Congratulations on choosing the electronic cigarette as an alternative to the smoke and chemical filled tobacco cigarettes.
The decision to do so is probably one of the best decisions you can make to improve your health.
When making the switch from smoking cigarettes to the electronic cigarette, many new users are bewildered about how to choose nicotine strength.
But it needn’t be confusing.
You can easily figure out what strength to start with by answering a few questions and then experimenting from there until you find what works best for you.
As with everything else in life, you learn by trial and error
We’re often asked exactly what 12mg or 20mg strengths mean for nicotine.
In short, it’s the amount of nicotine in milligrams, for each millilitre of E-Liquid, expressed as mg/ml.
Some companies choose to represent this as a percent per solution, which is where you’ll see 1.2% instead of 12mg/ml.
This means the same thing, just interpreted differently.
Also one of the most common questions about an E-cig relates to which e-liquid nicotine strength is equivalent to a particular kind of cigarette that a person smokes.
To better answer this question, it is better to understand how much nicotine is contained in the E-Liquid you are inhaling.
The nicotine density listed for e-liquid is the number of milligrams of nicotine per milliliter in the E-Liquid.
That means a 10ml bottle of 20mg nicotine e-liquid would have 200mg of nicotine in it (20mg x 10ml). Likewise, a 30ml bottle of 20mg e-liquid would have 600mg of nicotine in it (20mg x 30ml).
When you refill your e-cartridges with e-liquid, you may need to know how much nicotine is contained in your refilling e-liquid.
There are approximately 20 drops of e-liquid per milliliter.
So, using our 24mg nicotine e-liquid once again as an example, there would be 1.2mg of nicotine per drop (24mg/20 drops). So, if you put three drops of e-liquid onto a e-cartridge (or directly onto the atomizer for those of you that direct-drip), that means you will be taking in 3.6mg of nicotine from the time you start vaping until you top off again.
The amount as well as the feeling of the nicotine absorbed by the body from electronic cigarette smoking depends on many factors, including the density of the nicotine in e-liquid, the E-cig vaporising quantity, the smoking frequency and timing, and the smoking inhaling respiration.
Actually the nicotine in the E-Liquid can not be absorbed completely by the vaper.
For instance, if you inhale 1 ml of E-Liquid which contains 20 mg of nicotine that does not mean that you absorb all the 20 mg of nicotine.
You may only absorb about 40-65% of the nicotine according to your personal smoking habit.
It should be noted that, although it is highly addictive, no studies have shown nicotine to be a carcinogen.
It is simply the fix that cigarette smokers crave.
It is recommended that those who have a demonstrated sensitivity to nicotine, are pregnant or breastfeeding or who have unstable heart conditions, should discuss the use of any E-Liquid with a doctor before using.
Nicotine Levels in E-Liquids
Most e-liquids come in several strengths: high, medium, low, and zero.
But different companies may not have the same standards for strength so it’s important to look at the number of milligrams of nicotine.
E-liquids commonly come in 20 mg, 18 mg, 12 mg, or 6 mg strengths among others.
Choose the right E-liquid strength for you.
Use the E-liquid strength guide below, to help you make your transition to using E-cigs easier, and more successful. (This guide is not based on scientific evidence, but based on the experiences of electronic cigarette users)
Here’s A Helpful Chart That Displays Nicotine Levels:
0mg/mL Nicotine This means that there is no nicotine in your E-Liquid mixture.
Zero nicotine levels are usually ordered by people who have quit smoking but still have an oral fixation and use an electronic cigarette to satisfy it.
6mg/mL Nicotine This level of nicotine is the lightest level offered.
For people who wish to enjoy the smallest possible nicotine level while still enjoying a full E-liquid taste.
This is commonly the last level in “stepping.”
12mg/mL Nicotine On the lower end of the spectrum, 12mg/ml is a comfortable level for people who prefer nicotine, but aren’t heavy vapers.
This level is also common for people who used to smoke light cigarettes.
18mg/ml Nicotine This is the middle of the road in terms of nicotine.
Most vapers who were former smokers enjoy this level because it delivers the perfect amount of nicotine in each vape.
20mg/ml Nicotine This is on the high side of nicotine levels and is commonly preferred by people who were formally heavy smokers (about a pack per day).
It has a noticeable nicotine level that many former smokers enjoy.
Your Smoking Habits
While it is helpful to have a sense of nicotine levels in e-liquid, it is more important to look at your own smoking habits as a guide.
A light smoker who only smokes a few cigarettes a day can generally easily make the switch to a low nicotine level.
A two packs per day habit on the other hand will probably require a high nicotine level to enable the user to get enough nicotine.
