Whether you are a vaper or not yet, you have probably heard of the nic salt craze. And as you experiment with e-liquids, you are sure to come across plenty of tempting nic salt juices. So what makes them different from other e-liquids? What are their pros and cons? And what has made nic salts so popular?
Find the answers to these and many other questions in this guide.
What are Nic Salts? (plus a bit of history)
Since the early 60s, tobacco companies have been using one and the same method of nicotine extraction — this is what we now know as free-base nicotine. Until quite recently, freebase nicotine was the only “type” of nicotine that was used in e-liquids.
This was the case until 2015. In 2015, a company by the name of Pax Labs introduced the world to nic salts. The company released a vaping device called JUU, which featured replaceable JUUL pods. JUUL pods contained the new nic salt e-liquid that we're able to deliver a high concentration of nicotine — up to 50mg. The goal was to give vapers the sensation that was as close to smoking as possible while avoiding the harsh throat hit that usually comes when vaping freebase e-juices that are high in nicotine. The company has also been able to make 50 mg nicotine palatable and more bioavailable than ever before on the vaping market. How was that possible? As in many great recipes, there is a secret ingredient involved.
Nic salts take nicotine in its natural state that is found in tobacco leaves and add benzoic acid. The chemical helps nic salts vaporize at lower temperatures and lowers the pH levels in the e-liquid, which results in the aforementioned smoother throat hit.
Thus, if you are an ex-smoker who used to smoke a pack or more a day, nic salt e-liquids promise to mimic that experience closely and deliver more nicotine into your system.
Nicotine Salts + Low Wattage Devices
It is recommended that you use nic salts only with low wattage devices. Nicotine salts should not be used with high-powered sub-ohm devices because of their high nicotine levels.
As noted above, nicotine salt e-liquids come in high nicotine strengths such as 50mg/ml. Low wattage devices are a great fit for nicotine salts because you won’t be inhaling that much vapor — and, thus, not getting excessive amounts of nicotine into your system. Nic salts also do not require high temperatures to be vaporized and can be used efficiently with lower-powered gadgets.
There are two kinds of low wattage devices that are available on the market: open systems and closed systems. Open systems are manually refillable with nicotine salt e-liquids in various nicotine strengths. Closed systems, on the other hand, are refilled by replacing nic salt cartridges or pods, which are usually sold in packs of four and are available in various nicotine levels
Using low wattage devices comes with its own set of benefits that would appeal to ex-smokers. They tend to be smaller, sleeker, more discreet, easier to use and most of them are draw-activated.
Would Nic Salts be a Good Fit for You?
Nic salts are recommended for: Ex heavy smokers New vapers Those having trouble quitting cigarettes Those who don’t like complex vaping gear
Nic salts are typically recommended forex heavy smokers as they allow for high nicotine concentrations. However, there may be lots of other reasons that would make nic salts a good fit for a vaper.
If you want to quit smoking and are not sure where to start, nic salts may prove to be a workable solution as they can closely mimic the sensation you used to get from smoking.
If you think that big box mods are too complicated and don’t want to spend time on technical maintenance, you may also appreciate the simplicity of low wattage pod mods. Nicotine salt devices are very user-friendly and will let you get started with vaping right away instead of spending time on figuring out how things work.
Another selling point of low wattage devices is that they tend to be very compact and discreet and can help you keep a low profile as you vape.
Pros of Vaping Nic Salts
Vaping nic salts comes with a number of benefits — and to a large number of vapers, these are important advantages.
High nicotine strengths
As we’ve mentioned several times throughout this guide, nic salts carry higher nicotine concentrations and this comes with a whole set of benefits both for new vapers and those who used to smoke heavily. If you have trouble quitting cigarettes with standard e-liquid, nic salts may be helpful in making a once and for all transition to vaping.
Smoother throat hit
Despite the high nicotine strength, nic salt makes for a smoother throat hit. If you vape standard e- liquids that are high in nicotine, the harsh throat hit is unavoidable. Nic salt e-liquid help tackle this issue (if this is something you don’t enjoy) and let you vape high nicotine concentrations without the side effects.
Nic salts are used primarily in low-wattage devices — and these are much easier to use than complex box mods. This means that they make for better entry-level gear compared to larger vaping gadgets. With pod mods, you won't have to bother refilling the e-liquid, changing coils or wicks and all you will need to do is take out the old mod and replace it with a new one.
Low wattage devices tend to be compact, simple and really portable. This means that you can simply put your vape gadget in your pocket and go about your day; you won't need to carry e-liquid bottles or any extra accessories. And if you want to vape without calling too much attention to yourself, you will be able to do that easily.
Lower e-liquid consumption
If you vape nic salt e-liquids that are high in nicotine, the chances are that you will vape less.
Plus, since there is less vapor production with low-wattage devices, this also means that there will be less dehydration and you may avoid conditions such as vaper’s tongue.
Longer shelf life
Nic salt e-liquids tend to have a longer shelf life and are less prone to oxidation. Thus, you will be able to keep your pods for longer and even stock up on them without worrying too much about the e-liquid going bad.
Cons of Vaping Nic Salts
Naturally, nic salts are not without cons as well — and a lot of the disadvantages of vaping nic salts are related to the limitations of low wattage vaping devices.
Limited range of flavors and nicotine strengths (closed systems)
If you go with a closed pod system, you may find the range of flavors and nicotine strengths available quite limited. Most pod mods will require you to use the pods from the same manufacturer and this means you will have less choice when it comes to flavors and nicotine levels.
More expensive than vaping free base (closed systems)
If you use a closed pod system, buying new nic salt cartridges may prove to be more expensive than using traditional bottle e-liquid. Depending on how often you vape and how much you vape, you may be using from 2 to 4 pods per week or even more. The price of a 4 pack of pods varies from $5 to $15 — and if you vape a lot, things may get a bit costly.
Only low wattage devices
Nic salts should only be used with low-wattage devices and this means you will be limited in your choice of vape gear. And, should you ever want to upgrade to more complex vaping gadgetry, you will need to switch to freebase e-liquid.
Not for cloud chasers
Once again, because you are limited to the use of low-wattage devices, you will not be able to blow huge clouds that you might see on YouTube or Instagram. In order to exhale a lot of vapor you will need a sub-ohm device and, once again, this will mean going free base.
Limited battery life
As low wattage devices are more compact, they also tend to carry smaller batteries. Typically, most pod mods will come with batteries of about 300mAh. Naturally, this is very little compared to large box months, which often come with several batteries and let you enjoy several hours of non-stop vaping.
Have you tried vaping nic salts? How do they compare to freebase e-liquids?