Beginner’s Guide to Vaping Nicotine

One of the main reasons people are taking up vaping is as a smoking cessation method. And they'd be right to, with official studies now showing that you’re more than twice as likely to quit smoking if you replace it with vaping. But what makes vaping so successful in helping people quit? Well, the fact that it is a similar experience helps, but one of the main reasons is that it is an easy way to take in nicotine.

Why should you vape nicotine if you are quitting smoking?

Nicotine is primarily why cigarettes and smoking are so addictive. By vaping e-liquids that contain nicotine, you are effectively replacing the intake you are used to, which can limit cravings significantly. It works in a similar way to many established NRT(Nicotine replacement therapy) methods, such as nicotine patches, gums and inhalators.

If you are switching from smoking, by using zero or low nicotine e-liquids, you are not replacing your nicotine intake. While the action of vaping may be a similar action, it is unlikely that this alone will help keep away those annoying cravings.

Is vaping nicotine safe?

You might then be concerned that vaping nicotine in an e-liquid is just as dangerous as smoking it in tobacco. Happily, that’s not the case. We know that vaping is around 95% less harmful than smoking, and vaping nicotine comes under the same PHE study. Of course, vaping is not 100% safe, and there is still plenty of research underway, but vaping nicotine is still significantly less damaging than tobacco based nicotine.

Nicotine, while being a highly addictive substance, is actually relatively harmless. The negative health effects from cigarettes mainly come from the tar that damages your lungs, as well as a concoction of other harmful chemicals. Nicotine is a stimulant which means it does increase your heart rate, but not permanently. In an ideal world, you shouldn’t take nicotine at all, but if you are serious about quitting cigarettes, then replacing your nicotine intake is an absolute must.

How do I vape nicotine?

Vaping nicotine is no harder than vaping any other e-liquid. In fact, the majority of e-liquids you can buy contain some amount of nicotine. The key is simply selecting an e-liquid that contains nicotine or creating one yourself, which we will explore later. There is no special trick to these e-liquids, and most have been designed with nicotine in mind.

Which e-liquids contain nicotine?

Many e-liquids contain nicotine straight out of the bottle. Due to the TPD (Tobacco Products Directive) however, e-liquids that contain nicotine can only be sold in bottles up to 10ml in volume. This isn't a totally bad thing though, as it makes the bottles super easy to carry, meaning you can refill on the go. Plus, these nicotine e-liquids are often sold in great value bundles so you can try loads of flavours out in no time at all! Below is a list of e-liquids that come with nicotine straight out the bottle, perfect for people quitting smoking or those looking for convenience.

50/50 E-liquids

These are one of the most recognisable and popular forms of e-liquid. Known as 50/50s due to their 50% VG and 50% PG content, 50/50 e-liquids are fantastic for those who have just quit smoking. Making use of a ‘free base’ form of nicotine, 50/50s come in a variety of nicotine strengths and all have a focus on bold flavour and a nicotine throat hit. These vape juices are easy to find, and are also known as ‘free base nicotine e-liquids or ‘TPD e-liquids’.

Nicotine Salts

Nicotine salts represent something of an evolution in e-liquid design. Available in 10ml bottles much like 50/50s, nic salts as they are commonly known offer vapers a new way to vape nicotine. These liquids don’t contain salt, well not table salt, and certainly don’t taste salty. The name nic salt comes from the fact that they contain a salt form of nicotine called nicotine salicylate. This form of nicotine is similar to the natural form found in the tobacco leaf, resulting in a much smoother throat hit.

Hybrid E-liquids

Hybrid e-liquids are very much like their name suggests. These 10ml bottles contain an e-liquid that uses both free base nicotine and nic salts for the best of both worlds. These e-liquids aren't so common at the moment, but we expect to see a lot more of them very soon. Hybrids are a great way to try out nic salts if you’re not sure, or if you prefer nic salts but still want the throat hit that you get from free base nicotine.

How much nicotine should I vape?

One of the most important factors to consider when replacing your nicotine intake is how much you actually need. With cigarettes, it can be hard to judge your intake, as you may have smoked different amounts each day. To further confuse things, cigarette packaging doesn't clearly explain how much nicotine is in each one. However, e-liquids all clearly display the nicotine content in milligrams (mg).

10ml E-liquids are all available in strengths between around 3mg to 20mg, so you can choose a desired strength depending on how much nicotine you need to beat the cravings. If you’ve never vaped before, judging how much nicotine you need may feel like a new concept, so we recommend the below for starting out.

  • Social Smokers/Very light (1 to 2 cigarettes a week) - 3mg
  • Light (less than 10 cigarettes a day) - 6-10mg
  • Average (up to 20 cigarettes a day) - 12-16mg
  • Heavy (more than a pack of cigarettes daily) - 18-20mg

It’s important to start on a strong enough nicotine strength. If you don’t effectively replace your nicotine intake, then those cravings won’t subside. It’s best to start on a stronger nicotine strength and reduce your intake gradually to make sure you’re not reaching for another cigarette!

Signs that you are using too high of a nicotine strength are easy to feel. If you are getting headaches or feeling nauseous, then it’s time to get a lower strength e-liquid. Another good indicator is that your e-liquids may taste oddly peppery, rather than the taste you were expecting.

How to add nicotine to shortfill e-liquids

We mentioned earlier that we would explore mixing your own e-liquids to contain nicotine, and that’s where shortfills come in. Shortfills are e-liquids that contain zero nicotine, which means they can be sold in larger bottles; this results in better prices per ml of e-liquids, just like buying in bulk. These e-liquids also tend to have a higher VG content, making them a great choice for sub ohm vaping and advanced vape kits.

So why would we be talking about a liquid that contains no nicotine? Because you can add your own! Shortfills are called “short fills” because the bottles leave room in them to add more liquid. The liquid you’ll want to be adding is something called a ‘nicotine shot’ or ‘nic shot’. Nic shots are flavourless e-liquids that simply act as carriers for nicotine. By adding these to your shortfill, you are effectively creating an e-liquid with nicotine in it!

Here is a quick table that shows the amount of Nic shots you’ll need to add to achieve popular nicotine strengths.

Amount of Shortfill

How many 18mg Nic shots (10ml bottles) 

Final Nicotine Strength












All you need to do is pour your chosen nic shot into your shortfill and shake thoroughly, then you’re good to go. By using this method, you are taking advantage of the great savings of buying shortfills, while also replacing your nicotine intake. We recommend this method for experienced vapers who are used to vaping nicotine, or moving on to more advanced devices.

Nicotine and E-liquids

So as you can see, vaping nicotine is really no trouble at all, and is probably the reason why vaping is so popular in the first place! If you’re quitting cigarettes, we'd recommend starting out with 50/50s or nic salts as these work great in the MTL devices that replicate the feeling of smoking. They are also very easy to use, with no need to mix your own liquid. 

When you quit smoking, you’ll want to ensure that you totally replace your nicotine intake, so remember to pick a high enough nicotine strength. If you start vaping and still have cravings for cigarettes, then try moving up to a stronger e-liquid, until you find one that satisfies.