Nicotine salts are amongst the hottest vaping trends out there. Pax Labs, also known for pioneering the vape pod system and developing the JUULpod, holds the patent for nic salts. These were officially released into the market in 2015, and now they’re readily available and steadily rising in popularity.
Vaping with nic salts results in a much stronger nicotine hit without being harsh on the throat. In fact, many vapers who have also been smokers find these so much more satisfying than normal e-liquids and, as a result, it has huge potential to ease the transition from smoking to vaping.
What are nic salts?
Nic salts are almost the same as regular e-liquids except for one ingredient: benzoic acid.
To make a regular e-liquid, you obtain nicotine first from tobacco leaves, isolate and process them, then add to a standard VG/PG base. The nicotine in the final e-liquid is called freebase. It’s the purest form around, with a concentration of 99.9% or higher, and it’s the default for manufacturers. Cigarettes have been using this for decades, but you can also find it in nicotine replacement therapies like sprays and patches.
However, nicotine is naturally alkaline, with a high PH. Too much of this is unpleasant on the throat, so regular e-liquids can only hold a limited amount of nicotine. Nic salts manage to avoid this because of the benzoic acid. It lowers the PH and makes the product less alkaline, so you can vape more nicotine comfortably, with a smoother throat hit.
Another effect is easier vapourisation. Nic salts turn to vapour at low temperatures, which is why you can turn down the power and vape these with low-wattage devices such as pod vapes.
All in all, the most noticeable effect is you inhale so much more nicotine. E-liquids are already considered extremely strong at 20 mg/mL, but you can go much farther with nic salts, even pushing to 50 mg/mL—close to cigarette levels. Most nic salts have a more moderate concentration of 25-30 mg, although there are outliers that can reach as low as 3-5 mg.
Why choose nic salts?
As with most styles of vaping, nic salts aren’t for everyone, although they do garner a loyal following among certain types of vapers. The most obvious demographic would be people who want to stop smoking or who want an intense vape that’s similar to smoking. There are also vapers who prefer the convenience of simpler, low-power devices where you don’t have to fiddle with too many settings.
The main benefits of using nic salts are:
- Stronger nicotine – Vapers with experience in smoking usually find a stronger nicotine rush appealing. It can even get them to switch over completely from smoking to vaping, which is a healthier choice.
- Smoother throat hit – Nicotine salts can be vaped at high nicotine strengths that are impossible with e-liquids. Because of the smoother throat hit, seasoned smokers can comfortably vape nic salts with 50% nicotine, which isn’t doable with e-liquids.
- Decreased vapour– Huge clouds of vapour are great for sub-ohm vapers, but if you’d rather keep your vaping discreet, nic salts are a great choice. They produce much less vapour, and they’re ideal for public places where you don’t want to make passersby uncomfortable.
- Cost-efficient – Nicotine is so much more concentrated in nic salts, and you can vape less of these while having the same enjoyable experience. This saves time as well as e-liquid, so it’s lighter on the wallet.
- Better flavour– Nicotine has a huge effect on e-liquid flavours. This doesn’t happen as much with nic salts, so the resulting flavour is purer and closer to what the manufacturer originally imagined.
How can nic salts help smokers?
One of the strongest reasons for supporting vaping is that it’s a proven way to help smokers quit. In fact, many vapers are either former smokers or smokers looking to stop. Even though smoking is a serious healthcare issue that causes millions of deaths around the world each year, most smokers find it extremely difficult to stop because the nicotine in cigarettes is so addictive. Instead of quitting abruptly, the most common route is to keep taking in nicotine but in a safer way, such as vaping.
Nic salts may prove to be even more effective than e-liquids in this case because they’re better at satisfying the cravings that smokers experience, by replicating the experience of smoking more closely. Because of the higher nicotine, you’ll feel the nicotine right away, and smokers are much more likely to stick with it rather than returning to smoking.
What are the downsides of nic salts?
There are some downsides to nic salts though. First off is the high nicotine content, which is a double-edged sword. Some smokers who are looking to cut down significantly on their nicotine content would rather opt for low-nicotine e-liquids, skipping nic salts altogether.
On top of that, nic salts are a niche product, and e-liquids are the mainstream standard. When somebody talks about vaping, it’s almost always with e-liquids. Despite the growing accessibility of nic salts, flavours of these are still few, in stark contrast with the thousands of e-liquids available today. Aside from fewer flavours to choose from, equipment is much more specialised too. Only very specific devices work with nic salts, while nearly all vaping devices are compatible with e-liquids.
What equipment do you need?
Nic salts are typically paired with extremely portable devices that allow for mouth-to-lung vaping, which is what smokers are accustomed to anyway. You’ll be taking the opposite approach as sub-ohm vaping—don’t ever use a high-power device with nic salts because the nicotine will be overwhelming. Instead, pair nic salts with low-wattage devices that have a resistance of more than 1 ohm. These have a narrower airflow, imitating what it feels like to smoke cigarettes.
Devices compatible with nic salts are either open or closed systems. You can refill open systems manually using nic salts in bottles. On the other hand, closed systems aren’t meant to be refilled, and they store nic salts in cartridges or pods.
How safe are nic salts?
Vaping has been the topic of plenty of scientific studies. For example, the Public Health England (PHE) even released a landmark report with the conclusion that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. However, most of the studies out there default to vaping with e-liquids or freebase nicotine rather than nic salts.
The higher nicotine content might make nic salts potentially more addicting, but from a chemical perspective, e-liquids and nic salts have nearly the same form of nicotine, and so nic salts are generally considered as safe as e-liquids. Nicotine expert Jacques Le Houezec even says that nic salts might be safer than e-liquids because these rely on low-power devices, lowering the risk of battery malfunctions, explosions, and other accidents.
The differentiating factor between nic salts and e-liquids is benzoic acid. This can produce benzene, which is often found in cigarette smoke and labelled as a carcinogen in high concentrations. Luckily, vapour from nic salts was found to contain even less benzene than in air. Overall, toxicology reports have found benzoic acid safe.
More research needs to be done, but nic salts seem to have the same effects as e-liquids when it comes to vaping.
More than a trend
Nic salts cater especially to vapers who like their nicotine strong. More than a passing trend, they’re great at empowering smokers to quit the habit, and they can play a crucial role in the fight against smoking. In addition, they’re beginner-friendly, working well with portable devices.
For all their popularity, nicotine salts aren’t hyped up at all—they’re well worth a try, and they just might become a regular part of your vaping arsenal.
If you want to find our more about nicotine salts and how they can help you transition from smoking to vaping, give us a call or pop into our Bristol store to browse our range of nic salt e-liquids today.