Last updated on August 16th, 2018
What You Need to Know About Natural Nicotine Salts
Since the popularity of the JUUL vape pen, e-liquids that use natural nicotine salts, are becoming available to vapers who want to use them in their vape pens. But like all e-juice ingredients, health conscious individuals are anxious to know about nicotine salts safety.
This article will answer your questions, and you’ll get a clear definition of the compound without a lot of scientific jargon. You’ll also learn how to avoid any unpleasant side effects.
What Are Nicotine Salts?
Nicotine salts (sometimes called nic salts) are actually found in nature.
There’s natural nicotine in tobacco leaves, eggplant (aubergine), tomatoes, cauliflower and more, but since we’re talking about vaping, we’ll focus on the nicotine in tobacco leaves.
The natural nicotine in tobacco combines with certain acids, stabilizing the molecule and turning it into a salt. No, they are not salty crystals; nic salts are an organic compound made up of a positive charge (Acid) and negative charge (Base).
It’s only recently – since about 2015, that the nicotine salt compound has been used to deliver nicotine to smokers and vapers.
If you’re wondering what has been, and what is still used in tobacco cigarettes and e-liquids, the answer is “freebase nicotine”.
What is Freebase Nicotine?
Freebase nicotine, or what has come to be known as “regular nicotine” was was actually invented by the Philip Morris company decades ago. It was formulated to make tobacco cigarettes such as Marlboro, stronger and more addictive.
The word “freebase” is most often associated with “freebase cocaine”; (which sounds a little scary), but it just means that the process of freebasing is achieved by a very similar process. Here’s how it’s done.
In the case of Philip Morris’ creation of “regular nicotine”, they removed some of the natural protons found in nicotine salts and added ammonia. This altered the pH and alkaline levels resulting in a “freebase” nicotine formula that causes a very fast dopamine release within the brain.
If you’re not familiar with dopamine, it is a neurotransmitter responsible for delivering those “happy hormones”.
Other tobacco companies followed suit, but Big T didn’t stop there. They also added Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s).
According to a study reported in the Journal of Neuroscience, MAIO’s produce a “reinforcing effect in the brain that makes us want more nicotine more often”.
For the record, e-cigarettes also use freebase nicotine in e-liquids, but their formulas do not contain MAOI’s.
Nicotine Salts for Vaping
Back in 2015, PAX – the makers of the JUUL pod-system vape pen knew that e-cigarettes did not deliver a high enough level of nicotine to satisfy smokers who were trying to quit.
They knew that simply raising the nicotine content to more than 24 mg of freebase nicotine wasn’t going to work, since the ammonia acids in freebase nicotine would burn the hell out of your throat.
PAX started experimenting with natural nicotine salts and succeeded in creating a new formula. They kept the natural nic salt compound and instead of adding ammonia, they added a more gentle solution – benzoic acid.
Benzoic acid is a white crystalline substance present in plant resins and traditionally used as a food preservative. It is not only much kinder on your throat, the lower pH level gives you a smoother tasting vape.
Is Any Nicotine Organic?
When you look at the ingredients in some of the purest e-juices, even those that are certified organic, you’ll notice that the basic ingredients and flavorings are listed as organic, but the nicotine is not.
That’s because nicotine is not considered to be an organic product according to the USDA. This is also the case with natural nicotine salts. The nicotine extraction method may be completely free of chemicals and solvents, but so far, the ingredient listings can only say “pharmaceutical grade Kosher nicotine”.
The closest you are going to get to organic nicotine, is where the manufacturer extracts their own nicotine from certified organic tobacco grown on U.S. soil.
Are Nicotine Salts Safer Than Freebase Nicotine?
The simplest answer is that nicotine salts used in e-liquids are more natural than freebase nicotine because the natural nicotine compounds are not altered. The nicotine naturally binds to other organic compounds.
On the other hand, when freebase nicotine is created in a lab, some of the natural compounds are removed and ammonia is added.
Ammonia is a highly irritating gas, and although safe levels are added when creating freebase nicotine, some people do experience coughing and throat irritation.
That said, to date there have not been any scientific tests performed comparing the safety of nicotine salt e-liquids with freebase nicotine e-liquids. If and when tests are performed, we will update this article.
There have; however, been many tests performed on traditional e-liquids and we have reported the results of those studies.
Are There Any Side Effects of Vaping Nicotine Salts?
The side effects of vaping too much nicotine salt e-liquids are the same as vaping too much regular nicotine e-liquids.
Vapers certainly stand to benefit from using e-liquids with nic salts; however, if you’re vaping them in order to get higher levels of nicotine, and you vape for long periods of a time, you may experience some side effects.
This is also the reason why high level nicotine salts (over 18mg/ml) are not recommended for larger vaping devices that are typically used for longer vaping sessions.
Here’s the standard list of unpleasant sensations that can occur from getting too much nicotine:
- nausea or stomachache
- higher blood pressure
The good news is that the body processes nicotine quickly, so if you experience any of the above symptoms, just do what many heavy vapers have learned to do…take a break.
Your blood nicotine levels will fall, and after and hour or two your symptoms will subside.
Worried about getting nicotine poisoning? Check out our article evaluating the safe levels of nicotine.
You don’t have to use high nicotine levels to enjoy nic salt e-liquids! Those sold in bottles (see below) can almost always be ordered with your choice of nicotine level.
What are the Pros and Cons of Nicotine Salts?
- Nicotine salts e-liquids are a more natural way to enjoy nicotine.
