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Nicotine is an alkaloid present in the nightshade family of plants, which includes peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes. However, it is only abundant enough to extract and purify in the tobacco plant. Nicotine can also be manufactured in a lab, but it is a highly expensive process.
Nicotine acts as a stimulant and a relaxant at the same time, with users experiencing mood elevation, alertness, and relaxation as side effects. It is widely regarded as physically and mentally addictive, which is why most first-time vapers use e-juice containing nicotine.
Commercial e-liquid comes in a variety of nicotine concentrations, including no nicotine, though most vapers purchase it with nicotine.
Vape juice comes in a variety of nicotine strengths, and choosing the proper nicotine concentration for a beginning vaper is crucial. You might cough if you use too much, and if you use too little, you could wonder if vaping is even for you. Alternatively, you could spend a lot of money on a large bottle of quality juice just to discover that the nicotine content is insufficient to fulfill your desires.
E-liquids are available in nicotine levels ranging from zero to more than 50 mg/mL. Nicotine strengths may also be given as percentages rather than concentrations. It's easy to become perplexed by all of this, but it doesn't have to be! This guide will show you how to browse the market and steer you in the proper way when choosing nicotine strength.
Note that the information presented in this article pertains to nicotine strength in commercial e-liquid. If you are learning how to mix your own juice—which may involve diluting nicotine base—take a look at our article on how to make DIY e-juice for beginners.
Nicotine salts and regular nicotine are two excellent choices.
The JUUL is not only one of the most popular, but also one of the most influential vapes on the market. JUUL revolutionized the vaping industry by introducing nicotine salt e-liquid, which has changed the way many people quit smoking and started vaping.
I’m not a huge fan of their ways, and in some ways, I believe they did more harm to the vaping community than good. But enough about that.
Nicotine strengths are soaring from 3 mg or 6 mg to 25 mg or even 60 mg in internet retailers these days, thanks to the popularity of nic salts e-liquid. Nic salts, or protonated nicotine, employs an acid (typically benzoic acid) to smooth out the throat feel, allowing the vaper to tolerate larger nicotine doses.
Regular nicotine (also known as freebase nicotine) is bitter at high amounts, unlike nic salts. There are rare exceptions, but most e-liquid with a nicotine content of 18 mg/mL or less utilizes normal nicotine, while juice with a higher nicotine content uses nic salts. The throat hit of 6 mg normal nic is said to be similar to 20-25 mg nic salts by most individuals.
Salt nicotine has become synonymous with pod systems and other low-power, low-vapor-output devices due to its high concentrations. To generate a pleasing experience for the user, the small atomizers on pod vapes like the JUUL require higher nicotine levels.
Which nicotine strength is best for you?
If you're a new vaper, you should think about two things when choosing a nicotine strength: your smoking habits and the type of device you'll be using. We've organized our recommendations by vapor output to make it easier for you to find what you're looking for, as this is the aspect that ultimately determines the quantity of nicotine consumed per puff.
You'll probably fall into the lower range of each advice if you smoke socially or only a few cigarettes per day. You'll fall somewhere in the middle if you smoke 10-20 cigarettes a day. If you smoke more than a pack a day, you're probably in the higher category.
Remember that the strengths listed in this section are just that: ideas. Use these as a starting point, but don't be afraid to experiment with different nicotine concentrations if you find that you want your vape to be stronger or weaker. Remember that nicotine does not pose a health danger to the majority of people. The nicotine strength that keeps you away from combustible cigarettes is the greatest!
Vapor output is low.
Clouds that resemble the smoke emitted by a cigarette. Most pod systems on the market, as well as mouth-to-lung (MTL) tanks with an extremely tight airflow, fall into this category. The most popular option in this category is high-strength nic salts. (Many e-liquid companies no longer produce flavors with regular nicotine concentrations greater than 6 mg/mL.)
Vapor output is moderate.
