Freebase vs MTL vs Saltnic e-liquids – What’s the difference?

In this article, we discuss the chemical & physical differences between the 2 types of nicotine solutions available on the market today – and which is best suited for your vaporizer.

We’ll also link each type of nicotine solution to the optimal vape type; in other words, which type of nicotine solution is recommended for your device. Or vice versa; what types of devices fit best with certain types of nicotine solutions. 


Can I use any vape e-liquid with any device? 

While it may seem OK to mix and add different types of e-liquids to different devices, we definitely do not recommend doing this unless you have a clear understanding of your device requirements as well as the dangers of certain e-liquids when used in the wrong device. 

What are the dangers?

In short, before we explain why, here are the dangers of vaping e-liquids that are not made for your device:

  • Lack of flavour & vapour
  • You could get very sick
  • Nicotine withdrawals in long term
  • Lightheadedness from extreme nicotine consumption

Let’s get into why these things could happen:

Salt nicotine solutions contain high levels of nicotine and subsequently require a high resistance coil (at least 1.0 – 1.2 ohm) in order to consume these high levels of nicotine safely. 

Using a lower resistance coil will most probably give you the head rush of a lifetime and is not at all recommended for MTL (Mouth To Lung) devices.

Freebase nicotine solutions contain lower levels of nicotine, but are slightly harsher on the throat and lungs. For clarity, this is not with regards to damage to your lungs or throat, but rather the “kick” or strength of each hit. Most ex-cigarette users prefer freebase nicotine solutions for this exact reason. 



If perhaps you’re a new vaper for one of many reasons, you’ll commonly come across the abbreviations “MTL” and “DTL”, which simply stands for the way you would inhale with each device:

MTL – Mouth to lung

DTL – Direct to lung

Some devices offer adjusted airflow systems so that you can switch between the two at your discretion, and some MTL devices offer limited airflow to switch between MTL and “semi-DTL”

Semi-DTL devices (or loose MTL) are actually predominantly MTL devices that can be adjusted to provide just a little more air intake, still providing a tight draw with increased vapour and nicotine delivery. 


Freebase Nicotine

This is nicotine in its purest form for vaping. The “original” nicotine solution and one that is still (arguably) most popularly used by the market today.

Pure nicotine (NCT) is an alkaloid found in tobacco leaves – which is readily soluble in alcohol, ether or light petroleum and is miscible with water in its neutral amine base form between 60 °C and 210 °C. 

Freebase nicotine is created by adding ammonia to pure nicotine, a light to yellow-brown liquid that is not optimally absorbed by the body on its own. This is because pure nicotine is made up of negatively charged particles, which cannot move across organic membranes very well.

Thus, to increase its bioavailability, we must “freebase” the nicotine. 

Bioavailability: The amount and rate at which certain substances are available for absorption by the body.    

Freebase nicotine solutions are generally available in 0 mg – 6 mg, and can provide harsher throat sensations in higher nicotine levels. 

It is a good fit for those who prefer this kind of throat sensation, as many vapers who have switched over from cigarettes want to “feel” that they are inhaling nicotine. Others find it too harsh, in which case a lower concentration of 3 mg – 6 mg would be optimal. 

Vaping freebase nicotine in the 0 – 6 mg range is perfect for DTL vaping, cloud chasers and tricksters. 

Pros & Cons

As with everything, there are positives and negatives that might affect your purchase. 


  • Low intensity 
  • Purest form of nicotine
  • Helps to transition out of nicotine addiction
  • Affordable


  • Strong throat hit
  • Requires larger vape mods.

What type of vape is best for Freebase nicotine?

DTL (Direct-to-lung)

DTL vape kits naturally enable large inhalations with plenty of vapour, and naturally larger quantities of nicotine is contained in each inhalation. It is advisable to stay between 3 – 6 mg freebase nicotine, as is most popular among DTL vapers. 

DTL devices offer extensive airflow-adjustment settings and custom wattage settings, enabling you to heat your e-juice evenly over your coils to avoid dry hits or burnt tastes. 

Using freebase nicotine in MTL devices can cause coils/pods to leak, coils tend to “burn out” faster, and you’ll also invite the possibility of burnt tastes and dry hits. 

MTL and saltnic solutions are for those who prefer the kick of nicotine with every hit, and is not recommended for cloud chasers or tricksters. 

And now, on to the powerhouse of nicotine delivery; nicotine salts. 


Nicotine Salts

On the front line of science when it comes to nicotine solutions, nicotine salts are the new kids on the block and very popular for good reason. 

Salt nicotine solutions start at 20 mg and are produced in strengths of up to 50 mg, while simultaneously providing a much smoother draw in comparison to freebase nicotine. 

First things first – no, salt nicotine does not contain any physical salt – so you won’t have to worry about adding sodium to your diet.

Salt nicotine is the natural form of nicotine found in tobacco leaves, and is recreated after extraction by adding an acid.

In a seemingly obvious but chemically complex way, nicotine salts are the most efficient way of delivering nicotine to the body. It feels smoother and is absorbed into the bloodstream at a much quicker pace. In other words, it has a much greater bioavailability than freebase nicotine.

Pros & Cons

While seemingly obvious as the upgrade from freebase nicotine, nic salts do have their characteristics and for some, it just isn’t ideal.


  • Higher bioavailability
  • Smoother throat hits


  • Slightly more expensive
  • Only available in high nicotine strengths (20-50 mg)

What type of vape is best for Salt Nicotine?

It is highly recommended not to use sub-ohm devices or coils when vaping salt nicotine, as nic salts come in quite hefty strengths which are not healthy to inhale with a lower resistance coil.

When vaping salt nicotine, a coil with resistance of at least 1.0 – 1.2 ohm is recommended, which is clearly marked on the packaging itself. 

Vaping nicotine salts at sub ohm may cause lightheadedness and can introduce you to a whole new level of nicotine consumption you weren’t previously aware of – not something you would want to fall victim to. 


MTL Vape Juice

When it comes to MTL vaping – pod system vapes have steeply risen in popularity. 

MTL =  Mouth to Lung. This style of vaping refers to first allowing vapour into your mouth before inhaling it into your lungs, and is best enjoyed in the 8-18mg range of nicotine strengths. 

Pod kits are generally MTL enabled devices and are designed to get the most out of MTL vape juices.

They’re small, compact and super portable, all while having superb flavour delivery and are compatible with all kinds of nicotine strengths for the daily vaper. 

Prefer something with a clear kick? MTL is your option – opt for something in the 12-18 mg range. A fair warning though – 16-18 mg MTL vape juices can be an acquired taste for some, as it can be quite harsh. But nonetheless, a good stimulant for heavy vapers or simply for those who prefer a stronger nicotine delivery. 

MTL vape juice can also have a smoother throat sensation while enabling users to enjoy a satisfying amount of nicotine in lower concentrations such as 8-12 mg. 

In fact, many people differ between the two based on their scenarios.

When joining a social group, one might prefer the harsher throat sensation that’ll stop you from vaping excessively. People tend to vape more when in a social environment, which can affect your battery life if not prepared. 

In normal day-to-day scenarios, many people vape lower MTL nicotine solutions. It’s easier on the throat and delivers ample nicotine to satisfy cravings. 

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