Do Nic Salts Really Make Your Vape Smoother?

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes


Is your vape too harsh?

A few years ago (before nic salt e liquid was invented) I nearly quit vaping and went back to smoking. The harsh throat hits I was getting from my e cigarette and regular vape liquid were just too much. I’d only just taken up vaping, and already I was finding it way too rough on my throat, not to mention the hiccups, too. 

Luckily for me, nic salt juice came out just as I was about to ditch my harsh vapes for good, and this wouldn’t have happened a moment too soon. I found its smooth formulation gave me a gentler inhale and a softer vape.

Nicotine salt liquid worked for me and thankfully kept me vaping (and off the cigarettes). But do nic salt juices really make vaping smoother for everyone?

Here’s my 2021 guide to understanding nic salts and how to choose – and use – them in the right way for a smoother vape all round.

What is nic salt, and how is it smoother?


Nic Salt vape juice first became popular when it was used in Juul and other low power pod vape systems, and is a relatively new development. Basically, it’s the same old nicotine liquid as before, but with a few chemical twists.

What’s different with nic salt e liquid is that it undergoes a simple chemical process to make it less alkaline. This gives you a vape which isn’t too harsh and a stronger throat hit that tastes and feels a lot more like smoking.

Nic salts give you more control over smoothness

Simply put, salt nic e liquids give you more control over the balance between nicotine strength and smoothness in your vape. Of course, your e cigarette can produce other weird tastes as well as harsh ones, but getting your e liquid vapour nice and smooth is still a bonus.

The problem with regular vape juice is that you can never make it strong enough to satisfy. You try to ramp up your nicotine levels (or power) for a stronger vape, but you just end up with a vape juice that is harsh on your throat.

So how does nic salt juice solve this problem? By giving you a stronger vape to satisfy cravings, but with a smoother throat hit and fewer side effects, like hiccupping.

Balancing strength and smoothness

When using nic salts juice in your tank, you may need to raise your usual nicotine levels a bit to get noticeable strength. And this is especially true if you’re using a mouth-to-lung (MTL) vape device.

For me, 10mg gives me a strong enough hit with regular juices, but I often need a little more nicotine kick when I’m using salt juice in my tank. That’s why nowadays I go for 12mg or even 14mg salt liquid strength. This gives me a bit more lift, but way less harshness than a regular liquid would provide at that strength.

Vaping nicotine salts at weaker nicotine strengths

While you can expect impressive results above 10-12mg with salts, anything below that may not give you much of throat hit at all.

In the old days, I was usually able to achieve a satisfying MTL vape with regular e liquids at 8mg or even 6mg. However, with nic salts, I often can’t feel any throat hit at all below 8mg or so. That may be just because I’ve become desensitised to nicotine over time. What’s most likely though is that salts simply work more effectively at higher nicotine strengths.

If you’re comfortable with DIY e liquid mixing, I’d recommend getting your hands on some high strength unflavoured nic salt shots. 18mg is strong enough, though you can go higher without getting too many harsh vape hits. You can then dilute these down with PG and VG base liquid to whatever strength you want.

Doing this will give you more flexibility to get just the right balance of smoothness and strength in relation to your hardware set-up.

MTL devices give the smoothest nicotine salt vape

Nic salt e liquids were originally designed for use in pod vapes for smokers. So it shouldn’t come as too much surprise that low power MTL vape devices are the best way to kill harsh hits with nic salts.

To keep flavours bright and maximise vape smoothness I ‘d recommend vaping salt juice in an MTL device at no higher than 9-12 watts. With this set-up, I go for 12mg salts, and vape with a very low-resistance MTL coil (usually 1.0 or 1.2 ohms max) in place. Boring I know, but unbelievably satisfying!

If you just have a simple vape device with no power controls, don’t worry. Many basic MTL pod vapes are designed to run at 11 or 12 watts anyway and so these should still give you a smooth inhale with salt juices. A good example of a basic pod vape which gives very smooth hits with nic salts is the Vaporesso Osmall.

