How to Choose the Right E-Liquid Nicotine Strength

Switching from smoking to vaping is a big move, but zeroing in on the right nicotine strength for your vape juice is crucial for a smooth transition. It’s not just about quenching those nicotine cravings, it’s also about elevating your vaping experience to match your needs perfectly.

We’ve put together a guide to walk you through everything you need to know about e-liquids, the different types of nicotine, and how to choose the best nicotine strength for you, helping to make the switch confidently and leave cigarettes in the past.


At the heart of every vape is the soul, the e-liquid – a simple yet fascinating blend that brings your vaping experience to life.

E-liquids are composed of a few key ingredients: nicotine (optional), Propylene Glycol (PG), Vegetable Glycerine (VG), and flavourings; they make each puff possible.

When heated up by your vape’s coil, this liquid concoction transforms into the vapour you inhale, delivering both flavour and, if you choose, your nicotine fix.

It’s this clever interplay of components that lets you tailor your vape to be as unique as you are, from smooth, thick clouds to a sharp, satisfying throat hit.

Nicotine Types

Diving into the world of nicotine in e-liquids, you’ll mainly encounter two types: salt nicotine and freebase nicotine.

Here’s what sets them apart, as well as their upsides and downsides:

Salt Nicotine

A smoother version of nicotine that closely mimics the natural structure found in tobacco leaves. It’s treated with benzoic acid to lower its pH level, making it less harsh on the throat.


  • Smoother throat hit, making it easier to vape at higher nicotine strengths without discomfort.

  • Faster absorption into the bloodstream, satisfying nicotine cravings more efficiently.

  • Ideal for new vapers and those looking to switch from smoking.


  • Less impactful throat hit may not satisfy all vapers, especially those who enjoy the sensation of smoking.

  • Higher nicotine levels might not be suitable for everyone, especially long-term vapers.

Freebase Nicotine

The purest form of nicotine, not bonded to any other compound. It’s the traditional form used in most e-liquids and cigarettes.


  • Provides a more pronounced throat hit, preferred by vapers seeking an experience similar to smoking.

  • Works well at lower nicotine strengths.

  • It’s compatible with a broader range of vaping devices and styles, including sub-ohm kits, which allows for bigger clouds.


  • Can be harsher on the throat at high concentrations, which might be off-putting for some.

  • Slower absorption rate than nicotine salts, potentially leading to more frequent vaping to satisfy nicotine cravings.

Picking between salt nicotine and freebase nicotine comes down to personal preference, your previous smoking habits, and what you’re hoping to get out of your vaping experience.

E-Liquids with Different Nicotine Types

Navigating through the variety of e-liquids available can be like stepping into a new dimension of vaping, where each type serves a unique purpose and caters to different vaping preferences.

Let’s break it down:

Nicotine Salt E-Liquids

What They Are

These e-liquids use nicotine salt for a smoother throat hit, allowing for higher nicotine strengths without the harshness.

What They Do

Ideal for satisfying nicotine cravings quickly, they’re perfect for former smokers or those looking for a discreet vape with minimal cloud production.

Device To Use

Best used in low-wattage devices and pod vape kits designed for mouth-to-lung (MTL) vaping, where inhalation is similar to smoking a cigarette.

Freebase Nicotine E-Liquids

What They Are

Containing freebase nicotine, these are the standard e-liquids offering a more pronounced throat hit at various nicotine strengths.

What They Do

They’re brilliant for vapers who prefer the sensation of smoking or those gradually reducing their nicotine intake.

Device To Use

Versatile in use, they work well with a wide range of devices, from simple vape starter kits to complex box setups, and are suitable for both MTL and DTL vaping styles.

Shortfill E-Liquids

What They Are

Nicotine-free e-liquids in larger bottles, leaving space to add nicotine shots. Shortfill e-liquids are available in varying VG/PG ratios, like 50/50 for MTL vaping and 70/30 for DTL vaping.

What They Do

They offer the flexibility to customise nicotine strength and are perfect for vapers who consume larger quantities of e-liquid or prefer mixing their own strengths.

