The Basics of E-Liquid Nicotine

Nicotine is the primary active ingredient in e-liquid that provides the ‘hit’ associated with using an electronic cigarette (e-cig). However, it’s difficult to just toss some nicotine into a bottle of propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG), squirt it into an atomizer, screw on a battery, and puff away.

There are various nicotine concentrations available for e-liquid nicotine solutions. However, most e-cigarette users start off with what’s commonly called “High Strength” or sometimes extra strength e-liquid in concentrations of 6mg/ml or higher. The reason for this is that the throat hit associated with these levels of nicotine is very similar to what you might get from a traditional cigarette.

With time, if an e-cig user decides to reduce further the amount of nicotine they are inhaling, they can do so without drastically changing the overall flavor. A reduction in nicotine concentration to the neighborhood of 3-4mg/ml is quite common, while some even lower concentrations are available.

Lastly, if you’re using an e-cig just for the taste, 0mg nicotine options will provide maximum vapor with minimum throat hit or other negative aspects associated with nicotine consumption.

Choosing what nicotine concentration is right for you can be a bit of a challenge at first. As such, it is best to ask yourself some questions before buying e-liquid:

  • How much do I generally smoke? – It’s important not to underestimate how much you smoke because that’s the main factor in determining the nicotine concentration that will work for you. If you’re only smoking a few cigarettes per day, you might be best served with 3mg/ml or 6mg/ml; but if you’re really packing them in, 24mg/ml or even 36mg/ml might be your ticket.
  • How long do I plan to vape? – As mentioned earlier, regular smokers might want to start with e-liquid containing nicotine concentrations in the 6mg/ml or higher range. If you smoke less, your nicotine needs will also be much less than someone who smokes heavily. You can start with the maximum level and then work your way down if you choose to do so, but if you’re not planning on vaping long-term, it might make more sense to start at a lower nicotine concentration and work your way up.
  • What devices am I using? – Some electronic cigarettes require e-liquid with a higher nicotine concentration than what might be the norm. For example, ‘cig-a-likes’ or ultra-small electronic cigarettes typically use cartridges that do not hold very much e-liquid. Also, some of the first-generation e-cigs had an atomizer/cartomizer setup that was known to burn through more juice than later versions. If you use one of these devices, starting with a stronger nicotine concentration might make more sense than what the average person would select.
  • How important is a throat hit? – The lower the nicotine is in your e-liquid, the less severe the throat hit will be associated with inhaling. Although many e-cig users are looking for a realistic experience in terms of both flavors and, more importantly, throat hit in an attempt to help them reduce the number of analog cigarettes they smoke, some people simply want to enjoy vaping without all that harshness. If you fall into this category, selecting a nicotine concentration that’s lower than average is probably the way to go.