One of the questions that might pop up in your mind when trying to switch from smoking to vaping is, “what’s the right level of nicotine for me?” This is a critical question that largely determines how smooth you make your transition.
If you start vaping and you don’t reach the nicotine hit you get from smoking, there is a high chance for you to return to cigarettes. Hence, it is important to consider the strength of nicotine when buying an e-liquid.
What is Nicotine?
Nicotine is a chemical compound found in the tobacco plant. This alkaloid is chemically similar to things like coffee, and apart from the tobacco plant, it is also found in tomatoes, potatoes, and aubergine (but in very tiny amounts).
Talking about the functions, nicotine paradoxically works as both a relaxant and stimulant, and users report varying effects such as alertness, calmness, and mood elevation.
Nicotine is one of the four ingredients of vape juice, and picking the right nicotine strength is a great place to start your vaping journey. Too much of this substance in your eliquid may cause coughing and too little may not produce the throat hit you desire.
It would be heartbreaking spending a high sum on a bottle of premium juice, only to find out that the nicotine strength is not good enough to satisfy your cravings.
E-liquids are available in different nicotine levels / strengths starting at zero nicotine to as high as 50 mg/mL. Some brands express nicotine strengths in percentages instead of concentrations.
These nicotine strength readings may look confusing to you, but you don’t have to worry. Our team of experts will break it down for you in this article. Not just that, we will also steer you in the right direction to pick the right nicotine level for you.
Two main Nicotine options in e-liquids
JUUL, which is one of the most popular vapes in the industry, introduced nicotine salt e-liquids to the market, and that has changed how many people switch from smoking to vaping.
Nicotine e-liquids now make it possible to see nic strengths ranging from 3 mg or 6 mg to 25 mg or even 60 mg in most stores and shops.
Unlike nic salts, using regular nicotine (freebase nicotine) at very high levels can produce a harsh throat hit. So typically, any e-liquid that’s sold at a level of 18 mg/mL or less uses regular nicotine. And every juice that has above that nicotine level is made with nicotine salts.
The high nicotine concentration of nic salts has made it synonymous with pod systems and other devices having low power and vapour output.
So the tiny atomizers in pod vapes like the JUUL require high nicotine levels to give the user a satisfying experience.
What’s the right nicotine level for you?
If you’re a new vaper, the answer to this question is a function of your smoking habits- how many sticks of cigarette do you have a day? Were they a light variety or not? And what type of vaping device are you thinking of using? You need to consider these questions.
The truth is that your nicotine strength is personal to you. So when you try a stronger liquid, you may get help switching from smoking to vaping and when you find the right one, you can reduce it over time. Also, you can choose a slightly lower strength and vape until you’re satisfied rather than taking too strong a hit.
The different nicotine strengths available include:
This is the ideal level for social smokers who only smoke when they’re out and desire the feel of smoking. This strength is also for people who want to dilute their juice to make it a little milder or hobbyists who just love to blow vapour rings or do the Irish Waterfall in the home.
This is the lowest level of nicotine contained in a liquid unless you dilute it with some 0mg. This is the ideal level for people who’re in the process of quitting cigarettes and have reduced their intake to almost nothing.
We often recommend this concentration for light smokers who are taking only a few cigarettes a day.
This nicotine strength will give you the nicotine buzz you’re looking for, and it is similar to what you’d expect from some brands of Ultra-Light/Ultra-Low cigarettes.
If you’re getting through around 10 cigarettes a day, this might be the best option for you. However, depending on the strength of what you’re used to, the 3mg may just be the best for you.
This nicotine strength is made for average smokers who take up to a pack a day. It is a good level to start to get used to vaping and it will help you get enough to keep the cravings away.
18-24mg/mL of nicotine
This nicotine strength level is the highest and it is for people who smoke a serious number of cigarettes, by this, we mean over a pack a day. The level you need will also dictate the kind of device you’ll use as not all vapes are made equally.
Nicotine strengths as percentages
Sometimes, even after choosing a particular nicotine strength, you can still be confused. Some manufacturers use percentages, like 0.3%, 0.6%, 2.5% and 5% to list nicotine strength.
So how do you convert? It’s simple to understand- Figures like 0.3% mean any amount you measure out of the e-liquid contains 0.3% nicotine and 99.7% VG, PG, and flavorings.
This measurement is technically called “nicotine by volume,” or NBV for short, and it is likened to percentages on a bottle of liquor, which are called “alcohol by volume” or ABV for short.
You could convert a nicotine strength in mg/mL to a percentage. All you need to do is divide the amount in mg/mL by 10. For example, if you have 12mg/ML e-liquid, this is equal to a 0.6% e-liquid. To convert back, just multiply the mg/mL by 10.
You can now easily navigate the e-liquid market and buy the best option that will most likely satisfy your craving. If you desire to have a throat hit, but the amount of nicotine is too high, you can try e-liquid with a 50:50 VG/PG ratio. A higher PG always gives you the “I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-cigarettes” feel.
As a heavy smoker, you can start with a high nicotine level, if that would help you quit, and you can gradually reduce the strength over time.
However, it’s worth trying the slightly lower strength so you don’t overdo and develop a nic headache. If you feel it’s a bit lower, you can take more drags until you get the right feeling.
Remember, vaping allows nicotine to be absorbed into your body system a little slower than smoking. So always give it a few minutes to see how it feels before taking more drag. Also, if you don’t nail it on the first nicotine level, don’t quit.
With the wide range of options available, you will surely find the best option that works best for you.