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

The vaping world can be overwhelming for many first-time users. There is a myriad of information available with a range of different devices and even the types of vape styles that are widely sold can be daunting to get through. A technical hobby, vaping also has plenty of options when it comes to e-liquids and what they contain. Two popular additions to e-liquids are freebase nicotine and Nic Salts. 

Understanding the similarities and differences between freebase nicotine e-liquids and nic salts will help you determine what solution best fits your needs and help you on your vaping journey. Our guide to freebase nicotine e-liquids and Nic Salts will help you come to the right decision when picking your additional e-liquids – particularly those that contain nicotine.


What are Nic Salts? 

Sometimes known as nicotine salts, Nic Salts is a form of nicotine that has a slightly different composition than the normal or freebase e-liquids that are commonly used. Most users, be they beginners or experienced will opt for freebase e-liquids but, if you’ve bought a beginner’s vaping kit, there is a high probability that it has a freebase e-liquid in it. 

Freebase e-liquids may be more popular but nicotine salts are just as good for those who are experienced or just beginning on their vaping journey. What makes Nic Salts so unique is that they are able to deliver nicotine into the bloodstream far quicker than the traditional freebase e-liquids. 

This makes them extremely popular among ex-smokers who are taking up vaping as a means of preventing the conditions commonly associated with smoking. For those who were once heavy smokers, Nic Salts gives the user a stronger nicotine hit thanks to their composition which gets absorbed into the bloodstream faster. 

The restrictions on vape products within the United Kingdom mean that e-liquids can’t be sold with more than 20mg per ml of nicotine which works out as 2% strength. This means that Nic Salts are a great option for those who need or prefer stronger e-liquids. 

As expected with a product that offers more nicotine, Nic Salts offer a smooth hit at the back of the throat in comparison to some of the freebase nicotine e-liquids that are available. Freebase nicotine liquids are a great option for those who want a strong throat hit, like they would have with a cigarette. Nic Salts can be more effective at satisfying nicotine cravings though and is a great option for vapers of all experience levels. 

When starting to vape, it is important to consider the content of your e-liquid to ensure that you are getting the best possible experience from your vape and also to ensure that you are able to stay away from smoking if you are using vaping as a smoking alternative. Using Nic Salts and/or freebase nicotine allows you to satisfy those cravings. 

Both e-liquids interact in different ways with your body and even individual interactions can occur, so what might be a preferable combination for one person might not suit another, so don’t be afraid to try different Nic Salts until you get some that suit your needs.


How Nicotine Salts Work

Nic Salts are complex in the sense that they are created through a reaction. They are made when freebase nicotine interacts with an acid. While they’re called Nic Salts, they don’t actually contain any salt, rather, taking their name from the chemical structure of the nic salt formulas.

A common misconception is that Nic Salts produce salt crystals when they are actually made when the alkaline freebase nicotine reacts with an acid. The most commonly used acid is benzoic but other acids like citric or a combination of benzoic and citric acid are also used. This chemical reaction makes nicotine less alkaline which reduces the throat sensation associated with it. 

Not only is the throat sensation affected but it means that Nic Salts can be safely absorbed into the body more quickly in comparison to freebase nicotine. This is how the intense nicotine rush is achieved. 

Another benefit of using Nic Salts is that, due to its lower pH, the temperature needed to vape begins much lower as well. This means that users with smaller vapes that don’t have the same power as more advanced devices are able to effectively utilise Nic Salt e-liquids. 

Something that will please users that are using Nic Salts as a tobacco substitute is that Nic Salts are the form of nicotine that is closest to the way it occurs in the tobacco plant. Due to them being the least modified form of nicotine, it gives a strong sensation that is usually associated with smoking.


What are Freebase Nicotine E-Liquids?

We’ve covered Nic Salts and now we are going to look at the more common nicotine e-liquid on the market – freebase nicotine. Consider the purest and most commonly used source of nicotine, it is what is used for the majority of e-liquids and e-cigarettes

Freebase nicotine is a great option as it offers a concentrated nicotine hit that is satisfactory to the user, resulting in there being no need to increase concentration. It also strips excess chemicals from naturally occurring nicotine, as well as protons making it a cleaner vape. 

This also meant that a more powerful nicotine rush could be achieved in comparison to using nicotine in its natural form. It is because of this that it has become the standard source of nicotine that is used in cigarettes, vaping, and other nicotine replacement therapies. 

Due to it being a very alkaline solution, it can cause an intense throat hit in stronger concentrations. This is something that is incredibly attractive to those who have come to vaping as a smoking alternative. 