- E-juice with nicotine salts deliver more nicotine without it being harsh on your throat.
- Being able to vape higher levels of nicotine makes vaping more like smoking a tobacco cigarette.
- Vapers can benefit from using nic salt e-juices because they can use many more types of vape pens other than the JUUL.
- There’s less vapor produced, so vaping is more discreet.
- The longer lasting nicotine effect may cause you to vape less. Reducing your e-liquid consumption, can save you money.
- You can purchase nic salts from reputable e-cig companies that offer different levels of nicotine.
- Nicotine Salts E-Liquids are not recommended for use in sub-ohm devices. If you want those big vapor clouds, forget about using nic salt e-juice.
- Vaping higher levels of nicotine can cause side effects if you vape for long period of time without a break.
- Although nicotine salts give you a satisfying physical sensation right away, remember nicotine is still highly addictive, and you may find yourself vaping more often than usual.
- Not only will you get more nicotine, vaping will get more expensive. You’ll burn up more e-juice and burn out more atomizers faster than you can say “nic hit”.
- Some brands and/or flavors of nic salts e-liquids do not let you choose your PG/VG ratio; in fact, I’ve found that they’re all over the place, so you’ll have to do some homework within each website offering these types of e-liquids.
Think the Pros Outweigh the Cons?
Here’s Where You Can Find Quality Nicotine Salt E-Liquids
Halo Cigs now offers nic salt e-liquids in two of their most popular flavors Tribeca (tobacco/vanilla/caramel blend) and Sub Zero (intense cool mint), and they carry four flavors in their EVO line.
Halo is one company that sells their own brand of nicotine salts e-liquids. Other companies offer them from third parties.
If you’ve come to trust Halo’s standard e-liquids, you probably won’t be disappointed in these “Ultra Salts” e-juices either. They use third party testing to make sure there are no harmful chemicals like diacetyl. Halo sells their nic salts e-juice in 35mg/ml and 50mg/ml nicotine strengths.
Mt. Baker Vapor –
For a wider selection, Mt. Baker Vapor has 48 Nic Salt flavors from some of the top nic salt makers – eight in all, including Get Salty, 13th Floor and Solace. Nicotine strengths range from 18mg/ml to 50mg/ml. Choose from tobacco, mint, fruit, dessert and candy flavors.
Mt. Baker Vapor has a really easy to navigate website where you can fine-tune your search by nic strength, bottle size, brand and even prices (which do vary considerably). You’ll also see verified customer reviews on many flavors.
The Hawaiian vape company Volcano also sells a wide range of popular nicotine salt e-liquids. Right now they have 42 flavors, 43 bottle sizes, 43 brands (including popular Mr. Salt-E), and 37 strengths of nicotine from 25mg/ml to 50 mg/ml.
What Are the Best Vaping Devices for Nicotine Salt E-Juices?
JUUL – The JUUL was the first portable vape pen to come complete with pods already pre-filled with nicotine salts e-liquids. If you can handle the highest nic level available (5%), you’ll love it. I have to admit, it’s one of the most comfortable, easiest vape pens you can buy and the flavors are great.
Kandypens RUBI – Unlike the JUUL, Kandypens RUBI is an open-system vape pod pen. That means you can add your own e-liquids to the pod….whatever you like – at any nicotine salt strength and in any PG/VG ratio. The RUBI takes them all, including regular e-liquids and even oils. It’s one of most versatile, portable devices on the market.
The BO One Ultra Portable AIO Vape Starter Kit – Moving up in size, (and power) is the BO one. Vapers like the BO because it has a longer lasting battery charge, it delivers awesome flavor and a big nic hit (even at only 3%). The BO, like the JUUL is a closed pod system so you have to use their “Bo Caps” which now come in 5 flavors. The starter kit comes with one flavor, Kiwiberry Ice (and it’s a blast).
SMOK FIT Ultra Portable Vape Starter Kit – The most economical Vape Pen of the lot is also one of the most versatile because it’s a open pod system…and you get 2 pods! Fill them with either nic salts or regular e-liquids.
My SMOK FIT was a bit rough to start, but once it got going, vapor and flavor was surprisingly good for a pen with only a 250mAh battery. Don’t expect it to hold a charge for more than a couple of hours. Still for under $20 it’s worth the price.
Aspire Breeze 2 – This all-in-one, portable system from popular vape company Aspire, comes with 2 atomizers – one 1.0-Ohm Coil for using nic salts, and 1 0.6-Ohm Coil for regular e-liquids. The Breeze 2 is also one the more powerful vape pen batteries. At 1000mAh, you’ll go longer on a single charge.
Wrapping It Up
1 -Nicotine Salts E-Liquids are a great choice for vapers who want to vape higher levels of nicotine without experiencing any harshness. Nic salts e-juice will give you an incredibly smooth vape.
2- It’s been said that the nicotine delivery is closest to that of a tobacco cigarette.
3- Nicotine Salts occur naturally in the tobacco leaf. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are better for your health than traditional e-liquids and there has yet to be scientific proof that says so.
4- If you are looking for 100% natural e-liquids, you’re better off ordering organic juices. You won’t get a 5% nicotine level, but you can be assured of diacetyl-free ingredients. There won’t be any propylene glycol (PG) either, since PG isn’t an organic compound.
5- Sellers recommended that you avoid using nicotine salts in high-powered devices or sub-ohms to prevent excessive nicotine consumption.
So there you have it! We welcome your comments and hope you will share your experience using the new nicotine salt e-liquids.
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