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WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.

Which nicotine level is right for you? Ruthless Bottles - 0, 3, 6, 12 mg

How to Choose the Right Nicotine Strength for Vaping E-juice?



 The most common nicotine strength available in the market today
0 mg
3 (0.3%) mg
6 (0.6%) mg
12 (1.2%) mg

Choosing the right nicotine strength is key if you want to kiss cigarettes goodbye. Cigarettes and vaping both contain nicotine but smoking provides a different experience due to the thousands of other chemicals in cigarettes. What vaping can do is provide nicotine without all of the extra nasty stuff. As you may already know, nicotine is the main reason why smokers wake up in the morning and crave a smoke. This stresses the importance of choosing the right nicotine strength if you want to successfully stay away from smoking cigarettes.

You want to choose a nicotine level that is a happy fit for you. Too much nicotine and you won’t enjoy the vaping experience and having too little can result in going back to smoking.

There are 3 main factors to take in consideration before choosing the right nicotine level:

  1. Understanding the differences between smoking and vaping
  2. Different vaping devices effect nicotine strength
  3. Smoking habits can determine what nicotine strength to choose

Differences in nicotine absorption: Vaping vs Smoking

Vaping vs Smoking - Why is there is a difference in nicotine absorption?

Getting the right nicotine strength is tricky because vaping and smoking absorb nicotine differently. Many smokers will choose a nicotine strength based on how much nicotine is in a cigarette. Unfortunately, it’s not the right way to go about it since you don’t absorb the same amount of nicotine.   

On average, the amount of nicotine found in one cigarette is around 10-14 mg and you only absorb about 1-1.5 mg of nicotine. Furthermore, vaping doesn’t deliver the same amount of nicotine in the bloodstream as cigarettes.

In a study done by Dr Farsalinos, researchers have found that even after an hour, vaping doesn’t deliver the same amount of nicotine in the bloodstream as one cigarette.

Out of the 4000 plus chemicals in cigarettes, some of the chemicals exist to solely boost the effects of nicotine in smoking. Cigarettes may seem archaic but they are highly engineered to deliver nicotine as efficiently as possible.

With e-juices only containing 4 main ingredients (PG, VG, Flavoring, and Nicotine), this is one of the many reasons why it is hard to compare cigarettes with vaping. It also explains why other nicotine replacement treatments have shown low success rates.

On a positive note, the study above showed that newer generation devices increased the nicotine levels in the bloodstreams by 35-72%. After 35 minutes, the nicotine levels were the same as smoking a cigarette in the first 5 minutes. What this shows is that smoking a cigarette immediately gives you your nicotine satisfaction whereas vaping can take a little longer for the nicotine cravings to subside. This leads to the next factor you want to consider before choosing a nicotine strength that is right for you.

The Device You Choose Matters

The Device You choose matters - Features of different sub-ohm devices

With the innovations in vaping, vaping devices have become more efficient in delivering nicotine and flavor.

The most common devices you see today are called sub-ohm devices. Sub-ohm devices use high wattage batteries to increase vapor production and it allows for more direct to lung vapor action. What this means is that you will get more nicotine compared to lower wattage devices which are mouth to lung devices.

If you use a high wattage sub-ohm device, you can use lower nicotine levels due to the amount of vapor it will produce. Many sub-ohm vapers prefer to use 3 mg or 6 mg e-juice.

However, going above 12 mg in a sub-ohm device is not recommended. Keep in mind, the higher you climb up the nicotine ladder, the e-juice will have a harsher throat hit. Vapers in the community call this harshness induced by higher nicotine levels as nicotine bite.

As we stated above, nicotine levels in your bloodstream take a while to meet the same amount of nicotine as smoking a cigarette. Chain-vaping at 12 mg in a sub-ohm device may lead to an accumulation of nicotine and it may cause negative symptoms such as dehydration, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. It’s a common occurrence among vapers when the flavor in your ejuice is too damn good.

Smoking Habits and Vaping Usage

Choosing ejuice nicotine strength based on daily smoking habits chart

The final factor you want to consider before choosing a nicotine strength is your smoking habits. Listed below is a general guideline that the vaping community follows:

Smokers who want to quit nicotine completely (Not for first time vapers switching from cigarettes): 0 mg

Light smoker (Less than half a pack): 3 mg

Moderate Smoker (Half a pack): 6 mg

Heavy Smoker (Full pack): 12 mg

Remember, these are broad guidelines and choosing the right nicotine strength will vary from person to person. Heavy smokers may be satisfied with 6 mg since some may prefer a lighter throat hit to enjoy the flavor more than getting nicotine. 

Another thing to take into consideration depends on the type of cigarettes you smoked. Not all cigarettes are created equal and some may have more nicotine than others. For example, if you smoke half a pack of full flavor cigarettes, 12 mg may be a better fit than 6 mg.

It will also depend on your vaping usage. For those who vape sparingly, they may want to opt for a 12 mg nicotine strength and consume less vape juice. It may take some time to figure out what works best for you so don’t give up and experiment!

