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What Nicotine Strength E-Liquid Do I Need?

Ask any vaper about the important of choosing the right nicotine strength and they'll tell you it's one of, if not the most important factor. Making that transition from smoking cigarettes to entering the world of vapes can seem like quite a monumental change. With an almost endless array of e-liquids to choose from in a variety of different strengths, it can be hard to figure out what nicotine strength is best for you. We've given Dr. Vapes a ring to come and help you figure out exactly how much nicotine you need and why. 

Check out our complete guide below to figure out how much nicotine you should be using.

The basics

VG and PG are the two most common bases for e-liquids. VG is short for vegetable glycerin, and PG is short for propylene glycol. VG is a thick, sweet liquid that produces dense clouds of vapour whereas PG is a thinner, less sweet liquid that carries flavour better and produces less vapour. E-liquids are a mix of VG and PG, and can come in different ratios depending on the type of vaping they're intended for. Along with this comes with option of adding nicotine if you choose to.

What is nicotine?

We've all heard of nicotine before, but knowing where it actually comes from and what it is can help to inform you on the type of nicotine you may want to use. It is a naturally occurring substance found in tobacco plants, and is also the chemical that's responsible for the pleasurable effects smokers experience when they smoke cigarettes. Unlike cigarettes and other tobacco products, nicotine is an optional ingredient when it comes to vaping. When used in e-cigarettes, nicotine is typically dissolved in e-liquid and then vapourised. Inhaling nicotine vapour gives smokers the same fix as smoking tobacco cigarettes.

E-liquids come in a variety of different nicotine strengths which are designed to help smokers manage their cravings and addiction. Some e-liquids, such as shortfill bottles, contain 0mg of nicotine and are designed to be mixed with e-liquids that contain nicotine such as nic shots to formulate an e-liquid that has your preferred strength. 

What does nicotine strength mean?

Nicotine strength refers to the amount of milligrams there is nicotine in a given bottle of e-liquid. Due to TPD (Tobacco Products Directive) regulations, bottles of e-liquid that contain nicotine in them cannot be manufactured and sold in sizes any larger than 10ml. Within these 10ml e-liquid bottles, there can be a range of different strengths anywhere from 0mg up to 20mg, but what do these numbers mean? 

Well, if you're a total newbie to e-cigarettes then it's pretty important to learn a little about what milligrams represent. This is because using the wrong amount of milligrams can negatively impact your vaping experience, and can even leave you feeling dizzy, nauseas or with headaches and we definitely don’t want this. Don't worry, if you do experience these side effects they will pass quickly but it's best to change things up so that you don't continue to feel like that!

The nicotine strengths are expressed in either mg or a percentage, e-liquid nicotine strengths are almost always shown in mg/ml, which refers to milligrams per millilitre. Some e-liquids and vapes, especially disposable vapes, express nicotine content in a percentage. Whilst this all may seem a little confusing trying to convert mg per ml to percentage, we assure you it’s more simple that it sounds.

The percentage represents how much nicotine is in the e-liquid in total, for example many disposable vapes have 2% written on them. This means that there’s a total of 2% of nicotine in the entire e-liquid, which equates to 20mg per ml. If a vape had 1.8% nicotine, it would equate to 18mg/lg. Starting to make sense now? 

Nic salt vs freebase nicotine 

When it comes to e-cigarettes, there are two main types of nicotine that are used: freebase nicotine and nicotine salt. Both of these options have their own unique benefits and drawbacks that vapers should be aware of.

Freebase nicotine is the original type of nicotine used in e-cigarettes. It is made by extracting nicotine from tobacco leaves and then adding ammonia to adjust the pH level. Freebase absorbs a bit slower. Freebase nicotine provides a much more harsh throat hit than nic salts. The higher the nicotine content of the freebase e-liquid, the harsher the throat hit will be. For some, this is what they're looking for from their e-liquid, but others can find the throat hit to be far too much. In this case, we recommend checking out nic salts.

Nicotine salts are a newer type of e-liquid that is becoming increasingly popular in the world of vaping. It is made by combining nicotine with other acids to create a more stable compound. Nic salt provides a much smoother throat hit at higher strengths than freebase nicotine and is also absorbed into the bloodstream much faster, which provides a more gradual and longer-lasting nicotine hit. 

