Even if you’re not a died-in-the-wool vaper, you’re doubtless aware that innovation’s the backbone of the vaping business and that nothing stands still when it comes to all things vape-related. Indeed, due to its use via certain new-to-the-market pod devices (one or two of them arguably the very best vaping kit UK available today), a new breed of vape juice, namely nicotine salt (or ‘nic salt’ for short), which tends to comprise far higher levels of nicotine content than typical mass-produced vape juices, is becomingly increasingly popular.
Frankly, it’s no surprise; if there’s something to vape out there that’s capable of delivering a bigger nicotine hit, nicotine-enthusiasts are going to jump at the chance to try it, enjoy it and snap it up. So, could it be that nicotine salts are set to be vaping’s next big thing – or even drive its next evolution? That’s a good question. One thing that is for sure is their popularity warrants them a closer look – and what it is that differentiates them from their e-juice competition…
Put simply, a nicotine salt is an organic type of nicotine; it’s what naturally occurs in a tobacco leaf. This also means that, biologically speaking, it’s a ‘more stable’ form of nicotine, certainly when contrasted with freebase nicotine that’s to be found in many of the most common cigarette brands and regular e-juices around today.
Looking more specifically at the science behind all this, nicotine is present in the original tobacco leaf in two separate ways – it’s either monoprotonated or diprotonated; which refers to how many and what kinds of acid the nicotine molecules bond to in the plant, with the aim of making the overall nicotine biologically stable. Whether monoprotonated or diprotonated then, the result of this scientific process is the creation of nicotine salt.
Conversely, freebase nicotine – or, in vaping terms, freebase e-liquid nicotine – isn’t organic; instead it’s machine-manufactured. It’s neither monoprotonated nor diprotonated, but unprotonated (it possesses not protons); meaning it’s biologically unstable, having been created by tobacco companies over the last 50 years to increase the potency of nicotine possible in mass-produced tobacco-based cigarettes. This approach to providing nicotine to the masses has naturally drifted from cigarette production to the production of the majority of e-juices on the market – after all, one of the USPs of vape liquids is their ability to help people kick the tobacco habit because they can (far more safely) deliver just the nicotine hit vapers are used to.
The nicotine salt breakthrough
So, although naturally occurring and stable, nicotine salt on its own simply isn’t as ‘bioavailable’ as freebase nicotine; that means, full of all its stability-ensuring protons, it can’t be absorbed by the body as easily as freebase nicotine can. Or at least that was always the case; that was the conventional wisdom and practical reality. But have things changed? Well, it appears they may well have.
Because, yes, clever-clever developers of vape juices and vape devices have recently discovered that, by adding benzoic acid to nicotine salt, the nicotine’s bioavailability can be increased, enabling a greater amount of nicotine-delivery pound-for-pound compared to freebase nicotine. And, best of all, this doesn’t cause a side-effect in terms of the nicotine’s efficacy or this organic e liquid’s smoothness, so long as the pH level of the juice is simultaneously reduced.
So, is the vaping world this new breed of non-organic nicotine salt’s oyster? Time will only tell – indeed, it’s going to be interesting to watch, follow its progress and see…