What Nicotine Strength Should I Vape— Ultimate Nicotine Guide 2022
by Alan Johnson on Jul 21, 2022
What Nicotine Strength Should I Vape?
So, you've decided to make the switch from smoking to vaping. It’s a good call. But then, to enjoy a smooth transition, choosing the right nicotine strength is essential. After all, if you vape with E-juice of unsuitable strength, you may wind up coughing. Or you may not get the nicotine hit you’re accustomed to while smoking. Hence, you wonder if vaping will work for you.
At that moment, you run the risk of reconsidering your decision and returning to cigarettes. Not to worry, this article is designed to provide information about nicotine strength and help you choose right to enjoy your (first) vaping experience.
What Is Nicotine?
Found mainly in the tobacco plant, nicotine, a chemical substance, is a colorless, odorless liquid like oil in its pure state. It is a brain stimulant facilitating the increase of neurotransmitters which help regulate the body's mood and behavior. In much smaller doses, nicotine can also be extracted from common foods such as tomatoes and potatoes. And don't be surprised that labs also create synthetic nicotine used in e-liquids.
Most e-liquids are available on the market in strengths of 0 mg, 3 mg, 6 mg, and 12 mg. You can also see the strength of nicotine written in percentages instead of concentrations. So WHAT DO THE NUMBERS MEAN? Read on!
Regular Nicotine And Nic Salts Nicotine: Any Difference?
The regular or traditional nicotine additive, also known as Freebase nicotine, produces a strong throat hit. The nicotine freebase is harsher on the throat. Therefore, it's better for those who want that sensation or who like to puff frequently throughout the day. In addition, the freebase nicotine contains higher Propylene Glycol (PG) than Vegetable Glycerin (VG), which means less vapor produced.
If you prefer a soft feel on your throat when inhaling, you would probably opt for this one. Nicotine salts are normal nicotine with citric acid, having a balanced pH level. Adjusting the nicotine pH relieves the harshness you feel in your throat.
Hence, E-liquids with nicotine salts generally feel much smoother on the throat than freebase nicotine products. And this is particularly favorable for people who are highly dependent on nicotine or who don't want to puff so many times before they get the hit.
Which nicotine strength is right for me?
The answer to this question depends on fundamental factors such as your smoking habits and vaping device. E-Liquids can be customized to your individual needs to suit casual or social smoking. You can start with 0mg nicotine or add what you desire to tailor it to your liking. And in case you smoke 5-10 cigarettes a day, you may consider something right at the middle level, say between 3mg or 6mg of nicotine.
If you smoke more than a pack a day, you will most likely require about 12mg of nicotine in your bloodstream. Thankfully, many disposable devices today come with 12mg or 20mg nicotine salts in them. So, this is a perfect solution for you if you want to try out varying nicotine strengths as you switch from smoking to vaping.
- Casual/social smoker: 0/3mg
- Light smoker (Less than half a pack): 3mg
- Moderate Smoker (Half a pack): 6mg
- Heavy Smoker (Full pack): 12mg
Do devices matter for nicotine levels in e-liquids?
Yes, the device you choose matters. For instance, high wattage batteries in sub-ohm devices help increase vapor production and allow for more direct lung contact. Thus, you will get a lot of nicotine when using higher-wattage devices rather than mouth-to-lung devices.
How Nicotine Levels And E-Liquids Production Relate
Low Vapor Production
The smoke here is similar to the clouds produced by a cigarette. You can call it discreet clouds, compared to other kinds of production. This category of vape is the most familiar pod system on the market. It features mouth-to-lung (MTL) tanks with really tight airflow. This group also features high-strength nicotine salts. Interestingly, most e-liquid manufacturers no longer make flavors with regular nicotine at strengths over 6 mg/mL.
- Regular nicotine: 12-24 mg/mL
- Nicotine salts: 30-60 mg/mL
Medium Vapor Production
Clouds, but not extremely massive ones. This category of vape includes devices from most e-liquid manufacturers' product lines. This includes pod systems that make use of sub-ohm coils, airier MTL tanks, and even sub-ohm tanks that have a very restricted draw.
- Regular nicotine: 6-12 mg/mL
- Nicotine salts: 20-30 mg/mL
High Vapor Production
Now, let’s talk about massive clouds. This production features powerful sub-ohm tanks and rebuildable atomizers with large airflow channels. It is usually hard to find nic salts for this category of e-liquids. And that is because these devices put out so much vapor that it's very easy to get too much nic too quickly.
