Freebase vs. Salt Nicotine: What's the difference?

e-juice
nicotine
safety
nicotine-salt
salt-nicotine
e-cigarette
vape
e-liquid

#1

More and more e-liquid brands are now releasing juices with something called “nicotine salt”. But what exactly is nicotine salt, and how is it different from the nicotine you find in other e-liquids?

What is nicotine salt?

Nicotine Salt is the naturally occurring state of nicotine that is found in tobacco leaves (i.e., in cigarettes, cigars and shisha). This extracted nicotine in e-liquid is known to mimic the throat hit and absorption rate of tobacco, while avoiding the tar and carcinogens that come with traditional smoking methods. Because of its smoothness, nicotine salt e-liquid is available in higher strengths of nicotine than other e-liquids. However, the absorption rate of nicotine salt e-liquid is much faster than other e-liquids, so it is recommended to be used in lower wattage devices ONLY in order to avoid excessive nicotine intake.

Nicotine found most commonly in e-liquids is called freebase nicotine and can be thought of as pure nicotine. E-liquids containing freebase nicotine will produce a harsher throat hit. Because of this, are offered in lower nicotine strengths.

What are the benefits of nicotine salt?

Although nicotine salt e-liquids require a lower power device, they are often observed as a better option for replacing tobacco. The similar sensation, higher concentration, and more balanced absorption rate mean that it’s easier to be satisfied by fewer puffs, making smoking that much simpler to leave behind.

What are the benefits of freebase nicotine?

One major benefit of freebase nicotine is that it’s readily available at any vape store. Freebase nicotine is the type of nicotine you would find in any e-liquid that does not specifically indicate that it contains nicotine salt. Aside from that, freebase nicotine e-liquid is more suitable for higher wattage or sub-ohm devices, and is available in lower nicotine strengths. Freebase nicotine e-liquid are also the best option for vapers who prefer a harsher throat hit.

Stay safe with nicotine salt

When using nicotine salt e-liquid, it’s important to be aware of potential dangers, some of which are generalized to all nicotine e-liquid, and some specific to nicotine salt.

Keep any nicotine products in a safe place where children and pets cannot access them—any kind of nicotine can be fatal if ingested by children or pets

If you get any nicotine e-liquid on your skin, wash it immediately with warm water and soap—nicotine can irritate the skin, and in cases of high concentration, can lead to burns

Only use nicotine salt e-liquid with a low wattage device—due to the smoothness and almost immediate absorption rate of nicotine salt e-liquid, nicotine overdose can be possible when ingested, vaped rapidly or used in a high wattage, sub-ohm device. Be on the lookout for signs of nicotine overdose, including

  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Light-headedness
  • Muscle twitching/tremors

If you are experiencing these symptoms severely, please seek immediate medical treatment.


#2

There are a couple of important things that aren’t answered in this.

  1. How to use nicotine salt - is it solid? What does it look like? Is it available on retail/commercial scales?
  2. How is it used to make e-liquid? What is the concentration of say 10 gm of nicotine salt mixed with, say 100ml of VG/PG.

We should delve into these aspects as well.


#3

@G_Karthik_Krishnan Great points, thanks for bringing that up!

In its raw form, Nicotine Salt is a crystalized molecule, which essentially presents itself as a powder. This powder is EXTREMELY potent and must be handled with great care. Because of this, Nicotine Salt e-liquid producers will receive Nicotine Salt already dissolved in its proper solvent. This is the form you will find Nicotine Salt bases on the market (for mass or DIY e-liquid production).

In terms of concentration in e-liquid, the measurements are exactly the same as measurements with freebase nicotine (mg/ml). However, because of the smoother throat hit, more of the nicotine solution can be added to the e-liquid mixture, which is why you’ll find higher strengths of nicotine in these e-liquids.

You can view more information on nicotine concentration measurements here.