How to Pick Perfect Nicotine Level for Vaping


by Christina Matthews

Updated: August 7, 2020

how to choose nicotine level for vaping

How much nicotine should I get in my vape juice? And how to find out how much nicotine is too much? Read on to get answers to some common questions that beginner vapers and veterans alike may be asking.

Keep in mind: vape juice nicotine levels vary in products, so, what an individual’s tolerance for nicotine is the thing to begin with.

Why Do Nicotine Levels Matter When Vaping?

For people looking to replace smoking with vaping, nicotine levels need to do a couple of things:

  • the nicotine level should match what they were getting from cigarettes. Otherwise, they are not likely to keep vaping.
  • the sensation of vaping should mirror that of smoking cigarettes. To get the same kind of throat hit as a cigarette, the nicotine level, in addition to the type of device, should be enough to replicate what it feels like to smoke like with mouth to lung vaping.

Some ex-smokers are looking for an alternative to smoking and simply want to match the right strength that they feel comfortable with. While others are looking to start with a high enough strength and then eventually step down their consumption to zero.

Since nicotine is addictive, it is essential to curb that craving of a cigarette. The effects of nicotine are what makes smoking so dangerous because the craving makes people smoke more. When the right nicotine level can be found, then an ex-smoker is more likely to stay just that. An actual EX-smoker.

On the flip side of the nicotine level coin is the person new to vaping that has never smoked cigarettes.  There are many 0%  juices out there that can be enjoyed by nonsmokers.

Is Vaping Nicotine the Same as Smoking?

vaping nicotine levels


Vaping e-juice acts as a vehicle to get nicotine into the body in the same way that smoking does. By inhaling.

That is where the similarities end, however.

How Much Nicotine Is in a Cig Compared to Vaping

Most cigarettes have between 4 and 14 mg each.

How much of that is absorbed into the body depends on how deeply the person inhales and how much of the cigarette is actually smoked. Not all of that nicotine gets into the body as most people take breaks between puffs which means that a portion of the cigarette is burned without being inhaled.

This is the same for vaping. How much nicotine gets into the body, regardless of what the strength of the vaping liquid, depends on:

  • how deep a breath the vaper takes,
  • how often they puff and what kind of device is used.

How much vape it takes to equal a cigarette depends on too many factors to be able to answer that question reasonably. It will take some experimenting with different vape juice strengths to find the sweet spot. Keeping in mind what is a nicotine high vaper should be careful with this.

Big advantage vapers have over smokers is knowing exactly how much nicotine their e-juice contains.

How Much Nicotine Does E-Juice Contain?

There is no set strength for vape juice. What’s in vape juice as far as nicotine goes?

To understand the vape levels, the amount is listed in milligrams per milliliter. Strengths range from lowest nicotine e-liquid, ie zero to 36 mg per milliliter.

Sometimes, however, the strength is listed by percentage. 18 milligrams, for example, is listed as 1.8%. Zero nicotine obviously will be listed as 0%.

How Much Nicotine Is the Right Amount in an E-Juice?

As a general rule of thumb, high-concentrated e-cigs will provide more nicotine than a drip system tank mod.

Usually, the e-cigs or cig-alikes can satisfy smokers with the level of nicotine, as well as the smoking sensation. The high strengths that heavy smokers need can usually be found in e-cigs.

Each manufacturer sets its own standards for the strength of the e-liquid for smoking. But still there is a gradation that has been established for a long time:

0 mg/ml means that e-juice does not contain nicotine at all
3 mg/ml the lowest level, ideal for those who want to reduce the amount of nicotine
6 mg/ml used by people who wish to enjoy a full e-juice taste but with a low level
12 mg/ml for those who used to smoke 1 pack a day
18 mg/ml for those who used to smoke more than 1 pack a day
24 mg/ml
a very high level; for heavy smokers who used to smoke more than 2 packs a day
36 mg/ml the highest level, used to dilute an e-juice with a low level of nicotine

Sub Ohm vaping generally means lower nicotine levels. Although the levels are lower, it is possible to get similar inhalation as cigarettes. Sub Ohm vaping produces more vapor, so more nicotine is able to be inhaled.

Typically, sub-Ohm vape mods contain 3 to 6 mg to give a smoker the same satisfaction of smoking. It is not recommended to go for high strength juices as it may be too harsh and impart too much active substance, even for heavy smokers.

What Are the Highest Nicotine Vape Juices?

The highest nicotine vape juices, aka nic salt.

These nicotine salts can see strengths all the way up to over 50mg per milliliter of juice. This may sound like a lot, and it is, however, usually a puff or two of these high nic e-cigs can satisfy the craving for nicotine.

The Juul pen type e-cig uses nicotine salts and contains 5% per pod or capsule of e-juice. So, how much nicotine is in a Juul pod? This is roughly the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes. Not all e-cigs contain high amounts like Juul, but they are generally stronger than drip mod vape liquids.

It is important to remember that nicotine is a drug and a dangerous one, at that. Though nobody is likely to encounter nicotine poisoning while vaping, it can cause sickness if the dose is higher than what a vaper is used to.

How to Reduce Vaping Nicotine Levels

The goal is to wean off, then the best way to find the right level to vape and then steadily reduce intake is by trial and error.

Since the nicotine level in e-juice is pretty straightforward, it is easy to make adjustments. A heavy smoker will likely want to start out with an e-cigarette that not only offers the right strength but also replicates the sensation of smoking. It is probably best to experiment by starting with a higher strength and seeing how it feels. How often one vapes as well as how deeply one inhales will play a part in how satisfying it can be. Once it is understood where the right level is, then gradually that can be reduced by going for a lower intensity juice or nicotine salt.

One thing to avoid is rushing to lower the strength or to give up if, say, the mod being used does not provide the right feel or need for that nicotine buzz.

Going too fast to lower strength nicotine juices may result in feeling unsatisfied and send a vaper back to being a smoker. As with most things in life, there is no one size fits all approach to vaping with nicotine. Some may never wean completely clear, and others may find satisfaction with the act of vaping and enjoy zero juices. Both vapers and smokers can get tips on stopping a nicotine addiction.

It does mention that the FDA recommends using Nicotine Replacement Therapy, aka vaping, to wean completely off of nicotine. Since using a vaporizer to stop smoking still means being controlled by nicotine, the goal should be weaning off of nicotine completely.

The journey to finding the right vaping nicotine level can be at times exciting and frustrating. The key is to go in with an open mind, ask lots of questions and stay informed. Do this, and the reward may be years of enjoying a smoke-free life.

Published: May 22, 2018Updated: August 7, 2020

Christina Matthews

I love the written word, and in my career as a journalist, I strive to provide the facts about everything I write about. There are too many false and alarmist stories out there about life and vaping mainly. My mission is to make e-cigarettes less scary to people with informative articles and extensive research on not only the possible evils of cigarettes and Big Tobacco, but the objective side of e-cigs.


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0 comments on “How to Pick Perfect Nicotine Level for Vaping

  • Allen

    December 5, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    Yes, it is important to get knowledge about the nicotine level that we should consume. Everything is good until it crosses the limit. Here it is presented nicely that we can get enough knowledge about the nicotine level of vaping.

  • BortherBob

    June 4, 2018 at 3:48 am

    You did a good job, with a difficult subject. I could not have done better.