Choosing the level of nicotine in your e-liquids is one of the biggest decisions that first time vapers face and one of the most asked questions in vaping. While many vapers will find the right level for themselves through trial and error, there are some useful pieces of information that can help narrow down the search.
Nicotine in e-liquids
Not all e-liquids contain nicotine, but many do and the amount of nicotine is listed on the packaging, measured in milligrams of nicotine per millilitre of e-liquid, or ‘mg/ml’. Sometimes this is written as simply ‘mg’ of nicotine and some companies list the nicotine level as a percentage where 20mg/ml is the same as 2.0%.
Vaping has been proven to help people quit smoking, so it’s natural to compare the two, especially when first starting to vape. E-liquids with 20mg/ml is the highest level of nicotine that you can buy in the UK, but even if you were used to full strength cigarettes, this highest level might not be right for you when it comes to vaping.
It is difficult to directly compare the amount of nicotine absorbed into the body during vaping and smoking. There are a number of factors that affect nicotine absorption, including how frequently someone vapes or smokes as well as their inhaling technique and the amount of vapour their kit produces. And in both smoking and vaping not all of the nicotine is absorbed into the body, some of it is exhaled.
Also, the amount of nicotine absorbed and how strong an e-liquid feels are not necessarily related. While nicotine levels do affect the throat hit produced by vaping, it isn’t the only factor. And the maximum limit of 20 mg/ml nicotine was chosen so the strongest vapes available would always contain less nicotine that the strongest cigarettes.
Vaping has been proven to help people quit smoking, almost doubling the chances of quitting for good, and providing nicotine to help ease the cravings from cigarettes is a factor in this. It can be tempting to start with the highest level of nicotine in your e-liquid or to try and quit nicotine altogether, but these approaches have their risks. Starting too high could lead to a vaping experience that’s more intense that your previous level of smoking, potentially making the nicotine addiction worse. And cutting out nicotine entirely makes it more difficult to quit for good as smokers who go cold turkey are less likely to succeed in quitting than those who use nicotine replacement.
When choosing e-liquid nicotine strength to help quit smoking it’s important to consider how often you smoke and the strength of your cigarettes.
Smokers who were used to the strongest cigarettes often prefer stronger e-liquids when they start vaping, but this isn’t always true. If you are used to strong cigarettes, but only smoked a couple a day, then you might prefer to use e-liquids with lower nicotine levels. This can be a matter of experimentation, trying different nicotine levels to find what works for you, but be careful about starting at the extremes
Vapers who are trying to quit smoking often need to satisfy their craving for nicotine or risk feeling the symptoms of withdrawal. Starting with an e-liquid with low levels of nicotine can make it harder to quit. But our bodies often don’t need a large amount of nicotine to handle cravings and if you start with an e-liquid with too much nicotine it can make you feel sick or make it harder to give up the addiction in the long run.
Withdrawal and nicotine sickness
As you experiment with different levels of nicotine to discover what’s right for you, pay attention to how your body reacts. This might seem obvious, but the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal or using too much nicotine can be easily overlooked.
Withdrawal can happen when your body is absorbing less nicotine than it is used to. These symptoms include dizziness, headaches, irritability, anxiety and trouble concentrating. If you experience any of these while using vaping to help quit smoking then you might require a higher level of nicotine in your e-liquid.
Your body can also become sick from too much nicotine which causes headaches, dizziness, itchy or burned throat and nausea. Headaches and dizziness can be cause by both too much nicotine and withdrawal, so be careful about what your body is telling you as you adjust the strength of your e-liquid.
As vaping is most often used to help quit smoking, the similarity in feel between smoking and vaping can be important. This is especially true to first time vapers who are looking to recreate the smoking experience without the same harmful chemicals. While the level of nicotine in an e-liquid can give it a more intense throat hit that’s similar to smoking, this isn’t the only factor to consider.
Vaping equipment can make a difference to throat hit, as can the level of PG or VG in your e-liquid, with PG heavy juices producing more intense throat feel. So, it is possible to recreate the feel of a traditional tobacco cigarette without using the highest level of nicotine.
There are a number of factors that can influence what strength of e-liquid is right for you and sometimes experimenting with different levels is the best way to find what works. But there are a few things that can help us know where to start.
The vast majority of vapers start vaping to help quit smoking, so your smoking habits are a good indicator of what level of nicotine to look for in an e-liquid. Smokers who went through twenty, high strength cigarettes per day will probably find e-liquids with the highest levels of nicotine most helpful. Someone who smokes a couple of cigarettes a day would be better off with an e-liquid with lower levels of nicotine.