Keeping Your Freebase and Salt-Based E-Liquids Separate When Vaping
Most of us have a strong preference when it comes to the type of nicotine that we prefer. Either we love our freebase because of its ability to give us hugely impressive clouds, or we adore salt-based nicotine because of the potency level that it provides.
However, nowadays, vaping technology allows us to switch between the two in a variety of ways. Either we can go back and forth between a pod mod compatible with/containing nicotine salt, or we can blow some big clouds with a sub-ohm kit using freebase And, to make things even more convenient, vaping systems now exist that utilize pod technology to provide pocket-friendly setups that are compatible with both types of nicotine.
As more vapers find that they like having the variety of both types in their arsenal, it is becoming increasingly important to educate our community on the importance of keeping these two types of e-juices separated. Hence, when we talk about separating them, we aren’t just talking about making sure you don’t put both kinds in one tank. We are referring to, as this piece will attempt to demonstrate, the separation factor in full detail.
Freebase vs. Salt Nic E-Liquid: What’s the Difference and Why Does it Matter That They are Separated?
First, to understand the need to separate these e-liquids from each other, we have to get into the main differences between freebase nicotine e-juices and salt-based nicotine e-juices.
Up until a few years ago, vapers could only choose freebase nicotine e-liquids, because salt nic did not yet exist. But how did freebase nicotine get its name? Well, you can thank the big tobacco companies for freebase nicotine, as they developed it in the 1950s.
Basically, freebase nicotine takes nicotine compounds from the tobacco plant and chemically modifies them to be more potent. Tobacco companies have been doing this for decades, as they found that their customers responded well to more potent nicotine.
For a long time, vape juice companies could only acquire this modified type of nicotine. While it can be vaporized successfully, it comes with limitations. Primarily, freebase nicotine works fine in cigarette tobacco, but vaping is a different story. Vaporizing is the process of heating e-liquid to turn it into vapor, and so the coil heating the e-liquid must reach a particularly high temperature to allow for this process to occur. The thing about freebase nicotine is that it wasn’t developed for these high-output vaping systems. As a result, it can feel quite harsh.
E-liquid manufacturers have worked around this by keeping the nicotine strengths relatively low. This way, the devices can reach their high output levels without creating a feeling of intense harshness from high nicotine concentrations.
Then, we discovered salt-based nicotine. This type of nicotine takes the tobacco plant’s nicotine compounds and mixes them with benzoic acid. What this does is take the edge off in terms of harshness, so that we can vape more potent concentrations of nicotine without experiencing throat irritation. Salt-based nicotine is intended only for pod mod systems, which operate at low wattage, as this is adequate enough to deliver a potent amount of nicotine per puff, and using salt nic at high outputs would create similar feelings of harshness explained earlier.
Traditionally, nicotine salt e-juice was for pod mods, while its freebase counterpart was for box mod setups. Now, however, hardware companies have found various ways to produce vaping systems that can accommodate both, primarily by using a wider range of output levels and coil configurations to be compatible with each.
Still, however, nic salt e-liquid will not be compatible with a high-powered box mod setup, and similarly, freebase e-liquid is not suitable for a standard pod system with settings designed for salt-based nicotine. Therefore, separation is necessary.
Storing Them Separately
Now, let’s talk about how to keep these two products separate, starting with storage.
Salt nic and freebase nic e-liquids are most often sold in two different ranges of bottle sizes. Freebase nic e-liquids can be found in 30ml bottles and upwards, while salt nic e-liquids tend to be found in the 5ml to 30ml range. But this is not always the case. What it means is that you need to pay careful attention to what kind of nicotine is in each vape juice in your collection, so that you don’t accidentally put a salt nic e-juice into a high-wattage setup, and vice versa.
Separating Them in a Tank or Cartridge
Now, let’s talk about separating them in terms of your tank or cartridge. As a rule of thumb, you should never top off a tank or cartridge with the incompatible type of nicotine. In other words, let’s say you’re using a basic pod mod that is only compatible with salt nic. And your cartridge is running low. Maybe you don’t have any salt nic e-liquid left, and so you feel inspired to top off the cartridge with a little bit of freebase nic vape juice. Or let’s turn things the other way around. You have a vape tank with your sub-ohm setup, and you want to top it off with some salt nic e-juice.
Regardless of the scenario, you should never put both types of nicotine in a tank. One type of nicotine is ideal for one output and coil configuration, and the other for another altogether. Mixing them together will, essentially, fail to give you a satisfying vaping experience.
Cleaning Your Cartridge After Each Use
Finally, if you happen to be using a pod system that is compatible with salt nic and freebase nic e-liquids, and it uses one cartridge with interchangeable coils for each, then you’ll want to make sure that you clean out your tank when switching between the two types of nicotine. Sure, it’s tempting to be lazy and just allow that little amount of the other type of nicotine to stay in the tank as you refill with the new one, but this is a bad idea, as it will result in a cartridge containing two types of nicotine, which will fail to vaporize properly according to your desired settings. So, before refilling that cartridge, run it under lukewarm water for a minute or two to fully clear out the trace amount of the prior vape juice that was in there.
Ultimately, regardless of your vaping setup, it’s important to keep your freebase and salt nic vapes separated in every way. While they are both great on their own, mixing them together can give you undesirable results.