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Freebase Nicotine or Nicotine Salts: A Vaper’s Guide to Picking the Best Booster

Freebase Nicotine or Nicotine Salts: A Vaper’s Guide to Picking the Best Booster

John Boughey |

Last fact-checked 25 April 2024

If, like us, you didn’t study chemistry in school, you might be confused about the difference between nicotine salts and freebase nicotine in shortfill e-liquid.

There’s a lot of technical detail out there explaining the differences between the two chemicals, but most vapers just need to know which nicotine booster will be right for them. In this handy layman’s guide to nicotine boosters, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of both salts and freebase nicotine.  

Nicotine Salts or Freebase Nicotine: What’s the Difference?

There are two types of nicotine booster you can add to shortfill e-liquid when you're quitting smoking. Freebase nicotine is the oldest type of nicotine booster, and nicotine salts is the newest and most popular. The main differences are as follows:

Freebase Nicotine

Freebase nicotine delivers a good dose of nicotine to the bloodstream and it’s easy to measure, but it doesn't hit the bloodstream as quickly as nicotine salts. Up until a few short years ago, all nicotine boosters were made with freebase nicotine. Freebase nicotine contains ammonia, which can cause throat and nose irritation, particularly in heavy vapers.

Nicotine Salt

Nicotine salts deliver a faster, stronger nicotine kick than freebase nicotine. Basically, by adding something called benzoic acid to nicotine, it becomes much easier for a vaper’s body to absorb that nicotine (see 'Nic Salt: 5 common questions answered'). This means that vapers who use nicotine salt can relieve their cravings quickly.



    Health warning: Nicotine is a highly addictive substance

    We recommend that, unless you’re trying to quit tobacco, you should avoid adding nicotine to your vape juice. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance — it’s what makes quitting smoking so hard for so many of us — and there’s no good reason to add it to your e-liquid if you’re not already addicted. 

    If you are trying to quit cigarettes, your best chance of success lies with Your Local NHS Stop Smoking Service. When you combine nicotine replacement, like vaping or patches, with expert support from a trained professional, you give yourself the very best chance of success (you can find out more about quitting with the support of the NHS here).

    Nicotine Booster Strengths in the UK versus the USA

    There’s one more thing we need to point out: nicotine boosters sold in the UK are very different to ones sold in the USA or other jurisdictions. 

    The UK’s e-cigarette laws (which you can learn more about here) put a limit on how much nicotine your e-liquid can have. In the UK, the limit is 20 mg of nicotine. In the USA, it’s not uncommon to see nicotine strengths of 50 mg or more. 

    There’s a massive difference here, and it has a huge impact on your vaping experience. You’ve got to bear this in mind when you’re doing your research on nicotine boosters. Reports from an American vaping website won’t necessarily tie up with the experience you’ll have using nicotine salts here in Britain, because the vape juice here in Britain is fundamentally different.

    That’s it! I hope we’ve given you a simple, un-scientific guide to the two types of nicotine booster. If you need more advice on nicotine salts versus freebase nicotine, just get in touch with us. We’ll be happy to help you out.

    Stay safe and happy vaping!

    John Boughey

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