Synthetic Salt Nic Juices
The subject of vaping, e-liquids, and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) seems to grow ever more complex by the year. Not only do you have the acceleration in vaping technology, which is natural considering e-cigarettes first hit the market only a decade ago, but onerous regulatory pressures from state and federal authorities have resulted in the banning of flavors.
Vaping Synthetic Nicotine Salts
When vaping synthetic nicotine salts, you will notice the clearer flavor but the same precautions as vaping a regular salt nic juice apply. Synthetic nicotine has a more neutral flavor than tobacco-derived nicotine.
Most salt nic juices have nicotine strengths ranging from 25 to 50mg/ml. They should only be vaped using a high-resistance coil at low wattage. There are scores of vape pods on the market designed expressly for nic salts.
A nic salt juice should never be vaped out of a sub-ohm tank or box mod at higher wattages.
The Tru Nic of One Hit Wonder is an exception, as this is a max-VG juice that uses nicotine salts at strengths more typically associated with freebase nicotine. This is an exception. There are several reasons why nicotine salts are only used in more potent e-liquid formulas and why freebase nicotine is perfectly suitable for max-VG juices with nicotine strengths ranging from 3 to 12mg/ml.
In the vaping world, synthetic nicotine is a recent innovation but it has been used in nicotine replacement therapy products for decades.
Unlike tobacco derived nicotine, synthetic nicotine does not use any part of the tobacco plant. The most popular form of synthetic nicotine currently is Tobacco Free Nicotine (TFN). Manufactured by Next Generation Labs, this is an R and S isomer nicotine which has a more neutral flavor than nicotine manufactured from tobacco leaves.
Another bonus of synthetic nicotine is that it finally cuts ties in the independent vape industry with Big Tobacco. Tobacco derived nicotine still relied on the industrial scale cultivation of the tobacco plant.
There are several competing synthetic nicotine products on the market, and all use proprietary processes that are patented. For more information on the science behind alternative nicotine sources, you can check out our deep dive “What is Tobacco Free Nicotine?” and the “What is Synthetic Nicotine?” companion piece.
Synthetic Nicotine Salts
On a molecular level, there is nothing to separate tobacco-derived nicotine from its synthetic cousins. This means synthetic nicotine can be used for traditional freebase nicotine or for salt nic juices.
The advantage of synthetic nicotine’s more neutral flavor really shows up in salt nic juices. With an emphasis on flavor rather than vapor production, the pairing of synthetic nicotine and nicotine salts simply makes sense.
It is less expensive to create synthetic nicotine that contains both R and S isomer nicotine, which is a large reason why TFN dominates the market currently.
What are Nic Salts?
Synthetic nicotine is simply a form of nicotine not derived from tobacco. What are nicotine salts? Nicotine salts are created when regular/freebase nicotine is processed through a chemical reaction that typically uses benzoic acid. This changes the freebase nicotine into a nicotine salt.
It is obligatory to point out that this does not mean the nicotine is in a granular form like table salt. Nicotine salts have a lower pH level and according to studies cross the blood brain barrier more readily.
The actual flavor is not much different than freebase nicotine. The base of the actual salt nic e-liquid remains propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Most salt nic juices will use a 50/50 VG/PG ratio, but this is because salt nic is used almost always used in high potency formulas and designed to be vaped out of smaller devices. There is no reason you cannot put a smaller amount of nicotine salts in a max-VG juice, and One Hit Wonder does exactly that.
The reason salt nicotine is not used in more max-VG juices is because it costs more, and freebase nicotine is perfectly suitable and satisfactory when used at levels below 12mg/ml.
Nicotine salts are used in higher potency e-liquid formulas because they have a lower pH level. The high pH level of freebase nicotine makes it very harsh when used in higher potencies of nicotine. The low pH level of nicotine salts allows manufacturers to put in as much as they want, within reason.
Most salt nic juices are sold in two nicotine strengths, the stronger of which is usually 50mg/ml. More potent e-liquids allow small and seemingly underpowered devices to provide satisfying performance.
A less powerful device requires a smaller battery. This further shrinks the size of the device. Burning less e-liquid per puff, a smaller reservoir of e-juice is required to a get a vaper through the day. Fewer overall puffs are required, less vapor is produced
Freebase Synthetic Nicotine
In its initial form, synthetic nicotine is regular or freebase nicotine. This nicotine is then processed into salt nic. As is the case with synthetic nic salt juices, the flavor is a bit cleaner. It is not a huge difference but its enough to be noticeable.
If you were vaping before the creation of nicotine salts, you may remember that there used to be a cap on nicotine strengths and stronger nicotine strengths translated into a much different vaping experience. Where a 3 or 6mg nicotine strength e-liquid could be vaped aggressively in a box mod, the higher strengths could be a bit harsh.
Of course, the strength was much greater as well. You should never be vaping potent e-liquids, no matter if they are nic salts or a potent freebase juice, out of vape mod. In the case of a 36mg/ml freebase juice, the harshness will be close to intolerable for most humans when vaped out of a box mod and sub-ohm tank.
Some freebase nicotine formulas were as strong as 36mg/ml a decade ago. Such potent freebase juices worked stiff with the user and had a very noticeable throat and chest burn.
Often these stronger freebase juices used a formula heavy in PG. The PMTAs and market forces have gradually driven this style of vaping to the sidelines, but it is still popular with fans of tobacco e-juice.
Most freebase vape juices come in strengths of 3 and 6mg/ml. These max-VG juices are usually 70 percent vegetable glycerin.
They are designed for use in a sub-ohm tank and vape mod. There are vape pod kits available with low resistance coils that can handle max-VG juices, most kits are sold with a high resistance pod for salt nic and a more flexible lower resistance pod for max-VG and regular e-juices.
There is no reason why nicotine salts cannot be used in lower strength nicotine formulas, in fact One Hit Wonder does just that. But since freebase nicotine is not harsh at lower strengths and less expensive, not having had to be undergo the process of being converted into a nic salt.