Making the switch from smoking to vaping is a major decision that’s likely to have a profound impact on the rest of your life – but deciding that you’re ready to stop smoking and start vaping is only the beginning. Once you’ve made that decision, you’ll need to buy e-liquid for the first time – and that’s going to require you to choose the right nicotine strength for your needs.
Even if not new to vaping, nicotine is still an important factor in your overall experience because you don’t want to vape mindlessly all day without ever stopping to think about the amount of nicotine you’re consuming. After all, the reason why you switched to vaping in the first place was because you wanted to be mindful about what you were putting into your body. Monitoring your nicotine intake is a big part of that.
Whether you’re buying e-liquid for the first time or are just trying to watch your nicotine consumption, you’re going to need a baseline in order to determine whether the amount of nicotine you’re using is too much or the right amount. To find that baseline, we’re going to return to the old familiar form of nicotine that you used before you started vaping: the cigarette. So, how much nicotine is in a cigarette? More importantly, how much nicotine is in a cigarette compared to vape juice? In this article, we’re going to shed some light on those questions and explain why knowing how many milligrams of nicotine are in a cigarette may not answer the question as fully as you might like.
How Much Nicotine Is in a Cigarette?
Cigarette manufacturers and laboratory researchers are able to measure the nicotine content of cigarettes fairly accurately, and they do that using automatic smoking machines that “inhale” and analyze the smoke from cigarettes. Using those machines, it’s easy to determine how much nicotine is in one cigarette – and the amount of nicotine in a cigarette can vary depending on whether the cigarette in question is “ultra-light,” “light” or “full-flavored.” Note that the terms used to market cigarettes vary around the world; in some regions, manufacturers aren’t allowed to use terms like “light” when marketing cigarettes. Here’s how many milligrams of nicotine are in one cigarette depending on the cigarette’s type.
- Very low nicotine yield: 0.10-0.60 mg
- Low nicotine yield: 0.61-0.80 mg
- Moderate nicotine yield: 0.81-0.90 mg
- High nicotine yield: 0.91-3.00 mg
As you can see, a cigarette’s nicotine content can vary widely depending on its intended nicotine yield. On average, though, a cigarette contains around 1.1-1.8 mg of nicotine because higher-nicotine cigarettes are what most people buy. That works out to an average of 22-36 mg of nicotine in a pack of cigarettes.
How Much Nicotine Is in a Cigarette Compared to Vape Juice?
Now that you have a better idea of how much nicotine is in a cigarette, let’s talk a bit about how the nicotine content of cigarettes compares to that of vape juice.
When you buy e-liquid, you’ll notice that it has a nicotine strength in milligrams printed on the bottle’s label. Let’s suppose, for instance, that you have a 10 ml bottle of e-liquid with a nicotine strength of 20 mg. The nicotine strength refers to the mg of nicotine per ml of e-liquid – not for the entire bottle. To find the total nicotine content of the bottle, you need to combine the volume of e-liquid with the nicotine strength by multiplying the two values. The e-liquid in this example would have 200 mg of nicotine in all. That’s the equivalent of around 5-9 packs of average-nicotine cigarettes.
Reading the numbers above might have you feeling a bit concerned. After all, many people don’t actually find that an average bottle of e-liquid provides enough vape juice for 5-9 days of vaping. If that’s the case for you, there’s probably no need to worry that you’re consuming too much nicotine. E-liquid and tobacco are not the same, and the nicotine in those two substances may not have exactly the same bioavailability. Nicotine users generally manage their intake naturally, using nicotine when they need it and stopping when they’re satisfied.
Unless you're mindlessly chain vaping all day, you probably don’t need to concern yourself with the specifics about how much nicotine you’re using with vaping vs. smoking because your body will naturally compel you to stop vaping before you consume too much nicotine. If you are chain vaping all day, though, we have an idea that may help. First, though, let’s discuss how to put all of this information together when it’s time to buy your first e-liquid.
