Updated: 5 Feb 2020
If you’re like most vapers, you got interested in vaping as a way to help you quit smoking. Vaping offers you a way to reduce the amount of damage your lungs and body suffers without giving up nicotine cold turkey. Instead, e-liquids use pure, concentrated nicotine that can easily be stepped down over time so you can keep on vaping on your regular schedule while gradually reducing your nicotine intake to zero.
Finding Your Starting Point
In order to effectively step down your nicotine level, you first need to determine the appropriate nicotine level to begin with. Different manufacturers offer different nicotine contents in their e-liquids. Some companies offer a small range of 0 to 6 mg of nicotine while others go as high as 24 mg.
In general, any nicotine rating above 12 mg is typically reserved for serious chain smokers. On the other hand, 6 mg is the most recommended starting point for those who smoke moderately or lightly. The goal is to choose a nicotine level that is at or just below your current smoking habit, but definitely not above it.
You should also make sure you are choosing a flavor you will like. The transition from smoking to vaping is easiest if you choose a flavor like Classic Tobacco or Sahara Gold Tobacco because it’s familiar. If you want to try something a little bit different, the Caramel Tabacco flavor will easy your way into some of the sweeter e-liquids on the market.
Make Sure You Have the Right Equipment
Another important piece of the vaping puzzle is the equipment you are using to heat your vape juice. Entry-level devices differ greatly from advanced sub-ohm devices, which increase the potency of your ejuice by heating it more efficiently. This becomes apparent if you have been using a 6 mg juice in a basic vape pen and suddenly switch to a more advanced device, and suddenly feel overpowered.
If you upgrade your equipment, make sure you step down your nicotine to match. You may even be able to cut your nicotine content in half at this point.
Allow Your Body to Adjust
If you are starting high on the nicotine register and gradually working your way down, you will probably reduce your nicotine content a couple mg at a time. It’s important to allow your body to gently adjust down to the next level for the best results. Again, if you cut too much nicotine too quickly, you will likely experience the same cravings as if you had quit smoking cold turkey.
For each step you take down the ladder, give your body a few weeks to adjust. The first couple days may be a challenge, but your body will get used to the gradually lower nicotine levels.
Getting to the Bottom
Once you get close to the bottom of the nicotine range, you will notice you have fewer options available in terms of nicotine content, but more options for flavors. Some manufacturers offer a 6, 4 and 2 mg spread, while others only offer 6 and 3 mgs.
What do you do if you started at 6, stepped down to 3, but aren’t quite ready to drop to zero yet? The answer is mixing down. Basically, you can dilute you e-liquid on your own to achieve an extra step down on the ladder. This can be done in a couple of different ways.
Some people simply buy a bottle of 3 mg liquid in their favorite flavor such as American Red Tobacco and then buy a second bottle of zero nicotine in the same flavor. This way you can add a few drops of zero nicotine liquid to your tank and work your way to a 50/50 mix that would be equivalent to 1.5 mg. Again, you can stop here for a few weeks and allow your body to adjust down once more.
The other common method for diluting e-liquid is to purchase unflavored base liquids. All e-liquids are made up of some combination of vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG). These liquids serve as the carrier for the flavors and nicotine in your e-liquids and do not alter the effects of your e-liquid on their own. Instead they simply dilute the nicotine without adding anything.
It is important to note that VG and PG have different consistencies, so adding one or the other may change the way your e-liquid flows through your device.
If you are committed to quitting smoking or simply want to make your vape healthier by reducing the amount of nicotine you are taking in, there are many options available to you. Most manufacturers offer a wide range of nicotine levels to begin with, but you can self-dilute your liquids at any point to add extra steps if you are struggling. Just be sure you give yourself plenty of time to adjust at each stage so that your progress sticks long term.