Two of the biggest attractions of vaping are the opportunities to generate plumes and plumes of vapour (potentially becoming a ‘cloud chaser’) and, of course, to try out so many wonderful, different e-liquid flavours. And yet, should you be starting out in the vaping game – or thinking of doing so – there’s a very good chance that, right now, you’re a smoker, dedicated to your smokes because of that all-important nicotine fix.
First and foremost then, what you’re going to want, nay need, from vaping is a replication of that nicotine-delivery – perhaps heavy nicotine-delivery, let’s be honest. And, while there’s a great deal of different experiences to be had via vaping nowadays, far from all of them will deliver a satisfying, enjoyable, strong nicotine-featuring vape. Few of them as efficiently as vaping nicotine salts (or nic salts), that is…
Now, to best understand precisely what nic salts are, a good starting point is getting clear in your mind exactly what their nearest alternative is; namely freebase nicotine. The default version of nicotine for many e-juice manufacturers, freebase nicotine is simply popped into the standard vape juice blend along with the crucial ingredients that are vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG). Indeed, this version of nicotine’s also commonplace in tobacco replacement therapies; the likes of gums, patches, lozenges and sprays.
So, unlike freebase nicotine, the version to be found in nic salts is far less chemically treated (in layman’s terms, it’s not so messed about with in a lab), which means it’s not as bioavailable – as easily absorbed once in the body – as freebase nicotine. Indeed, being effectively exactly the same, natural nicotine you’d come across in a tobacco leaf, nic salt nicotine then would need to be heated and vaped at extraordinarily high temperatures were it in a standard e-liquid; it’s simply too ‘pure’ to work in a vape juice, hence the creation of nic salts.
The advantage of them over consuming nicotine in its ‘freebase’ form in an e-juice is that their pH levels are lower, which means they’re less alkaline and that, in turn, ensures they deliver less of an aggressive, harsh throat, resulting in the inevitable fact that many vapers are able to consume more nicotine than they ordinarily would be able to via nic salts.
That said; like it or not, there are both pros and cons to vaping with nic salts…
Nic salt advantages
- Greater satisfaction – for the reasons outlined above; nic salts can deliver more of a nicotine ‘kick’ than freebase-nicotine-comprising standard e-liquids
- Smoother hits – unlike in cigarettes, the sort of ‘ordinary’ e-juices you might be from, say, a vape shop Canary Wharf won’t feature the likes of menthol or eugenol in the same way to mask the harshness of their nicotine hits; so the smoothness of nic salts’ nicotine delivery’s a real boon
- Better flavour? – many vapers will doubtless find this one debatable, but some do tend to remark that nic salts have next-to-no effect on a vape’s rich, delicious flavour, unlike heavily lab-treated freebase nicotine
Nic salt disadvantages
- Too strong for some? – yes, nic salts could well be, admittedly; initially (would-be-) ex-smokers will doubtless reap dividends from the high-nicotine levels of nic salts, but as intermediate and more experienced e-cig users look to reduce their nicotine intake, they might enjoy more smoother, high-VG e-juice vapes via a sub-ohm tank (something of a sweet-spot securing halfway house when it comes to vaping nicotine)
- Lack of flexibility – nic salts tend to be enjoyed best via the likes of vape pens rather than, say, box mods, the result of which is a nic salt vape isn’t possible with a complex yet near endlessly flexible sub-ohm tank, with its potential for so many different cloud generation and flavour experience possibilities
Are nic salts the right fit for you?
Fundamentally, whether nic salts are going to deliver the right vape for you comes down to exactly the vape you want – and, more pertinently, exactly the nicotine hit you need. In the end then, you may want to ask yourself the following sorts of questions, consider the answers and take it from there:
- Am I a heavy-nicotine-consuming smoker wanting to switch to vaping?
- Am I after a ‘smoking’ experience when I vape?
- Do I want a ‘smoother’ along with a high nicotine content?
- Do I like the idea of using a discrete vape pen or a highly flexible mod?