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Nicotine Salts

Nicotine Salts vs Freebase Nicotine

Nicotine naturally comes in a salt like form (containing both ions and protons) inside of a tobacco plant. Ions have a hard time moving across bio membranes and are also harder to vaporize. The freebasing of nicotine was done to remove said ion to increase bioavailability making the uptake into the lungs and brain easier and the effects feel more potent. Freebase nicotine has a lower half life than its salt counterpart which leads to vaping more for a similar hit as you would get from a traditional tobacco cigarette and also results in the effects wearing off quicker.

Pax Labs created nicotine salt e-liquid as a way for the consumer to get a more accurate tobacco cigarette nicotine uptake from a vapor product. They added benzoic acid to the mix in order to increase the bio availability of the salt compound and to make it absorb easier across the blood brain barrier. The benzoic acid also helps for the nicotine to be vaporized at a lower temperature and reduces the PH of the salt mix both of which lead to a smoother throat hit and allow a higher Milligram level to be used, leading to a more satisfying hit and a quicker uptake than standard naturally found nicotine salts. Giving the user a more relatable, smoking feeling nicotine hit.

Generally, people will vape nicotine salts at a much lower wattage, making it easier again to handle a higher milligram level, coupled with the benzoic acid there is no loss in the vaporization by running it at these lower wattages, however using them in sub-ohm setups can lead easily to a ‘nic’d out’ feeling. There has been a rise in nicotine salt e-liquids and shots that are the more familiar 3mg and 6mg that most vapers are used to, these are perfectly fine to be used in sub-ohm higher powered setups, whilst its up for debate as to whether these will be taken into the body in a more efficient way (personally I feel like they are) they definitely carry a smoother throat hit than their freebase nicotine counterparts, due to the lower Ph and that can be a desirable quality that a lot of people will switch over for.

Nicotine salts are perfect for the smoker looking to transition for a few reasons:

  • Smoother throat hit can help negate the difference between a combustible cigarette and the tickly feeling of vapor that comes at the higher levels that a regular smoker would require to quit
  • The nicotine levels can be higher meaning that they won’t have to use the device as much, saving money on e-liquid and making it a more feasible choice where you have set times for cigarette breaks, with the lower levels and slower uptake of freebase nicotine allowing the effects to wear off quicker. Nicotine salts should stay with you longer throughout the period that you couldn’t vape
  • Because the devices run a lot less power and you use them less for the same hit it allows the user to have a smaller device that is less battery hungry and a lot simpler to use than a lot of the variable wattage products that you see.

And for the general already on-board vaper:

  • Smoother throat hit on higher powered setups
  • Liquids have less of the peppery flavor associated with freebase nicotine, allowing a fuller flavor
  • Because it is the state that nicotine is naturally found it is more stable, gaining the benefit of a longer shelf life before it starts to oxidize and effect flavor, potency and color of the e-liquid
  • Should be able to use it less, on the same mg nicotine (personally I find that I use around 2 8ml squonk bottles of 3mg salt-based liquid a day, compared to 3-4 of a regular 3mg freebase. Obviously, usage can vary from day to day and person to person however was an observation from myself)
  • Can allow you to run a lower nicotine content (even 0mg in some cases) through “main” high powered sub ohm setups to enjoy more flavor, whilst substituting that lack of nicotine by carrying a smaller pod style systems with some higher milligram salt based liquid for a quick nicotine hit because of the smoother feel and faster uptake allowing you to run a higher strength without the crazy throat hit associated with freebase 12/18mg PG heavy liquids.


In summary nicotine salts are neither good or bad thing.  They’re just different and will appeal to a certain number of people, yet the exact same reasons could be negative for a lot of people, say someone who prefers a tighter more defined throat hit. They are a great stepping stone for smokers looking to give vaping a try and could be the answer to a lot of people who have previously tried vaping and couldn’t get on with it for various reasons and with the TPD in place limiting the amount of nicotine we are allowed to sell people who were on a 24 or even 32mg may find the 20mg salts available now a little easier to switch to than the massive drop from a 24mg down to an 18mg. options are the beauty of vaping, something that other than brand and menthol or not you cant really have as a smoker, some may not enjoy nicotine salts but I feel if it was flipped, and freebase nicotine was the newest creation with nicotine salts being the standard for nearly a decade, there would be an equal amount who disliked it. As innovation continues we really are opening a part of vaping for everyone, no matter how many, how long or how much they smoked. Be it cigars, traditional cigarettes or pipes. It started with flavors, to make it something you’d want to use all day every day, then onto devices, either to match your style or if you wanted something small or big and finally to be able to fine tune the nicotine hit that you receive. Let’s hope for more innovation in this sector rather than just more mods with flashing lights, touch screens and infrared sensors pushing 3000w, for if it happens will only be onwards and upwards for vaping.

Ben Harding

Ben Harding

Supervisor - Fleet Store