Is your nic salt still too harsh?

Salts even at high nicotine concentrations are still smoother than regular liquids. But there are limits to how smooth you can go. Way too much nic strength (e.g. above 30mg) and wattage (e.g. above 20w) may still result in a harsh vape in spite of whatever you do.

However, if your nic strength and power settings look ok, but you’re still getting harshness, you can do a few simple things to improve nic salt smoothness.

First of all, dilution is of course the most obvious way to fix excessive harshness in your nic salt vape. Diluting your salts down with a little VG and a few drops of water or PG liquid should remove excessive harshness from your vape liquid. The VG should also make the mixture a little thicker, which should in turn slow the flow a little to give you a softer inhale.

Another way to reduce harshness with nic salt juice is to use a slightly higher resistance coil. For example, if you’re using a 1.0 ohm vape coil right now and you’re still getting too many harsh hits, move down to a 0.8 ohm coil without raising your voltage. Your salt juice vapour should then be a little cooler and softer.

A final way to get a smoother vape with nicotine salts is to go for types of liquid which contain the right blend of ingredients. Ideally, you should avoid 100% PG brands, and go for nic liquids which contain benzoate salts, which tend to be softer on the throat.

What is the best nic salt juice for smoothness?

Benzoate nic salt juice is the smoothest of the three main nic salt juice types available. This is because it has a near-neutral pH of 6.5, and so provides a softer throat hit similar to that of tobacco smoke. Benzoate juice is therefore the best option for those in search of smoother nic salt vaping.

Just like with the other types of nic salt (malate and salicylate), benzoate type nic salt juices can be softened further with a few drops of VG (up to 10%) to provide an even gentler throat hit.

Are nic salt juices really as smooth as cigarette smoke?

The softer, smoother vapour and increased buzz that nicotine salts provide certainly makes vaping a lot more like smoking for smokers. I wouldn’t say that salt vapour is just as smooth as cigarette smoke, but with benzoate juices, it does get pretty close. For this reason, nic salts should definitely be the first port of call for anyone starting vaping to quit smoking.

Smokers and new vapers often give up vaping within a few days,  just because their vape juice is too harsh. Salt juices, on the other hand, provide a softer, smoother introduction to vaping. And this of course makes you more likely to stick at it, rather than drifting back to smoking.

Of course, vaping salt juice won’t give you 100% of the smoking experience. But with the right device and set-up it will get you a lot closer to the smoothness of cigarette smoke.

Is nic salt less harsh for smokers?

Nic salt is noticeably smoother than regular vape juice for smokers coming into vaping. This is because the action of less alkaline nic salt vapour on the throat feels a lot more like inhaling real cigarette smoke. Though some smokers say they still get hiccups and sore throats from nic salt juices, most would agree that salt liquids are a lot smoother than traditional e liquids.

Can nic salts make direct lung vaping smoother?

Nic salts were not designed for DL (direct lung) vaping, though nic salts can nevertheless make direct lung vaping smoother. However, DL vapers generally inhale higher volumes of vapour, and tend to inhale more deeply when they vape. This is why direct lung users should keep nicotine levels low when using nic salts as smoothness can make strength harder to gauge.

Why am I coughing with nic salts?

Some people say they cough more with nicotine salt juices than with regular e liquid, despite the benefits of added smoothness. Some more acidic types of salt liquids (salicylate in particular) can cause coughing, as can those with high PG ratios. Salt brands which contain benzoic acid and/or higher VG ratios may reduce throat irritation and coughing.

Do nic salts make you dizzy or lightheaded?

Feeling lightheaded or dizzy is a common experience among nic salt users, and especially if you are trying them for the first time. Because nic salt vape juice is so smooth, it is very easy to ramp up your nicotine levels or power and take in too much nicotine without noticing. This means you end up feeling dizzy because nic salt strength is too high.