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WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.
WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.
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Vaping Basics: How Much Nicotine is Right for You?

Vaping Basics: How Much Nicotine is Right for You?

There are a lot of key decisions when it comes to choosing a vape kit. Mods, liquids, tanks, vape coils - getting these right is critical for a great experience. But experience is pointless if the device isn't performing its most important duty. Nicotine delivery is the fundamental purpose of e-cigarettes, allowing many smokers to wean themselves off of analogs.

Unfortunately, this is an area where many vapers make a mistake. Underestimating the nicotine needed means cravings won't be properly quelled. Consequently, you may find yourself gravitating back to cigarettes; however, this isn't an issue with the device, but rather human error. Better still, it's easily fixed by increasing nicotine content or opting for a different type of e-juice.

Choosing the right amount of nicotine isn't difficult. All it requires is some research and possibly, trial and error.

Establish Your Smoking Level

Some of us are honest with ourselves regarding our smoking habits, while others may underestimate the degree. What some may consider to be "heavy smoking" could be interpreted by others as "light" or "moderate". But these are just words, and the problem with words is that they're not quantifiable. The first step in determining the right nicotine percentage is to accurately determine your daily cigarette intake. For the sake of argument, we'll divide these smoking levels accordingly, but attach a number for clarification.

An important consideration is that cigarette brands vary in terms of nicotine content. Some are extremely concentrated or laced with large amounts of highly addictive "freebase" nicotine (Marlboro topping the charts at 10%). So even if you only smoke a handful of cigarettes per day, the amount of nicotine you take in could put you into a whole new level. Keep this in mind if your e-liquid isn't doing the trick.

Light Smoking (1-10 Cigarettes Per Day)

As a light smoker, you're obviously in the best possible position. Weaning yourself off of nicotine won't take long (assuming you decide to do so). That being said, a good starting point would be between 3-6mg (0.3%-0.6%). In most cases, 6mg (0.6%) is more than enough, but again, this is a case-by-case basis. There's no law that says you can't up it if needed.

Moderate Smoking (11-25 Cigarettes Per Day)

If you smoke half a pack to one pack a day, then it's safe to say you're a moderate or moderate-heavy smoker. In this case, 12mg (1.2%) is the absolute minimum level to try. If you find that 12 isn't enough (especially if your daily intake is at or slightly below a pack), there's an 18mg (1.8%) option as well.

Heavy Smoking (26-40 Cigarettes Per Day)

Once you exceed the one pack-a-day mark, it's safe to say that this is heavy smoking territory. Many smokers find that the 18mg option works well at this point. Again, however, a brands strength can make a big difference. If so, the next step is 24mg (2.4%).

Very Heavy (40-50+ Cigarettes Per Day)

If you're burning through roughly two packs a day, then we're definitely glad you've considered vaping as a viable option for nicotine replacement; however, this also means you'll need a seriously high dose. The 24mg variety may work for some. If not, 36mg (3.6%) e-liquids are available; however, the cut-off for most standard e-liquids is usually at 24mg. Not all brands go as high as 36, but they do exist.

Don't despair, however. If you need more nicotine, choose liquids made with nicotine salts. This variation isn't nearly as harsh as conventional e-liquids, but the content can be quite high. In fact, it's not uncommon for them to hit 50mg (5.0%), which is intense. Many former smokers say that salts make a huge difference, providing the "punch" or "hit" that regular e-liquids don't deliver. Just make sure you use a cheap, simple vape pen. These products aren't meant for complex sub-ohm devices.

Light to moderate smokers should completely avoid nicotine salts. While nicotine itself isn't as toxic as the other chemicals in cigarettes, its effects are a lot like caffeine. Too much nicotine could cause things like rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure dizziness and nausea - to name a few. Not to mention that increasing nicotine dosage hampers the goal to wean yourself off of the drug.

Vape Choices

Once you know your nicotine level, it's important to touch briefly upon the types of devices. The lower your nicotine, the more options you have.

Vape Pens

Vape pens are tiny devices meant for e-liquids containing 12mg or more. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Pens are the cheapest products available. They're also extremely easy to refill and use. Some even come with pre-filled cartridges or are designed exclusively with nicotine salts in mind. Their e-juices are cheap with plenty of flavor choices. Pens are also quite discreet, generating little vapor.


Being a light smoker isn't just better news for your lungs - it also opens up a whole slew of new options. Liquids containing 6mg or less are available for both simple devices and advanced mods.

"Sub-ohm" refers to the level of electrical resistance in a vape, applying to anything beneath 1.0 ohms. More energy then goes to the coil, allowing larger amounts of e-juice to vaporize. Technical aspects aside, these devices can use highly advanced tanks that, in turn, are compatible with "premium" e-juices containing high levels of vegetable glycerin (VG). This ingredient allows for massive clouds and provides a much smoother vaping experience.

However, the sheer amount of cloud production means that juice is used up quickly. A lot of nicotine vaporizes in each puff, which is why going to 12mg or above is unbearably harsh.

Keep in mind that sub-ohm vaping is more advanced, so it's always advisable to start small. Granted, your local vape shop can easily give you a quick tutorial, and we have plenty of great online resources to tell you everything you need to know about sub-ohm vaping.

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