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Nic Salts: A Primer

August 14, 2019

If you currently vape or are considering making the leap from cigarettes, the options might leave you overwhelmed. In the course of your research, you may have come across nicotine salts for sale. In the event that you’re not familiar, we’ve prepared a quick primer to acquaint you with this unique vaping option.

Brief History of Vaping

Not to get too sciency, but there are some things that need explaining. First, there are two types of vape juice, vape juice made with freebase nicotine, and vape juice made with nicotine salt. Freebase vapes are the originals and the ones you’re probably most familiar with. These vapes are just made with nicotine in a form that is called “freebase,” the same type found in combustible cigarettes, and come in nicotine levels ranging from 0 mg to 24 mg.

Although freebase vape juices are a popular alternative to regular cigarettes, they have drawbacks. In a study conducted in 2014 called "Nicotine absorption from electronic cigarette use: comparison between first and new-generation devices" it was determined that for a pack-a-day smoker turned vaper to absorb the same amount of nicotine they would get from a combustible cigarette, a person would need to vape continuously for a minimum of 35 minutes. For some smokers, this was a time commitment they were neither willing to nor capable of making, so they abandoned vaping and went back to regular cigarettes.

One of the reasons stronger nicotine levels were not available was because of the alkalinity of freebase nicotine. It’s the alkaline level that causes that sensation in the back of a  vaper’s throat that leads to coughing. The higher the nicotine level, the greater the alkaline level and the greater the chance of throat irritation and coughing. Above around 24 mg, freebase nicotine vape juice is just too harsh to vape.

Enter Nic Salts

In chemistry, a salt is the combination of an acid and a base. So, even though the name “nic salts” conjures up the idea of a salty-flavored vapor, that’s not the case. Nicotine salts are created by adding an acid to freebase nicotine. When the acid is added, it takes away the alkalinity in nicotine, which means more nicotine can be added to the vape juice without causing a coughing fit.

This, in turn, means a vaper can absorb more nicotine with each hit, thus reducing the number of hits and the time required to achieve optimal nicotine levels. Now, instead of maxing out at 24 mg with a freebase nicotine vape, vapers can purchase liquids with nicotine levels of 50 mg, which is more in the ballpark of what a regular cigarette provides.

How Are Nic Salts Different From Vape Juice?

Nic salts are just a different kind of vape juice. The nicotine is smoother, the nicotine levels are generally higher, and they are frequently vaped in lower powered e-cigs, often called “pods.” Nic salt pods are smaller and more discreet than a standard e-cig set up, so there’s a better chance you can vape without your mother-in-law catching you!

Are Nic Salts Right for You?

Nic salts offer great advantages to the vaping community, but that doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone. Here are some things to consider before you make the jump from combustible cigarettes or from a freebase nicotine vape to a nic salts vape:

Have you tried to vape before?

Many people who have tried to switch from combustible cigarettes to vaping have been unsuccessful. One of the main reasons is that vape juices made with freebase nicotine alone don’t provide the same level of nicotine as a regular cigarette. Nic salt vapes, however, offer a similar hit to a regular cigarette, which increases the chances that you can successfully make the switch to vaping.

Other vapes make you cough.

The acidity in a nicotine salt vape combats the alkalinity found in freebase nicotine. This results in a vape with less of a “throat hit,” the sensation that causes throat irritation and that cough. In other words, you’re less likely to cough after hitting a nic salts vape than a regular freebase nic vape.  

You just want to switch from cigarettes to vaping.

If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day or more, between the expense and the overall disdain smokers face, you might be ready for a more acceptable alternative. Nic salts provide the nicotine levels you need, but without much of the stigma that combustible cigarette smokers face. It is also often a cheaper alternative once the initial vape purchase is made. However, if you are an occasional smoker or you regularly smoke less than a pack a day, nic salts might be more nicotine than you’re used to and not as cost effective. In this case, a regular freebase vape might be the better option.

The only one who can decide whether nic salt vaping is the right chose is you. But whether you opt to try a nic salt vape or stick to the traditional freebase variety, more vaping options are always a good thing for someone ready to toss the cigarettes and give up combustibles.

Want to take a deeper dive? Learn everything there is to know about nic salts in our in depth guide.

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