Several years ago, vaping became the leading method for successfully quitting or reducing smoking across all age groups. It was a period of celebrated success among former smokers as millions crushed out their addiction and began feeling healthier. Despite historic lows there were still too many smokers trying to stop that vaping simply seemed to miss in terms of effectively replacing the cigarette.
Among the major stumbling blocks were the throat hit and a faster calming sensation from burning tobacco rather than inhaling vapor. Vape liquids take longer to absorb, missing was the quick calm the burning smoke produces. Enter the era of nicotine salts.
There is confusion in the name, salt is not added to the ‘freebase’ nicotine used in nicotine harm reduction products, including most eLiquids. It comes down to PH levels and the harshness of higher nicotine levels when vaping compared to smoking.
Vaping is safely efficient in today’s open tank systems, yet higher levels become harsh as PH levels increase. Absorption time is roughly 5 times slower than smoking, so the calm is longer to feel. Smoking produces a chemical reaction that creates nicotine salt. The reaction creates faster absorption and smoother throat-hit feelings with higher levels of nicotine many smokers need to quit or reduce cigarette use.
Early vaping devices were not efficient, so higher nicotine was common in the market. The improvements in device efficiency and safety made these high-level nicotine liquids harsh. The industry saw standard nicotine levels drop from 30 down to 3 to 12 for most users. Reduced levels were fine for current vapers but those new to vaping struggled. Enter the advent of nicotine salts and lower wattage POD type systems for using them.
By recreating the chemical created in burning tobacco, the higher absorption and smoother hit could be used to get the calm faster while satisfying the throaty feel of an actual cigarette. Over the past few years nicotine salts have become dominant in the convenience store world of vaping while vape shops have slowly converted over to increased offerings due to the consumer demand.
The biggest challenge for consumers is understanding nicotine salts fast absorption and the potential risk from using nic salts in efficient, sub-ohm devices. Nicotine overdose is a real concern and sub-ohm devices are not recommended for nic salt use. Using a lower watt system, such as a pod, is one way to help control the amount of nicotine the body absorbs at a given time. The other key is to vape nic salts much slower. Rapid vaping, even in lower watt devices, drives nicotine faster and higher into the blood stream. Some younger users associate the feeling from too much nicotine to a type of high, giving birth to the JUULing craze that has negatively impacted youth across the country. They are not experiencing a high, they are experiencing too much nicotine in too short a period.
Mature vapers need to understand this difference and educate themselves on proper use of nicotine salts to control or quit smoking cigarettes. The smoother hit and faster absorption can be just the right combination to help more smokers quit but use them wisely and in the right type of device. Even today’s pods may be too efficient for nicotine salts so choose your device, the coils, and the vaping levels with that in mind. .
Nicotine salts can help further reduce the number of smokers addicted to burning tobacco. Keep in mind:
- No salt is added to create nicotine salts.
- Nicotine salts produce lower PH levels creating a smoother hit.
- Nicotine salts absorb into the system faster helping mimic the faster calming effect found with smoking.
- Like smoking, vaping too much In a short period produces too much nicotine at one time.
- Slowly vaping nic salts at lower wattage is the safest way to use them.
- Salts should only be used in low wattage pod or small open tank systems.
- Salts can be easily replaced with regular eLiquids as part of a harm reduction plan.
- Education and proper use continue to be the best formula for insuring safety while reducing the harms of smoking tobacco.