How do I choose a Vape Juice strength?
If you’re reading this you probably considered taking up electronic cigarettes. Vape juice is free from the over 4000 chemicals found in conventional tobacco cigarettes. Many people have found that taking up vaping is one of the best decisions they have ever made. But if you read anything about ejuice then you might be a little confused about which nicotine level is best for you. Don’t let your initial confusion over which nicotine strength to choose make you worry. Most ejuice sold is found in five nicotine strength levels. These range from 0 MG to 24 MG. But you are still asking yourself what does this mean. When you say the nicotine strength written in this way it is referring to the amount of nicotine in milligrams in relation to each milliliter of vape juice. Some vape juice manufacturers will symbolize the amount of nicotine in their vape juice using a percentage number like 1.2% or 2.4%. All that means is that it is 12 mg/mL or 24 mg/mL respectively. Personally I prefer the nicotine strength labeled as a percentage of volume as opposed to the milligram per milliliter method because I have even seen many journalists try to say that vape liquid is 100% nicotine by volume and that it is deadly to accidentally spill one or two drops on your fingers. Which is obviously false.
So when you embark on purchasing your first bottle of eliquid you probably want a vape juice that has a nicotine strength equivalent to the tobacco product you are currently using. This is a very important consideration for new vapors. So I would like to set the stage with the following example. Marlboro’s popular red cigarette has approximately 1.2 mg of nicotine per cigarette stick. An entire pack of Marlboro Reds will yield approximately 24 mg of nicotine. Another popular cigarette is the Marlboro light. The marlboro light has approximately .7 mg of nicotine per cigarette stick consuming an entire pack of Marlboro lights will yield approximately 14 mg of nicotine. A marlboro ultralight has approximately .5 mg of nicotine per cigarette stick. A 20 unit pack of cigarettes would yield a total of 10 mg of the nicotine alkaloid. You can read the full study of the components of cigarettes here: http://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/Brp/tcrb/monographs/13/m13_complete.pdf .
0 mg/mL – vape juice has no nicotine in it. It is only flavoring mixed with vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol. This is mostly purchased by people who have been vaping for a while and have tapered their nicotine level down to a 0 mg/mL strength.
24 mg/mL – this is probably the highest nicotine level regularly found produced by many vape juice companies. This is a good starting point for people who are smoking up to two packs of cigarettes a day. This should provide you with enough nicotine satisfaction from your vaping to allow you to taper off from your habit. I would recommend this as a starting point for someone who is smoking two or more packs a day. If you find that this does not provide real with enough nicotine to satisfy your urges you can seek out stronger nicotine level vape juice which is offered by many but not all ejuice manufacturers.
18 mg/mL – this is probably the most popular starting level for vaping when you begin vaping you want something strong enough to provide you with enough nicotine to satisfy your cravings but not something that is so strong that it could cause irritation upon inhalation. An 18 mg/mL nicotine level is good for someone who regularly smokes a pack to pack and a half of full string cigarettes a day. By the time you are done with your first bottle of vape juice at this strength you will know that it is either something strong enough to satisfy your cravings and keep you away from cigarettes or it is not. If it is not strong enough then you can always increase the nicotine level on your next visit to a vape store. If you find that this level is something that works for you then you will begin to gain control of your ability to measure yourself how much you need to vape in relation to the eliquid strength.
12 mg/mL – I would recommend this level to cigarette smokers who smoked on average about a half a pack of cigarettes a day. If you are only smoking about a half a pack of cigarettes a day this is a good midway point of nicotine straight to start with. The 12 mg/mL strength is also very popular for people who began at 18 mg/mL or 24 mg/mL strength. As you become more accustomed to vaping you can taper down your eliquid strength and take control of your nicotine consumption and seek out ejuice with less nicotine by volume.
6 mg/mL – as a person who is trying their first vape device and vape juice this nicotine level might prove to be too low. If you are someone who has an uncontrollable urge to smoke one or two cigarettes a day then this is probably a good option for you. Most of the people who purchase 6 mg/mL vape juice are people who are tapering down their nicotine consumption from the higher levels. This is a stepping point between with nicotine and without nicotine vape juice.
So What does that mean for me?
If you want to compare vaping nicotine levels to cigarette smoking nicotine levels you need to take into consideration something else. Neither vaping nor smoking have a 100% absorption rate of the nicotine alkaloid found in either product. But what we do know is that Cigarette companies had scientists who studied the absorption rates of cigarettes very closely. Many of the chemicals found in cigarettes enhance the body’s ability to absorb the nicotine alkaloid. Vaping does not induce the same type of efficient uptake into the body of nicotine that smoking does. You cannot easily obtain the same nicotine plasma levels in your blood system with only 5 min. of vaping compared to 5 min. of smoking cigarettes. The nicotine absorption rate in vaping takes 2 to 3 times longer using vaping devices in a normal manner. You can see a complete study results here: http://www.nature.com/srep/2014/140226/srep04133/full/srep04133.html . Which tackles this very issue.
So with all of that science you need to be alert of your own symptoms and how you feel when you vape. When you begin vaping does it make you feel nauseous or dizzy or give you some form of a headache? If you begin to feel any of the symptoms mentioned put your vaping device down for a little while and let the effect wear off. The best part of vaping devices is you can taper the amount of nicotine you consume very well once you get the hang of vaping. By adjusting your eliquid strength and tracking your vaping habits you can know pretty well how much you need to vape to make it a viable alternative to tobacco smoking.
One last thing
Having said all of that let me take a moment to talk about VG and PG levels in vape juice. VG is vegetable glycerin. Vegetable glycerin is a sugar compound. It holds artificial flavors and works well as a carrier liquid for nicotine. Propylene glycol is a substance generally recognized as safe by the food and drug administration of the United States. It also acts well as a carrier fluid for nicotine and has already been used previously in fog machines to produce vapor. Most eliquid is 49% vegetable glycerin, 49% propylene glycol, and the other 2% approximately is nicotine and artificial flavoring. Propylene glycol provides a nice, what vapors call, throat hit similar to the feeling of in handling smoke. As a new vapor you might find this important as you begin to switch from smoking to vaping. Vegetable glycerin does not produce the same kind of throat hit that propylene glycol does. Vegetable glycerin is naturally sweet since it is a sugar compound. Some people prefer a 100% vegetable glycerin mixed with nicotine and concentrated flavorings because it produces more vapor. As someone who is beginning to vape you might not prefer this because the throat hit is something you have grown accustomed to from smoking. I would like to say though that even though propylene glycol is the substance used in asthma inhalers to provide asthmatics with their medication directly into their lungs and is considered an inert substance and is generally recognized as safe some people may experience a minor irritation to propylene glycol. I would describe this as an itchy throat, not something that is harmful, but rather mildly irritating. If you find that propylene glycol gives you itchy throat that I would recommend buying vape juice without propylene glycol to avoid that minor non-harmful irritation. On the flip side, vegetable glycerin is a sugar compound. People with diabetes need to closely monitor their blood sugar levels. Some people with diabetes have complained about the possibility that vegetable glycerin from vaping increases their blood sugar level. If you have diabetes you should monitor this.