What’s The Difference Between Freebase Nicotine E-Liquids & Nic Salt E-Liquid?

What’s The Difference Between Freebase Nicotine E-Liquids & Nic Salt E-Liquid?

Whether you’re new to vaping or not, it’s clear that there are literally thousands and thousands of different e-liquids out there to choose from. There really is something for every taste preference. But, beyond flavour, choosing the right e-liquid is the most important decision of your vaping experience - especially if you’re using vapes to try and quit smoking.

The type of e-liquid you use is not just about personal taste; it also needs to be compatible with your vaping device. Different devices work better with specific types of e-liquids, and using the wrong combination can affect whether you get what you want from vaping. 

Two kinds of e-liquid types you will probably have heard of are Freebase Nicotine E-Liquids and Nic Salt E-Liquids. But you may not fully understand what both of these contain and what their major differences are. In this article, we’re going to address exactly that, and hopefully leave you with the knowledge of whether you should be choosing freebase e-liquids or nic salt e-liquids.

What’s In A Freebase Nicotine E-Liquid?

Freebase e-liquids are the most common, and are the kinds of e-liquids you see sold in petrol garages and all manner of shops throughout the UK. There are two main ingredients in freebase e-liquids; Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerine (VG).

Propylene Glycol (PG): This is a colourless, odourless substance with a slightly sweet taste to it. It is the main ingredient responsible for carrying the flavour in any freebase e-liquid. It’s also what creates the ‘throat hit’ that simulates the sensation of a real cigarette and that helps former smokers kick the habit with these liquids.

Vegetable Glycerine (VG): This is a thicker substance than PG although it does also have a slightly sweet taste on its own. It’s the more combustible of the two and is what creates the dense vapour clouds that many people create when they vape freebase liquids on high power devices. Also, e-liquids with a higher VG content are often smoother and less harsh on the throat.

Usually the ratio between the two ingredients in e-liquids is 50:50, which is why these liquids are sometimes referred to as 50:50 freebases. However, the ratio between them can vary somewhat in order to offer different experiences in terms of flavour intensity, throat hit, and the amount of vapour that they produce. 

image of man vaping a large vapour cloud

How Are Freebase E-Liquids Made?

You might be wondering where the term ‘freebase’ actually comes from. Well it’s actually due to the process used to create these e-liquids, ‘freebasing’. It’s where the chemistry involved gets interesting. Nicotine in its natural state within the tobacco leaf is in the form of a salt. However, this form of nicotine isn't very effective in delivering nicotine to the user when smoked or vaped. That’s where freebasing comes into play.

When freebased, nicotine is converted from its salt state into its pure, base form. This process is achieved by increasing the pH level of nicotine, which involves a basic chemical reaction. Why do all of this? The answer lies in how potent and easy to absorb the nicotine needs to be. Freebase is more potent and more easily absorbed by the body than nicotine in its natural form. 

The freebasing process doesn’t change the dosage of the nicotine, it just alters the form of the nicotine being absorbed. It’s what allows for many freebase liquids to be made in strengths as low as 3mg nicotine as they don’t need high strengths in order to absorb enough to satisfy cravings. 

What’s In Nic Salts?

Nic salts, or nicotine salts to use their full name, take a different approach in creating e-liquids. These are what are then more often referred to as ‘nic salt e-liquids’. Like freebase e-liquids, nic salts typically contain the same base ingredients: 50% Propylene Glycol (PG) and 50% Vegetable Glycerine (VG).

However, the key difference with nic salt e-liquids is that the process of refining them results in a form of nicotine with a more neutral (and natural) pH level than in freebases. This is achieved by retaining the natural salt form found in tobacco leaves, which is then combined with a weak acid like benzoic acid. This combination lowers the pH level of nicotine, resulting in a smoother throat hit, even at higher nicotine strengths such as 20mg.

As a result, nic salts are often preferred by those who require higher nicotine levels but want a more comfortable and less harsh vape from their e-liquid, a bit like the difference between drinking an expensive vodka instead of a very cheap one.

image of a collection of gators nic salts

How Are Nic Salt E-Liquids Made?

Creating nic salt e-liquids involves a careful process of blending the different ingredients. It starts with nicotine in its natural salt-type form, as it exists in tobacco leaves. Then, it's mixed with a combination of Propylene Glycol (PG), Vegetable Glycerine (VG), and a crucial ingredient – a weak acid. 

When the acid is introduced, it immediately reacts with the nicotine creating a nicotine salt in a liquid form. The reaction also lowers the pH level and keeps it closer to its neutral state which means, when vaped, it provides a smoother feel on the throat, even when it's at a high strength.