Freebase Nicotine E-Liquids vs Nic Salts

The majority of the time, when deciding between freebase nicotine e-liquids and Nic Salts, personal preference is the major deciding factor. We have compiled some advantages for Nic Salts and for freebase nicotine e-liquids to help you make an informed decision on what e-liquid is best suited for your needs. 


Advantages of Nic Salts

Nic Salts offer an intense and smooth vaping experience that avoids overpowering throat hits. While not for everyone, they are perfectly suited for beginner vapers who are used to heavy smoking and/or having been long term smokers. Nic Salts provide the content of nicotine that these types of vapers would be used to without the harshness that can be found in freebase nicotine formulas. 

If you are a smoker who is trying to cut down on your cigarettes or who is going cold turkey, using Nic Salts is a great option as it can effectively satisfy your cravings without the accompanying damage that is associated with tobacco consumption in cigarettes. 

The versatility of Nic Salts is something else that makes them attractive to users of all abilities. They are perfectly suitable for lower power devices like pods. This is due to them not needing the amount of power other vaping models require due to the fact that they can be vaporised at lower temperatures.

Their design means that they can’t produce huge vapour clouds but, it should be noted, that due to them being so compact, they’re a perfect option for those who want a portable and discreet vape. Many vapes come in box shapes and are often clunky. Most of the devices that use Nic Salts use mouth to lung vaping which is a style that is incredibly popular with ex-smokers as well. 

Another advantage of Nic Salts is that they last longer per millilitre than freebase nicotine e-liquids. Why? Nic Salts don’t require you to inhale as much e-liquid to get the same level of nicotine as you would with freebase nicotine e-liquids. 

Nic Salts also provide a smoother experience for users due to their lower pH values in comparison to freebase nicotine e-liquids with the same nicotine concentration. Freebase nicotine can give users a harsh throat hit which can be off putting for some users if the nicotine level is too high. 

Due to this, users have to lower the nicotine content when using freebase nicotine resulting in their cravings not being entirely satisfied. Nic Salts also are slower to oxidise than freebase liquids which means that they will have a longer shelf life.

This will, however, vary product to product but the general rule of thumb is that Nic Salts will last twice as long as freebase e-liquids when stored correctly – in a cool and dry environment. 


Advantages of Freebase Nicotine E-Liquids 

The major advantage of freebase nicotine e-liquids are the complex flavour profiles that they host in comparison to Nic Salts. Freebase nicotine offers a variety of flavours with thousands to choose from. This means that the taste of your e-liquid is more customised than you can get with Nic Salts. From blueberry pie to pumpkin spice, the possibilities are limitless.

In comparison to the freebase nicotine e-liquids, Nic Salts have more classic flavours like strawberry and, while basic, do offer a nicer throat hit as well as a stronger nicotine rush into the bloodstream in comparison to freebase nicotine e-liquids. 

While they may offer a better nicotine rush, the versatility of freebase nicotine e-liquids extends past flavour profiles. Freebase nicotine formulas offer more vaping styles than Nic Salts. Nic Salts are restricted to mouth to lung vaping whereas freebase nicotine can be used not only for that but also direct to lung vaping and even sub-ohm vaping. 

For people passionate about cloud chasing or flavour chasing, freebase nicotine is a better decision for your needs. Nic Salts aren’t as effective for these chasers as they give you much less vapor production. 

From a financial point of view, freebase nicotine e-liquids work out cheaper per milliliter than Nic Salts. This is due to them not requiring as many ingredients and also not requiring the processing that has to occur to develop Nic Salts. Nic Salts have to undergo a chemical reaction to be created. 


The Modernising of Vaping: Synthetic Nicotine

While we have discussed in detail the benefits and the disadvantages of freebase nicotine e-liquids as well as Nic Salts, it should be noted that there is another type of nicotine that is becoming more popular daily – synthetic nicotine. 

What makes synthetic nicotine unique is that it is totally tobacco free. Freebase nicotine e-liquids and Nic Salts both rely on nicotine extraction from the tobacco plant. Synthetic nicotine offers an alternative for those who want to avoid tobacco altogether and provide a new option for vapers. 


Vaping with Nic Salts or Freebase Nicotine E-Liquids

There are merits to using both freebase nicotine e-liquids and using Nic Salts and it really is trial and error to find out what is best for you. As always, we recommend starting with lower concentrations and slowly working your way up until you find the perfect concentration for you. 

Want to know more about Nic Salts or would like help picking a good freebase nicotine e-liquid? Get in touch with KIX Vaping today and find premium e-liquid solutions that suit every style of vaping. 

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