Ever wonder why you get such a strong nicotine buzz from cigarettes? Or why you feel the effects of nicotine differently when you vape?
The answer has to do with pH levels. You see different pH levels affect how nicotine is delivered to your body. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves! Before we look at the interplay between pH levels and nicotine, we need to understand what pH is.
When we talk about pH, we’re talking about the acidity of a liquid. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. Zero is as acidic as it gets while 14 is not acidic at all. Liquids that aren’t acidic are referred to as alkaline or basic. So, what does this have to do with the human body?
As you may know, the human body is largely made up of liquid! Our blood and our other liquids have a measurable pH. What’s more, all our cells, organs and bodily fluids require a specific pH to work properly. It turns out our bodies are very sensitive to acidity levels.
In particular, our enzymes (little protein molecules that speed up chemical reactions), are sensitive to the pH level of the liquid they’re in. Enzymes are at their most sensitive in blood. You see any change in pH in our blood can affect the shape of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen throughout the body.
In summary, the body needs to maintain very specific pH levels to function at its best.
The relationship between pH levels and nicotine is simple. The dose of nicotine you get from an e-liquid is largely determined by pH levels. Increasing the pH of nicotine transforms it into a free base form that moves easily through your bloodstream.
There’s another interesting relationship between pH and throat hit. As a rule, the higher the nicotine in an e-juice, the harsher the throat hit. But the pH of an e-liquid also affects throat hit.
Alkaline (remember, alkaline means not acidic) e-liquid has a much harsher throat hit than acidic e-liquid. This means if you wanted to create more of a throat hit without upping nicotine levels, you could adjust the pH of an e-liquid.
This is where it gets interesting though because by increasing the pH of an e-liquid, you’re also making it easier for nicotine to move through the bloodstream. Therefore, high pH e-liquids deliver both a harsher throat hit and more nicotine!
In the future, it will be interesting to see whether e-juice manufacturers start listing pH levels alongside nicotine concentration. With the crucial role pH plays in nicotine absorption, it would certainly make sense to do so.
At VanGo, we take pH into consideration when creating all our e-juices. Understanding the dynamic between pH and nicotine is part of what allows us to make e-juices that are so smooth, but also to create juices that deliver a strong throat hit!
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