Compared with stronger e-liquids, sales of nicotine-free e-liquid are low. But they are growing and some vapers use nothing but nicotine-free vape juice.
There is also a trend towards lower nicotine e-liquids. This is driven partly by low nicotine regulation. The EU, for example, has limited manufacturers to 20mg of nicotine per milliliter of e-liquid.
But there are other factors too. More advanced devices help users absorb more nicotine from lower strength liquids. There also seems to be a trend for vapers to gradually reduce the nicotine content of their juice as they get more experienced.
No-nicotine vape juice: Taste and throat hit
Nicotine has its own taste and can affect the flavor of e-liquid.
Taste is always subjective, but many people report a strong ‘peppery’ taste when they go from an e-liquid with low nicotine content to one with higher nicotine content.
Some people think that nicotine overpowers e-liquid flavors. This is probably true, but it should only become a problem with e-liquids that have very high levels of nicotine.
Nicotine also affects your throat hit. Throat hit is the satisfying sensation you get when inhaled vapor hits the back of your throat.
It can be a big deal for smokers who just switched to vaping, because the throat hit is heavily associated with tobacco cigarettes.
Nicotine strength is one of the key things that affects throat hit. Higher nicotine e-liquids gives a stronger, punchy throat hit, while with lower nicotine e-liquids, the throat hit is barely noticeable.
Because nicotine strength affects flavor and throat hit, vapers often have to balance one against the other when choosing their nicotine strength.
Many new vapers choose higher strength nicotine because they want a strong throat hit. Veteran vapers, however, are more likely to choose lower strengths because they want great flavor production.
How the device you use affects nicotine absorption
E-cigarettes come in different shapes and sizes. More advanced products like sub-ohm tanks and vape mods deliver nicotine to users more efficiently than smaller products like cigalikes.
In a 2014 study comparing nicotine absorption in ‘first’ and ‘new’ generation devices, Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos found that mod users got far more nicotine than cigalike users.
In the test, Cigalike users used their devices for over an hour and still didn’t get as much nicotine as a tobacco cigarette user got in five minutes.
This shows that there are significant differences between devices when it comes to the amount of nicotine you absorb.
Who uses nicotine-free vape juice?
Nicotine-free e-liquid isn’t for everyone, but certain groups of vapers use nothing but no-nicotine vape juice.
Blowing perfect O’s and performing other vape tricks is more difficult with high-nicotine e-liquid.
When you are repeatedly inhaling big clouds of vapor, it can be uncomfortable to take in so much nicotine, so full-time tricksters tend to avoid nicotine or use low mg/ml e-liquids.
These are typically users who haven’t smoked tobacco before, but like the social aspects that come with vaping.
They are probably not addicted to nicotine and don’t want to be, so nicotine-free e-liquid makes sense.
Former tobacco users who weaned themselves off nicotine
When tobacco users switch to vaping, many of them want to wean themselves off nicotine. These vapers will start with high nicotine e-liquids before switching to low, and eventually, no-nicotine alternatives.
You have to be careful if you are pursuing this strategy though.
Weaning yourself off nicotine
Many people aim to use electronic cigarettes to gradually wean themselves off nicotine. But there are a number of pitfalls that you have to watch out for.
Reducing the level of nicotine in your e-liquid too quickly can leave you craving nicotine and the throat hit that comes with it. Some former smokers may quickly lose interest in vaping and just go back to tobacco.
You may also just find yourself using your vape more often to get the nicotine hit. This can be expensive if you’re using a lot of juice.
When you first start out, a good strategy is to buy e-liquids in a few different strengths and do trial each one to see which you like the best.
Then, slowly move the nicotine strength down every few weeks or months.
Remember that it isn’t just the nicotine strength that makes the difference. Different devices help you absorb more nicotine and may give you an overall more satisfying hit.