effect. It lowers the pH levels of nicotine, reducing alkalinity in the process. The end result is a much smoother vaping experience.
Satisfaction: Many vapers who try conventional liquids for the first time often find that they don’t get the same satisfaction or “punch” from their nicotine. What’s more, it may not be enough to satisfy their cravings.
Smoother nicotine hit: A huge turn-off for many “would-be” vapers is that conventional e-liquids are too harsh, and nicotine is to blame. Cigarette companies use anesthetics like menthol or eugenol to cover-up and mask the harshness. Vape juices don’t, so the smoother feeling of nicotine salt liquids makes a huge difference.
Less flavor impact: Those of us who kicked the habit and prefer nicotine-free e-liquids may notice a marked difference in flavor, despite smoking the same product. This is because freebase nicotine affects the liquid’s overall flavor. Salts have next-to-no effect in this area, leading to a richer, flavorful, and more enjoyable vaping experience.
Cheaper: Let’s face it—an efficient sub-ohm tank or box mod is significantly more expensive than a tiny little vape pen, as well as the many premium e-liquids that go into the vape pen. If all you need is an inexpensive and discreet vaping experience that helps you get just the right amount of nicotine, then salts are for you.
Too much for some: While heavy smokers need a heavy dose of nicotine, lighter smokers can make do in the 3-12mg nicotine range. This also happens to be the ultimate sweet spot for sub-ohm devices. As a result, people can use smooth, high-VG e-juices in their sub-ohm tank and feel completely content with the experience they get.
Fewer options: Nicotine salts are limiting because you’ll generally have to stick to vape pens. The more traditional mods and sub-ohm tanks allow for nearly endless tank/mod combinations—each pair allowing for their own unique cloud production and flavor experiences. Not to mention the coil combinations and styles of the more advanced rebuildable atomizers – you get the idea.
Lower fun factor: A great way to describe freebase juices compared to nicotine salts is “fashion over function” (again, think Ferrari vs. smart car). Nicotine salts are the perfect choice if you need a strong dose of nicotine and prefer a more cigarette-like experience.