New to Vaping? Let Your Vaping Equipment Determine Your Nicotine Strength
If you’re buying e-liquid for the first time, you’ve probably noticed that e-liquid comes in a very wide variety of nicotine strengths. Unless you live in a nation that has laws restricting the nicotine strengths of vape juice, you can probably buy e-liquid in nicotine strengths as low as 3 mg/ml and as high as 50 mg/ml. As you can probably imagine, buying the wrong nicotine strength can lead to a very unpleasant vaping experience. The good news, though, is that you can get a general idea of what nicotine strength you need simply by looking at your vaping device.
E-liquid is available with two different types of nicotine: freebase nicotine and nicotine salt. Both of those types of e-liquid usually come in a lower strength and a higher strength. Choosing the right e-liquid for your needs, then, is simply a matter of choosing the right type of nicotine for your vaping hardware and deciding whether the lower strength or the higher strength is right for you.
- Freebase nicotine e-liquid usually comes in nicotine strengths of 3 mg/ml and 6 mg/ml. If your vaping device has a large glass tank with a wide mouthpiece and big airflow vents, this is the type of vape juice you should buy. In this case, we generally recommend starting with the lower nicotine strength and stepping up to the higher strength if you’re unsatisfied with your experience. Learn more about how to choose the best vape pen for your needs.
- Nicotine salt e-liquid usually comes in nicotine strengths of about 25 mg/ml and 50 mg/ml except in European nations that must comply with the restrictions set forth in the EU Tobacco Products Directive. In the United Kingdom and Europe, nicotine salt e-liquid usually comes in strengths of 10 mg/ml and 20 mg/ml. You should buy nicotine salt e-liquid if your vaping device has a small tank or pod with a narrow mouthpiece and small airflow vents. If you’re new to vaping, we generally recommend starting with the higher nicotine strength and stepping down if you feel like you’re getting too much nicotine. Learn more about how to choose the best vape for nicotine salt.
Experienced Vaper? Use a Puff Counter to Monitor Your Nicotine Intake
Are you concerned that you might be chain vaping and using significantly more nicotine than you would have used as a smoker? One of the big differences between smoking and vaping is that vaping isn’t self-limiting in the way that smoking is. A cigarette contains a finite number of puffs, and when it burns out, lighting the next cigarette requires a conscious decision on your part. A vaping device, on the other hand, is ready to use anytime. When your vape mod is right at hand all day long, it’s easy to get to a point where you’re mindlessly vaping all day without ever pausing to think about the amount of nicotine you’re consuming.
That’s why many of the vape kits that we manufacture here at Innokin have built-in puff counters. Up to this point, maybe you’ve ignored the fact that your vaping device has a puff counter and have never paid attention to your number of puffs per day. If you’re concerned that you might be overusing nicotine, that’s exactly why your device’s puff counter exists. Reset the counter at the beginning of the day and see what your device’s puff count is when you go to bed at night. If you’re concerned that you’re using too much nicotine, use that number as a baseline for reducing your daily puff count.
Are You Using Too Much or Too Little Nicotine? Listen to What Your Body Tells You
When you switch from smoking to vaping, it’s natural to wonder how much nicotine is in a cigarette and how that amount of nicotine compares to the amount of nicotine you consume when vaping. As you’ve learned from reading this article, though, the answer to the question of how much nicotine is in a single cigarette doesn’t necessarily have a simple answer. Therefore, it’s best if you just use that number as a general guideline. Instead of worrying about whether you’re consuming more or less nicotine than what you’d get as a smoker, concentrate on listening to what your body tells you.
If you find vaping unsatisfying and are having trouble handling your cigarette cravings, it’s likely that your nicotine strength is too low or that you aren’t vaping often enough. On the other hand, you may find that vaping produces a sensation that you find too intense or that you feel anxious or jittery. In that case, you may need to reduce your nicotine strength or vape less frequently.