Most people will fall in between and can pick a strength somewhere in the middle.
It is also important to consider your personal habits.
How much and how often do you smoke?
If you only like to take a few puffs here and there, you might prefer a stronger e-liquid to quickly boost your nicotine levels during your break.
But if you like to puff continuously throughout the day, you may be better off with a lower nicotine content so you don’t ingest too much nicotine and make yourself sick.
Or, perhaps you want to vary your nicotine levels for different situations.
For example, you might find you like to use a higher strength after meals, but prefer a weaker e-liquid first thing in the morning.
In this case, you will want to keep both a higher and lower strength e-juice on hand. Experiment until you find the strength that suits your personal habits.
More Is Not Always Better
New users of electronic cigarettes tend to choose very strong e-liquids the first time.
They remember the pain and discomfort of withdrawal symptoms when they have tried to stop smoking cigarettes in the past and are afraid this will happen again during the switch to the electronic cigarette.
More experienced users know this is not the case.
The electronic cigarette can and does deliver plenty of nicotine, and with adequate nicotine levels in your E-liquid you shouldn’t feel any withdrawal symptoms when making the switch.
Remember, you can always smoke more of an e-liquid that is a little too low for you, but if you get an e-liquid that is too high, you can make yourself sick or risk increasing your addiction to nicotine.
Be alert for symptoms of nicotine overdose.
The most common symptoms include headache, nausea, and dizziness.
If you experience any of these symptoms discontinue use of all nicotine products and speak to your doctor.
Avoid nicotine overdose by picking a sensible nicotine level for you.
Don’t let fear of nicotine withdrawals cause you to pick a level that is too high.
The electronic cigarette can be an enjoyable and easy switch from smoking cigarettes, just remember to use common sense, experiment, and listen to your body.
How to Choose Nicotine Strength for Electronic Cigarettes
It is important for those transitioning to vaping, to choose a nicotine strength as close to their tobacco-based cigarettes for two reasons:
1. Smoking to Compensate:
Because your body has become used to having a certain amount of nicotine in it, choosing a lighter replacement than the original tobacco based product will typically result in compensation smoking. This means that you will wind up smoking (or vaping) more to make up for the nicotine your body needs and craves. For example, if you smoke a regular strength cigarette and you choose an e-cigarette that is lighter in nicotine strength, you will unintentionally smoke (or vape) more than before to compensate for the nicotine loss and withdrawal.
If you choose a lower nicotine level than what you are used to, your body will still crave it’s normal amount of nicotine and therefore you may think that the e-cigarette doesn’t work for you and you’ll go back to smoking regular cigarettes. When, in fact, it was just a matter of customizing and changing your eliquid nicotine strength.
2. Too much throat hit
On the other hand, if you currently smoke a light tobacco based cigarette and you choose a full strength e-liquid strength, you will overload your body with more nicotine than it is used to while you were smoking tobacco-based cigarettes. The throat hit may be too intense for you. This can result in not liking the e-cigarette, when, in fact, you just have the wrong eliquid nicotine strength.
Nicotine Strengths FAQ
My Nicotine Level Is Too Strong?
When you inhale, does the back of your throat burn uncomfortably?
Do you get dizzy or light headed after just a few drags?
Do you get a headache after only a light session of vaping?
If any of these things apply to you, chances are you’re using a nicotine level that’s higher than your body is used to.
For some people, stepping back on the nicotine level even just one level is enough to alleviate many of these symptoms.
However, stepping back on your nicotine level is no guarantee that you’ll stop experiencing these symptoms.
Can I Reduce My Nicotine Level At Home?
If you’ve got some time and a few extra bottles of E-Liquid laying around at home, it’s easy enough to bring your nicotine level down if you find that it’s too high for your liking.
The best way to reduce the nicotine without reducing the flavour is to purchase the same flavour with less nicotine and mix the two.
For example, if you wanted to take your 20mg/mL E-Liquid down to 10mg/mL, you could buy some zero nicotine of that flavour and mix the two 50/50. If you wanted to go to 15mg/ml, (based on a 24mg/ml liquid) you could buy some 6 mg/ml and mix those 50/50. This method allows you to create virtually any nicotine level if your math is good enough!
VG will work fine for diluting nicotine levels, though it will tend to thicken the E-Liquid.
PG is less syrupy compared to VG
VG can be bought at most health food stores, or your local pharmacy (at a higher cost).
Purchasing Vegetable Glycerin, since it is also used as a skin softener, please make sure the label says either “Food Grade” or “USP”.
PG will work fine, though if you are PG intolerant stick with VG.