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The Difference Between Nic Salts & Freebase Nicotine E-Liquids

11th Jan 2021

Particularly when you first get started vaping, the sheer volume of devices, vape styles and e-liquids in particular, can be pretty overwhelming. There are so many different options and all too often vapers end up using all kinds of technical language, forgetting that lots of new vapers won’t have a clue what they’re talking about!

Fortunately, there are lots of beginner-friendly guides to everything vaping if you know where to look for reliable information to give you a quality experience. Keep reading for our guide to nicotine salts, freebase nicotine e-liquids and the difference between them to help you pick the perfect vape juice for you, whether you’re a brand new beginner or seasoned vaper!

So, What are Nic Salts?

Nic salts are also known as nicotine salts, and are a specific type of e-liquid with a slightly different composition to your traditional e-liquids (which are known as freebase e-liquids). If you pick up a beginners vaping kit or a pre-filled pod kit , the chances are you’ll get a freebase nicotine e-liquid with them, but there are also other types of e-liquid that can be great for new users and experienced vapers alike, including nicotine salts.

Nicotine salts are a form of e-liquid that is able to deliver nicotine to the body more quickly than traditional freebase e-liquids . This results in a much stronger, quicker and more intense nicotine rush than with freebase nicotine e-liquids, which is one of the reasons nicotine salts are popular with new vapers of ex-smokers who are used to smoking quite heavily, as nic salts give you the impression of a stronger nicotine hit, without actually having any more nicotine in the e-juice formula.

Current restrictions on vape products mean that no e-liquids with more than 20mg/ml of nicotine (or 2% strength) can be sold in the UK , so nicotine salts offer a good solution to those who require a stronger e-liquid. They also have a much smoother “throat hit” sensation when compared to freebase nicotine e-liquids, which means the average vaper can usually comfortably vape higher-nicotine e-liquids in salt form than in freebase form. Of course, for some vapers, a strong, intense throat hit is an integral part of their vaping experience, so freebase liquids would be the better choice for these users, but if you’re looking for a strong, intense nicotine rush that satisfies all your cravings, nicotine salts are a fantastic option.

  vsavi nic salts

For new vapers in particular, the right strength of e-liquid is a really important factor in helping you not just enjoy vaping, but to stay away from cigarettes in the long run too. Choosing the right nicotine strength for your e-liquid is vital when you first start vaping, as it may be the difference between a fun and pleasant vape experience and one that is unsustainable and doesn’t fulfil your nicotine cravings sufficiently to stay away from cigarettes. The way both freebase nicotine and nicotine salts affect your body in e-liquids is completely individual, so what works for one person might be completely different for another, and that’s the beauty of vaping!

The Science of Nicotine Salts

Nicotine salts are made when freebase nicotine reacts with an acid. While they’re called nicotine salts, these e-liquids don’t actually contain any salt - this name refers to the chemical structure of the nicotine in nic salt formulas, so you don’t need to be concerned about your sodium intake! Instead of forming any salt crystals (which is a common misconception), nicotine salts are made when the freebase nicotine (which is very alkaline) is mixed with an acid. Benzoic acid is the most regularly used, but citric acid or a combination of the two is also pretty common. Through this chemical reaction, the nicotine becomes less alkaline, which not only reduces that same throat hit sensation, but also means that the body can safely absorb nicotine salts far more quickly than freebase nicotine , giving you that intense nicotine rush. The lower pH of nic salts also means that the temperature needed to vape is much lower than it would be without acid treatment, which means that users can vape nic salts at fairly low temperatures, and vapers with smaller, less powerful devices can still comfortably use these e-liquids.

Interestingly, nicotine salts are actually the form of nicotine that is closest to the way it occurs naturally in the tobacco plant, despite freebase nicotine having been used far more widely for centuries. They are the least modified form of nicotine, which makes them fantastic for use in a strong, intense vape.

Browse Nicotine Salt E-Liquids

What Does Freebase Nicotine Mean?

Freebase nicotine in consumer goods today is the purest and most commonly used source of nicotine, and it’s what you’ll find in the majority of e-liquids, as well as in traditional tobacco cigarettes. Since Marlboro started using it in their cigarettes in the 1960s, it has become standard for cigarettes, and when e-liquids came along they followed in the same footsteps!

freebase nicotine e-liquids  

To give a more concentrated nicotine hit without needing to increase the concentration, freebase nicotine strips excess chemicals and protons from the naturally-occurring nicotine in the tobacco plant. It was found that a much higher, more powerful nicotine rush could be obtained with freebase nicotine compared to nicotine in its natural form, which was the norm before the discovery of freebase nicotine. Freebase nicotine has since become the standard source of nicotine in both cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapies, including e-cigarettes.

