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How to Choose the Right Nicotine Strength for Your E-Liquid
Guest post by Jason Artman
In some ways, buying e-liquid is a more confusing process today than it’s ever been. In the early days of the vaping industry, the e-liquid nicotine strengths available at most vape shops ranged from about 0-18 mg. With the recent addition of nicotine salt e-liquid to many companies’ product ranges, we now have nicotine strengths up to 20 mg here in the United Kingdom. In some other nations such as the United States, nicotine strengths range all the way up to 50 mg or slightly higher. You’ll see the full range of nicotine strengths when you visit any well-stocked online vape shop like E-Cigarette Empire.
Think about it: A new vaper enters a vape shop in the United States and sees one bottle of e-liquid with a nicotine strength of 3 mg. Another bottle on a different shelf has a nicotine strength of 50 mg. One bottle has 16.6 times more nicotine per ml than the other. That’s not just an incredibly confusing situation; it’s also a potentially dangerous one. Imagine putting an e-liquid with a nicotine strength of 50 mg into a sub-ohm vaping system with a triple-mesh coil. That’s some serious nicotine overload. You can always ask one of the attendants at the vape shop for help, but many vape shop employees are just cashiers. They aren’t necessarily vaping experts, so it’s up to you to ensure that you’re buying the right e-liquid.
In this article, we’re going to walk you through your first purchase of bottled e-liquid by helping you choose the right nicotine strength based on your vaping experience and the type of equipment you’re using. We’re also going to share one fool-proof tip to help ensure that the nicotine strength you’re using is definitely the right one for you. Let’s begin.
The Right Nicotine Strength for a Sub-Ohm Box Mod
When you buy e-liquid, one general rule to keep in mind is thatthe more powerful your hardware is, the lower the nicotine strength of your vape juice should be. When you use a big box mod and a sub-ohm tank capable of filling a room with clouds, the nicotine strength of your e-liquid can be very low because you’re inhaling a massive amount of e-liquid with each puff. The most popular e-liquid nicotine strength for high-end sub-ohm vaping systems is 3 mg, but a few people who use sub-ohm vaping systems prefer a higher nicotine strength of 6 mg. We suggest starting with the 3 mg strength and trying a 6 mg e-liquid only if necessary.
The Right Nicotine Strength for a Vape Pen
Vape pens are extremely popular with vapers of all experience levels, so they’re available with a wide range of capabilities and power levels. Some vape pens, for instance, are nearly as powerful as box mods. A high-end vape pen can operate at around 50 watts and will include the same type of tank that you’d get with a box mod. In that case, you should follow the same rule that you’d follow with a box mod and buy an e-liquid with a nicotine strength of 3 or 6 mg.
Other vape pens are designed to operate at much lower power levels. Those vape pens are designed for people who have recently converted from smoking to vaping and require a bit more throat hit to maintain their desired levels of satisfaction. If you’re using that type of vape pen, you should consider the 6 mg nicotine strength your starting point. Depending on the capabilities of your vape pen, you may need an e-liquid with a nicotine strength as high as 18 mg.
How can you tell the difference? An easy way to tell which e-liquid nicotine strength to buy for your vape pen is by looking at the tank’s mouthpiece. Is the mouthpiece narrow like a cigarette filter? You have a lower-output vape pen and should buy a higher nicotine strength. Does the tank have a wider mouthpiece that’s around the same width as a smaller cigar? You have a higher-output vape pen and should buy a lower nicotine strength.
The Right Nicotine Strength for a Pod System
Pod systems are small and highly portable vaping devices that have replaced cigarette-shaped “cigalikes” as the go-to vaping devices for beginners. Some pod systems are as small as USB thumb drives. They operate at lower temperatures, and they’re designed for use with higher-nicotine e-liquids.
The United Kingdom and Europe
This is where our recommendations diverge, because in the United Kingdom and Europe, the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) limits the nicotine strength of any e-liquid to 20 mg. In the United States, however, there is no similar law.
If you use a pod system and live in a nation that must comply with the TPD, you should buy the highest nicotine strength available (typically 20 mg nicotine salt). Don’t worry; you’ll still be able to switch to vaping successfully. You’ll just need to adjust to slightly lower blood-nicotine levels for the first few days.
The United States
If you live in the United States, you can typically buy nicotine salt e-liquid in a lower strength of around 25 mg and a higher strength of around 50 mg. Obviously, one of those e-liquids is twice as strong as the other, so choosing the right one is important. With the 50 mg strength, you’ll get about the same blood-nicotine levels that you’d get from smoking a cigarette. That’s the nicotine strength you should generally choose if you’re currently a smoker and are about to vape for the first time. If you’ve already switched to vaping, though – maybe you’re currently using a mod and are thinking about getting a pod system – you should choose the lower nicotine strength.
How to Confirm That You’re Using the Right Nicotine Strength
At this point, you have a better idea of why so many different e-liquid nicotine strengths exist. They exist because, with all of the different types of vaping devices on the market, people need different nicotine strengths to compensate for the lower or higher output of their vaping hardware. People have different needs, though, so here’s a way for you to always know whether you’re using the right nicotine strength for you.
Are you constantly buying e-liquid because you continually run out? Do you feel like you still crave a cigarette even though you’re vaping all of the time? Your nicotine strength is probably too low.
Are you having trouble staying committed to vaping because you don’t like the experience? Do you find the vapour too harsh to inhale – maybe it even makes you cough? Your nicotine strength is probably too high.
Jason Artman | Founder, eCigOne.com I am the founder and owner of the website eCigOne.com. I specialize in writing objective e-cigarette reviews, explaining how to get the most out of the vaping experience and providing advice to new vape shop owners