Nicotine is one of four key elements that make up e-juice, usually accompanied by PG, VG and a flavour of your choice. However, there's often a bit of controversy in vaping circles about the right amount of nicotine to use and whether or not it's dangerous. Of course, there are many who take up vaping a way to slowly start kicking the nicotine habit, but for others who enjoy the nicotine high it's a way of carefully moderating the amount they take it to create a balanced vaping experience. Nicotine tends to work both as a relaxant and stimulant, and depending on the individual can cause everything from altertness and readiness to mood elevation and calmness. It's an addictive substance, which is why it's important to get the levels right when switching to vaping or trying nicotine for the first time.
Nicotine strength in juice
These days there are loads of nicotine-free options when it comes to e-juice, but most juices are sold with nicotine in various strengths so you can choose something that works for you. The most common variations of nicotine strength you'll find go from 'low' to 'very high'
and even 36mg (very high)
The numbers above refer to the amount of nicotine per mililitre of juice. You may also see them written as percentages when shopping around (for example 12mg/ml may be written as 1.2%) but it's all effectively the same. Once you've wrapped your head around that, the next step is really to figure out what amount of nicotine you should be aiming for based on your previous experiences, tastes and the direction you want to go.
How to choose the right amount of nicotine
Naturally, this is one of those questions that varies from person to person and there's no clear cut answer. Taste is a big factor - higher levels of nicotine can often result in a 'harsher' vape - and the throat hit you get from vaping can be made quite powerful with high levels of nicotine. Even if you were (or are) a heavy smoker though, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll enjoy a lot of nicotine in your e-juice. Vaping and smoking are provide drastically different experiences, so it's important to stay open minded and choose what you feel comfortable with. It's also worth considering the amount of vaping you intend to do. If you vape sparingly throughout the day then a high nicotine choice might work well, but if you're a social vaper or spend a lot of time with your vape device in-hand, a low option (or even nicotine free option) might be best.
If you choose nicotine levels that are too low you may end up 'over-vaping' to compensate, which can be expensive and detrimental to the experience. This is a particular worry for those who are used to smoking quite heavily and getting lots of nicotine in their system; if you're in this position and suddenly switch to a low nicotine vape, your body will compensate by urging you to vape even more. That said, it's possible to go too far the other way and have too much nicotine. If you enjoy an occasional light tobacco based cigarette and then opt for e-juice that has 36mg of nicotine per ml, you may feel a bit overwhelmed and even light headed, and the throat hit won't be pleasant at all.
It really comes down to finding the right balance for a satisfying and pleasant vaping experience. If you're a smoker who's new to the world of vaping, it's probably best to start at the lower end of the nicotine spectrum so you can gradually ramp things up if you feel the need to. Starting at the lower end of the spectrum gives you the freedom to vape indiscriminately without any undesirable effects.