Nicotine is a drug. It is addictive and a deadly poison in the right dose. It is not something to use lightly. I have been using nicotine in one form or another for over 20 years and I know firsthand how addictive it is.
If you are not already using nicotine I would not recommend you start.
If you are a non-smoker looking to use electronic cigarettes for fun please stick to the 0% nicotine levels with any e-cig that you use.
This section is for those of us who are already using nicotine, have a dependence, and are looking to produce the same effect with vapor instead of smoke.
So then, let’s jump right into it, shall we?
When we are looking at nicotine content in an e-liquid it is indicated in one of two ways.
Either it will be in a percentage (1.2%) or in a number such as 12 which indicates the concentration of nicotine in milligrams to milliliter (mg/ml).
To translate between the two forms of measurement simply move the decimal place by one. Move it back one space to go from mg/ml to a percentage and forward to go the other way. So 12 mg/ml is equivalent to 1.2% nicotine content, 1.8% equals 18 mg/ml and so on.
The most common nicotine levels are; 0,06, 12, 18, 24 and 36 mg/ml. Some manufacturers make stronger solutions but anything over 36 in my opinion is way too strong (even 36 is pushing it a little). 06 would be representative of a light cigarette, 12 would be considered medium, 18 and 24 would be like strong cigarettes and 36 would be SUPER strong (For most people 36 mg/ml would be too much).
I find myself really enjoying a mix of an 18 and a 12. I guess that puts me at about 15 mg/ml or 1.5% nicotine content. Most of my friends use the 1.2% and I would say that’s probably the closest to a regular strength cigarette. When it comes to nicotine less is more, try not to get a higher nicotine level that your body is used to.
When I first started, my nicotine level was at 18 mg/ml and I found I got headaches after a lot of vaping as a result of having too much nicotine. As soon as I lowered the nicotine content the headaches went away and I can now vape all day long headache free. Bear that in mind as you make you selection and remember, less is more when it comes to nicotine.
Choose the right nicotine level and increase the enjoyment from your electronic cigarette and make a plan to step yourself down gradually. It makes it so much easier when we do it in stages. Here are the common strengths:
Light smoker: 06 mg/ml or 0.6%
Medium Smoker: 12-18 mg/ml or 1.2-1.8%
Heavy Smoker: 24 mg/ml or 2.4%
Chain Smoker: 36 mg/ml or 3.6% (Use Cautiously)
The above article was written over three years ago now and although the information is still accurate, I do feel an update is in order as vaping has evolved quite a bit in that time.
For anyone considering “sub-ohm” vaping (vaping with atomizers with resistances less that 1 ohm), whether with factory-made atomizers, or home-made coils, the above nicotine amounts should be divided in half.
Trying to vape the same nicotine level you are used to with a greatly reduced resistance can cause dizziness, head-ache and a rapid heart rate which at the very least is quite uncomfortable.
Again, it’s worth saying: Less is more when is comes to nicotine. If you are just quitting smoking and are looking to start vaping on a sub-ohm atomizer, use half what is recommended above.
If you are a seasoned vaper who is looking to upgrade devices and are considering “sub-ohming”, consider dropping your mg/ml by half the amount that you are currently using.
I know from experience what too much nicotine feels like, it happened to me a couple times as I advanced and it’s really unpleasant, it’s not the end of the world nor is it really long-lived, but it’s not very nice and it’s altogether avoidable.
I would rather have too little nicotine now and take some extra puffs rather that going through that massive headache and rapidly beating heart feeling again. My recommendation is to start low and if necessary, work your way up slowly.
Don’t forget that nicotine is absorbed by the body differently through vapor than it is with smoke. With cigarettes, the nicotine absorption is almost instantaneous whereas with vapor, it takes almost 2o minutes to be fully absorbed.
That’s why it’s easier to overdo it with e-cigs, because sometimes, you keep puffing until the “nic-fit” is satisfied but then for the next 20 minutes, the nicotine level in your blood keeps steadily rising.
The how it happened to me each time. It takes a little while to find your “sweet spot”. When starting out, try taking puffs regularly throughout the day to keep the nicotine level in your body relatively even, taking maybe 3-4 puffs at a time.
If though, for example, you can only vape on breaks or specific limited times and such, be mindful how much you are actually vaping during that time and try to stop slightly before you are completely satisfied.
I know it’s a little weird at first but you do get used to it. You’ll notice over the next 10-15 minutes, the nicotine in your body gets more noticeable.
Especially for those who are just making the switch from smoking to vaping, you’ll want to ensure you are getting enough nicotine as to make quitting pleasant. You’ll just want to be aware of how much you are using so that you don’t overdo it which can be easy to do, especially in the beginning.
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