What are Nicotine Salts?

As the vape industry rapidly develops and expands, it owes much of its growing popularity to its status as a viable alternative to traditional cigarettes. For many vapers, making the switch to vaping was the key to kicking a longtime cigarette habit, making it possible to enjoy a similar experience without ingesting the ash, tar, and toxic chemicals associated with old-school smokes. Not only can vaping look and feel a lot like traditional smoking but vape e-liquids also often contain nicotine. Because nicotine is the addictive chemical responsible for many peoples’ smoking habits (very similar to the caffeine in a morning cup of coffee), including it as an e-liquid ingredient makes the transition to vaping incredibly smooth.

Nic Salts

Nic Salts – Nicotine, Reinvented

The vaping industry is nothing if not innovative, so the standard for nicotine use in vaping is constantly evolving. For years, vape liquids included a component referred to as “freebase nicotine,” but nicotine salts are now emerging as an interesting alternative. For many vapers, nicotine salts are preferential for a variety of reasons and offer a perfect-fit experience that matches their vape preferences and style. If you’re considering trying nicotine salts for yourself, here is a complete guide to what they are, how they’re different from freebase nicotine, how to use them, and the pros and cons that come along with them.

Freebase Nicotine: A Longstanding Tradition

For decades, freebase nicotine has been the go-to form used in vape juice and tobacco cigarettes alike. Essentially, freebase is nicotine in its purest form and works in combination with vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG). These compounds are used to “carry along” the nicotine during vaping, providing a method for it to be ingested by the vaper. Freebase nicotine is also the form used in various nicotine replacement therapies, including patches, gums, sprays, and lozenges.

Freebase nicotine emerged in the 1960s, pioneered by tobacco giant Phillip Morris of Marlboro. He discovered that by freebasing nicotine (pairing it with ammonia), it was possible to deliver a considerably larger dose through the smoking process. For the purposes of cigarette manufacturers, this was an ideal way to ensure smokers developed a solid nicotine habit that would keep them coming back, pack after pack.

Why Use Nicotine Salts?

You may be asking yourself if freebase nicotine is the purest form available, why would you want to use anything else? Interestingly, the answer boils down to a bit of complex chemistry.

Nicotine salt is a form of natural nicotine that forms in leaf tobacco and is categorized as a more stable form of nicotine when compared to freebase nicotine. A higher vaporizing temperature is required for nicotine salts, and the ions in nicotine salt don’t connect with your body’s nicotine’s quite as easily as traditional freebase nicotine. These factors might make nicotine salts seem like a less appealing option, but there are actually a handful of reasons they are definitely worth checking out.

Typically, vapers would never exceed 18mg or so when it comes to freebase nicotine because going any higher would result in an extremely harsh hit. But with nicotine salts, the numbers work out much differently. For example, if you typically vape 3mg of freebase nicotine, you’ll find that you can go up to 25-50mg of nicotine salts. This might seem shocking, especially because 50mg of nicotine in a vape juice would seem questionable and even downright dangerous. However, nicotine salts utilize a special ingredient to make the higher nicotine levels incredible smooth and palatable: benzoic acid.

Benzoic acid is used in nicotine salts for a few reasons:

  • It makes it possible for the nicotine salt to be vaporized at significantly lower temperatures.
  • It creates a smoother hit by lowering the overall pH levels in the nicotine salt.
  • It leads to a chemical reaction that makes nicotine salt as easily absorbable as traditional freebase nicotine.

In addition to these chemistry-based benefits, benzoic acid makes it possible for your body to absorb the nicotine salt very efficiently, and also allows you to enjoy higher nicotine strengths.

Freebase Nicotine vs Nicotine Salts

Freebase Nicotine vs. Nicotine Salts: What’s the Difference?

The primary difference between nicotine salts and freebase nicotine has everything to do with alkalinity. Before you rack your brain to try to remember everything you learned in high school chemistry class, here’s a quick rundown of alkalinity, pH, and what they mean for your vape experience.

  • The pH scale is a spectrum from 0 to 14, used to measure how acidic or basic a particular solution is. An example of a solution that has a pH of 0 is stomach acid – obviously, extremely acidic. Highly basic solutions include things like oven cleaner, which comes in at a pH of 13.
  • Freebase nicotine has a high alkalinity thanks to its pH level, which averages between a 7 and 8 on the pH scale.
  • Because of its relatively high pH and alkalinity, freebase nicotine can cause a harsh, burning throat hit while vaping, especially if you use a high-nicotine vape juice.
  • Nicotine salts utilize benzoic acids, which lowers the pH levels and alkalinity. Therefore, you’ll be able to enjoy a much smoother, gentler hit when vaping nicotine salts.

Another big difference between nicotine salts and freebase nicotine is how they are intended to be used. Nicotine salts are ideal for vaping at low temperatures, making them a great option for pairing with inexpensive vape pens and e-cigarettes. You don’t need a high-powered or sub-ohm vape device to maximize your vape experience and nicotine level when using nicotine salts, and you’ll be able to reach considerably higher nicotine levels when compared to traditional e-juice.

Pros & Cons of Nicotine Salts

Pros and Cons of Nicotine Salts

Like any aspect of vaping, nicotine salts come with their own pros and cons – it all comes down to your personal vape preferences. For many vapers, nicotine salts are their first and foremost favorite option, while others prefer the freebase nicotine in traditional vape juice. Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of nicotine salts, so you can decide if they might be right for you:


  • You’ll be able to use a higher nicotine concentration, providing you with the experience that most closely resembles traditional cigarettes. This makes nicotine salts a great option for kicking a smoking habit.
  • Your hits will be much smoother and overall enjoyable, without the throat burn often associated with high-nicotine vape juice.
  • Your body will efficiently absorb the nicotine contained in the nicotine salts.


  • Nicotine salt vape juice can often be slightly more expensive than traditional vape juice.
  • You don’t want to try to use nicotine salts with sub ohm or high-wattage devices.
  • If you aren’t accustomed to high nicotine levels, you might find that nicotine salts are too powerful.

Shop Nicotine Salt Vape Juice from DIRECTVAPOR

The good news about nicotine salt is that you can try it for yourself without breaking the bank. DIRECTVAPOR has a wide selection of nicotine salt e-juice from top brands in the industry, so you can sample a bottle or two to see if it’s something you enjoy.

For more information about the many ways, you can customize your vape experience, check out the DIRECTVAPOR blog or chat with our friendly customer service team today!


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