Nicotine is highly addictive

What's the difference between Freebase, Salt and Hybrid Nicotine?

Posted by Jonathan Dennison on

As a new vaper, you're probably wondering what the difference is between Freebase, Salt, and Hybrid nicotine e-liquids. The primary difference between these types of nicotine is the smoothness or throat hit that you will receive and the speed at which the nicotine is absorbed into your bloodstream.

Traditionally in vaping, Freebase (a.k.a. regular nicotine) e-liquids is what we've been accustomed to for many years. With regular nicotine, you get more of a "throat hit" satisfaction, where the "burn" is found largely in the back of the throat. 

An advantage of traditional freebase nicotine e-liquids is that they come in a wide range of strength levels ranging from 3mg/mL to 12mg/mL, as well as nicotine-free formulations. In addition, we also offer a nic-up service that can give you the ultimate custom experience for nicotine levels (for freebase liquids only). Say you want 6mg but we’re sold out? No problem! We can take a 3mg and bump it up by 3mg, making it a 6mg with no issues. 

Given that most freebase e-liquids come in varying VG/PG levels and nicotine strengths, the device you use will play a big part in both the strength and VG/PG ratio that you should buy. We recommend both traditional tank/mod setups, as well as a variety of pod systems for use with freebase nicotine e-liquids.

Aside from that, most e-liquid manufacturers offer freebase e-liquids in 60mL bottles, thus making it a more economical choice for most vapers. 

To recap, the advantages of freebase e-liquid are as follows:

  • Bigger throat hit / burn
  • Wide variety of nicotine strength options
  • Larger bottle size
  • Works well in all vape devices

When it comes to salt nicotine, this is where things become vastly different. The rise in popularity of salt nicotine e-liquids is due in part to the prevalent use of closed pod systems and disposable vape devices.

While the nicotine strength of salt nicotine e-liquids is generally higher (i.e. 10 or 20mg/mL), they offer a very smooth inhale with minimal throat irritation and rapid nicotine absorption compared to freebase nicotine e-liquids. It is for these reasons that we tend to recommend salt nicotine e-liquids for those transitioning from smoking to vaping.

Given that salt nicotine contains a higher level of nicotine than freebase nicotine, we recommend low-wattage mouth to lung tanks and pod systems for salt nicotine e-liquids.

Salt nicotine only comes in 30mL bottles due to the fact that it is vaped at lower wattages, making a 30mL bottle of salt nicotine last as long if not longer than a 60mL bottle of freebase nicotine e-liquid that is vaped in a higher wattage device. 

To recap, the advantages of salt nicotine are as follows:

  • Smooth hit
  • Rapid nicotine absorption
  • Higher nicotine levels

Lastly, we have the "Hybrid" nicotine e-liquids. Simply put, Hybrids perfectly balance the characteristics of both freebase and salt nicotine,giving the user ultimate satisfaction of throat hit, lung burn and rapid nicotine absorption. You may have seen the terms "Bold", "Special", etc. used on e-liquid packaging. These are common terms used when referring to the use of hybrid nicotine. 

Just like salts, hybrid nicotine usually only comes in high strengths seen in salt nicotine e-liquids (although Riot Squad offers high/medium/low/light hybrid nicotine strengths), and so it's target demographic are heavy smokers, or those vapers that prefer high nicotine strengths common in salt nicotine e-liquids, but also want more of a throat hit or burn common in freebase nicotine e-liquids.

We recommend the use of low-wattage mouth-to-lung tanks and pod systems for hybrid nicotine e-liquids, just like we do for salt nicotine e-liquids.

With respect to size, only 30mL bottles are currently being produced for hybrid nicotine e-liquids. This puts hybrid nicotine e-liquids at the same price point as salt nicotine e-liquids.

To recap, the advantages of hybrid nicotine are as follows:

  • Bigger throat hit than salt nicotine
  • Smoother at high nicotine strengths than freebase nicotine
  • Fast absorption

When deciding on the type of nicotine to use, it really comes down to 2 things: How much you smoke and the type of vape you are using.

If you are transitioning away from light / smooth cigarettes, you will likely do well with a salt nicotine e-liquid as you will be able to get a high nicotine strength with a smoother inhale and less throat hit / burn. Salt nicotine is also absorbed into the bloodstream quicker than Hybrid or Freebase nicotine with an effect similar to smoking a cigarette. This formulation will give you the strength you need for a successful transition from smoking to vaping, while limiting the harshness on your throat that is usually present at higher nicotine levels. Please note that while the nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream faster, it also leaves the bloodstream faster causing you to vape more frequently.

If you are transitioning away from stronger cigarettes and like a little bit of a throat hit / burn, a hybrid nicotine will allow you to get a higher nicotine strength with a heavier throat hit than what you would receive from salt nicotine. While the effects of a hydrid e-liquid will not be as fast acting as with a salt nicotine, it will also take longer to leave your body meaning that you will not need to vape as frequently as with salt nicotine. 

If you have been vaping for a while and want to start reducing the amount you vape and the nicotine you consume but don’t want it to feel as though you are vaping air, or if you are using low resistance coils (below 0.8ohms – 1.0ohms) to get lots of vapour out of your sub-ohm vape device, freebase nicotine would be most appropriate solution as you can get lower nicotine strengths that still provide a decent throat hit. Given that freebase nicotine takes longer to absorb into and to leave your bloodstream, you will not experience the highs and lows of a fast absorbing nicotine and you will be able to go a longer time between puffs.

We hope this gives you a better understanding of the different types of nicotine used in e-liquids. The journey you're currently on can be confusing, but hopefully this steers you in the right direction! If you'd like to learn more about the different nicotine strengths and which strength is recommended for new vapers, please take a look at our blog post "New Vapers Nic-Strength Recommendations".

Feel free to email or call us, or visit our retail location for expert advice and recommendations.

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