When you shop at a site like vapejuice.com or read about vaping online, “throat hit” is a term that you’re likely to see repeatedly – and it’s an important term to understand, especially if you’re new to the hobby. The throat hit is what you feel in your throat when you inhale the vapor from your e-cigarette or another vaping device, and for many, there is a direct correlation between throat hit and satisfaction. Your choice of e-liquid has a profound effect on throat hit – and before you can make the right choice in that area, you need to understand what throat hit is and what affects it. Let’s learn more.

What Is Throat Hit?

The throat hit is the slight irritation that you feel in your throat when you inhale nicotine. Although it’s true that nicotine irritates the throat slightly, it’s also the case that many people equate that feeling with satisfaction. If you’re a former smoker, you might look back with fondness on what it used to feel like to smoke your first cigarette of the day. It felt great, right? By the end of the day, though, you’d feel that telltale ache in your lungs reminding you that what you were doing was actually horrible for your body.

Vaping has the potential to deliver virtually that same sensation in your throat – all of the satisfaction without the smoke and tar – but for that to happen, you have to choose the right vape juice.

Let’s learn more about the factors that influence throat hit in vaping.

Higher Nicotine Strength Increases Throat Hit

The primary factor that influences the throat hit of a vape juice is its nicotine strength. The nicotine strength of an e-liquid – expressed in terms of mg/ml – is always printed on the bottle’s label. The strength of an e-liquid with nicotine may range anywhere from 3-50 mg. That’s an extremely wide range, so choosing the right nicotine strength for your needs is the key to having a satisfying vaping experience. The greater the vapor production of your vaping hardware, the lower your nicotine strength should be.

These general guidelines can help you choose the right nicotine strength for your needs.
  • If you use a box mod with a sub-ohm tank, the right nicotine strength for you is around 3-6 mg.
  • If you use a refillable vape pen, the right nicotine strength for you is around 6-18 mg.
  • If you use a small vaping device with refillable plastic pods, the right nicotine strength for you is 25-50 mg.

Freebase Nicotine Produces a Stronger Throat Hit

The two types of e-liquid are freebase nicotine e-liquid and nicotine salt e-liquid. If a vape juice bottle says “salt” on the label, it is nicotine salt e-liquid. Freebase nicotine e-liquids generally aren’t labeled as such. Most e-liquids use freebase nicotine.

Freebase nicotine is slightly alkaline. That’s the result of the ammonia extraction method that most tobacco processors use to extract nicotine from tobacco. Nicotine salt, meanwhile, has an acid that neutralizes its pH. Most people find that the more neutral pH of nicotine salt e-liquid makes it smoother to inhale. Freebase nicotine, on the other hand, produces a stronger throat hit due to the increased alkalinity. If you’re choosing between two e-liquids with the same nicotine strength and want to pick the one that produces a stronger throat hit, you should choose the freebase nicotine e-liquid.

Some Vape Juice Flavors and Additives Produce Throat Hit

Some of the flavoring compounds used in e-liquid can enhance or modify that e-liquid’s throat hit. For example, many e-liquids include cooling elements such as menthol. The cooling sensation provided by menthol tends to lessen the throat hit of an e-liquid. That being said, the menthol sensation might be exactly what you want if you’re a former menthol cigarette smoker.

Some e-liquid companies have also experimented with additives designed to increase the throat hit of lower-nicotine vape juices. Some of those additives include cinnamon, grain alcohol and tobacco extracts. Those additives have become less common over the years, though, as many of the people who used to buy them have since migrated to lower-nicotine e-liquids and higher-output vaping hardware.
Mouth-to-Lung Vaping Increases Throat Hit

Your inhaling style has a profound effect on what you feel in your throat when you vape. It’s the mouth-to-lung inhaling style – in which all of the vapor rushes down your throat at the same time – that produces the maximum throat hit, as long as the nicotine strength of your e-liquid is correct.

In recent years, there has been a clear trend among experienced vapers toward larger vaping devices with very powerful tanks capable of creating enormous volumes of vapor with each puff. To get the maximum vapor production with such a device, you need to inhale the vapor directly to your lungs. With that inhaling style, though, you have to use a low-nicotine e-liquid – and low-nicotine e-liquids produce a very little throat hit.

Why Would Anyone Want Less Throat Hit?

If you’re new to vaping, you’re probably wondering at this point why anyone would want to choose an e-liquid that produces little to no throat hit. The reason why many experienced vapers eventually migrate to lower-nicotine e-liquids is that, after vaping for a long time, they realize that they no longer crave cigarettes. They’re not vaping for the nicotine – although that’s a pleasant side effect – and they’re not vaping for the throat hit. Instead, they’re vaping for the flavor.

When you choose your vaping hardware and e-liquid, you’re essentially making a choice on a continuum between throat hit and flavor. The more vapor your device produces, the more you’ll taste your e-liquid – but, as mentioned above, you’ll need to lower the nicotine strength of your vape juice to compensate for that. As a result, you’ll have a vaping experience that’s all flavor and no throat hit. For a newer vaper still trying to complete the transition away from smoking, that might not sound like the most appealing thing in the world – but it might surprise you to learn how much your preferences can change as you become more accustomed to vaping.