When you read vaping forums or browse the stock at your favourite online or local vape shop, one thing becomes abundantly clear: Nicotine salt e-liquid is the hottest trend to sweep the vaping industry in years. Seemingly every vape shop carries at least a few nicotine salt e-liquids in bottles or pre-filled pods. The fact that a certain product is popular, though, doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for everyone. Nicotine salts fill an important but limited niche in the vaping industry, and they aren’t the best e-liquids for all vapers – particularly those who have already weathered the transition from smoking to vaping and no longer experience cigarette cravings.

Should your next e-liquid be a nicotine salt e-liquid? That’s the question we’re going to answer today.

What Is Nicotine Salt E-Liquid?

Nicotine salt e-liquid begins its life as standard e-liquid. The nicotine in most e-liquid differs molecularly from the nicotine in tobacco leaves because the laboratories that extract nicotine from tobacco use ammonia to improve the yields. The ammonia also changes the structure of the nicotine, increasing its pH and making it a free base. Many tobacco cigarettes also contain added ammonia because tobacco company research conducted in the 1960s showed that people found ammoniated cigarettes more satisfying. Ammonia is the secret ingredient that made Marlboro the world’s most popular cigarette brand.

Nicotine salt e-liquid is standard e-liquid with an added acid that lowers the pH of the nicotine and returns it to its original salt form.

If Freebase Nicotine Is More Satisfying, Why Is Nicotine Salt E-Liquid So Popular?

While inhaling e-cigarette vapour feels very similar to inhaling smoke, it doesn’t feel exactly the same. Freebase nicotine might be more satisfying for some, but people who use small vaping devices sometimes find it difficult to inhale enough nicotine to actually reach that level of satisfaction. If you want your small e-cigarette to be a full replacement for a tobacco cigarette, you need an e-liquid with a high nicotine strength. At high nicotine strengths, though, some people find that the high pH of freebase nicotine makes it irritating and harsh on the throat and lungs.

In vapour form, people report that nicotine salt e-liquid is much smoother and easier to inhale. Nicotine salt e-liquid, therefore, makes it possible for people to use much higher nicotine strengths without irritation. Using nicotine salt e-liquid with a high nicotine concentration makes it possible for a vaper with a small e-cigarette to mimic the nicotine rush of smoking, and mimicking that sensation makes it easier for a long-term smoker to switch to vaping.

What Vaping Devices Do People Use With Nicotine Salt E-Liquids?

Nicotine salt e-liquids work best with small mouth-to-lung vaping devices that operate at low temperatures and have modest vapour production. Specifically, people typically use nicotine salt e-liquids with pod vaping devices and small vape pens. The reason why people use smaller vaping devices with nicotine salt e-liquids is because nicotine salt e-liquids tend to come in very high nicotine strengths. A nicotine strength of 25 mg is common for nicotine salt e-liquid. At that strength, the nicotine will overwhelm you if you’re using anything but the most modest of vaping devices.

What Is the Benefit of Nicotine Salt E-Liquid?

The primary selling point of nicotine salt e-liquid is that it makes it possible for long-term smokers to switch to vaping without cutting their nicotine intake. As we mentioned above, many people find freebase nicotine e-liquid difficult to inhale at higher nicotine strengths. In the past, a long-term smoker who wanted to switch to vaping would either have to put up with that irritation or adjust to a sudden decrease in blood-nicotine levels. Neither of those is a particularly pleasant proposition, so many people took up vaping but never fully quit smoking. The promise of nicotine salt e-liquid is that it can make the transition to vaping much easier for a long-term smoker.

Should I Switch to a Nicotine Salt E-Liquid if I Already Vape?

If you’re a full-time vaper, you’ve already adjusted to a decreased nicotine intake compared to what you’d get from smoking. A 25 mg nicotine salt e-liquid will likely provide more nicotine than whatever e-liquid you’re using now. Do you still smoke an occasional cigarette? Do you feel tempted to smoke because vaping doesn’t satisfy you completely? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, it might be worth your while to try nicotine salt e-liquid. Otherwise, it’s probably best for you to stick with what you’re currently using.

If you do decide to try nicotine salt e-liquid, it might be necessary for you to purchase a new vaping device. At the typical nicotine strength of 25 mg, nicotine salt e-liquids provide far too much nicotine for sub-ohm box mods and larger vape pens. Nicotine salt e-liquids with lower strengths such as 3 mg do exist, however, and those e-liquids work with sub-ohm devices. You may find, though, that a nicotine salt e-liquid with a low nicotine strength feels about the same as the e-liquid you’re already using.

Does Nicotine Salt E-Liquid Have Any Other Benefits?

Nicotine salt e-liquid has one other potential benefit for those who already vape. Sub-ohm vaping devices generate huge vapour clouds, and they use a significant amount of e-liquid in the process. Some people who use sub-ohm devices consume as much as 30 ml of e-liquid per day. That level of e-liquid consumption has a serious drawback: Using a massive amount of e-liquid can become very expensive. If you switch to nicotine salt e-liquid, you’ll also need to switch to a smaller vaping device. Switching to a smaller device means that you’ll use less e-liquid. Swapping your traditional freebase nicotine e-liquid for a nicotine salt e-liquid can, therefore, make vaping much less expensive.