When vaping became a popular alternative to smoking, there was only one kind of nicotine found in e-liquids, freebase. Since then, manufacturers have been developing new ways to satisfy cravings and improve the vaping experience.
Perhaps the biggest breakthrough in e-liquids has been the use of nicotine salts. Most of the time, people think of nicotine salts only as a way of making higher concentrations palatable but in reality they can be used in low concentrations too, such as 3mg/ml, which has become the industry standard for subohm vaping.
Today, we’re going to talk about the properties of both freebase and salt nicotine, to help you choose the right product.
Freebase nicotine is the most common type of nicotine found in e-liquids. If the kind of nicotine is not specifically identified on your bottle or device, it’s most likely freebase.
Freebase nicotine enters the blood stream more slowly than nicotine salts, but it also delivers the dose over a longer period of time. This means you can take a few vapes and have your cravings taken care of for a good while without topping up.
Due to the PH level of freebase nicotine, it produces a noticeable throat hit when inhaled and this scales with the concentration of your e-liquid. Throat hit is a completely subjective characteristic in vaping, some users enjoy a strong throat hit, while others find it a prohibitive effect that stops them from being able to vape.
Nicotine salts are a more recent development in the vaping industry. In almost all cases, manufacturers specifically indicate the presence of nicotine salts where applicable.
Nicotine Salts enter the blood stream more quickly than freebase nicotine and deliver the dose more quickly. This is fantastic for rapid satiation of cravings, though it can also mean more frequent topping up throughout the day.
Nicotine Salts are formulated in many varieties, though the most common are Nicotine Benzoate and Nicotine Salicylate. The PH level of nicotine salts is closer to that of the nose and mouth, producing a much less noticeable throat hit. This throat hit also tends to scale in a less linear fashion, which means higher strength e-liquids can still produce a fairly mild throat hit.
These are the basic differences between freebase nicotine and nicotine salts, though more research is being done all the time to develop new varieties of nicotine that may have more desirable properties.
Whether freebase or salts are the right choice is going to entirely depend on your preferences and the situations that you commonly find yourself in. For example, if you are not able to use a vape often throughout the working day, salts may not be the best tool for the job, while a freebase e-liquid could keep you satisfied for longer between vape breaks.
Many transitioning smokers find nicotine salts to more closely emulate the nicotine delivery of a cigarette, so if you are still struggling to go smoke free, it may be worth giving them a go.
Those who would like a mixture of all these properties can opt for one of the growing number of “hybrid nicotine” e-liquids or pods, which use a combination of freebase nicotine and nicotine salts.
Ultimately, the best way to find your sweet spot is to purchase a variety of freebase and nicotine salt products and try them for yourself. We’re all different and there isn’t an objectively “best” option when it comes to which type of nicotine you should be vaping. The most important goal is to stop smoking and any product that helps you achieve that is doing its job.