Vaping has been around long enough at this point that it’s virtually impossible not to at least know it exists. If you still smoke, then, it’s most likely for one of two reasons. Either you know about vaping and have decided not to try it, or you have tried vaping, didn’t enjoy it and went back to smoking. Either way, you should know that the products available to new vapers today are very different from what was available a few years ago.
Today’s small vaping devices produce more vapor than ever and last longer than ever on a battery charge. They’re more stylish than ever. They hold more e-liquid in a cartridge than they used to. The list of basic enhancements to small vaping devices goes on and on – and none of those enhancements is as important as the one thing that has helped millions of people around the world become new vapers over the last couple of years. That thing is nicotine salt e-liquid, and it’s probably the biggest game changer to hit the vaping industry since the invention of the e-cigarette.
So, are you still a smoker? Nicotine salt is the reason why it’s never been easier to make the switch to vaping than it is right now. Reading this article, you’re going to learn what nicotine salt is and what it can do for you.
What Is Nicotine Salt?
To understand nicotine salt, you first need to understand a little about the science of nicotine and how we extract it from tobacco. While it’s still in the tobacco leaf, nicotine is a salt. In the 1960s, though, cigarette maker Philip Morris discovered that adding ammonia to tobacco creates freebase nicotine, making the nicotine more bioavailable. Freebase nicotine helped to make Marlboro the world’s most popular cigarette, and many other cigarettes now contain ammonia as well.
Ammonia isn’t just a cigarette enhancer. It is also a powerful solvent that draws nicotine out of tobacco leaves, creating concentrated liquid freebase nicotine. That form of nicotine is the key ingredient of nicotine replacement products and most e-liquids for vaping.
So, tobacco-based nicotine is a salt in its natural form. Extracting the nicotine converts it to a free base. Why would anyone want to convert freebase nicotine back to nicotine salt? That’s what you’re going to learn next.
The Problem With Freebase Nicotine E-Liquid
If freebase nicotine is the more bioavailable form of nicotine, you’re probably wondering why we’re discussing nicotine salts at all. Here’s the thing about freebase nicotine: Ammonia is very alkaline, and some of that alkalinity remains in the extracted nicotine. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for people who use traditional nicotine replacement products, but it’s a problem in e-liquid because the alkalinity creates some harshness in the inhaled vapor.
Every e-liquid for vaping has a nicotine strength expressed in mg of nicotine per ml of liquid. The variety of nicotine strengths available allows people to tailor their vaping experiences to their nicotine needs. People generally need the most nicotine when they initially switch from smoking to vaping – but there’s a problem. Many people find the highest-strength freebase nicotine e-liquids harsh and difficult to inhale – and even with those higher-strength e-liquids, you still won’t get as much nicotine in your system as you’d get from smoking a cigarette. Switching to vaping and using a freebase nicotine e-liquid, then, means that you might have to put up with some throat irritation – and you’ll have to adjust to lower blood-nicotine levels. You can see, then, why some people found it difficult in the past to switch fully to vaping.
Nicotine Salt Makes High-Nicotine E-Liquids Smoother
E-liquid producers make nicotine salt e-liquid by adding acidic ingredients to standard freebase nicotine e-liquids. The acid triggers a chemical reaction that changes the freebase nicotine to nicotine salt while also lowering the e-liquid’s pH. With a pH that’s now less alkaline and closer to neutral, the e-liquid becomes smoother and easier to inhale. The added smoothness makes it possible for new vapers to choose e-liquids with more satisfying nicotine strengths.
In Europe and the United Kingdom, regulations limit the maximum nicotine strength of e-liquid to 20 mg. In the United States, you can find nicotine salt e-liquids with strengths exceeding 50 mg. Wherever you live, it is now possible to vape and have an experience that’s truly satisfying – just like a cigarette would be – without overwhelming throat and lung irritation. That’s the magic of nicotine salt, and that’s why there has never been a better time than right now to become a new vaper.
What Are Modern E-Cigarettes Like?
Companies like OK Vape in the United Kingdom and vape shops all over the United States recommend pod-based e-cigarettes to most new vapers. If you’ve tried vaping before and remember the old cigarette-shaped “cigalikes” with twist-on cartridges, pod vaping systems are quite different from the e-cigarettes you know. First, they’re much easier to use. There’s no need to worry about things like complicated threading systems and not knowing how much e-liquid you have left. The pods for pod vaping systems are simple drop-in components – and since vaping pods are translucent, they make it easy to see how much e-liquid remains. Pod systems also have much better airflow and produce far more vapor per puff than cigalikes.
Pod vaping systems come in two types: pre-filled and refillable. The best-known pre-filled pod system in the United States is the JUUL e-cigarette, which boasts a massive 75-percent share of the traditional e-cigarette market. The JUUL is incredibly easy to use – just push in a pod and vape – and its impressive market share helps to ensure that you can find the pods almost anywhere.
The benefit of pre-filled pod systems like the JUUL is that they are convenient and very easy to use. The drawback, though, is that no pre-filled pod system has more than a few different flavors available. With a refillable pod system, on the other hand, you’ll have the extra maintenance step of filling your pods every day or so. The benefit, though, is that filling your own pods means that you can choose from hundreds of different nicotine salt e-liquids rather than the small handful of pre-filled pods available for your device.