If you're at all familiar with vaping, it's likely you either use or have heard of nicotine salt juice. If you're like me and have been vaping for the better half of a decade, you might be a little confused by the recent development.


Back in my day we used to vape 24mg freebase on a Clearomizer.
Let's start with the chemistry basics. Nicotine as you have come to know and love in "traditional" vape juice looks like this:
This form of nicotine is referred to in technical circles as the freebase form of nicotine. Freebase is commonly associated with illicit drugs and probably some sort of adrenaline fueled sport. But in reality, freebase just means that that N (nitrogen) on the end of that nicotine molecule has a negative charge because it's not attached to anything. That means it's hungry and looking for + charges. This is also why nicotine is alkaline, meaning it has a higher pH than water (~7pH). Some quick testing with a pH meter in the lab shows that VG/PG/Nicotine mixes without added flavorings are basic, which is a synonym for alkaline.

So WTF is salt nicotine? Well, a salt has a bit of a different meaning in chemistry. It's a combination of a positive and negative ion (for the most part). Here's what table salt (sodium chloride) looks like.
So in nicotine salt, swap the chlorine (Cl) for our buddy negative nicotine and the positive ion, in the case of nicotine salts it is benzoic acid.
What you get (after some chemistry stuff) is a nicotine salt.

Cool. Are you wondering what that means for vaping? What does that even do?
Well guess what, you're in good company. 
The people who were the first to do this was PAX labs, aka the company responsible for the JUUL. Here's what they claimed.
  • Absorbs faster
  • More like a real cigarette

And they provided this handy chart alongside their marketing materials.

Nicotine Absorption Rates


So basically they state that their salt nicotine formulation absorbs into the blood faster based on these fancy colored lines. Curious as to how they tested this? So am I. So is the FDA. They have no methodology, no study design and the only information they state (the PBPK model) is a theoretical mathematical model. If you can't tell, I don't buy this "faster absorption which makes it more like a real cigarette" BS one bit.

"Well Dane, why do you guys at Butt Out carry salt nicotine then?" you ask. Well because salt nicotine is a larger molecule than freebase nicotine, the benefit that it offers is more even heating (bigger things take longer to heat up and distribute heat more evenly). What does this mean for vaping? It means you can vape higher nicotine concentrations without burning up your throat. This can be a big benefit to those switching from traditional cigarettes, as there are other compounds in those to facilitate the absorption rate of nicotine into the bloodstream. The drawback is that the flavor molecules doesn't bind to the negative portion of the nicotine which can make the flavors muted.

It also means that companies like JUUL, oh I'm sorry, *cough* Phillip Morris can put extremely high nicotine juice in their devices. Yes, Altria (formerly known as Phillip Morris) purchased JUUL a few weeks ago.

In my opinion (and the FDA's) JUUL championed their "innovation" and it's benefits with no actual proof of those benefits and used that to guise the fact that all they were selling was a form of nicotine that you could use in absurdly high amounts without people coughing their brains out. It was and continues to be shady. That's why at Butt Out, we cap our nicotine salt concentration at 24mg/mL. Our mission from day one has been to offer an alternative to traditional analogue cigarettes, and if some people need a higher nicotine concentration to do that, we're happy to help them.

We are not here to offer a better way to abuse nicotine.


Any questions or comments, just leave 'em below. I'll try my best to get to them.



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