Vaping technique and nicotine levels

The style or technique that you want to vape has a very big impact on what nicotine level you will need. This is because one style is far more forgiving than the other when it comes to high nicotine strengths. Let's take a look at why:

Mouth-to-lung

Mouth-to-lung vaping involves using coils that are above 1.0ohms. To MTL vape, you draw from your e-cigarette and hold the vapour in your mouth first before inhaling it into your lungs. MTL e-cigarettes are intended to more closely mimic the sensation and experience of smoking cigarettes, and as such it is ideal for smokers who have just made the transition from smoking cigarettes to vaping. It is also ideal for newbie vapers, as other styles of vaping require a lot more know-how. 

With MTL vaping, you have more freedom when it comes to nicotine levels in your vape juice. This style of vaping is definitely best for those who require more nicotine compared to those who have taken up vaping for cloud production.. Vapers use nic salts with MTL vapes as they have a 50/50 PG/VG content and come in high nicotine strengths, perfect for use with pod kits

If you're using a MTL vape with sub-ohm coils such as 0.8ohms for example, the Doctor advises using nicotine strengths between 6-12mg. You will get a bit more vapour than you would from using higher ohm coils, whilst still getting a satisfactory nicotine hit.

Direct-to-lung

DTL vaping (also known as sub-ohm vaping) is categorised by large, dense clouds of vapour. Sub-ohm devices are a lot more powerful than MTL e-cigarettes as they vapourise e-liquid at a much higher temperature. Because of this, more vape juice is vapourised as you take a drag from your e-cigarette which is why you exhale so much more vapour. It is because of this that lower-nicotine levels are used otherwise you would simply be intaking far too much nicotine per inhale. 

Using nic salts for the style of vaping is not recommended as the nicotine levels are too high. Instead, shortfills are used with direct-lung vaping which contain 0mg of nicotine. Shortfills are high in VG content, which makes them ideal for exhaling large vapour. These can and quite frequently are vaped on their own, however for those who still want a hit of nicotine with their sub-ohm you can add a nic shot to your shortfill bottle.

We think it’s wise to mention that 6mg can still be too much nicotine for some vapers if using a sub-ohm vape, and so it is often considered that 3mg is the optimum amount to use if you're going for this type of vape style.

To learn more about the different vaping techniques, check out our mouth-to-lung vaping vs. direct-to-lung vaping blog

So Dr. Vapes, what nicotine strength is right for me?

Ok so we have a bit of a better understanding of e-liquids and how they work with nicotine. That's great! But we still need to figure out how much nicotine you need in your vape juice. Before we figure this out, there are a few things that we need to consider that will greatly impact the amount of nicotine that will be needed. If you have just transitioned from smoking cigarettes to vaping, the first thing to consider is how many cigarettes you were smoking per day. If you were a heavy smoker, then it's likely that you require higher nicotine levels to help curb those cravings. 

0mg

This nicotine level is great for those who want to start vaping, but did not used to smoke any cigarettes and just want to vape casually. This is also great for those who were on 3mg who are looking to transition to 0 nicotine but still want to continue vaping.

3mg - 6mg

These are the lowest amounts of nicotine content you can get in an e-liquid. Using a vape juice with these strengths are best for those who smoke between 1-10 cigarettes a day or are close to quitting smoking. If you’re on the lower end of that number then 3mg should suit you well ,however if you’re smoking closer to 10 cigarettes a day we’d recommend trying 6mg to keep those cravings at bay effectively.

12mg

This amount is best to use in your e-cigarette if you smoke around 15-20 cigarettes a day. It is quite a jump from 6mg, and so it is best to use this amount if you’re a moderate smoker.

18mg - 20mg

These are the highest nicotine strengths you can use due to TPD regulations, and you should be looking to use either of these if you are a very heavy smoker who smokes more than 20 cigarettes or more per day. We recommend starting with 18mg to see if that satisfies your cravings, and if not then you can switch to 20mg in your next bottle of e-liquid. It may also be a good idea for new vapers to try disposables first to see if they satisfy your nicotine cravings as they commonly come in 2mg. 

Conclusion

The importance of choosing the right nicotine strength should be understated. It's important to make sure you are picking the right e-liquid strength. so that you can have the best possible experience when vaping.

Not figuring our nicotine strength guide can result in an unpleasant experience, which can even be enough to put you off vaping altogether. If you have never smoked cigarettes or were only a casual smoker who then began using 20mg of nicotine in their e-cigarette, it would be far too much for you. On the other hand, if you do not use a strength that is high enough for you, then you may end up feeling like you need to go back to smoking cigarettes.

It's worth a bit of experimentation to figure out what exactly is best for you! If you want some extra help on figuring out how you can make the transition to e-cigarettes, check out our helpful blog on tips for switching from smoking to vaping.

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