Understanding the different E-Liquid types can be very daunting, particularly to new vapers. And nowadays, the most inexpensive pod kits on the market are all compatible with both Nic Salts and 50/50 E-Liquids, so it’s understandable that some vapers group them into the same category.
But Nic Salts and 50/50 E-Liquids are, in fact, different, and each type offers its own unique set of benefits depending on your needs as a vaper.
Let’s break down the differences between these two E-Liquid types and help you determine which one is better for you.
Nic Salts vs. 50/50 E-Liquids: the Similarities
While these two E-Liquid types are distinctly different, they do share a few key traits.
Namely, both E-Liquid types have a similar VG PG ratio—which, as we discussed in another article, means that both types are compatible with the same devices and coils.
The VG PG ratio of an E-Liquid determines the thickness of the juice, and therefore dictates what devices can handle that particular E-Liquid. In the case of shortfills, for example, the E-Liquid has a higher ratio of VG to PG, making the juice much thicker and therefore only suited to low-resistance coils in high-powered sub-ohm devices like advanced vape kits and vape mods. Conversely, high-PG E-Liquids are much thinner, and are thus perfectly suited to lower-powered devices like pod kits and most starter vape kits.
As you can likely glean from the name alone, 50/50 E-Liquids are made with 50% VG and 50% PG, making them thin enough to be used in low-powered devices. This is also the case for most Nic Salts, though some may have a 40% VG to 60% PG ratio, or similar variations thereof.
Aside from this, Nic Salts and 50/50 E-Liquids also share the same base ingredients—Vegetable Glycerin (VG) and Propylene Glycol (PG)—but this can be said about all E-Liquids. And because of the TPD regulations concerning bottle size for E-Liquids containing nicotine, you’ll find that both Nic Salts and 50/50 E-Liquids come in 10ml bottles. Because of this, their packaging tends to look similar.
What are 50/50 E-Liquids?
As mentioned previously, 50/50 E-Liquids get their name from their VG PG ratio. They’re the most universal E-Liquid type and can be used in most devices without causing any hardware issues, though they’re not the juice of choice for most sub-ohm vapers.
50/50 E-Liquids are brewed using “freebase” nicotine, which is the same nicotine formulation found in cigarettes. “Freebase” nicotine is the result of adding ammonia to the nicotine molecule, which helps provide a better throat hit and a smoother nicotine delivery.
When you vape, your body doesn’t absorb all of the nicotine in your E-Liquid like you might think it does. In reality, much of it gets exhaled—so while 50/50 E-Liquids share the same nicotine formulation as cigarettes, you absorb much less of it in comparison while vaping.
50/50 E-Liquids are available in a range of nicotine strengths, from 3mg up to 18mg.
Can you vape 50/50 E-Liquids in a sub-ohm tank?
Technically, you can, as vaping these E-Liquids in a sub-ohm tank or device isn’t likely to damage your hardware. However, most sub-ohm vapers prefer shortfills over 50/50 E-Liquids for several reasons.
First and foremost, sub-ohm vapers tend to go through E-Liquids much quicker than vapers using lower-powered devices, so you may end up vaping an entire 10ml bottle in a single day. For this reason, using 50/50 E-Liquids in your sub-ohm tank is simply not economical.
Furthermore, because of how much E-Liquid sub-ohm tanks tend to consume, you’d have to be mindful of the nicotine strength of your 50/50 juice so you don’t accidentally overconsume. Sub-ohm vapers shouldn’t be using any more than a 6mg nicotine strength in their tank; besides the risk of overconsumption, vaping high-strength E-Liquids in a sub-ohm tank can also result in a really harsh throat hit.
If you’re a sub-ohm vaper and you’ve got no other vape juices lying around, you can absolutely use your 50/50 E-Liquids in your device, but it’s a good idea to turn your wattage down to avoid overconsumption and an unpleasant throat hit.
What are Nic Salts?
Nicotine Salts—or, Nic Salts—are a relatively new invention. They’re a type of E-Liquid with a 50% or higher PG ratio, making them thin enough to be tolerated by most low-powered devices. Unlike 50/50 E-Liquids, Nic Salts cannot be used in just any device—especially not sub-ohm devices. This is because of Nic Salts’ most unique feature: its nicotine formulation.
A few years ago, the vaping industry realised that their existing nicotine formulation simply wasn’t satisfying enough for some vapers—especially those who were trying to quit smoking. Because “freebase” nicotine is mostly exhaled by the user, many vapers weren’t getting their nicotine fix quickly enough for their liking. This dearth is where Nic Salts were born.
Nic Salts are made by combining nicotine with a natural acid, which alters the pH of the nicotine to allow for much quicker absorption than “freebase” nicotine. This formulation helps the nicotine to enter the bloodstream much faster, and it also provides a much smoother throat hit at higher nicotine strengths, so smokers can get the amount of nicotine they need when they need it most.
While 50/50 E-Liquids tend to become harsher on the throat at higher nicotine strengths, Nic Salts don’t have this issue. They’re more satisfying to those who are trying to quit smoking or have recently quit for this very reason.
Nic Salts, unlike 50/50 E-Liquids, are available in fewer nicotine strengths. The most popular nicotine strength is 20mg, but some ranges also offer a 10mg or even a 5mg option. A 20mg strength Nic Salt will provide enough nicotine to satisfy the average daily smoker.
Who should vape Nic Salts?
Because of their nicotine formulation, Nic Salts are an ideal choice for recent ex-smokers or current smokers looking to quit.
They’re accessible, inexpensive, and they pair with some of the cheapest vape kits on the market.
Nic Salts were specifically designed for smokers by ex-smokers to give you a better chance of quitting. If you’re trying to quit and are wondering which type of E-Liquid to buy, Nic Salts are definitely for you.
Conclusion: Nic Salts vs. 50/50 E-Liquids
While the two E-Liquid types have some key similarities, they differ in several respects. Their similarities and differences can be broken down into a few key points, as seen in the Venn diagram below.
If you only take one thing away from reading this, it should be that Nic Salts are for smokers, while 50/50 E-Liquids are more universal. From there, your task will be finding which type you prefer.
If you’re still feeling lost and aren’t sure what E-Liquid type is best for you, check out our article, Which E-Liquid Should I Buy?
Revised on 17th February 2022.
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