Posted on January 22 2020
If you’ve been on the hunt for new e-liquids anytime in the last five years, you may have come across nicotine salts, usually offered in small 10 mL bottles or pod cartridges.Nic salts have maintained their popularity over this time and have now become a mainstay of the vaping world, and more people than ever are vaping mainly with nic salts.
So just what are nic salts and what’s all the fuss about?
What’s so Special about Nic Salts?
In a nutshell, nic salts are a special type of e-liquid that lets you vape higher levels of nicotine than regular e-liquids. The nicotine levels of regular e-liquids can only go as high as around 25 mg/mL before most people start to cough on it or feel uncomfortable. However, nicotine salts are manufactured so that the throat hit is much smoother and it’s possible to vape up to 50 mg/mL of nicotine with ease. In fact, people who use regular e-liquids with 5% nicotine can handle nic salts with 25% or higher nicotine, which is already similar to what cigarettes have.
Aside from making higher nicotine levels possible, nic salts also became mainstream because they’re often paired with pod systems. Pax Labs, the same company that created Juul pods, also came up with the first nic salt as we know it today. Back in 2015, they wanted a special type of e-liquid that would make it easier for smokers to quit. This e-liquid would hold 50 mg/mL of nicotine, but people should be able to vape it easily and the nicotine should be absorbed quickly into the body to simulate smoking. They eventually created nic salts, which rose in popularity alongside Juul.
The Science behind Nic Salts
Nic salts are quite different chemically from regular e-liquids. Ultimately, though, they actually have the same kind of nicotine, which is naturally found in the tobacco leaf. This nicotine isn’t usable on its own, so it has to go through some kind of modification for vaping. Technically, one or more acids can be added to nicotine to create nicotine salts.
As Pax Labs found out after countless tests, the most effective so far is benzoic acid. With benzoic acid mixed in, nic salts are easily absorbable, and they turn into vapour at lower temperatures. Crucially, the pH level also goes down. Because of their lower pH levels, nic salts are less harsh on the throat, even as nicotine strength increases. In contrast, the pH level of nicotine in regular e-liquid is at around 7 to 8, which is rather high. This gives regular e-liquids a stronger throat hit so they can’t hold as much nicotine.
What are the Main Advantages of Nic Salts?
Higher nicotine content: You can push the limits of nicotine content with nic salts, which can give you a better vaping experience or simply help you quit if you’re a smoker.
Smoother throat hit: Even at 20 mg/mL, which is the maximum nicotine content allowed in the UK for e-liquids, nic salts still leave a mild, smooth throat hit, compared to regular e-liquids.
Good for stealth vaping: The low-powered devices paired with nic salts don’t really create a lot of vapour. You’ll be able to vape more discreetly, especially since these devices are also small enough to fit on your palm.
Easy to use: Aside from not being too showy with vapour, compatible devices are usually minimalistic and hassle-free, so even first-timers can figure them out.
Less costly: In terms of nicotine, nic salts are much more potent than regular e-liquids, so you can consume less and still be satisfied. This means you’ll get through your bottle more slowly, and you won’t have to spend as much on e-liquid.
Longer lasting: Nic salts are more stable than regular e-liquids, so they last longer. You can maximise their shelf life by following proper storage and keeping them in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
Who should use Nic Salts?
Nic salts appeal to a wide range of vapers. These are great for people who want a strong throat hit even while using low-powered devices. Beginners who are trying out pod vape kits or vape pens also do well with nic salts.
Vapers looking for a higher nicotine content are among the top users of nic salts. In particular, cigarette smokers who are using vaping to quit may find nic salts beneficial. This is because, for heavy smokers, regular e-liquids may not satisfy their addiction and the feeling of smoking. Nic salts are better at mimicking the experience of smoking, from the throat hit to the amount of nicotine taken in. On top of this, the devices compatible with nic salts are lighter and more portable. One of the most challenging aspects of transitioning is fighting the nicotine cravings, and nic salts might do a better job of helping with this rather than regular e-liquids.
How should I use Nicotine Salts?
Nicotine salts work best with low-powered, mouth-to-lung devices such as vape pens and pod systems. You can expect these to have a resistance greater than 1 ohm, and they’re conveniently smaller too, even fitting into your pocket. In addition, these devices are very beginner-friendly, with some even being activated by your breath. You can choose between open systems, which you can manually refill yourself, or closed systems that involve pre-filled cartridges or pods that you just have to replace.
With that said, it’s generally not recommended to use nicotine salts with sub-ohm devices. These devices produce tons of vapour, so if you plug in a nic salt with high nicotine levels, you might end up vaping too much nicotine all at once. This can lead to unpleasant and even dangerous side effects, such as migraines, vomiting, or diarrhea. On the other hand, there are nic salts with nicotine levels as low as 3 mg or even zero. You can pair these with sub-ohm devices just for that smoother throat hit, but they won’t come close to creating clouds.
Since they were introduced a few years back, nic salts haven’t lost their popularity. If anything the product is gaining more fans, and vaping manufacturers are increasingly jumping on the bandwagon and coming up with their own nic salt collections.
While we can’t guarantee that you’ll like nic salts better than regular e-liquids, the only way to know for sure is to try them out for yourself. They might end up becoming your go-to for vaping. Here at Superior Vapour we supply a range of Nic Salts from trusted manufacturers like Niiu, Wick Liquor and our very own SV brand.