Choosing the Right Nicotine Level
Choosing the Right Nicotine Level
First, if you've never been a smoker or a user of other tobacco products, the answer is easy: zero. That's exactly how much nicotine you need. While there are some vapers who pick up an e-cig as a social hobby (hey, at least you're not smoking!), using nicotine if your body doesn't demand it is not going to get you high or give you any kind of head rush, though it might very well make you sick.
With that out of the way, let's talk to the tobacco users about the two different styles of vaping - we've already covered the basic types of devices, all the way from "cigalikes" on up to box mods in previous posts. If you're going to be vaping at low wattages (let's say 15 watts or less) with older-generation clearomizers like the iClear or the Kanger Protank/Aerotank/Genitank series, you're going to vaporize a lot less vape juice. Therefore, you're going to have to use a vape juice with a higher nicotine concentration in order to receive enough of it to keep your cravings at bay.
On the other hand, if you're going to use a new-generation clearomizer like the Kanger Subtank, Aspire Atlantis, Uwell Crown, Smok TFV4, or any of the host of other new devices to hit the market since early 2015, you're probably going to vape significantly above 15 watts (maybe as high as 60, 80, or more!). High-powered vaping like this means you're going to use a lot more vape juice, so use too much nicotine and you run the risk of making yourself sick.
Okay, we still haven't gotten down to what amount of nic is right for you - and unfortunately the answer, like just about everything in vaping, is "it depends." You'll have to use trial and error to figure out what works for you, but here are some guidelines...
If you smoked a pack a day or more and you're going to use a more traditional low-power vape, you'll want to try a higher nic level, say 18 mg. Some vape juice manufacturers will go as high as 24 mg, a few even make 36 mg. If you go this high, use caution! Only vape a little at a time, and allow time for nicotine to make its way into your system. Vaping is actually much less efficient than smoking as a form of nicotine delivery (lots of those chemical additives you're avoiding by ditching the smokes were specifically designed to pump the nic into your bloodstream faster), which is why even though the typical "full flavor" cigarette contains less than 2 mg of nicotine you'd have to vape the equivalent of about twice that to feel the same effects.
If you were a casual or light smoker and you're using this style of equipment, try 12 mg or lower to start with. Many users that start high in order to kick the cigarette habit quickly taper their consumption down after getting through the first few weeks or months off the smokes. For this reason, it's not a bad idea to buy two bottles of the same vape juice in differing strengths - you can mix the two to create an "in-between" point while tapering down, or if you're able to use the lower-strength vape juice right away, keep the more potent bottle on hand and add a bit to your vape when the cravings get tough.
So that's low-power vaping - with modern high-powered devices vapers tend to use half the nicotine they would with the old-generation setups. So plan accordingly - if you're jumping right into an expert-caliber setup (which is actually quite an attractive, cheap, and easy route to take these days), try to keep your juices at 12 mg or lower - maybe even look for a mixer that offers a 9 or 10 mg option.
We talked about tapering earlier - while it's likely you'll want to jump to a lower nic level pretty soon after quitting, don't worry if you decide to stay where you're at for a while. And if you do drop a level, don't toss your leftover liquid right away - if you ever feel a craving coming on it's better to bump your level back up than to go in search of a pack of cigarettes. For those who see vaping as a means to an end, lowering your nicotine consumption until it reaches zero, many liquid makers these days are offering nic levels that help you taper off into the ultra-low zones, with 3, 2, and even 1.5 mg juice options. Whatever you go with, good luck and enjoy your vaping journey!