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March 19, 2024

What is Throat Hit?

Vaping 101

When you read about vaping online, “throat hit” is a term that you’re guaranteed to see fairly often. Throat hit refers to the sensation felt in the back of the throat when inhaling vapor from an e-cigarette or vaping device. This sensation can vary widely from one person to another and is influenced by several factors. Some describe it as a smooth, satisfying feeling, akin to the sensation of smoking traditional cigarettes. For others, it can be a sharp, harsh sensation that’s less desirable. The key is that throat hit is a subjective experience, and finding the right level for you is part of customizing your vaping experience.

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Before you can customize your throat hit, you need to understand the factors that influence throat hit and how changing those factors can affect your experience. In this guide, I’ll make you an expert by covering throat hit from every angle.

Main Factors that Affect Throat Hit

Throat Hit Meaning

Before I go into detail about what you can do to customize throat hit when vaping, I’d like to provide an overview of the different factors that influence throat hit. Those are:

  • The nicotine strength of your e-liquid. Nicotine is the factor that most directly influences throat hit in vaping.
  • The type of nicotine that your e-liquid contains.
  • The VG/PG ratio of your e-liquid.
  • Any additives that the e-liquid may contain to enhance or mitigate throat hit.
  • Your vaping device and inhaling style.

Let’s discuss each of those factors individually.

How Nicotine Strength Affects Throat Hit

As I mentioned above, the throat hit that you feel when vaping primarily comes from the nicotine in the e-liquid. Nicotine causes a slightly scratchy or irritated sensation in the throat, which is something you already know as a smoker. If you’re like most new vapers, your goal is probably to mimic that sensation as closely as possible because it contributes to your sense of satisfaction.

To increase throat hit, you should increase the amount of nicotine that you inhale when vaping. You can do that by using a higher nicotine strength or by using a more powerful vaping device. These days, disposable vapes are probably the devices that produce the strongest throat hit. A disposable vape usually has a nicotine strength of 50 mg/ml, and many devices are now using mesh coils for enormous clouds.

How Freebase Nicotine and Nicotine Salt Affect Throat Hit

The comparison between freebase nicotine and nicotine salt for throat hit primarily affects our friends in the United Kingdom and European Union because e-liquid is limited by law in those regions to a maximum nicotine strength of 20 mg/ml. For that reason, it’s common to find both freebase and nic salt e-liquids in around the same strengths.

The reason why nicotine salt e-liquid was invented was because some people experienced throat irritation when using high-strength e-liquid due to the alkalinity of freebase nicotine. Salt nicotine has a more neutral pH, and that enables some people to use higher nicotine strengths without experiencing irritation.

As I explained at the beginning of this article, though, people experience throat hit in different ways. What one person considers irritating, someone else may find pleasurable and satisfying. So, it can be useful to know that if the nicotine strength is the same, freebase nicotine produces a stronger throat hit. Nicotine salt, on the other hand, is smoother.

In the United States and other regions that don’t restrict nicotine strengths, the choice between nicotine salt and freebase is basically moot because freebase e-liquids are typically only available in strengths of 3 and 6 mg/ml, while nic salts are available in strengths of around 25-50 mg/ml. Since those ranges of nicotine strengths aren’t even close to each other, the difference in throat hit between the two types of nicotine isn’t really a factor.

How VG/PG Ratio Affects Throat Hit

As vape juice has become more standardized, it’s getting more uncommon to find e-liquids containing high ratios of either VG or PG. Most e-liquids hover around 50/50. If you’re looking for an e-liquid that produces a stronger throat hit, though, you should try to find one with plenty of PG. PG tends to produce a stronger, scratchier throat hit than VG, which feels softer and smoother in the throat.

What E-Liquid Additives Can Affect Throat Hit?

In the early years of vaping, the highest nicotine strength offered by most e-liquid and e-cigarette companies was 18 mg/ml. For some people, that wasn’t quite enough nicotine to provide a satisfying throat hit. Until nicotine salt e-liquid was invented, though, many vapers couldn’t handle nicotine strengths higher than 18 mg/ml because of the intense throat irritation they experienced.

So, as an alternative to higher nicotine, some vape juice companies experimented with additives to enhance throat hit. The two most common additives used in those days were grain alcohol and capsaicin, the same compound that makes hot peppers spicy. Today, those additives are extremely rare. There are still some e-liquid companies that use alcohol-based flavoring agents, though, and it’s worth the effort to seek those companies out if you’re looking for an e-liquid that can deliver an assertive throat hit.

How Menthol Affects Throat Hit

Vape Throat Hit

Menthol can affect the throat hit of an e-liquid, and it’s kind of a special case because it can actually have opposite effects depending on the amount that’s used. It’s common these days to find “fruit-and-ice” e-liquids that have just a little menthol for coolness. In low amounts, menthol can enhance the smoothness of an e-liquid and mask some of the throat hit. On the other hand, an e-liquid with a very high level of menthol can cause an intense cooling sensation in the throat — and in that case, the throat hit can actually be increased. I find that a high level of menthol can be a great throat hit enhancer in a low-nicotine e-liquid.

How Your Vaping Hardware Affects Throat Hit

Your vaping device is another important thing to consider as you seek out the vaping setup that provides the ideal throat hit. You’ll get the strongest throat hit if you use a device designed for mouth-to-lung inhaling because all of the nicotine rushes through your throat at once when you inhale. The throat hit of this type of vaping setup is further enhanced by the fact that mouth-to-lung devices generally work best with high-nicotine e-liquids. A direct-to-lung vaping device, on the other hand, works best with low-nicotine vape juice — and with this setup, you’ll experience little throat hit.

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