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As a newbie to the confusing world of vaping, to get your head around how to find the best vape starter kit for the most realistic vaping experience, you will need to understand the different types of nicotine that are available.  Beyond the wide range of vape devices and pod systems that are available, you then have the choice of the vape juice, nicotine levels and the form of nicotine.  So it can get a bit overwhelming for a smoker looking for a simple device to help them quit.

In the Vaper’s Guide to Nic Salt vape juice, we will hopefully make things a bit clearer and give you the relevant information to help you find the best e-cigarette for you!  
SMOKO's VAPE has been ranked as the "Perfect vape kit for people looking to quit - 9.5/10" by ecigclick


Nicotine Salt e-liquids and freebase nicotine e-liquids both deliver nicotine in a cleaner vapour format compared to smoking traditional cigarettes.

Nicotine salt is a more processed form of nicotine derived from the tobacco leaf and is then bonded with the chemical benzoic acid.  Many vape companies will have you believe that nic salt e-liquids provide a better vaping experience but here at SMOKO, we don’t necessarily agree.  It is important to understand why nic salt vape juice first became popular and the reason why.

Essentially nic salt e liquids provide a lighter throat hit at higher nicotine levels.  Made popular by Juul in the US, nic salts e liquids were used to dramatically increase the amount of nicotine that could be put in an e-cigarette without making the throat hit too strong for the user.  In our opinion, this is counterintuitive and dangerous in trying to maintain and eventually reduce the amount of nicotine consumption a smoker would get from smoking cigarettes.

At the time, the majority of e-cigarettes used a 2.4% freebase nicotine e-liquids which provided a realistic throat hit.  Juul became very popular with their nic salt pod kits which had a massive 5.5% nicotine strength.  Because nic salts reduce the throat hit by about half, they were able to double the amount of nicotine in their e-cigarettes making them hyper-addictive.  In our opinion, the throat hit you experience with a freebase nicotine creates a natural limitation to how much nicotine you should be consuming.  


Nic Salts work in a similar manner to freebase nicotine which deliver nicotine into your bloodstream when you inhale the vapour into your lungs.  But nic salts are a bit sneaky.  With the addition of benzoic acid, nic salts reduce the throat hit you experience while increasing the rate of absorption of the nicotine into your system.  While many vape brands will proclaim that nic salts speed up the absorption of the nicotine into your system, the reduction in the throat hit acts as a trojan horse allowing the amount of nicotine to be increased.

Essentially nic salts mean you get more nicotine at a fast rate into your system without the physical warning of a throat hit that is too strong.  If you imagine being able to smoke 2 cigarettes at the same time but it only feels like you are smoking one, then you can begin to understand how the use of nic salts is a sly way to get more of the addictive nicotine into your system.  


Nic salt e liquid is different to freebase nicotine e liquids in a number of ways. As nic salts are derived from the nicotine in the tobacco leaf, it was found to be absorbed less rapidly in its natural form.  So chemists added benzoic acid which helps to increase the absorption rate.  Nic salt vape juice also has a lighter throat hit compared to freebase nic e-liquids.

Freebase nicotine (the type of nicotine we use in SMOKO’s popular e-cigarette and VAPE starter kits) produces a stronger throat hit which in our opinion, replicates a more realistic smoking sensation.  It is this throat hit that a traditionally cigarette smoker is looking for.  Freebase nicotine is also less processed compared to nic salts.  So if you are looking for a more natural and realistic vaping experience, then using an e-cigarette with freebase nicotine will be a great starting point.


The question of which is better - nic salt of freebase nicotine - tends to split the opinions of the vaping industry.  Many vape brands who are wanting to increase the amount of nicotine you consume will suggest that nic salts are better.  The logic makes sense in the US where the amount of nicotine you can put in an e-cigarette is unregulated (most closed nic salt systems would have 5.5% nicotine strength - DOUBLE WHAT IS LEGALLY ALLOWED IN THE UK).  Using a nic salt e liquid allows vape companies to double the nicotine content you consume with the same throat hit.  

This same logic doesn’t work in the UK or the EU where the amount of nicotine allowed in a vape is limited by law to a maximum of 2.0% as outlined by the European Commission.  Using a nic salt vape juice with a 1.8% nicotine strength will have the throat hit satisfaction of using a 0.9% freebase nicotine strength.  So if you are a heavy smoker looking for a solid and realistic throat hit while also getting a strong nicotine hit in the UK or the EU, using a freebase nicotine vape juice in a smaller device will be much more satisfying.

Again, we are very biased towards freebase nicotine at SMOKO as we believe that reducing the throat hit to slip more nicotine into your vape is counterproductive and could lead to even great nicotine addiction as seen in the US market.