Clouds, but not the colossal kind. This category includes devices from almost any manufacturer's product line. This includes pod systems that use sub ohm coils, MTL tanks with more airflow, and even sub ohm tanks with a very limited draw.
Vapor output is high.
There are a lot of clouds. This includes sub ohm tanks with big airflow channels and rebuildable atomizers. Because these devices emit so much vapor, it's easy to get too much nic too quickly, finding nic salts for this category may be difficult. Most sub ohm vapers opt for conventional nicotine juices in very low concentrations.
Given the vapor volume provided by some of these devices, even 6 mg/mL e-liquid may be too strong!
Whenever it comes to quitting smoking, we recommend that beginning vapers start with a low-vapor device, such as a pod system or an MTL tank. These will simulate the drag of a cigarette, which may make the switch to vaping easier for smokers.
Many folks, on the other hand, prefer a restricted direct-lung draw, or even a totally open draw, in which case a more powerful pod system or a sub ohm tank may be the best option. It's possible that you'll have to try out a variety of devices. There is no such thing as right or wrong!
Converting percentages to mg/mL
Let's pretend you've tried a few different nicotine levels and found the one that best fits your needs. Even when you've narrowed it down, it can still be perplexing. Nicotine strength is sometimes expressed as a percentage, such as 0.3 percent, 0.6 percent, 2.5 percent, and 5 percent.
What's the difference between nicotine strengths listed in milligrams per milliliter and nicotine strengths reported as percentages? What's the best way to go from one to the other?
Nicotine strength in mg/mL
Nicotine levels in e-liquids are usually expressed as mg/mL, which stands for milligrams per milliliter. This means that the prescribed amount of nicotine is present in every milliliter of e-liquid in the bottle.
If you fill a 5 mL vape tank with 6 mg/mL e-liquid, your tank will have 5 mL x 6 mg/mL = 30 mg of nicotine. Similarly, a 10 mL bottle of 6 mg/mL e-liquid contains a total of 60 milligrams of nicotine.
Nicotine concentrations expressed as a percentage
The percentages of nicotine strengths are quite comparable, although the percentages are a little easier to understand. Rather than combining a mass (in mg) and a volume (in mL), percentages employ both. In layman's terms, statistics like 0.3 percent or 1.8 percent simply indicate how much nicotine is present in the liquid in the container.
This means that if you have 1.2 percent nicotine e-liquid, any amount you measure out will include 1.2 percent nicotine and 98.8% PG, VG, and flavorings.
This is referred to as "nicotine by volume" in the same way that the percentages on a bottle of whiskey are referred to as "alcohol by volume" or ABV for short. The term "nicotine by volume" is also abbreviated as NBV.
If you wanted to, you could calculate the percentage by mass, although most e-liquid firms don't. Vapers and producers both deal in milliliters when it comes to e-juice.
Converting from milligrams per milliliter to percent and back
It's simple to convert a nicotine strength in mg/mL to a percentage. Simply double the mg/mL amount by ten. So, if your e-juice has a 6 mg/mL concentration, it's 0.6 percent. E-juice with a 25 mg/mL concentration is 2.5 percent. This would be 7.2 percent if you used a high-strength nicotine base of 72 mg/mL.
It doesn't get any easier than this. Simply multiply by 10 to convert from percentages to mg/mL. It's as simple as that!
You'll never order the wrong e-juice again, congratulations!
If the math lesson didn't ruin your day, you may now confidently explore the e-liquid market and purchase juice in the strength range that will most likely satisfy your nicotine needs. You can also quickly explain what mg/mL and percentage quantities on e-liquids represent, as well as convert between them.
You'll know exactly what you're getting no matter where you order from. But don't give up if you don't get it right the first time. With so many nicotine levels to choose from, you'll finally find the right e-liquid intensity for you.
Let us know what you think! Have you ever tasted an e-juice that you thought was too powerful or too weak? What nicotine strength did you use to help you quit smoking?