Device To Use

Depending on the VG/PG ratio, 70/30 shortfills are great for higher-powered DTL devices, while 50/50 are ideal for MTL kits.

Nicotine Shots

What They Are

Concentrated nicotine solutions used to add to shortfills, available in both freebase nicotine and nicotine salt forms.

What They Do

Nicotine shots transform any shortfill e-liquid into a nicotine-containing juice, typically around 3mg after mixing.

Device To Use

The type of nicotine shot and resulting mixture dictates the device's suitability. For instance, a 50/50 mix with nicotine salt shots is perfect for MTL pod kits.

Whether you’re a cloud chaser using a high-powered mod or a discreet vaper with a sleek pod system, understanding these e-liquid types and their best device pairings can drastically elevate your vaping journey.

Nicotine Strengths in E-Liquid

Finding the right nicotine strength in your e-liquid is like finding the perfect key to unlock your ideal vaping experience.

E-liquids are available in a range from 0-20 mg/ml, catering to a broad spectrum of needs, from those looking to enjoy the flavour without nicotine to those needing a stronger hit to curb cigarette cravings.

Let’s explore the ranges and recommendations:

Nicotine Salt E-Liquids

These come in strengths of 5, 10, and 20 mg. Nicotine salts are a go-to for those seeking a smoother throat hit with higher nicotine levels, making them ideal for recent switchers who were heavy smokers.

Freebase Nicotine E-Liquids

Available in 3, 6, 12, and 18 mg strengths. Freebase nicotine e-liquids are favoured by vapers looking for an experience closer to traditional smoking or those gradually lowering their nicotine intake.

Shortfill E-Liquids

Typically, shortfills are 0mg nicotine e-liquids, offering the flexibility to add nicotine shots and achieve desired strengths, generally around 3-6mg. Perfect for long-term vapers who know their preferences in both flavour and strength.

What E-Liquid Strength to Choose

Choosing the right e-liquid is a must for a fulfilling vaping experience. Here’s a straightforward guide to help:

For New Vapers

High Strength Nicotine Salts

Ideal for those just making the switch from smoking to vaping. Nicotine salts provide a smoother inhalation even at higher strengths, making the transition easier with effective nicotine delivery. They come in a wide range of flavours to explore and enjoy.

For Regular Vapers

Nicotine Salts

For vapers looking for a smoother throat hit and nicotine satisfaction. Nicotine salts are perfect for everyday use, especially with low-cost pod vape kits.

Mid-Strength Freebase Nicotine

For those who appreciate a noticeable throat hit as part of their vaping experience. The strength can be adjusted according to how long you’ve been vaping.

For Long-Term Vapers

50/50 VG/PG Shortfills with Nicotine Salt Nic Shots

This mix offers a balanced experience with a mild nicotine strength of around 3mg. It’s an excellent option for vapers who prefer nicotine salts but don’t require high nicotine levels anymore.

50/50 VG/PG Shortfills with Freebase Nicotine Nic Shots

Opt for this if you’re after the throat hit characteristic of freebase nicotine. It’s suitable for those who’ve found their comfort zone in vaping and want to customise.

70/30 VG/PG Shortfills with High VG Nic Shots

Tailored for DTL vaping, this setup is all about producing huge clouds with rich flavours at a manageable nicotine strength of roughly 3mg. It’s a choice for vapers keen on exploring the wider aspects of vaping.

What’s Next?

Wrapping up your journey into the world of vaping, you’ve now armed yourself with the knowledge to pick a nicotine strength that matches your needs perfectly. But the adventure doesn’t stop here; the next step is diving into a vast sea of flavours waiting to tantalise your taste buds.

Perhaps you’re after something sweet, or maybe a flavour that mimics your old tobacco brand? The choices are endless.

To get started, why not check out our list of the Best E-Liquid Flavours Coming into 2024 or discover the top picks from the Best E-Liquid Brands for 2024?

If you ever feel like things aren’t quite clicking as you hoped, remember we’re here to guide you through. So, if you have questions, need recommendations, or simply want to share your vaping journey with us, don’t hesitate to reach out. At Vape UK, we’re more than happy to provide the support you need to reach complete vaping bliss.