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Nicotine Salts vs. Freebase Vape Juice: What’s the Difference?

West Coast Vape Supply

The vaping industry has been through many different changes throughout the years since its inception. From cig-a-likes, to sub ohm vaping, squonk mods and now a circle back to simpler pod devices—the vapor industry is constantly ripe with innovation.

Due to a device called the JUUL Pod, easy to use pod devices, which are a call to the original cig-a-likes, are now becoming more popular. That is all thanks to a new type of vape juice called nicotine salts or nic salts for short, which feature much high nicotine content versus regular vape juice. It seems now that nicotine salts are the next evolution for vaping, where users are turning more towards satisfaction versus creating massive clouds with each puff. So, what is the difference between the regular vape juice, or freebase juice, that first hit the markets to the suddenly popular salt nicotine? Let’s compare the two below.

What Are Nicotine Salts?

Nicotine salt is a type of nicotine that is naturally present in the tobacco leaf and is a more stable form of nicotine versus the freebase nicotine that is used in regular vape juices. In the tobacco leaf, nicotine is present in two different forms, monoprotonated and diprotonated. This just means that the nicotine molecules will bond to certain acids in the plant in order to make a more stable molecule. When that bond forms, nicotine salt is what is created. Disposable vapes often come pre-filled with nicotine salts, and provides effortless vaping.

What is Freebase Vape Juice?

Freebase nicotine or regular nicotine was created by tobacco companies in the 1960s and it is an unprotonated form of nicotine. Phillip Morris was the company that pushed for the research to discover a way to increase the potency of nicotine in their tobacco cigarettes. They found that by adding ammonia to their blends it increased the strength and paved the way for the nicotine that is used in vape juices today.

Though nicotine salts are a more stable form of nicotine and are organically present they are not readily bioavailable. This means nicotine salts are not absorbed by the body as easily as freebase nicotine. Freebase nicotine that is found in traditional tobacco cigarettes and in regular vape juices is stripped of all of its protons which has increased its bioavailability, is better absorbed by the body in order to satisfy the user much more effectively.

What is the Difference Between Nic Salt & Free Base Vape Juice?

The main difference between nicotine salt and free base vape juice is the nicotine content and the devices that can be used with them. As explained above nicotine salt, though naturally occurring and stable isn’t as bioavailable as free base nicotine. Regular vape juices are available in different nicotine strengths, and though they are available up to 24mg, for most users going above 8mg is too strong and too harsh on the throat due to the acidic nature of freebase nicotine.

So how are nicotine salts claiming up to 50mg strength? The researchers at PAX (manufacturer of JUUL Pods) discovered that by adding benzoic acid to their patented nicotine salt they were able to increase the bioavailability of the nicotine in the vape juice while simultaneously making the nicotine much less harsh by lowering the pH of the juice and creating a smoother vape.

Thanks to PAX’s innovation, vapers can now enjoy nic salts with higher nicotine content with a smooth and less harsh vaping experience. Nicotine salts that are available now also boast a satisfying feeling that is very similar to smoking a traditional tobacco cigarette and is the perfect transitionary device for new users who are looking to switch to vaping.

Blake Brown
Blake Brown

Blake is the owner and creator of the Guide To Vaping blog. He has expressed his passion for the vaping industry through his deeply rooted and highly informative content. Being a writer and content provider for the vaping industry for year's, Blake has also gained experience from working with multiple blogs and well respected companies.

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  1. I was left unknowing if I can add nicotine salts to regular 0mg nic. juice ..

  2. Freebase Nicotine is alkaline, not acidic. The addition of benzoic acid neutralises it, and bonds a salt molecule to that

  3. Big tobacco always has to add some chemicals to trick us. Unreal.

  4. You mentioned that the free base nicotine has an acidic bias and that a smoother vape at higher nicotine levels can be had by the lowering of the pH? Is that a typographical error as lower the pH makes it more acidic by default doesn’t it?

  5. Is vaping nicotine salts cause your body to have a high acidity

    • I am dehydrated and require more liquids. I am wondering if this is caused by salt based nicotine?

      • Omg me too!!! All of the sudden my mouth is soooo dry. But now I switched to vg freebase stuff and I am getting same cottonmouth thirsty-ness as before with just nic salts. Wonder why we are getting this effect. I haven’t read about anyone else claiming dry mouth side effects. Hate it.

  6. Is the any research done on either being better or worse for you?
    Same question regarding PG vs VG

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