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How Much Nicotine Is in Vape Juice?

March 29, 2020 6 min read

When you switch from smoking to vaping, you’re making a drastic change in the way you consume nicotine. Smoking makes nicotine consumption relatively simple. When you open a pack of cigarettes, you know that the pack contains 20 individual smoking sessions. If you smoke a full pack of cigarettes in a day, your nicotine use is about average. With vaping, though, there’s nothing limiting your consumption, and there’s no real indication of how much you’re consuming. Many companies ship their vape juice in enormous bottles these days. How much nicotine are you actually using? How much nicotine is in that bottle of vape juice?

How Much Nicotine in Vape Juice

How Much Nicotine Is in a Bottle of E-Liquid?

Companies label their e-liquid with the amount of nicotine that’s in each milliliter of juice rather than simply providing the total amount of nicotine in the bottle. That’s because e-liquid bottle sizes vary, so the only way to gauge the strength of one e-liquid relative to others is by stating the amount of nicotine per milliliter. To determine the total amount of nicotine in a bottle of e-liquid, simply multiply the nicotine strength by the total volume of e-liquid. A 100 ml bottle of e-liquid with a strength of 3 mg, for example, contains 300 total mg of nicotine.

You can get a general idea of how much nicotine you’re using each day by keeping track of how often you refill your tank. Let’s suppose, for instance, that your tank has a capacity of 7 ml, and your e-liquid has a strength of 3 mg. If you fill your tank twice per day, you’re using 14 ml of e-liquid and are therefore consuming 42 mg of nicotine. Keep in mind, though, that not all of the nicotine actually reaches your bloodstream. The same is true of nicotine consumed through smoking.

What the Most Common Vape Nicotine Levels?

Vaping devices these days come in two primary classes. On one end of the spectrum, you have the small refillable pod systems that deliver potent bursts of nicotine in their small, wispy vapor clouds. On the other end, you have the big box mods that create enormous vapor clouds and are really more about flavor than nicotine delivery. The greater a device’s vapor output is, the lower the nicotine strength of the e-liquid should be.

  • Box mods generally work best with freebase nicotine e-liquid. The most popular nicotine strengths for this type of e-liquid are 0, 3 and 6 mg.
  • Pod systems generally work best with nicotine salt e-liquid. The most popular nicotine strengths for this type of e-liquid are 25 mg and higher.

Obviously, there’s a pretty big gap between 6 and 25 mg. You can find e-liquid in between those two strengths, but the in-between strengths aren’t common due to low demand.

How Does the Nicotine in E-Liquid Compare to Cigarettes?

It isn’t easy to compare the nicotine in e-liquid to the nicotine in cigarettes because, as we’ve just mentioned, the nicotine that you inhale doesn’t all reach your bloodstream. It isn’t known whether the nicotine in e-liquid vapor is more or less bioavailable than tobacco smoke. We do know, however, that a typical cigarette contains around 10-12 mg of nicotine. Of that, you’ll absorb about 1.1-1.8 mg.

Considering the relatively poor bioavailability of the nicotine in cigarette smoke, you probably shouldn’t worry too much if you calculate the amount of nicotine that you use each day through vaping, and it seems a bit high. Chances are that you aren’t actually absorbing much of it. If you’ve vaping significantly more than 40 mg of nicotine per day, you might want to consider cutting back a little. We’ll discuss some of the signs that you might be using the wrong nicotine strength in a moment.

What Is Nicotine Salt E-Liquid?

Nicotine salt e-liquid is a form of vape juice that’s had its pH adjusted with an acidic additive such as benzoic acid. Freebase nicotine e-liquid is alkaline and can be harsh at higher nicotine strengths. Having a more neutral pH allows nicotine salt e-liquid to remain smooth at higher nicotine levels. That’s important with highly portable vapes like pod systems, because a device with low vapor output requires a high-strength e-liquid to deliver the same level of satisfaction as a cigarette. Learn more about the benefits of nicotine salt e-liquid.

What Nicotine Strength Should I Buy?

You should let the type of vaping equipment that you use dictate the nicotine strength that you buy. As we’ve mentioned, e-liquid nicotine strengths generally fall into two distinct categories, so if you pick a nicotine strength in the correct range for your vaping device, you’ll be fine.

  • If you use a box mod or a vape pen with a large refillable glass tank, you should buy e-liquid with a nicotine strength of 3 mg or 6 mg. Start with the 3 mg strength and increase to 6 mg if you feel like you’re not getting enough nicotine.
  • If you use a refillable pod system, you should buy nicotine salt e-liquid. Most e-liquid brands that produce nicotine salt juice offer their e-liquid in two nicotine strengths: a higher strength of around 40-50 mg and a lower strength of around 20-25 mg. If you’re switching from smoking to vaping, start with the higher strength and decrease it if you feel like you’re getting too much nicotine. Start with the lower strength if you’re already a full-time vaper.

What Different E-Liquid Nicotine Strengths Feel Like

When you consider that the two different classes of e-liquid have nicotine strengths that differ drastically from one another, it shouldn’t surprise you that those types of e-liquid feel almost entirely different when you use them.

As a general rule, nicotine salt e-liquid produces a strong throat hit that feels very much like inhaling cigarette smoke. Nicotine salt e-liquid delivers nicotine to the body very efficiently thanks to its high strength, so it’s generally the right choice for smokers who have just turned to vaping.

Low-strength freebase nicotine e-liquid – especially at the 3 mg nicotine strength – produces almost no throat hit at all. People use lower-strength e-liquids with vaping devices that produce big clouds, so they still get all of the nicotine that they need. It’s absorbed more slowly, though, so you don’t feel the “nicotine rush” that you might feel with nicotine salt e-liquid. Low-strength e-liquid is much more about big, bold flavors than it is about throat hit.

How to Know if You’re Using the Wrong Nicotine Strength

If you’ve started your switch to vaping and don’t feel happy with your experience so far, you might be tempted to conclude that vaping isn’t for you and that you should switch back to smoking. Before you do that, though, you should examine the e-liquid nicotine strength that you’re using. If you’re unhappy with your vaping experience, it’s very likely that you’re simply using the wrong nicotine strength for your needs.

So, how do you know if your nicotine strength isn’t right for you?

  • If your nicotine strength is too low, you’ll have trouble calming your cravings to smoke even if you vape constantly. You’ll also run out of e-liquid very quickly. If you increase your nicotine strength, your e-liquid will last longer, and your cravings for cigarettes will most likely subside.
  • If your nicotine strength is too high, you won’t enjoy vaping because you’ll interpret the powerful throat hit as an intolerable irritation. If you decrease your nicotine strength, you’ll find the vapor much smoother and more enjoyable.

Why Do Companies Make Nicotine-Free E-Liquid?

Since you most likely switched to vaping as an alternative to smoking, you probably use e-liquid with nicotine – and you might be wondering why anyone would bother buying nicotine-free e-liquid. Actually, nicotine-free vaping is more common than you might think. People use it because they’re reducing their nicotine intake and, in many cases, because they’ve quit using nicotine entirely. One of the benefits of using a refillable vaping device is that you can choose your own nicotine strength and even make in-between nicotine strengths by mixing e-liquids of different strengths. If you’d like to stop using nicotine entirely one day, vaping is the easiest possible way to do so. You can reduce your nicotine strength so gradually that you hardly feel the difference. Once you’ve completely eliminated nicotine from your life, you can make the decision whether you want to continue vaping or not.


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