Everyone has been talking about nicotine salt e-juice lately. Originally developed by JUUL labs, users found nic salt to be more satisfying than regular e-juice. It wasn’t long before the rest of the industry caught up.
Smoother than regular vape juice, nicotine salts allow you to vape higher concentrations of nicotine. You consume less juice, making them more cost-efficient. Simply put, nic salts give you more bang for your buck.
What is nic salt?
Nicotine salt is a chemical formulation of nicotine that decreases its harshness, allowing vapers to comfortably get more nicotine while inhaling less vapor. The terms nicotine salts, nic salt, salt nic, or salt nicotine all mean the same thing. It’s not table salt (sodium chloride); it doesn’t make your e-liquid salty and it won’t increase your sodium intake. In chemistry terms, a salt is a neutral charged ionic compound made from an acid and base.
In nicotine salts, a chemical (usually benzoic acid) neutralizes the nicotine (base) molecules and creates a more stable compound that results in a nicotine that’s smoother to consume. JUUL Labs, which was the first to develop nicotine salt as a retail product, says that its formulation is like nicotine in leaf tobacco before it’s stripped out during the extraction process.
Nic Salts and E-liquid. How it works
Like I said in the introductory paragraph, Nicsalts have been receiving a lot of positive publicity. In some cases Nicsalts are being referred to as the future of vaping e-juices. The reason why nicsalts are being referred to as the future of vaping comes from experiments done by Pax Labs through their flagship product – the JUUL vaporizer, where they concluded that Nicotine salts are actually better and more efficient than the as freebase nicotine found in most e-liquids.
To produce Nicotine Salts in e-liquid, Benzoic acid is mixed with the e-liquid in order to help with controlling and regulating the specific amount of Nicsalt formed in the resulting e-liquid. Also, at vaping temperatures, the presence of benzoic acid in e-juice would result in better and more efficient absorption of Nicotine by the body.
Another reason why benzoic acid is so effective in the formation and regulation of e-salts in e-juice is that it has an overall effect particularly on the pH of the juice itself. When the pH is higher (basic level) more freebase nicotine is produced which is not what we would need. So, having benzoic acid in the e-vapor lowers the pH of the e-juice making it less harsh to vape.
To put it simply, when we say, e-juice made from nicsalts is less harsh to vape, we are simply saying that vapor produced by Nicsalts tastes smoother and is absorbed faster by the body. And another thing about Nicsalts is when vaping them, you will get an instant nicotine fix.
Nicotine salt vs. freebase nicotine
Best nicotine salt e-juice infographic
Switching from a standard freebase nicotine mix, you’ll notice the difference immediately. Nicotine salts aren’t harsh on the throat like freebase nicotine.
Another difference between the two nicotine formulations is that salt nicotine appears to vaporize well at lower temperatures. That makes it ideal for small vape devices like pod vapes which have less power.
Many users report that nicotine salts give a sensation similar to smoking, more than regular e-liquid. That’s not magic! It’s because many of the products contain up to 60 mg/mL of nicotine. More nicotine-per-puff adds a more satisfying experience for smokers and ex-smokers.
In 2014, before JUUL had hit the market with the first salt nicotine retail product, Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos studied the effectiveness of nicotine delivery in various vapor products and determined that “nicotine levels in EC [e-cigarette] liquids should be close to 50 mg/mL in order to approximate nicotine delivery from smoking.” But due to the harshness of standard nicotine, it would’ve been difficult to make a product that was enjoyable to use at those levels; nicotine salts made it possible. Dr. Farsalinos also noted that a high nicotine concentration would also reduce the amount of liquid vapers consumed, which would reduce any unknown risks from vaping.
Is nicotine salt more addictive?
Because the strengths are typically much higher in nicotine salt, this is a legitimate question. One of the reasons cigarette smoke is addictive is the speed with which it delivers nicotine to the brain. There are questions about whether nicotine salts deliver the drug more rapidly than freebase nicotine — but the issue hasn’t been studied yet.
Nicotine expert Jacques Le Houezec, a neuroscientist and pharmacologist, thinks the only difference between the freebase nicotine and nicotine salt is that the vaper can consume more nicotine in each puff because of the reduced harshness. Due to being able to consume more nicotine likely will increase its potential for dependence, but it’s due to the amount consumed, not because it’s specifically nicotine salt.
Is nicotine salt safe?
Since the only difference between nicotine salt juice and standard e-juice is the inclusion of benzoic acid, salt nic is probably no more or less safe than freebase nicotine e-liquid. The World Health Organization International Programme on Chemical Safety advises consuming no more than 5 mg per kilogram of body weight per day, which would equal about 345 mg for a 150-pound person — probably an impossible amount to vape, considering that 1 mL of salt e-liquid contains just a few milligrams of benzoic acid.
What strength should you buy?
Most nicotine salt e-liquids come in 25-50 mg strengths. If you’re new to nicotine salts, we suggest starting with 20-35 mg first unless you’re a transitioning smoker.
If you’re a vaper that prefers low strength nicotine with greater vapor production, some manufacturers like Mr. Salt-E offer nicotine salts in levels as low as 3-5 mg/ml.
- 3-5 mg - Suitable for sub ohm tanks due to their low concentration. Nic salts provide a cleaner taste and is less noticeable than freebase nicotine. This is ideal for flavor chasers.
- 20-35 mg - By nicotine salt standards, this is the middle of the road. Ideal for people who don’t want to do 50 mg, but still need a substantial dose of nicotine. In Europe, 20 mg is the highest level you can get.
- 50+ mg - Recommended for transitioning smokers who need the maximum dosage of nicotine. Not recommended for non-smokers or low-nicotine vapers. Suitable for low-powered MTL devices only.