When a new innovation arrives on the vaping scene, it’s easy
to be sceptical. After all, it isn’t always easy to tell which refinements will
meaningfully improve vaping and which changes will… well, prove to be mere
fads. However, it looks like nic salts could be here for the long haul.
What exactly are “nic salts”? Alternatively known
by the non-abbreviated term “nicotine salts”, they aren’t – unlike
what the name might have led you to believe – crystals. Instead, they represent
a change to the familiar nicotine formula and could provide you with your
smoothest vaping yet.
How nic salts differ
from “freebase” nicotine
If you are familiar with smoking, you probably also know
about nicotine… or so you think! You might not have realised that the pure,
“freebase” nicotine in standard cigarettes does not grow in tobacco
leaves, which instead harbour only nicotine salts, as
Vaping Daily explains.
In those leaves, the nicotine bonds with particular acids,
resulting in a significantly more stable molecule: a nicotine salt. Nic salts
come in various forms, depending on the type of acid to which the nicotine
bonds – whether that acid is citric, lactic, malic or something else.
None of those salts appear in either conventional cigarettes
or standard vape juice. Freebase nicotine is formed through the addition of
ammonia to the nicotine to make it more addictive – a recipe upon which tobacco
companies stumbled as long ago as the 1960s.
The renewed relevance
of nic salts
The re-emergence of nic salts into the mainstream can
ultimately be attributed to PAX, the company responsible for conceiving the
JUUL pod vaping system. In 2015, PAX was marketing JUUL pods to people seeking
to quit smoking, so the firm had an interest in replicating the smoking
Therefore, PAX bonded nicotine to benzoic acid to produce a
nic salt that, as confirmed by research, rivalled freebase nicotine in its
ability to maximise nicotine’s concentration in blood plasma.
Interestingly, this form of nicotine also had the side
effect of lowering the vapour’s PH value and so enabling a significantly
smoother vape. This meant that vapers of this nic salt could enjoy a strong
e-liquid that wouldn’t leave them with cough fits.
How should you vape
Nic salts in their vape-ready form were made to give vapers a
strong nicotine hit while they used small, portable devices. Indeed, the JUUL
system is such a device, though you don’t strictly need a JUUL to effectively
use these nic salts; any lower-power device and tank setup will suffice.
Even when used at higher levels than freebase nicotine, nic
salts can remain lower in their PH level and, hence, deliver a smoother throat
hit. If you are an avid smoker looking to quit, you could be pleasantly
surprised by how closely vaping nic salts feels to smoking a traditional
cigarette, despite the 20MG limit, as reported by
Planet of the Vapes, imposed on nic salt-based products
commercially available in the UK. Even
flavoured nic salts are