WHAT NICOTINE STRENGTH E-LIQUID DO I NEED?
If you’re making the change from smoking to vaping, then congratulations on starting your journey. Choosing the perfect vape kit and e-liquid is an important decision, and we go into more detail on that in our Vaping Starter Guide.
However, choosing the right nicotine strength is just as important and can make or break your passage to a smoke-free future. Getting started with a nicotine e-liquid strength that is too low may not satisfy your cravings, increasing the possibility of you returning to cigarettes.
A nicotine strength that is too high can lead to lightheadedness and other unpleasant symptoms and will hamper your first impression of vaping. As we want everyone to have a successful transition to e-cigarettes, we feel that it’s part of our job to ensure that you have all of the information you need on e-liquid nic strength.
What Is Nicotine?
Nicotine is a chemical compound that is extracted from the tobacco plant. It is the addictive substance that drives your cigarette cravings, which is why it is important to gain control of your intake.
Surprisingly, nicotine naturally occurs in a range of staple household foods, including potatoes, tomatoes and aubergines. Don’t worry, they only contain minuscule amounts so there’s no need to rush home and clear out your fridge.
It is added to e-liquid to help you manage your cravings and eventually become nic-free.
E-liquids typically come in a range of nic strengths, giving you the opportunity to select a starting point and work your way down from there. Suddenly cutting off your intake can lead to nicotine withdrawal symptoms, making vaping a much more sustainable option.
How Much Nicotine Is In A Cigarette?
This is a tricky question as the nicotine content in a cigarette can vary from brand to brand. On the lower end of the scale, a single cigarette may contain about 6 milligrams (mg) of nicotine; at the opposite end, you’re looking at around 28 mg.
According to studies, the average cigarette contains between 6mg and 12mg of nicotine; however, you don’t inhale every milligram of nicotine as it burns. You generally inhale roughly 1.1 to 1.8 mg of nicotine by the end of each cigarette.
Vaping allows you to control your nicotine intake without inhaling the thousands of harmful chemicals that go hand-in-hand with cigarettes.
How Much E-Liquid Is Equivalent To Smoking A Cigarette?
This is a difficult one to answer as it varies from person to person and brand to brand. It depends on the strength of your cigarettes, how many you smoked per day, and even factors as intricate as your body mass.
To answer accurately, we would need to calculate the concentration of nicotine you have in your e-liquid and what your vaping style is.
To give you a rough idea, your standard cigarette has 10mgs of nicotine (though it can range from 6mg right up to 20mg), but your body will only absorb a small amount of this.
What Is The Difference Between E-Liquid And Nicotine Salts?
The two main types of e-liquid that you can buy are freebase nicotine liquids (generally known as just ‘e-liquid’ and nicotine salts. Technically both are e-liquid, but they each are equipped with very different features for different styles of vaping.
Each has its own benefits, with nic salts having a smoother throat hit and more efficient satisfaction and freebase e-liquids being available in lower strengths.
If you’d like a more in-depth look at the difference between the two, then head over to our Nicotine Salt Guide.
What Nicotine Strength E-Liquid Should I Use?
To decide on the perfect strength, you first need to pay attention to the milligrams of nicotine included in the e-liquid you would like to buy. If the nicotine content is either too low or too high, you risk getting the wrong amount of nicotine delivery.
Why is that important? Well, it simply means that if the nicotine level is too low, your intake won’t help your cravings, but if the nicotine content is too high, you could risk unpleasantly harsh throat hits and some undesirable side effects.
The strength you use is an entirely personal choice and once you’ve found your perfect strength. So let’s take a look at the different strengths and which one may suit you best.
0mg E-Liquid - The nicotine-free option, ideal for vapers that have slowly decreased their nicotine intake but still want the hand-to-mouth action of an e-cigarette.
3mg E-Liquid - This is the lowest level of nicotine you can get in an e-liquid (unless you mix your own e-liquid). This is a great option for those that are on the final stretch of quitting smoking, and only need a low amount to keep you going. We’d also recommend this concentration for light smokers who only tend to smoke a few cigarettes a day.
6mg E-Liquid - Another low-level nicotine strength; however it still contains enough kick to satisfy your cravings. If you smoked roughly 10 cigarettes a day then this is the strength for you.
12mg E-Liquid - Made for your average smoker, who smokes up to 20 cigarettes a day, this is a safe nicotine strength to start with, allowing you to experiment and go up or down in strength
18mg E-Liquid - This a high nicotine level for the heavy smokers getting through a substantial number of e-cigarettes; roughly a pack a day.
Mouth-To-Lung (MTL) vs Direct-Lung (DL) vaping
Throughout your research into vaping, you may have seen these two particular pieces of vaping lingo thrown about. Although we go into much more detail in our Vaping Starter Guide, it’s important to explain how it affects your choice of nicotine strength.
If you’re a beginner vaper looking for an experience similar to smoking a cigarette, then you’re going to be an MTL vaper. When you MTL inhale, you take the vapour into your mouth. You then hold it in your mouth before inhaling it into your lungs. With its tighter, more restricted draw, the MTL experience is much closer to what you’re used to.
Direct-Lung inhale is when you inhale the vapour directly into your lungs, without holding it in your mouth first. This style may be foreign to former cigarette smokers as it more closely resembles a shisha inhale.You may be wondering why this is important; if you have decided that you want to be an MTL vaper and have bought yourself a mouth-to-lung vape kit, you’ll be happy to know that almost all nicotine strengths are compatible with this style.
However, if you’ve settled on being a DL vaper, then we recommend that you use a lower strength (up to 6mg), as the throat hit associated with this style will be extremely harsh with high-strength liquid.
A few extra 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.