Alternative Option: Nicotine Salts

Nicotine Salt Devices

If you have read other articles about nicotine strength, you may have noticed that some mention 18 mg and 24 mg nicotine levels. Unfortunately, many e-juice manufacturers have discontinued producing those nicotine strengths. An alternative option that may be a better fit for those who are looking for something stronger, nicotine salts will be a good fit for you.

Nicotine salt is a specific formulation of nicotine used in low wattage devices. Nicotine salts offer high nicotine strength such as 35 to 50 mg nicotine strengths to provide smokers a more realistic feel of smoking a cigarette. Salt based nicotine are made to have a smoother throat hit to make vaping 50 mg nicotine palatable. Because nicotine salts are offered in high nicotine strengths, nic salts are designed for low wattage devices.

In the study shared above, the researchers recommend 50 mg nicotine levels for heavy smokers who have recently transitioned into vaping. Luckily, nicotine salt fits the bill and the user-friendly devices used for nic salts are perfect for smokers who are new to vaping. With the rising popularity of nicotine salts, first-time vapers should strongly consider vaping nicotine salts for a smoother transition to vaping.

If you’re curious and want to learn more about vaping nicotine salts, check out these blog articles:

Final Decision: Use this chart here to find a nicotine strength that suits you best!

How to Choose the Right Nicotine Strength Chart

Let us know in the comment section if you have questions or would like to share your experiences with us! Don’t forget to check out our mouthwatering premium e-juice collection! Thanks and happy vaping y’all!

11 Responses


June 29, 2022

I usually smoke between 20-30 12mg cigarettes a day and I’m looking to give it up and transition into vaping, what strength nicotine liquid or noc salt would be suitable?

David Aitken

September 07, 2021

I used a product called Nordic Spirit to stop smoking as well as my vape. I used a vape with 0mg oil to produce stimulation similar to smoking however used the Nordic Spirit for the nicotine hit. Nordic spirit is similar to snuss however, it contains no tobacco. You simply place these under your tongue and they give you an instant hit of nicotine. The 0mg vape juice allowed my brain to think I was still smoking however, don’t use these at the same time, use one just before the other. Hope this helps

Vape Kit UK

April 07, 2021

I really want to know how vaping is different from smoking. I really appreciate your post. Your method of explaining is actually very informative.

vaping 24/7

September 14, 2020

one of the best blogs ever. Bookmarked for future read.

William Skuras

September 09, 2019

I was a half pack menthol cig smoker. I’ve switched to juul with 5 % strength. My heart races. Should this get better over time or should I go with a lower % nic level?

George at Ruthless

August 05, 2019

Hey Cheyenne,
It is difficult to recommend as it depends on how much you freebase vaping you are doing now. Possibly try the lowest mg version as you want to avoid being overwhelmed by too much nicotine and adjust how you feel from there.


August 05, 2019

Hey I currently smoke a freebase juice 6 mg. Well I just bought a Infinix and wanted to try salt nic. What MG do you suggest?

Brian From Ruthless

July 18, 2018

Hey Kaitlyn! You can definitely use regular e-juice for your Suorin. Keep in mind, the ideal ratio for your suorin is 60 VG / 40 PG. If the PG is higher, it may result in a slight leakage. I wouldn’t worry too much though since most regular e-juice is in that range.

For regular e-juice, an ideal device would be a sub ohm vape pen or vape mod, but it should work fine in a pod mod. Make sure to prime your coil so you don’t burn your coil!! When you start with a new pod, let it sit in your pod for 15 minutes and inhale/exhale (not attached to battery) to get the cotton saturated.

Give Ruthless E-juice a try when you have a chance and let me know how your vape works out!




July 18, 2018

Hi! Thanks for this information! I do have a question though. I am a light smoker and just recently bought a Sourin Air. The sales rep sold me NKD Salt 100 35mg. After using it for a few days, I really think this is too high of a nicotine content. Could I switch to a 3mg non-salt juice? I suppose I need to try a few different nic levels. The fact that a cigarette only provides a limit amount of hits when compared to a sourin that essentially will last me a few wkeks before a re-fill is causing me to use the sourin more than a regular cigarette. Thanks again!

Brian from Ruthless

July 11, 2018

Hello Logan Flowers:

Thank you for stopping on by! The 35 mg and 50 mg on the chart above are nicotine salts.

Currently, the lowest salt nic available on the market is 25 mg. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to determine the equivalent but If you’re vaping at 12 mg freebase, I would suggest you try 25 mg or 35 mg nic salts and move upwards if necessary. Feel free to give our ez duz it on icenic salts a try here:

Let me know if that helps!

Thank you,


Logan Flowers

July 11, 2018

With nicotine salts is the char that you have for salt nic or is that for regular base nicotine? Because I’m a pack a day smoker and I want to give salt nic a try ive use other vapor systems and in a starter kit system I was at a 12mg what is equal to that in salt nic

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