Nicotine Salts vs. Freebase | E-juice Nicotine Explained

Nicotine Salts vs. Freebase | E-juice Nicotine Explained

What is the difference between  nicotine salt and the more familiar freebase nicotine? How do the eliquids made with each differ? As pod and MTL devices grow in popularity, so does the popularity of the nicotine within those products, nicotine salts. Vapers say their small, pocket-friendly, pod devices make them as happy as their old large vape…how can this be? 

Vapers found nicotine salt to be more satisfying, less harsh, not as “peppery,” and smoother than regular vape juice. By using nicotine salts, juice makers can achieve greater nicotine concentrations, while keeping their products enjoyable and pleasurable when used in smaller devices that produce less vapor than traditional devices. The use of nicotine salts in ejuices enable vapers to carry smaller and more discrete devices, producing less disruptive vapor, while still satisfying their nicotine needs. Additionally, vapers will consume less eliquid, keeping more money in their pocket!

What is Nicotine?

Before we delve into the differences between freebase and salt nicotine, let’s discuss the general properties of nicotine.

Where it comes from:  Nicotine is naturally occurring within plants of the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, tobacco, etc.) 

What it does: The stimulant characteristics of nicotine are commonly compared to those of caffeine. Nicotine’s stimulant traits contribute to the habit-forming properties of tobacco smoking.

Naturally occurring nicotine: Nicotine found in tobacco leaves, carries a positive charge, and has a tough time moving through membranes within the body, meaning fewer of their particles make it to your bloodstream.

What is Freebase Nicotine?

Freebase nicotine is the nicotine traditionally  used in eLiquids. Freebase nicotine has been treated to remove its particle charge.

Removed Positive Charge: If you remove the positive charge of nicotine, it will return to a free state, where it will travel much more easily across membranes in our bodies. This means more nicotine will make it to the user’s bloodstream, making it the more potent form.

What is Nicotine Salt?

The terms nicotine salts, nic salt, salt nic, or salt nicotine all mean the same thing. No, it is not the salt you put in your food, and it does not mean it will make your eliquid salty.

How it's created: In our case, nicotine salts are created by combining freebase nicotine with an acid, usually Benzioc Acid.

Why add Benzoic Acid: This lows its PH level closer to neutral, dampening the throat hit and allowing you to increase the concentration without sacrificing smoothness. The use of salt nicotine allows for a new ejuice niche: high concentrations of nicotine without the harsh and peppery throat hit.  

Absorption: Benzoic acid, over other types of acids, assists dramatically with the absorption of the nicotine across membranes, as well as lowers the activation temperature. 

Result: This results in a nicotine form that is smooth in high concentrations, while still easily absorbed by the body, nearly as well as with freebase nicotine.

The Main Differences Between Nicotine Salt & Freebase Nicotine

Freebase Nicotine Nicotine Salts
Smooth Throat Hit

Peppery Taste


Long Duration Effect in Body

Rapid Effect in Body

High User E-Juice Consumption

Must be used in Low Power Devices


Nicotine Salt Compatible Devices

Due to nicotine salt's high nicotine strength and chemical make-up, it is imperative they are used within specific devices.

Nicotine Salt Compatable Devices

Pod Mods. These are mods created specifically for use with nicotine salt e-liquid. A good example of one is the Uwell Caliburn. Unlike a traditional atomizer, you replace the entire atomizer instead of just the coil section. These all encompassing atomizers are called "pods". With a high resistance coil inside, low power output, and a restricted airflow, these devices are a match made in heaven for nic salts. 

MTL Rebuildable Atomizer. Although rebuildable atomizers like RDAs and RTAs are typically used for high power vaping, a new niche of products have hit the market that do the opposite. MTL stands for Mouth to Lung which is perfect for nicotine salt vaping. A MTL Rebuildable atomizer is one created with very restricted airflow and the ability to insert higher resistance coils. This combination makes these new atomizer nic salt compatible. 

Other Devices. Any atomizer that has a coil with a resistance of over 1.0 ohm can be used with a low wattage output and a restricted airflow. 

Posted by Dale on Mar 21st 2019

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