Freebase nicotine is also a very alkaline solution, which can cause an intense throat hit in stronger concentrations. For some vapers, this is a real draw, while for others it will turn them off if the hit is too strong, which is where nicotine salts can be a strong alternative.

Nicotine Salt vs. Freebase Nicotine

Like so much in the world of vaping, there is no one form of nicotine or e-liquid that is better or worse than the other. It all comes down to personal preference, and the things that are important to you when you vape. There are pros and cons for both freebase nicotine and nic salt e-liquids, and the perfect one for you might be completely different to someone else. However, at V2, we make it as simple and affordable as possible to pick the right e-liquid for you, without ever compromising on safety or quality in any of our products.

Advantages of Nicotine Salts

Nic salts aren’t for everyone, but for certain vapers, they provide a fantastically smooth and intense vape experience without any harsh throat hit or discomfort.

For new vapers who are used to smoking quite heavily, or who have been smoking for a very long time, nicotine salts are ideal as they allow you to get that same strong, satisfying consumption of nicotine that you’re used to, without any harshness that can be present in stronger freebase nicotine formulas. By effectively satisfying your cravings, you’re far less likely to turn back to smoking tobacco cigarettes in the long-term, and they also make a good, balanced companion to those trying to gradually cut down on smoking cigarettes without quitting cold turkey.

  man vaping nic salts

Nic salts are also excellent for beginner vapers as they are very suitable for use in pod vapes and lower-power devices . They don’t need too much power as they can be vapourised at low temperatures, and since they are not made to produce huge vapour clouds, they can be simply and discreetly vaporised in a smaller, more compact unit, making it ideal for on-the-go users. These devices are smaller, more portable and easier to use on average than a large, clunky vape mod or more powerful device, and are perfect for mouth-to-lung vaping, which is the style most popular with new vapers and ex-smokers. Nic salts also have the added benefit of lasting longer per ml than many freebase nicotine e-liquids, as you don’t need to inhale as much e-liquid to get the same level of nicotine hit!

Because of the lower pH value of nicotine salts, these e-liquids generally give vapers a much smoother experience when compared to freebase formulas with the same nicotine concentration. Freebase formulas can give some users an extremely harsh, awkward and off putting throat blow, which can discourage them from continuing vaping, while nic salts offer that same strong, intense rush without this same rough, and sometimes even painful throat hit. This means that in their e-liquid, freebase vapers may have to turn to a lower nicotine level, resulting in a less than satisfactory craving reduction. Vapers who don’t have the right e-liquid are far more likely to go back to smoking cigarettes as their vape experience isn’t enjoyable, which is why at V2 we offer an extensive range of high-quality freebase and nicotine salt e-liquids to our customers .

Nicotine salts are also slower to oxidise than freebase e-liquids, which results in a longer shelf life for nic salt e-liquids. Obviously, the exact time it takes for an e-liquid to expire will vary from product to product, but in general nicotine salts will last around twice as long as freebase e-juice if you keep them properly in a cool, dark place.

Advantages of Freebase Nicotine

Freebase nicotine e-liquids are  far better at handling and carrying complex flavour profiles when compared to nicotine salt e-liquids. To get those classic vape flavours, including tobacco, sweets, drinks and desserts, there are many different complex flavour compounds needed, which freebase nicotine vape juice can handle with ease. If the flavour of your vape is important to you, and you enjoy trying the thousands of e-liquid flavours out there, a freebase formula might be the best choice for your e-cigarette. Nicotine salts, on the other hand, are better suited to more classics, basic flavour profiles, making them better for users who care more about their nicotine rush and throat hit than the flavour of their e-liquid.

man vaping freebase nicotine e-liquid  

Freebase formulas are also far more versatile than most nic salts, as they can be used for not just mouth-to-lung vaping, but also direct-to-lung vaping and sub-ohm vaping, which is a very popular vape style among more experienced vapers. Direct-to-lung vaping and sub-ohm vaping allow users to create those thick, fluffy clouds we all associate with vaping. Sometimes known as cloud-chasers, these vapers tend to avoid nicotine salt e-liquids as they give you a little bit less vapour production.

Finally, per ml, freebase nicotine e-liquids are cheaper than nicotine salts as they don’t require as much processing or ingredients, unlike nicotine salt e-liquids which have to undergo their chemical reaction.

Whatever your preference, at V2 we have a wide range of e-liquids designed to help you get the most out of your vape. To pick up yours, take a look at our selection of nicotine salt and freebase and e-liquids, or get in touch with our customer service team for advice and guidance on the best e-liquids for you.

Browse Nicotine Salt E-Liquids