When a new innovation arrives on the vaping scene, it's easy to be sceptical. After all, it isn't always easy to tell which refinements will meaningfully improve vaping and which changes will... well, prove to be mere fads. However, it looks like nic salts could be here for the long haul.
What exactly are "nic salts"? Alternatively known by the non-abbreviated term "nicotine salts", they aren't - unlike what the name might have led you to believe - crystals. Instead, they represent a change to the familiar nicotine formula and could provide you with your smoothest vaping yet.
How nic salts differ from "freebase" nicotine
If you are familiar with smoking, you probably also know about nicotine... or so you think! You might not have realised that the pure, "freebase" nicotine in standard cigarettes does not grow in tobacco leaves, which instead harbour only nicotine salts, as Vaping Daily explains.
In those leaves, the nicotine bonds with particular acids, resulting in a significantly more stable molecule: a nicotine salt. Nic salts come in various forms, depending on the type of acid to which the nicotine bonds - whether that acid is citric, lactic, malic or something else.
None of those salts appear in either conventional cigarettes or standard vape juice. Freebase nicotine is formed through the addition of ammonia to the nicotine to make it more addictive - a recipe upon which tobacco companies stumbled as long ago as the 1960s.
The renewed relevance of nic salts
The re-emergence of nic salts into the mainstream can ultimately be attributed to PAX, the company responsible for conceiving the JUUL pod vaping system. In 2015, PAX was marketing JUUL pods to people seeking to quit smoking, so the firm had an interest in replicating the smoking experience.
Therefore, PAX bonded nicotine to benzoic acid to produce a nic salt that, as confirmed by research, rivalled freebase nicotine in its ability to maximise nicotine's concentration in blood plasma.
Interestingly, this form of nicotine also had the side effect of lowering the vapour's PH value and so enabling a significantly smoother vape. This meant that vapers of this nic salt could enjoy a strong e-liquid that wouldn't leave them with cough fits.
How should you vape nic salts?
Nic salts in their vape-ready form were made to give vapers a strong nicotine hit while they used small, portable devices. Indeed, the JUUL system is such a device, though you don't strictly need a JUUL to effectively use these nic salts; any lower-power device and tank setup will suffice.
Even when used at higher levels than freebase nicotine, nic salts can remain lower in their PH level and, hence, deliver a smoother throat hit. If you are an avid smoker looking to quit, you could be pleasantly surprised by how closely vaping nic salts feels to smoking a traditional cigarette, despite the 20MG limit, as reported by Planet of the Vapes, imposed on nic salt-based products commercially available in the UK. Even flavoured nic salts are available!