Salt Nic vs. Freebase: Understanding the Basics

Anyone who’s ever vaped before has vaped one of two types of nicotine: either freebase nicotine or nicotine salt. And, if you’ve tried both before, then you have probably noticed that there is quite a difference in terms of how they feel – not to mention the fact that they require entirely different vape hardware setups. But if you haven’t and don’ know the difference, we will be breaking it all down here for you, so you can get a better idea of which type makes the most sense for your vaping needs.

What is Freebase Nicotine?

First, let’s start with the original vape juice nicotine type, freebase nicotine. Freebase nicotine is the type you’ll find in cigarettes, and tobacco companies have used it for decades. It’s extracted from the tobacco plant and purified to enhance its potency without requiring that a person consume more of it than necessary.

Freebase nicotine may sound very appealing because it’s pure and plant-derived. But, when it comes to vaping, it has a clear drawback. Because of the chemical properties of freebase nic, vaping it at a high output level makes it harsh, meaning that it can irritate the throat and generally feel unpleasant when inhaled. Because of this, freebase nic juice can only contain relatively low concentrations of it, which is why you’ll rarely find a freebase nic e-liquid containing more than 24mg of nicotine. Keep in mind that 24mg is very strong and can still feel really harsh, so most freebase nic users stick between 8-16mg.

Now, for a number of vapers out there, maxing out 24mg is not the end of the world. Sure, it makes an e-liquid less potent than a cigarette, but there are some clear tradeoffs – for one thing, the lower the nicotine concentration in a vape juice, the thicker the formula can be, which means you can blow huge, fluffy clouds. And, with lower nicotine, you can vape at higher output levels (temp, wattage, etc.), which means you can use high-tech sub-ohm vape systems that a lot of serious vapers enjoy for the hobbyist aspect.

What is Salt Nic?

Then, we have salt nic (salt nicotine), aka salt-based nicotine, nicotine salts, or nic salts. Salt nic came around a handful of years after vaping became mainstream when freebase nic was still the only option on the market.

Salt nic was created in order to appeal to vapers primarily seeking out nicotine satisfaction over other aspects of vaping, like cloud production. Basically, it’s tobacco-derived nicotine with an acid added to it – usually benzoic acid – which changes the chemical properties of the nicotine to minimize the harshness one gets from inhaling it. The result is an e-liquid can contain a higher concentration of nicotine salts than freebase nicotine, so users can get a generous dose of nicotine with each pull. The large majority of salt nic juice has a concentration of 50mg, although you can also find 30mg for a lower-potency formula.

A lot of people prefer salt nicotine nowadays, and that’s because it offers a hit of nicotine that’s a lot more like what you get when you smoke a cigarette. The nicotine absorbs faster into the body, offering more of a buzz like what we associate with cigarettes, and also delivers a nice, strong throat hit when you inhale without the excessive harshness that can cause people to cough.

While freebase nicotine e-liquids are associated with box mod systems (high-output, larger vaping devices that use sub-ohm tanks and sub-ohm coils), nicotine salt juice is found in lower-output devices like pod mods, as well as disposables. Why? Because salt nic is very potent, and so you don’t need a very high wattage or temperature in order to feel totally satisfied with one hit. Therefore, you can use a much smaller device that houses a lower-capacity battery. This adds another advantage of choosing a nic salt vape since it allows you to carry a more portable, low-maintenance hardware setup that’s extremely user-friendly compared to most box mod systems.

What Does Salt Nicotine Do to Your Body?

Now, a chemically modified type of nicotine may sound concerning to some people – but don’t worry. There’s nothing about nic salt that’s more dangerous than freebase nicotine. However, because it is more potent than freebase nicotine, you’ll want to keep in mind that chain-vaping it can give you a higher risk of the long-known side effects of consuming too much nicotine at one time, such as dizziness, increased heart rate, irritability, and nausea.

Difference Between Freebase Nicotine and Nicotine Salt

Now, let’s go over the basic differences between nicotine salt and freebase nicotine in a clear and concise way.

Freebase Nic:

  • 0-24mg available.
  • Harsher in high concentrations.
  • Compatible with box mod systems and other high-wattage/temp vaping setups.
  • More suitable for cloud-chasing.
  • Best for sub-ohm vaping/DL vaping styles.
  • Less of a throat hit.

Salt Nic:

  • 50mg is the most common strength (although 30mg is also fairly popular).
  • Less harsh in high concentrations.
  • Compatible with pod mod systems and disposable vape devices.
  • More suitable for vapers who mainly want a strong nicotine dose when they vape.
  • Best for MTL vaping.
  • More of a throat hit.

Is Salt Nic Better Than “Regular” Vape Juice?

Now, you might be wondering if salt nic is “better” than freebase nic e-juice. So, is Salt Nic better, objectively speaking? Well, that’s actually kind of hard to say. While it’s clear that most vapers today prefer salt nic over the alternative, it totally comes down to personal preference and what you care about most when vaping.

Salt nic is best for:

  • Vapers who want a strong throat hit.
  • Vapers who prefer a nicotine type that feels more like smoking a cig.
  • Vapers who want to use smaller, low-maintenance hardware.
  • Vapers who prefer disposables.
  • Vapers who don’t need to blow massive, fluffy clouds.
  • Vapers who want more of a nicotine buzz with each puff and generally crave high-potency e-juices.

Meanwhile, freebase nic is probably best for:

  • Vapers who prefer to cloud chase.
  • Vapers who like using more advanced, higher-output setups.
  • Vapers who don’t want high-potency nicotine when they vape.
  • Vapers who are sensitive to the side effects of nicotine.
  • Vapers who want more freedom when choosing a nicotine strength.

Who is the Winner?

As you can see, both types of nicotine have a place in the vaping universe. Freebase nicotine came first, but salt-based nicotine has proven its value time and time again in the ever-evolving market. It really comes down to personal preferences and finding the type of nicotine that gives you the most satisfaction. Of course, it also comes down to which type of hardware system you’d rather use, as each type of nicotine is compatible with one style.

Fortunately, you can experiment with both to find what works for you. After all, vaping is all about experimenting until you get your sweet spot. At Vape Juice Depot, we make that easy with a large selection of freebase and salt nic e-liquids in loads of delicious flavors from the most highly rated brands in the industry today.

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