April 20, 2021 6 min read

Vape Juice for beginners: Freebase Nicotine vs. Nic salts

The vaping industry has faced a huge innovation over a short period. The nicotine salt is one of the substances that revolutionized the game.

If you’re a beginner in the vaping world, you might have heard of Nicotine salts, otherwise called Nic salts. Well, we’re going to tell you in detail the truth about Nicotine salts in comparison with the Freebase Nicotine. This will equip you to make the best buying decision.

Nic salts have been used in e-liquids for some years now, and their popularity initially started in the U.S. That’s the period when the JUUL closed vaping pod is sold with a powerful punch of 50% nicotine salts based e-liquid.

Only recently has this been made available in the EU with a strict regulation set by the Tobacco Products Directive, which allows the maximum nicotine level capped at 20%.

Now, you can find a wide range of nicotine salts on the market. And that’s why we made extensive research and collected the most innovative nic salts e-liquids you can find anywhere. Check them out in our store.

We also created this guide to help you fully understand nic salts to know if they’re the right vape choice for you.

Freebase Nicotine

Before delving into Nicotine salts, we need to first talk about the more common form of nicotine- Freebase, and its major difference to nicotine salts.

Freebase nicotine has been used in cigarettes, traditional vape liquids, nicotine replacement therapies since the 1960s when Philips Morris fronted the research that freebasing nicotine could help make a stronger and more addictive cigarette.

Freebasing is a way of increasing the potency of nicotine without increasing the dose. It converts nicotine from its naturally occurring “salt” state into its base “pure” form.

Ammonia is basically used to strip protons from the nicotine salts and this increases the alkalinity or pH level and returns it to a deprotonated “freebase” state.

Now you might be asking, “If freebase nicotine is nicotine in its purest form, why would a vaper prefer to use nicotine salts over freebase?” Well, we are going to show you some drawbacks of using freebase nicotine in e-liquid.

Disadvantages of using freebase nicotine

The major goal of vaping as a smoking cessation method is to create a sensation that’s as close to smoking tobacco cigarettes. That’s why the nicotine delivery has to be as efficient as that of traditional cigarettes.

The freebase nicotine solution was the only way to deliver nicotine in your vape juice. The proton removal allows it to travel effectively through our cells to bind with receptors for nicotine in our lungs and brain.

However, the high pH value of freebase nicotine makes it more alkaline, and it can be very harsh in higher doses.

A high mg dose of freebase causes a throat hit that’s too severe for most vapers to enjoy or endure. This caused vapers to think reducing the nicotine content is appropriate to lessen the throat hit.

But doing this may not satisfy their early intense cravings for nicotine, and you may be forced to go back to cigarettes, especially if you’re new to vaping.

Alternatively, vapers might choose to take more hits from their vape just to satisfy their cravings. But after increasing the amount of e-liquid they burn, they end up not seeing the cost savings they were promised before switching to vaping.

These negative effects above are the reason why scientists behind nicotine salts for e-liquid wanted to find a way to remove the setback between satisfying your nicotine craving and having a smooth vaping experience.

Before we talk about this great breakthrough, let’s talk a little about nicotine salt.

What is Nicotine Salt?

Firstly, you need to erase every thought in your head that nicotine salt works like your table salt (sodium chloride). In fact, nic salts do not make your e-liquids taste salty, and they do not increase your sodium intake.

Nicotine is present in tobacco leaves and has the chemical composition of salt. It is these nicotine salts that are altered to produce freebase nicotine.

Nicotine salts chemically have a weak base that seeks protons to become stable or ionized. If unadulterated, these nic salts were to the VG/PG that makes up e-liquids. But it has to be vaped at extremely high temperatures for the nicotine to be effective. Moreover, the nicotine would not be easily absorbed like its freebase counterpart.

So to make the nic salts effective, it requires a little chemical modification, which we would explain next.

The making of nic salts for vaping needs

There are many chemical processes involved in making nic salts, but we don’t want to bore you with the details. Instead, we would focus more on the pH levels.

PAX Labs scientists behind the vapable nic salts (JUUL) put forward a theory that increasing the acidity of nicotine salts could deliver many high doses of nicotine without causing a disturbing throat hit.

Acids have been found to bond well with nicotine, and the naturally occurring acids present in every cell of the human body help the effectiveness of nicotine salts when vaped.

Now, Benzoic acid is commonly used in making nicotine salts followed by citric acids. The acid offers the following benefits:

  • It helps build the chemical structure of nicotine to be rapidly absorbed by our bodies

  • It lowers the pH level to give a much smoother throat hit

  • It helps the nicotine salt to vaporize at lower temperatures.

This acidic modification allows a concentration of nicotine that is comparable to combustible cigarettes to be delivered to the blood.

Now that you’re clued up on the science, let’s take a quick look at the differences between nicotine salt and freebase nicotine

Nicotine salt vs. freebase nicotine

The following are the differences between these two:

  • Nicotine salt contains benzoic or citric acid, while freebase nicotine contains no additives

  • Nicotine salt is smooth at high doses, while freebase nicotine is harsh at high doses

  • Nicotine salt does not enable large cloud production, while freebase nicotine enables large cloud production

  • Nicotine salt absorbed faster into the bloodstream, while freebase nicotine has a slow absorption rate

  • Nicotine salt can’t handle high flavor complexity, while freebase nicotine can handle high flavor complexity

  • Nicotine salt is suitable for high nicotine strengths, while the freebase nicotine is more suited to low and medium nicotine strengths

  • Nicotine salt is ideal for new vapers or mixed users, while the freebase nicotine is suited to vapers with low nicotine requirements

  • Nicotine salt has slow oxidation (longer shelf life), while the freebase nicotine has faster oxidation (shorter shelf life)

  • Nicotine salts are well suited to pod vapes and lower power vape devices, while the freebase nicotine is suited for high power devices needed for maximum vaporizing

Which option is best for you?

Looking at the differences above, you may wonder, “Which option is safer and better to use?” Well, nicotine salts add benzoic acid or citric acid (the only major difference), which are naturally occurring in our bodies. So this makes them no more or less safe than freebase nicotine.

More so, the WHO’s renowned international Program on Chemical Safety advice that we take no more than 5kg of these acids per kg of body weight per day. No one would want to vape that amount, since 1m of nicotine salt e-liquids contains only a few mg of benzoic or citric acid.

So nicotine salt e-liquids is the better option for you:

  • If you intend to quit smoking

  • If you’re not looking for a technically complex device

  • If you’ve tried vaping before without success

  • If you want higher nicotine levels than what regular e-liquids can provide

You can get the best brands, quality, and price of nicotine salt e-liquids here

Final Remark

We believe this guide has shown you the clear-cut differences between nicotine salts and freebase nicotine. You now understand why a lot of vapers opt for the nic salts e-liquid. You don’t have to take too many hits or go back to smoking. With the nicotine salt e-liquids, you can satisfy your nicotine cravings without spending too much and dealing with the nasty throat hits. You can get the best options of nicotine salt e-liquids here.


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