How Nic Salts & Freebase Nicotine E-Liquids Differ

E-liquids can be broadly sorted into two categories: Nic salts and freebase. What are the differences between the two? You’re about to find out. We’re going to briefly describe both types of e-liquid, then dive into which ones are preferable for different vapers. There’s a lot of information to cover, so let’s dive into the cloudy world of e-liquids!


What is freebase liquid?

Freebase liquid is any e-liquid containing freebase nicotine. Freebase liquids were the first e-liquids, and as you’ll soon learn, they’re still the liquids of choice for certain styles of vaping, like DTL. 


To understand freebase liquids, you need to know about freebase nicotine. In its natural form, nicotine is a salt, and this salt is hard for the human body to absorb. By adding chemicals like diammonium phosphate, manufacturers can “deprotonate” nicotine, making it easier to absorb. This deprotonated nicotine is known as freebase nicotine.


What are nic salts?

Nicotine salt is nicotine that has not been deprotonated. Scientists have found ways of improving the absorption of nicotine in its salt form by using chemicals like citric acid. As you’ll soon learn, this new technique has led to the development of e-liquids with much higher concentrations of nicotine. E-liquids containing nic salts are simply called nic salt liquids or nic salt juices.


Why were nic salts created?

Freebase nicotine has problems. It has a very high pH, which means harsh throat hits. That’s all well and good when you want to emulate the feeling of smoking a cigarette, but it means you’ll almost never find freebase juice with more than 12 mg/ml of nicotine.  Any more, and even the most seasoned cloud chaser would start hacking as soon as the vapour hit their throat.

Nic salts, on the other hand, contain acids that actually reduce the pH of the salt. This makes the throat hit much gentler, and you can find nic salt liquids with nicotine concentrations of 20 mg/ml in Canada.


Which type of nicotine should I choose?

You should choose nic salts if:

  • You want a higher concentration of nicotine
  • You’re new to vaping (closed pod systems almost always use nic salts)
  • You want a smoother throat hit

You should choose freebase nicotine if:

  • You want to cloud-chase
  • You want a more harsh throat hit
  • You have a rig that’s not compatible with nic salts
  • You want to vape DTL

Freebase tends to come in a wider variety of different PG/VG concentrations, and more VG means bigger clouds. Vaping DTL with nic salts is almost impossible because the high concentration of nicotine can lead to nicotine poisoning when ingesting DTL. 


Looking for e-liquids? We can help

Here at Cold Turkey, we have a variety of liquids containing both freebase and salt nic. Visit one of our Winnipeg vape shop locations or check out our inventory online.  And if you’ve got any questions at all, don’t hesitate to call or message us - we’re always glad to help!

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