Smoking cigarettes is a dangerous habit, killing over 480,000 people a year in the US alone. Yet, giving up smoking unaided is hugely difficult. Smokers are drawn back time and again by force of habit, pure enjoyment, and one important and addictive chemical: nicotine.
Pod system vapes help you to kick the habit by replacing all of these draws, meaning you no longer reach for a sneaky cigarette. Key to this is the use of nicotine salts to alleviate nicotine cravings. But what exactly are nicotine salts? Read on to find out.
Nicotine in Cigarettes
What Is Nicotine?
Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical substance found in all tobacco products. It originates in several types of plants, the most famous of these being the Tobacco plant. It has been used in traditional medicines for over 2,000 years.
Nicotine is not cancer-causing or excessively harmful in itself when used in moderation.
How Do You Become Addicted To Nicotine?
Nicotine is found most prominently in cigarettes, which contain the Tobacco leaf. When you smoke a cigarette you inhale the chemical and it travels from your lungs to your brain. This takes at most twenty seconds.
The nicotine then mimics the actions of acetylcholine, a naturally occurring chemical found in your brain. The nicotine binds with the brain’s receptors for acetylcholine, allowing it to open and allow in sodium ions. The cell then become ‘excited’ and stays unresponsive for a few moments after the cell closes. The more often this happens the more desensitized your receptors become.
As your receptors begin to regain sensitivity after the nicotine levels in your body drop, they become agitated. You try to relieve this discomfort by smoking, and your brain begins to rely on nicotine in order to function. As it becomes less sensitive to acetylcholine, you'll need to satisfy your cravings. It becomes a vicious cycle.
You can read more about the science behind this here!
What Is Your Body's Response To Nicotine?
Nicotine is a stimulant. Your body reacts to it by releasing adrenaline and glucose, the latter caused by nicotine making the pancreas produce less insulin and so lowering your blood sugar levels. The combination of these produces pharmacological effects, including an increased heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure.
Nicotine also indirectly releases the rush of dopamine that gives you the pleasurable feeling when you smoke. This helps you to feel relaxed and awake, and is claimed to reduce feelings of anxiousness.
You should also remember that responses will vary between individuals. If you’re already a seasoned smoker and are overweight, for instance, you will be affected differently than a marathon running first time smoker. You will be able to judge better than anyone the physical effects and your tolerance levels!
If you are addicted to nicotine you can also suffer from withdrawal symptoms. These can include: cravings, anxiety, restlessness, headaches, nausea, irritability, and increased appetite.
What Are Nicotine Salts?
Nicotine salt is form of nicotine contained in pre-filled e-liquid nicotine salt pods.
In its natural form, nicotine salt is found in tobacco leaves. When in the form of nicotine salt pods this means the e-liquid is ionized, giving it a small, positive charge. When heated to the right temperature this flavored nicotine juice becomes a vapor you can inhale.
This form of ingesting nicotine was first popularized with the rise of JUUL in 2017. It offers an alternative to the traditional form of freebase nicotine that Big Tobacco companies have been using since the 1950s.
How Is Nicotine Salt Different To Freebase Nicotine?
The inherent difference between the two forms of nicotine is based on ions.
As we mentioned, nicotine salts have positive ions. Freebase nicotine, that is found in e-liquids for high-power box mod vapes, has had its positive ions removed. If you remember our little science lesson from earlier, you’ll know that this means your body's receptors won’t have to be opened to allow ions in; they can travel through membranes quickly and more easily than in their ionized form.
This ability to get a quicker hit means freebase nicotine has a lower concentration of nicotine than salts. Freebase e-liquids vary widely in their niceotine levels, but can be found at 2% NBV (nicotine by volume) or less. A nicotine salt pod, on the other hand, is usually 3-5% NBV.
What Else Is In Their Chemical Makeup?
Nicotine salt pods contain a form of acid, most often the common food additives Benzoic or Citric acid. This makes the vaping experience smooth by reducing the alkaline pH of higher contcentrates of nicotine.
Freebase nicotine is therefore more harsh to vape than nicotine salts, as an increased freebase nicotine concentration ensures a higher alkaline pH.
Nicotine Salts: Some Conclusions
Ultimately, nicotine salts are best suited for regular smokers looking to give up cigarettes for good. They not only provide a means of replacing the habit of smoking. The inclusion of acids in the juice and so the creation of the smoother throat hit means you can enjoy vaping without the harshness of using freebase e-liquid.
What's more, regular smokers shouldn't need to vape so often as these pods contain a higher concentration of nicotine. You can get your hit from a few breaths, rather than a few cigarettes.
However, it should be noted that this increased level of nicotine should be used in moderation. Nicotine is poisonous and, in rare cases, can cause an overdose when too much is ingested. When using vapes it is important that you don’t overdo it, and that nicotine salt isn't used with sub-ohm devices.