If you’re looking to make the switch from smoking to vaping ensuring you choose the right level of nicotine in your vape is a large part of making a smooth transition. If when starting out vaping you’re not reaching the nicotine hit you are used to when smoking, there may be a risk you return to cigarettes. Therefore when buying an e-liquid, the strength of the nicotine is a crucial decision. Nicotine is one of just four ingredients in vape juice, picking the right strength of e liquid will also help you choose the right PG/VG blend and vape kit too, figuring this bit out first is a great place to start your vaping journey.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT NICOTINE STRENGTH
WHAT IS NICOTINE?
Nicotine is a chemical compound that is derived from a tobacco plant(1). Nicotine is an alkaloid, which means it contains nitrogen and is chemically similar to things like coffee and cocaine. As well as the tobacco plant, nicotine is also found in potatoes, tomatoes and aubergine, albeit in very tiny amounts. To compare there is about 20mg of nicotine in 1g of tobacco, compared to that of 0.0001mg per 1g of aubergine.
Nicotine is an optional addition to e-liquid, and the majority of e-liquids are available in strengths of 0mg, 3mg, 6mg and 12mg. The addition of nicotine in e-liquid is there to help you manage your cravings after switching from smoking.
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS OF THE BOTTLES OF E-LIQUID MEANS?
This number relates to how many milligrams of nicotine there is per millilitre of e-liquid. Essentially - the lower the number, the less nicotine there is. Sometimes it’s written in a percentage format too - for example a 3mg/ml is 0.3% nicotine.
HOW MUCH E-LIQUID IS EQUIVALENT TO SMOKING A CIGARETTE?
A lot of people ask this question, but it’s a bit of a tough one to answer - it depends on the strength of the cigarettes you used to smoke, how many per day, your smoking style and even your body mass and lung capacity. All of this would need to be weighed up against what concentration of nicotine you have in your e-liquid and what your vaping style is. To give you some idea (we’ll break down the numbers a little more next) your average cigarette has 12mgs of nicotine (though can range from 8mg right up to 20mg), but your body will only absorb a small amount of this, the rest is released back out when you exhale the smoke. Vaping doesn’t deliver nicotine into your system quite as quickly as smoking does either. It’s a bit like coffee and alcohol - what might be normal for one person might be too much or too little for someone else.
This brings us onto the important question - how to choose the best one for you.
WHICH NICOTINE STRENGTH IS RIGHT FOR ME?
The important thing in answering this simply comes down to your smoking habits - look at how many you have a day, think about whether they were a light variety or not and go from there. The strength you use is personal to you - trying a stronger liquid might help you make the switch from smoking to vaping and once you’ve found the right one you can gradually reduce it over time. The other benefit is, if you go for a slightly lower strength you can vape until you’re satisfied rather than having too strong a hit.
0mg nicotine - the nicotine free option is ideal for social smokers who only have the odd cigarette when they’re out and just want the feel of smoking, or to dilute their juice that does have some nicotine to make it a little more mild. It’s also for hobbyists who just enjoy being able to blow vapour rings and do the Irish Waterfall in the comfort of their own home.
3mg nicotine - This is the lowest level nicotine you can get in a liquid (unless you mix it yourself with some 0mg to dilute it). It’s often the ideal final step for people quitting smoking, who have reduced their intake to almost nothing. We’d also recommend this concentration for light smokers who are getting through only a few cigarettes a day.
6mg nicotine - Another low-level nicotine strength, it’ll still give you the nicotine buzz you’re looking for, similar to what you’d expect from some brands of Ultra Low/Ultra Light cigarettes. This one is for those of you who are getting through around 10 a day - though depending on the strength of what you’re used to the 3mg might be better suited.
12mg nicotine - Made for your average smoker, who gets through up to a pack a day. It’s a good place to start to get you used to vaping and will give you enough to keep the cravings away.
18mg nicotine through to 24mg nicotine - This a high nicotine level for people who are getting through a serious number of cigarettes, by this we mean over a pack a day. The strength of the juice needed will also dictate the kind of device you’ll need as not all vapes are made the same.
SOME FURTHER TIPS:
If you still want the throat hit, but the amount of nicotine is too high, try an e-liquid with a 50:50 VG/PG ratio, the more PG there is, the more of that I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-cigarettes feel you’ll get.
It’s a process - if you’re a heavy smoker it’s OK to start out with a high nicotine content, if it helps you quit, it’s what’s going to be better in the long run and you can gradually reduce the strength over time.
If in doubt, go a bit lower - it’s worth trying the slightly lower strength so you don’t overdo it and end up with a nic headache - the last thing we want is for you to have a bad first vaping experience. The other thing is, if it’s a bit lower you can just take a few more drags until you feel about right - vaping means nicotine absorbs into your system a little slower than smoking so give it a few minutes when you first try it and see how you feel.
As mentioned - not all electronic cigarettes are made for high-strength nicotine, with Sub Ohm devices being too powerful for the high doses, you’ll need something different. To help you choose the best one for you needs, have a look at our Beginners Guide to Vape Kits to help you out.
1. Nicotine - sciencedaily.com
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