Many other brands will praise the various benefits of nic salts as being smoother on the throat and faster absorption, we do not hold the same beliefs.  The situation created in the US by high nicotine content nic salt pod systems fortunately cannot be repeated in the UK or the EU due the maximum nicotine content permitted in e-cigarettes by law.

Currently in the US, the attitude to vaping and e-cigarettes as an acceptable means of quitting smoking is very negative.  E-Cigarette sales have been banned in some states, flavoured e-cigarettes have been banned in many other states and according to, as of July 22, 2020, Juul is at the heart of 758 lawsuits from around the US.  Concerns over vaping rates in youths and higher nicotine addiction are at the heart of many of the concerns of local state governments.

Because of the Tobacco Products Directive laws and regulations in the UK and the EU which puts a cap on the amount of nicotine in an e-liquid, we believe the prevalence of nic salts will not reach the same levels of popularity.  Freebase nicotine delivers a great nicotine hit to satisfy your cravings when switching from smoking cigarettes to vaping for the first time with the same realistic throat hit.  
Cancer Research UK say that e-cigarettes are better than smoking cigarettes


From a health point of view, all evidence supports that using nic salt e-liquids is safe.  However and as mentioned previously, using nic salt e-liquids as a means to ramp up the nicotine concentration is a major health and safety concern.  This situation has come to point in the US where the future of e-cigarettes is precariously close to an all out ban.

Alternatively in the UK, the leading health and medical professionals view e-cigarettes as one of the most effective means of helping people to quit smoking and reducing adult smoking rates.  E-Cigarettes have helped over 3m people to quit smoking cigarettes and to live smoke-free.  Public Health England states that “e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes”.

The use of e-cigarettes is so important in helping to reduce smoking related diseases, the leading charity Cancer Research UK now claim that “there is growing evidence to show that e-cigarettes can help people cut down or stop smoking”.

The difference in the 2 nations opinions on the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a positive way to quit smoking comes back to the legal regulations on the amount of nicotine, whether nic salts or freebase nicotine, are allowed in e-cigarettes.


When trying to understand what the right nic salt strength is right for you depends on what type of smoker you are and how many cigarettes you smoke on a daily basis.  For a heavier smoker in the UK or the EU, you will want 1.8% or 2.0% nicotine strength in your vape kit.  If you are a lighter smoker, then you may want to drop down to a 1.5% nicotine strength.

Depending on the vape kit you are using, you may find that nic salt strengths are too low and you may be missing that solid throat hit that you are used to.  So if you try on a SMOKO E-Cigarette Starter Kit, a heavier smoker will definitely be happy using the 2.0% nicotine strength.  If you are a lighter smoker, you may wish to order a starter kit and then try the 1.8% or 1.5% nicotine strength refills.


Due to the e-cigarette laws in the UK and the EU, the maximum strength nic salt vape juice you will be able to buy is 2.0%.  Many vape e-liquid brands sell a maximum strength of 1.8% in their nic salts.  Again, depending on the e-cigarette pod device that you are using, you may find your vaping experience is a little disappointing due to the lack of strong throat hit.  But it is a trial and error approach until you find the one that suits you best.


This is a misconception that nic salts would taste salty.  There is no salty taste to e-liquids that use nic salts for their nicotine.   


E-Liquids that use nic salts will be best suited for smaller closed system pod kits.  Some vape kit manufacturer will either sell closed pods or open pods.  A closed vape pod means that the e-liquid is already pre-filled and ready to use. 

Open vape pod kits allow the user to add their nic salt e-liquids themselves.
Nic Salts are not recommended to be used in sub-oHm devices due to the high power output of the batteries.  Using a nic salt in a larger open sub-oHm vape device will deliver way too much nicotine for even the heaviest vaper to use.  

If you are an adult smoker and you are looking to quit smoking using a vape, we would recommend a closed system that uses freebased nicotine for a realistic throat hit and satisfying vaping experience.
the best cigalike to help you quit smoking


In this Vaper’s Guide about What are Nic Salts, we have addressed the differences in types of nicotine, what nic salts are and touched on some of the pros and cons about nicotine salts.  In our opinion, the use of nic salts by large US vaping brands was nothing more than a way to ramp up the nicotine levels while limiting the natural “throat hit” that you would experience in a freebase nicotine vape liquid.

Many vape and e-cigarette companies will completely disagree with us but we are not followers.  Since we started over 9 years ago, we have helped to prevent over 275m cigarettes from being consumed and have received hundreds of amazing 5 star customer reviews from satisfied customers around the world.   Not only have our customers saved over £100m of their hard-earned money from going up in smoke, they are not living smoke-free!

So if you want a realistic smoking experience with a small but effective vaping device that has helped countless people to quit smoking, check out some of our amazing e-cigarette and vape starter kit deals!

SMOKO E-Cigarette use the highest quality flavours and ingredients in our e-liquids that are Made in the UK

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