What are Nicotine Salts?

Nicotine salt is a natural form of nicotine found in tobacco plant leaves. Many manufacturers extract nicotine salts from the tobacco plant and put them in e-liquid.¹ Adult vapers may have encountered these particular products in stores or online. These substances have various names: nic salts, salt nics, or salt nicotine. The different names all refer to the same substance.

Why Is Nic Salt Used in Vaping?

Some adult vapers may favour nic salt over other nicotine-based e-liquids for any of the following reasons: 

  • Higher levels of nicotine 

  • A smooth experience  

  • Less e-liquid required compared to freebase e-liquids (due to high nicotine levels) 

  • Long shelf life 

Manufacturers typically add natural acids to nicotine salt e-liquids. Benzoic or Citric acid are commonly used, and the result offers a different type of vaping experience. By increasing the acidity, manufacturers lower the pH level of an e-liquid, which is why the experience is often a lot smoother. 

Compared to other, more conventional e-liquids, nic salts are often more chemically stable, meaning they typically have a longer best-use-before date.  

It’s important to note that vapes are not risk-free and typically provide nicotine, which is addictive. Vapes are not an alternative to quitting and are not designed as a cessation aid.

Different Types of Nicotine

There are two main types of nicotine used in e-liquids, these being: 

  • Freebase Nicotine 

  • Salt Nicotine 

Both types of nicotine offer varying vaping experiences. Adult smokers looking to switch from smoking cigarettes may find learning about both types of nicotine e-liquids useful. This information could help adult users determine which e-liquid type best suits the experience they’re looking for. 

What is Freebase Nicotine?

Manufacturers typically make freebase nicotine with ammonia and pure nicotine. They usually add ammonia to make the nicotine e-liquid solution suitable for vaping. Freebase nicotine is typically known as “regular” nicotine and can be found in various different strengths. Each nicotine strength provides a different experience, so the right type for you depends on personal preference and personal nicotine usage. In freebase nicotine e-liquids, another ingredient is partially responsible for the vaping experience - Propylene Glycol (PG). Learn more about Propylene Glycol and how it is used in vape e-liquids through the guide, What Does PG & VG in Vape Liquid Mean?

What is Salt Nicotine used for?

Nicotine salts are easier to absorb than freebase nicotine. Unlike freebase nicotine, which manufacturers transform into a pure liquid, nicotine salts are the pure form of nicotine sourced directly from the tobacco plant.¹ Manufacturers combine nicotine salts with natural acids to create an e-liquid solution.

Those interested in learning more about a particular brand of salt nicotine should check with the manufacturer, who will have information on all the ingredients present in their products.

How to Use Nicotine Salts

Adult vapers can typically use nicotine salt e-liquids in the same way as any other e-liquid. You may use them with different types of devices. However, it is recommended to use a device with low wattage, such as a pod system. A pod system has the extra benefit of typically being a relatively easy device to use. This may be useful for adult smokers who have recently switched from cigarettes. Nic salt e-liquids are often ‘thinner’ than some e-liquids, which means they don’t work well with a tank that’s designed for thicker e-liquid.

Some adult vapers use nicotine salts to make their own e-liquid. We do not recommend this. Avoid creating your own e-liquids as they may pose a safety risk. When vaping, only use suitable e-liquids approved by the manufacturer that are compatible with your device. 

What Devices Don't Require Nicotine Salts?

For adult smokers who are unsure about which e-liquid is right for them, there are other smoke-free alternatives available. Heated tobacco products, such as IQOS, heat tobacco instead of burning it. While the best thing any adult smoker can do is to quit altogether, IQOS does provide an alternative to continued smoking. As a matter of fact, IQOS emits 95% less harmful chemicals compared to cigarettes*. That’s not all - IQOS provides real tobacco taste and satisfaction. Discover heated tobacco and learn about the differences between IQOS and cigarettes

Important information: It does not necessarily equal a 95% reduction in risk. IQOS is not risk-free. 

*”95% less” represents the average reductions in levels of a range of harmful chemicals (excluding nicotine) compared to the smoke of a reference cigarette. See Important Information on IQOS.com

If you are considering the use of nicotine salts - or any other e-liquid for that matter, there’s more to learn about the different factors involved in a vaping experience. Learn more about e-liquid nicotine strengths by following the link. 

It’s important to note that IQOS is not risk-free and provides nicotine, which is addictive. IQOS is not an alternative to quitting and is not designed as a cessation aid. The best decision any adult smoker can make is to quit tobacco and nicotine use altogether. 


[1] https://www.stem.org.uk/resources/community/collection/500669/it-safe-use-nicotine-salts-any-vape# 

This article is for general information and educational purposes. Some of the information in this article is based on external, third-party sources and we make no representations or warranties of any kind regarding the accuracy, validity or completeness of such information.  


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