Producing nicotine salts rather than just using the freebasing method is not just about adjusting the pH level; it's about creating a form of nicotine that is closer to what naturally occurs in tobacco leaves.

Where Nic Salt E-Liquids Are The Better Option

We started this blog advising that depending on what it is you want from your vape, you will have to look at which kind of e-liquid is going to be best. Nic salt e-liquids tend to be the preferred choice for certain groups of the vaping community, usually because of their smoothness and effective nicotine delivery. Here are two key scenarios where nic salts are the better option over freebase e-liquids.

  1. Quitting Smoking

When people turn to vaping as a way to kick cigarettes, nic salt e-liquids are probably going to be the best option. Because they often have a higher nicotine content and the form of nicotine in them is closer to that of the natural kind in tobacco leaves - nic salt e-liquids are better at satisfying their cravings. 

  1. When Using Low-Wattage Devices

Nic salts are also well-suited for low wattage devices, such as pod systems. Low-wattage devices obviously don’t produce as much heat or vapour as the big, larger battery systems. However, because nicotine salts don’t need as much heating to deliver nicotine well, they therefore are better for vapers using low power devices.

When Is It Better to Use Freebase E-Liquids?

On the lip side, there are also some instances where using freebase e-liquids can be the better option:

  1. For A Larger Range Of Flavours

People who vape, and are not quitting smoking, purely for the enjoyment of different flavours, freebase liquids are a good way to go. Freebase e-liquids are more common than nic salts, and as a result, there are a lot more flavours available in this category - so if you’re trying to get experimental with a taste palette, then you’ll probably want to use 50:50 freebase.

  1. For Cloud Chasing

Freebase e-liquids are a top choice for cloud chasers - vapers who enjoy creating large clouds of vapour. The way in which freebase nicotine is produced, combined with an often higher ratio of VG, make these e-liquids better for producing thick, dense clouds, especially when used in high-powered devices. 

Our Top Nic Salt E-Liquids Picks

At Gators, we have a huge range of nic salt e-liquids and nicotine free vape juices with many different strengths and flavours. Here’s three of our top flavour picks for our range of nic salt e-liquids.

Sour Apple Nic Salt E-Liquid

Experience the exhilarating tang of sour apples with our Sour Apple Nic Salts. Available in both 10mg and 20mg strengths, this blend is perfect for those who love a sharp, zesty twist in their vape.


image of gators sour apple nic salt e-liquid


Buy Gators Sour Apple Nic Salt E-Liquid Here.

Pineapple Nic Salt E-Liquid

Dive into the essence of a tropical paradise with our Pineapple Nic Salt E-Liquid. Whether you choose 10mg or 20mg, this nic salt e-liquid brings the sweet and tangy sensations of ripe pineapples, that gives a sweet burst to your vape.


image of gators pineapple nic salt e-liquid bottle


Buy Gators Pineapple Nic Salt E-Liquid Here.

White Peach Razz Nic Salt E-Liquid

Our White Peach Razz nic salt e-liquid is a delicate fusion of soft white peach and vibrant raspberry flavours. White Peach Razz delivers a refreshingly sweet and tangy taste, perfect for people who appreciate a sophisticated and balanced fruit combination.

image of gators white peach razz nic salt bottle

Buy Gators White Peach Razz Nic Salt E-Liquid Here.

Our Top Nicotine Free Picks

For those who prefer nicotine-free vaping, here are three of our fan favourites that focus on a sweet and sophisticated taste. All of our nicotine free e-liquids come in 60ml bottles, meaning you get good tasting vapes for longer.

Strawberry Kiwi

Our nicotine-free Strawberry Kiwi e-liquid offers a delightful duo of sweet strawberries and zesty kiwis. It’s a combination of contrasting flavours that is great for vapers who enjoy a blend of sweet and sour to their e-liquid. 


image of gators nic salts strawberry kiwi nicotine free 60ml liquid


Buy Gators Strawberry Kiwi Nicotine Free E-Liquid Here.

Grape Berry

The Grape Berry flavour is a nicotine-free option that combines the rich taste of grapes with a medley of ripe berries. These flavours are less about sweetness and more about the depth of flavour that grapes and natural berries have. 


image of gators nic salts grape berry nicotine free 60ml liquid


Buy Gators Grape Berry Nicotine Free E-Liquid Here.

Pink Lemonade

You can seriously quench that vaping thirst with Pink Lemonade e-liquid, a vibrant blend of zesty lemons and sweet strawberries. Sweet, tangy and refreshing - this e-liquid will certainly leave you feeling energised.


image of gators nic salts pink lemonade nicotine free


Buy Gators Pink Lemonade Nicotine Free E-Liquid Here.

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