The question of how to determine the right nicotine level in your e-liquid for your needs is an important one, including if you’re taking up vaping in the first place as a way to help you to quit smoking.

After all, if your vaping doesn’t provide you with a satisfactory nicotine hit, you might find yourself craving traditional cigarettes – and if you do lapse into going back to smoking, that would rather defeat the point of you having switched to vaping at all.

So, whether you’re looking at different 10ml e-juices from stores like Shisha Vibe and comparing how much nicotine they contain ‘off the shelf’, or instead mixing your own e-liquids and trying to get the balance right with how much nicotine you include, what do you need to know?

The role of the Tobacco Products Directive

Often referred to simply as the TPD, this European Union (EU) directive that became applicable in EU member states – including the UK – in 2016 is an important one to understand when you’re trying to determine how to achieve the right level of nicotine in your e-juice.

It is this directive that means, in the UK and the EU, you can’t simply walk into a vaping store and expect to pick up any e-liquid in any bottle size, with whatever nicotine strength you might desire.

Instead, if the e-liquid that you buy is to contain any nicotine at all, the largest bottle of e-juice that you can legally buy is a 10ml one, while the nicotine content in such a product is also limited to 20mg/ml at the most (don’t worry, we’ll explain those acronyms in a minute).

For nicotine-free e-liquid, though, there are no such rules governing the bottle size. This led to the emergence of what are known as shortfills, which are larger bottles of e-liquid containing zero nicotine. However, these bottles also have some space left in the bottle for vapers to add nicotine ‘shots’, which they can mix into the e-liquid to reach the nicotine level they want.

So, what do those acronyms mean?

In short, the ‘mg’ refers to ‘milligrams’, while the ‘ml’ refers to each ‘millilitre’ of e-liquid. So, in the above example, 20mg/ml means 20 milligrams of nicotine per millilitre of e-juice.

Nicotine shots, too, come in different strengths for when you are adding them to shortfills. This means that if, for instance, you add a single 10ml nicotine shot with a strength of 9mg to 50ml of nicotine-free e-liquid, you’ll get 60ml of e-juice with a nicotine strength of 1.5mg.

The key factors when deciding on the right nicotine strength for you

The most suitable nicotine level for your own vaping will depend on a range of factors, including your current nicotine intake, your taste preferences, your vaping habits, and what you wish to get out of vaping, in terms of both the all-round experience and your health goals.

If, for example, you are only just starting to vape having been a long-time smoker, it makes sense to ensure your nicotine intake when vaping – at least initially – matches what your nicotine intake was as a smoker. This will help to boost your vaping satisfaction and keep those cravings for traditional cigarettes at bay.

You may then choose to gradually lower your nicotine strength in your e-liquids over time, until you have completed the transition from smoking to vaping. And who knows – maybe, eventually, you’ll even be able to stop vaping, bringing your nicotine intake to zero in the process. Just don’t try to rush it, as you won’t want to become so dissatisfied with your vaping experience in a short period of time that you end up rebounding to full-on smoking.

It’s also important to bear in mind that while vaping largely resembles the sensation of smoking, it is not quite the same. You’ll tend to get a slower nicotine hit when vaping than when smoking, so you might find yourself vaping small amounts regularly throughout the day in order to get an ‘equivalent’ nicotine experience to when you were smoking.

This might mean that even if you’re a long-time heavy smoker, you won’t need your e-liquid to have a high nicotine strength. It does also mean, though, that you’ll need to account for such things as how frequently you vape, and how long your vaping sessions are, as this will all influence your accumulative nicotine intake each day.

Finally, E-liquid containing nicotine doesn’t actually have a different taste compared to e-liquid that lacks it, and you may or may not like this taste.

There you have it – a rundown of what you should be thinking about when you’re trying to settle on the most appropriate nicotine strength when vaping, whether you’re taking up vaping as a way to stop smoking, or instead simply as its own pleasure.