Nicotine salt

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Nicotine salt
3D model (JSmol)
EC Number
  • sulfate: 200-606-7
RTECS number
  • sulfate: QS9625000
UN number 1658
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Infobox references

Nicotine salts are salts consisting of nicotine and an acid.[1] They are found naturally in tobacco leaves.[2]


Research on nicotine salts is limited.[3] Possible health risks of persistent inhalation of high levels of nicotine salts are not known.[3] "Juul products use nicotine salts, which can lead to much more available nicotine," Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated in September 2019.[4] She also stated that the nicotine salts "cross the blood brain barrier and lead to potentially more effect on the developing brain in adolescents."[4]


A nicotine base and a weak acid such as benzoic acid or levulinic acid is used to form a nicotine salt.[1] Benzoic acid is the most used acid to create a nicotine salt.[5] Nicotine pyruvate is another form of nicotine salt.[6] A chemical reaction with a pyruvic acid is used to aerosolize nicotine.[7]

Level and rate of delivery[edit]

A free-base nicotine solution with an acid reduces the pH, which makes it possible to provide higher levels of nicotine without irritating the throat.[8] Nicotine salts are thought to amplify the level and rate of nicotine delivery to the user.[3] The speed of nicotine salts uptake into the body with the use of electronic cigarettes is close to the speed of nicotine uptake from traditional cigarettes.[9] Traditional cigarettes provide high levels of nicotine, but with the bad taste of smoking.[10] Pod mods, however, can provide high levels of nicotine without the negative smoking experience.[10] Nicotine salts are less harsh and less bitter, and as a consequence e-liquids that contain nicotine salts are more tolerable even with high nicotine concentrations.[5] Nicotine salts in aerosol form do not generate the sensation of irritation in the chest and lungs that regular cigarettes do.[9] Protonated nicotine salt is easier for less experienced users to inhale.[11]


The latest generation of e-cigarettes, "pod products," such as Juul, have the highest nicotine content (50 mg/mL), in protonated salt, rather than the free-base nicotine form found in earlier generations.[11] In June 2015, Juul introduced a pod mod device containing nicotine salt.[12] British American Tobacco stated that they have been using nicotine salts in their US Vuse e-liquid brand since 2012.[13]

There has been a proliferation of pod-based products with high nicotine concentration, triggered by Juul's financial success.[5] As of September 2018, there were no less than 39 similar Juul devices as well as 15 Juul-compatible pods being offered.[5] Tested show that the pod mods Juul, Bo, Phix, and Suorin contain nicotine salts in a solution with propylene glycol and glycerin.[3]


Advertisements state nicotine salt liquids contain 2 to 10 times more nicotine than those found in the majority of regular e-cigarette products.[10]


  1. ^ a b Voos, Natalie; Goniewicz, Maciej L.; Eissenberg, Thomas (2019). "What is the nicotine delivery profile of electronic cigarettes?". Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery. 16 (11): 1193–1203. doi:10.1080/17425247.2019.1665647. ISSN 1742-5247. PMC 6814574. PMID 31495244.
  2. ^ Fraga, John-Anthony Fraga (November 2019). "The Dangers of Juuling". National Center for Health Research.
  3. ^ a b c d Goniewicz, Maciej Lukasz; Boykan, Rachel; Messina, Catherine R; Eliscu, Alison; Tolentino, Jonatan (2018). "High exposure to nicotine among adolescents who use Juul and other vape pod systems ('pods')". Tobacco Control. 28 (6): tobaccocontrol–2018–054565. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2018-054565. ISSN 0964-4563. PMC 6453732. PMID 30194085.
  4. ^ a b Angelica LaVito and Elijah Shama (24 September 2019). "CDC warns of dangers of nicotine salts used by vaping giant Juul in e-cigarettes". CNBC.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b c d Jackler, Robert K; Ramamurthi, Divya (2019). "Nicotine arms race: JUUL and the high-nicotine product market". Tobacco Control. 28 (6): tobaccocontrol–2018–054796. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2018-054796. ISSN 0964-4563. PMID 30733312. S2CID 73433596.
  6. ^ "New smoking cessation therapy proves promising". American Association for the Advancement of Science. 27 February 2010.
  7. ^ Etter, Jean-François (2015). "E-cigarettes: methodological and ideological issues and research priorities". BMC Medicine. 13 (1): 32. doi:10.1186/s12916-014-0264-5. ISSN 1741-7015. PMC 4330977. PMID 25856794.
  8. ^ Jenssen, Brian P.; Wilson, Karen M. (2019). "What is new in electronic-cigarettes research?". Current Opinion in Pediatrics. 31 (2): 262–266. doi:10.1097/MOP.0000000000000741. ISSN 1040-8703. PMC 6644064. PMID 30762705.
  9. ^ a b "JUUL®: An Electronic Cigarette You Should Know About". American Academy of Family Physicians. 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Barrington-Trimis, Jessica L.; Leventhal, Adam M. (2018). "Adolescents' Use of "Pod Mod" E-Cigarettes — Urgent Concerns". New England Journal of Medicine. 379 (12): 1099–1102. doi:10.1056/NEJMp1805758. ISSN 0028-4793. PMC 7489756. PMID 30134127.
  11. ^ a b Jenssen, Brian P.; Boykan, Rachel (2019). "Electronic Cigarettes and Youth in the United States: A Call to Action (at the Local, National and Global Levels)". Children. 6 (2): 30. doi:10.3390/children6020030. ISSN 2227-9067. PMC 6406299. PMID 30791645. This article incorporates text by Brian P. Jenssen and Rachel Boykan available under the CC BY 4.0 license.
  12. ^ McKelvey, Karma; Baiocchi, Mike; Halpern-Felsher, Bonnie (2018). "Adolescents' and Young Adults' Use and Perceptions of Pod-Based Electronic Cigarettes". JAMA Network Open. 1 (6): e183535. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.3535. ISSN 2574-3805. PMC 6324423. PMID 30646249.
  13. ^ Rachel Becker (21 November 2018). "Juul's nicotine salts are dominating the market — and other companies want in". The Verge.

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