The risks of vaping nicotine are often exaggerated; if used sensibly, nicotine can be no more harmful than caffeine and it brings about the same common symptoms. It can work as a stimulant as well as a relaxant, with people reporting feelings of both alertness and calmness. Over-use can lead to dizziness and nausea, as well as raising blood pressure and elevating the heart rate at the time of consumption. It has also been proven to have performance-enhancing effects, especially when it comes to attention, memory and motor skills.
Nicotine can be absorbed through the skin (with a transdermal nicotine patch), in the mouth (with chewing tobacco or nicotine gum) or through the lungs by inhalation. When inhaled from cigarette smoke it reaches the brain in under ten seconds and the central nervous system in under five minutes.
It has been reported that nicotine brings about a moderate-low physical dependence and a moderate-high psychological dependence. Ex-smokers will often crave the powerful throat hit from vaping nicotine. Commercial e-juice can be bought without any nicotine in it at all (zero strength) – it is also sold with a range of nicotine strengths including:
- 3mg (low)
- 20mg (high)
Note: e-liquid nicotine strength is measured in milligrams (weight) per millilitre (volume)
Those who want to create their own e-liquids must be extremely careful and ensure they understand the maths for the ratio of mg/ml. Generally 100mg/ml of diluted nicotine is used in the industry because it makes it easier to get specific strengths. You do not what to miscalculate your mixture!
A heavy smoker may be tempted to opt for the high nicotine e-juice but this can cause dizziness and nausea if you vape as regularly as you smoked. Liquid nicotine can taste harsh and the higher you go the more intense it can be.
If you do think you’ve overdone it then the obvious answer is to stop inhaling and reduce your nicotine intake. It’s very unlikely that you will get nicotine poisoning, however, it’s worth knowing the symptoms just in case and seeking medical attention immediately. Look out for:
- Increased salivation
- Stomach cramps
- Confusion and agitation
It is recommended that beginners start with a low nicotine strength, even if you have been a heavy smoker. Vaping is a very different sensation to smoking, with users taking a draw more often and for longer, and so you want to avoid undesirable effects. Try out different variations to find what suits your needs and stop once you feel satisfied.
If you try sub-ohm vaping then ensure you are on a low nicotine strength e-juice as the inhalation is more powerful than standard vaping and you will consume more nicotine in a single hit, which could lead to mild nicotine overdose.
Depending on your metabolism and the amount consumed, nicotine stays in your system for 48-72 hours after your last intake. Once all nicotine leaves the body, more powerful withdrawal symptoms begin.
If you want to reduce your consumption of nicotine, do it gradually over time, reducing the level every month or so. The further you decrease your nicotine strength, the more likely you are to prefer the taste of your e-liquid. Eventually you may find you don’t need nicotine at all and can switch to zero strength e-juice.