Choosing the correct nicotine strength and dosage is perhaps one of the most important choices a new vaper can make and can make all the difference in whether or not a vaper enjoys the experience or ends up putting their vape down for good. Part of the trick of finding the correct nicotine strength is being honest about how much nicotine you currently consume, whether that be through cigarettes, nicotine patches, or any other means. Understanding your correct nicotine dosage can save a lot of future issues when vaping and new vapers should almost always aim for lower levels of nicotine instead of choosing the highest dosage.
Check out our guide to figure out how much nicotine is in a cigarette on the Vaping Wiki.
Generally speaking, all e-liquids will have nicotine strengths that start from 0mg and can go all the way up to 50mg. You may also find some e-liquids where nicotine is measured in percentage, which does complicate the situation to some degree. Thankfully, this guide should help you understand nicotine strengths in e-liquids and what amount works best for you.
Freebase Nicotine vs. Nicotine Salts
Before we can break down what nicotine strength is right for you, it’s important that we explain the two types of nicotine that are widely used in the majority of e-juices. Both of these versions of nicotine differ in a few key ways and are generally used in different styles of devices.
This is perhaps the most common form of nicotine used in the e-cigarette industry and is the original nicotine base used in e-liquids. This version of the substance can be thought of as the purest form of nicotine and is absorbed into the body at a fairly rapid rate. It should be noted that freebase nicotine does produce a harsh throat hit, so e-juice manufacturers often use the substance in lower and more manageable strengths (i.e. 0mg – 18mg).
Benefits of Freebase Nicotine
As the most popular form of nicotine, used by e-juice manufacturers, there are plenty of freebase nicotine e-juices available on the market. The substance is perfect for sub-ohm vaping, thanks to its low concentration of nicotine. This version of nicotine is ideal for almost all styles of vaping and is a good option for new vapers who may not be accustomed to specific styles of vaping.
Developed by JUUL Labs, nicotine salt — or nic salt — is a new form of the substance that offers vapers a smooth yet satisfying throat hit, as well as a more even rate of absorption in the body. Nic salts are often used in higher concentrations, providing a more aggressive throat hit and higher dosage of nicotine in the body. With that in mind, many vapers only use nic salts in pod-systems or MTL devices, which generally use lower wattages and produce far less vapor.
Benefits of Nicotine Salts
Because of their higher concentrations, nicotine salt vape juice is often ideal for vapers looking to be a little more discreet with their cloud production but still need a good nicotine kick. The use of nic salt e-juices with low power devices has allowed both products to thrive and more vapers are switching over to pod-systems for their daily devices.
Learn more about the differences between Freebase Nicotine vs. Nicotine Salt vape juice.
What is the Best Nicotine Strength for You
If you are a new vaper, there are two major factors you need to consider when determining a nicotine strength for your vape juice. These factors are fairly easy to determine and have to do with your current nicotine consumption and the device you’re using, either a Mouth to Lung (MTL) or a Direct to Lung (DTL) device.
In this section, we’ve broken our suggestions down by vapor output, as this is the easiest way to quantify how much nicotine is inhaled per puff.
Generally speaking, a person who smokes 10 cigarettes a day, will fall into the lower ranges of nicotine strength. People who are on a pack a day should look into a more moderate level of nicotine, whereas smokers who finish two packs a day will do best with higher levels of nicotine.
It should be noted that these nicotine suggestions are merely suggestions. Use these recommendations as a starting point, but don’t be afraid to increase or decrease your nicotine dosage. Generally speaking, the best nicotine strength is the one that keep you vaping and feeling comfortable during it.
Low Vapor Production
Characterized by small and discrete clouds, low vapor production devices generally output the same amount of smoke as a cigarette. Devices that produce low amounts of vapor are often pod-systems and mouth-to-lung (MTL) tanks with highly restricted airflow. Nic salts are the norm in this category, though these devices will perform properly with the correct freebase e-juice.
- Freebase nicotine: 9-18 mg/mL
- Nicotine salts: 30-60 mg/mL
Medium Vapor Production
The majority of vape mods and sub-ohm devices will produce this level of vapor. In layman’s terms, this category encompases any device that makes a reasonable amount of cloud. This category is the most all encompassing and can include airy pod-systems, airy MTL tanks, and even some sub-ohm tanks with a more restrictive draw.
- Freebase nicotine: 6-9 mg/mL
- Nicotine salts: 20-30 mg/mL
High Vapour Production
Massive clouds are pretty much the only way to truly define this category. This category generally encompasses all powerful sub-ohm tanks, rebuildable dripping atomizers (RDAs), and rebuildable tank atomizers (RTAs) with wide open airflow. For this category, we do not recommend using nic salt e-liquids, as it can be dangerous to consume this much nicotine at a single time.
- Freebase nicotine: 1.5-6 mg/mL
Understanding Nicotine Measurements
For this section, let’s assume you’ve already found an e-liquid you like and now you’re trying to determine what nicotine strength is best for you. While this should be a fairly simple process, it can be somewhat difficult because of the way some manufacturers choose to display how much nicotine is in their liquid. Listing by milligram (mg) may be the most widely seen measurement in e-liquids, but some manufacturers do choose to list by percentage (i.e. 0.3%, 0.6%, 2.5%, 5%, etc.)
Learn how to dilute your vape juice to reduce nicotine strength on the Vaping Wiki
In this section we’ll break down how to distinguish nicotine strengths written as mg/ml, those shown in percentages, and how to convert from one to the other.
Nicotine Strength Measures in mg/mL
This is the most common way nicotine strengths are shown on bottles of e-liquid and are often the easiest to understand. Mg/mL refers to milligrams per milliliter, meaning for every milliliter of e-liquid in the bottle, there is a specified amount of nicotine.
This method is the easiest and vapers simply need to multiple the mL contents of the bottle with the mg of nicotine listed. For example, if you fill a 5mL vape tank with 6mg/mL e-liquid, you’ll have 5mL x 6mg/mL = 30mg of nicotine in your tank.
Nicotine Strengths as Percentages
Unlike measurements in mg/mL, nicotine measured in percentages are somewhat more upfront about how much nicotine is in a bottle of e-juice. Instead of combining mass (mg) and volume (mL), nicotine displayed in percentages indicate how much nicotine is in a bottle. Figures like 0.3%, 0.6%, 2.5%, and 5% indicate the exact amount of nicotine in an e-liquid, with the
remaining percentages being the e-liquid itself.
Technically speaking, the official name for this system of measurement is “nicotine by volume” (NBV) and is the same way bottles of liquor are measured for “alcohol by volume” (ABV).
Converting mg/mL to Percentage and Back
If you absolutely need to convert from one unit of measurement to the other, all you need to do is divide the nicotine amount in mg/mL by 10. So, if you have a 6mg/mL bottle of e-juice, you’ll have a 0.6% nicotine e-liquid. To convert back, simply multiply the percentage by 10.
Know what the Nicotine Strength of Your Vape Juice Should Be
Knowing your nicotine strength is invaluable when trying to navigate the e-liquid market and can make all the difference in your vaping experience. The strength of nicotine in your e-liquid can help address your nicotine cravings, but also serves to provide some sort of throat hit. These features of the substance highlight the importance of nicotine in e-liquids and having the correct amount can make all the difference.