Tobacco Free Nicotine A Hands-On Look
Recently, we were lucky enough to get our hands on an advance sample of Non-Tobacco Nicotine, a new lab-synthesized nicotine blend from HiLiq. While we've crowed about artificial nicotine in the past and its implications so far as regulation under the FDA's deeming regulations go, this was a unique opportunity to put the latest e-liquid tech to the test in a side-by-side comparison with traditional, plant-extracted nicotine bases.
As a brief introduction, your test dummy in this experiment has been mixing his own liquids for about three years, both for personal use and for a handful of others in Southern California, one of the epicenters of the e-liquid market. As a default, I've used extracts in the past from Nude Nicotine and NicSelect, generally regarded as two of the highest-quality nicotine suppliers in the business.
To test HiLiq's extract, I chose two of my most popular flavors – a complex blend of berries, cantaloupe, and several creams for a dessert flavor, and a simple pomegranate for a straight fruit. Along with the nicotine, I received a HiLiq "cooling agent" that promised to add the chilling effect of menthol without the minty taste some folks find undesirable. It was recommended that I add one drop per milliliter of finished liquid to achieve the desired effect, instead I used two to three drops per 10 ml, similar to what I'd have used in a 10% menthol dilution.
To try and make things a little tougher on the challenger, I decided to up the ante by mixing 30 ml sample batches at 5 mg/ml instead of the 3 mg/ml strength I normally use. My thought here is that the higher nicotine content would allow any imperfections in the lab-created nicotine to show through by marring the flavor of my tried and true recipes.
In case anyone is keeping track at home, the dessert juice was tanked in an Augvape Boreas with quad-twisted 30g A1 Kanthal dual coils ohming out to 0.24 collective resistance, and dripped onto staggered fused Claptons (0.18 combined dual resistance) on a Velocity clone 22 mm atty, with the fruit liquid tanked in a Smok TFV8 Baby Beast using a 0.15 ohm pre-built coil and dripped on a similar setup to the aforementioned Velocity.
Initial reaction: Wow! I'd thought my juice delivered a clean, pure taste before, after sampling several inferior nicotine extracts before settling on Nude and NicSelect as the best of the best. But even with the increased potency (which was immediately noticeable by someone who hasn't touched an actual tobacco product in well over three years), the Non-Tobacco Nicotine delivered a much cleaner taste, allowing the intricacies of my mixes to shine through stronger than ever before.
The cooling agent works as advertised, adding an icy effect to mixes without an overbearing menthol note, though a few drops per 10 ml seems to be plenty, much less than the one-drop-per-milliliter advertised. Since I only mixed a 30 ml sample and vaped it all over the course of four or five days, I can't say with authority whether it has the staying power of a true menthol or fades with time as Flavor Apprentice's Koolada is likely to do – this could be the reason for the recommended strength.
HiLiq's tobacco free nicotine extract does carry a cost – it's more expensive by a magnitude of three or four times as compared to other high-quality extracts, and easily ten times costlier than low-end nicotine solutions. That said, even absent the potential benefit of exclusion from the FDA's draconian mandates, the quality of the product appears to justify its cost. Better yet, unlike Next Generation Labs' Tobacco Free Nicotine, HiLiq's Non-Tobacco Nicotine is available to mixers who don't have tens of thousands of dollars to spend (the minimum buy-in point is less than $100), meaning that we could see many more mixers jumping on board in the immediate future. Speaking from the experience of a newly-converted believer, it's high time to finally sever the cord that tied a former generation to the ills of tobacco – now and forever.