What are Nicotine Salts?
In the world of vaping, nicotine salts are sometimes referred to as "Salt Nic" or "Nic Salt". There is no difference between them.
The form of nicotine that has been traditionally been used in e-Liquid is referred to as "Freebase Nicotine."
The term "freebase" refers to the nicotine molecule's activity and ability to undergo rapid chemical reactions in the body; this leads to more consumption as the molecule is processed very quickly. That activity also lends to a strong throat hit when vaping, one that is considered to be harsh by many. Nicotine salts, however; are far less active and those same chemical reactions occur over a much longer period of time - keeping the nicotine in our systems longer.
Nicotine salts closely approximate the way nicotine exists naturally in tobacco leaves. Some users report that e-Liquid formulated with nicotine salts have a much smoother throat hit when compared to freebase nicotine.
e-Liquid formulated with this form of nicotine was popularized by the JUUL, a pod based system created by Pax Labs. The success of that product as well as similar products such as PHIX led to e-Liquid manufacturers such as Mr. Salt-E creating e-Liquid lines for open systems such as the Suorin Air, Suorin Drop, Suorin Vagon and Aspire Breeze 2.
This new form of e-Liquid's ability to deliver an experience that closely mimics a cigarette has proven to be very successful. The fact that users don't need to vape huge amounts of vapor and can use small, sleek, low-powered devices to help quit smoking cigarettes has been a huge winner in the world of vaping.
Why should you care?
Nicotine Salts have already arrived in a big way. The success of JUUL in both the vape as well as convenience channel proves that there is huge market demand for Nic Salt products. It would stand to reason that people that were first converted to vaping with a Nic Salt product could find it difficult to use a less efficient nicotine delivery system. It is still too early to tell how much overall market share products and e-Liquid based on Salt Nic will take, but the category is here to stay and retailers would be wise to pay close attention to the category and all of the products associated with it.
What about the science? Is it safe?
There does not appear to be any scientific evidence to show one way or the other that it is less or more safe than freebase nicotine. It is still very early, but with extremely well funded companies such as JUUL using Salt Nic, we expect there will be research showing not only the efficacy of Salt Nic, but also the potential benefits from a less active molecule.
Does Nic Salt only come in high concentrations?
Nicotine salts were first introduced in high concentrations when paired with low power devices, a combination that is geared towards transitional smokers or current vapers who are trying to minimize the size and maintenance of their devices. Low nicotine salt liquids have just become available in large volumes to appeal to subohm vapers who want a smoother hit and longer lasting satiation. People can now choose between more options in concentration to fit almost any style of vaping.
What devices are appropriate for high concentration Salt Nic?
Considering the high concentration of nicotine in most salt based juices, low power devices are recommended for regular use. These devices generally fire 1-2 watts at most and are considered to be "closed loop" (prefilled; not refillable) or "semi closed loop" (Not prefilled; designed for salt nic) along the lines of a JUUL or Suorin style device respectively. Higher concentrations (40-50mg) are almost necessary for these devices to provide a favorable experience that includes both the quality of the hit and most efficient use of battery life. High concentration with a low intake frequency are what make these devices so successful. AIO style devices are also suitable for what are considered to be "mid range" salt nicotine levels that range from 20-35mg, best used when paired with higher ohm coils (0.6 and up).