- Regular nicotine: 1.5-6 mg/mL
- Nicotine salts: 1.5-6 mg/mL
So, when quitting smoking, we advise new vapers to try a low-power vape —either a pod system or an MTL tank. These will emulate the draw of a cigarette, which may help smokers smoothly transition to vaping.
However, many would rather go for a restricted draw that goes directly to the lung. Some even opt for a fully open draw. And in that case, a more powerful pod system or a sub-ohm tank might be the best choice. On another note, you may have to experiment with different vaping kits and devices. There is no hard and fast route to it. No right or wrong one either! Just experiment.
Given the information provided, you may decide to begin your vaping journey on a slightly stronger nicotine strength. Over time, you can then gradually reduce the nic level. Or you can simply start on a slightly lower strength and gradually experiment until you're satisfied.
Strengths Of Nicotine Available In E-Liquids
Sub Ohm Vaping
This is a direct-to-lung method of vaping. Some vaping kits and liquids are designed especially for this kind of vaping. The throat hit is stronger with this method. Hence, lower nicotine levels are required. These nicotine strengths work perfectly for occasional smokers or those currently vaping at low MTL strengths.
- 0 mg ml or 0% (Nicotine Free)
- 3 mg ml or 0.3% (Low Strength)
- 6 mg ml or 0.6% (Medium)
MTL: Low Strength (Freebase Nicotine)
This is more favorable if you have been smoking less than 10 cigarettes daily. The throat hit is smoother and more bearable. This is because nicotine inhalation happens more slowly when compared with nicotine salts. These vape kits are a great option for new vapers.
- 6 mg ml or 0.6% (Low - Medium Strength)
- 8 mg ml or 0.8% (Low - Medium Strength)
MTL: Medium to High Strength (Free Base Nicotine)
These nicotine strengths are advisable for you if you smoke between 10 cigarettes and a pack daily. At these strengths, the harshness on the throat is stronger, especially at 18 mg/ml. So it's not a surprise only those looking for a strong throat hit can bear the sharpness. This is only advised if nic salts e-liquids do not work for you.
- 12 mg ml or 1.2% (Medium-High Strength)
- 18 mg ml or 1.8% (High Strength)
Medium-High (Salt Nicotine/Nic Salt)
If you intend to avoid the harsh throat hit produced by freebase nicotine products, Nicotine salt e-liquids are recommended since nic salts are extracted directly from the natural tobacco leaf. Thus, the nicotine comes with a milder sensation and is taken in more quickly by the user.
- 10 mg ml Nic Salt (Medium Strength)
- 20 mg ml NS (Nic Salt) - (High Strength)
Converting Percentages To Mg/Ml
Perhaps you have come across nicotine strengths written as mg/mL and those expressed as percentages. What is the difference, and how do you convert from one to the other? It's pretty simple. Read on.
Nicotine strengths in mg/mL
When nic strength is written as mg/mL, it means that for every milliliter of e-liquid in the bottle, the attached figure is the specified amount of nicotine. E.g., a 12mg/mL e-juice means that every milliliter contains 12 milligrams of nicotine.
Hence, to calculate the total amount of nicotine in a tank, simply multiply the strength in mg/mL by the number of milliliters of tank you have.
Nicotine strengths as percentages
This one is easier to understand. Here, only the amount of nicotine liquid in the bottle is highlighted. Thus, if you have some e-liquid containing 1.2% nicotine, any amount you measure will consistently be 1.2% nicotine and 98.8% PG, VG, and flavorings. This measurement is also known as “nicotine by volume” .
Converting Nicotine Strength between mg/mL and percent
Converting nicotine strength from mg/mL to a percentage is also very easy. All you have to do is divide the amount in mg/mL by 10.
Here is a good example. So, if you have a 6 mg/mL e-juice, the percentage equivalent would be 0.6% nicotine in the e-juice. A 25 mg/mL e-juice is 2.5%. And if you had a high nicotine strength of 72 mg/mL, this would be 7.2%. As simple as that.
And to convert back from percentages to mg/mL, just multiply it by 10. That’s all there is to it!
Basically, if you’re a heavy smoker, you’re going to need an e-liquid with a higher nicotine strength. You don't necessarily have to give up vaping. So, experiment until you find your ideal nic strength.