What Strength Nicotine e-Liquid Do I Need To Start With?

by Christina Jones on February 9, 2011

One huge and confusing question for new VapeGeeks is – what strength of nicotine liquid do I need to order at first?  Most e-liquid suppliers offer nicotine liquid in several strengths – something like this:  very high (usually around 36 mg/ml), high (around 24 mg/ml), medium (around 18 mg/ml), low (8 mg/ml) and no nicotine (0 mg/ml).

When I smoked, I was a 1-1.5 pack a day smoker.  Pretty heavy.  I chose the 24 mg/ml strength liquid to start with.  Wow.  That was way more nicotine than I was accustomed to.  Instant buzz.  Luckily, I had some 18 mg liquid that my friend had given me to try – that was perfect.  I have since moved on down to about 5 mg/ml liquid, but that’s another story for another day.

So, another of my girlfriends and I were talking today, and she had heard this:

  • If you are a 3 pack a day smoker, go with the 36 mg/ml e-liquid.
  • 2 packs a day, go with the 24.
  • 1 pack a day, go with the 18.
  • Less than a pack a day (if you are a social smoker), try the 8 mg/ml.

This sounds like a perfect place to start to me.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

rufus June 18, 2011 at 3:23 am

A smoker that does 1 pack strong (camel, marlboro regular) cigarettes should get a 8-10mg/ml liquid. That presumes you’ll be going at it during the first few days, vaping 2ml liquid. That’s the equivalent amount of nicotine.

Do the math yourself depending on your cigarettes and how many of them you’re used to. It’s important that you figure it out, nicotine is a very strong drug.

For a cig that’s half as strong as a marlboro red then 5mg/ml liquid if you’re used to 1 pack a day and want to do about 2ml vaping.

First few days go with that to fight the urge to smoke and then start decreasing the nicotine. Cigarettes contain substances that thin out the blood and balance out the increased heart rate from nicotine. The e-liquid doesn’t do that. Someone with a heart condition, even minor/undetected one can end up with a heart episode if they start vaping some high nic liquid all day long.

It isn’t funny folks. E-liquids are a great solution to smoking and tons healthier, but you have to know what you’re doing.

Haven’t paid much attention to this PG and VG thing, I could be wrong, but to my understanding PG rating is how much it kicks at the back of the throat, and VG rating is how much vapor it produces.


PossEble June 17, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Vegetable Glycerin (VG)
Is a thick, sweet liquid. VG produces luscious clouds of vapor. VG also imparts a sweeter taste to your liquid.

Propylene Glycol (PG)
Is a much thinner tasteless liquid. PG produces more of a “throat hit” than VG does, which simulates the feel of smoking better. PG also has a higher rate of sensitivity for some people, meaning that some people just can’t use PG in their vape.



rufus June 18, 2011 at 3:33 am

oh, yeah

I did more than I should the first couple of days and it was taking me hours to fall asleep. I was feeling a mild rush, like I was very focused, so I started thinking that was weird, and did a bit of searching around on the web to see what’s up with nicotine and these eliquids in general.

A few friends that introduced me to this seemed quite poised these last few weeks, I’m 100% sure that’s why. They’re vaping 18 and 24mg/ml liquids non stop, both coming from rollies. That could easily be 4-6 times the amount of nicotine they were used to. They’re high on nic…. that’s probably more lame than being high on eyeliner…


mark gregory September 11, 2011 at 9:06 am

what i wish to understand is , if i have a 18mg 10ml bottle now depending on how fast i would use this bottle. if the bottle lasted a week or two days i would have used the same amount of nicotine in both cases .so how much nicotine would i of actauly been using and how many cigeretes would this be equiverlant to. trying to explain another way if i had a 18mg 30ml bottle and used it in a simarler time scale would i have still had the same amount of nicotine. surley not this is the confusing part of vaping.


Stu June 21, 2012 at 3:39 am

Hi Mark, you probably have this figured out by now, but just for the interest of other folks that might peruse this section…

If you have 18mg liquid, that means that for every 1ml of the solution there is 18mg nicotine contained within that 1ml.

If you have a 10 ml bottle of 18mg then in total there is 180 mg nicotine that bottle.
If you have a 30ml bottle of 18mg then in total there is 540mg nicotine in that bottle

Your average full strength cigarette delivers you about 0.8mg of nicotine. This means that in a pack of 25 full strength cigarettes consumed there is 20mg delivered to you.

So, let’s say that each ml of 18mg ejuice is equal to about a pack of full strength cigarettes.
If you use 10ml of 18mg in a week you are averaging just over a pack a day worth of nicotine in old world speak.

If you use 30ml of 18mg liquid you are averaging more than three packs a day worth of nicotine.

That’s the way i understand it anyway.
Happy vaping.


Buddymoon94 February 28, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Thanks Stu for the info on the MG in the e-liquid it was very informative, I’ve been buying 24 mg e liquid because it was recommended to me by a friend but i wasn’t sure it was right for me, now that i have read your post though i am pretty sure its the right strength for me, until i decide to start stepping down the dosage to ween my self off of the nicotine anyways. Ive smoked on avg 2 packs a day for years and by my calculation according to your figures that’s about 32 mg a day, I’ve been on e-cigs for about 2 months and i would say i avg about 1 ml of e-liquid per day that’s 24mg a day so I’ve already decreased my nicotine intake by more than 1/3rd, with out any noticeable symptoms of withdraw.

Another awesome benefit of changing from cigs to e-cigs is that it breaks a lot of your habits while at the same time satisfying others, The e-cig keeps something in your hands which keeps them occupied, you also periodically put the device to your lips to smoke just like real cigarettes, so it imitates them perfectly in these ways. While it reinforces some habits it decimates others, most of them being mental triggers, I’m sure all you smokers are familiar, after you eat, after you shower, after sex, while driving, when stressed, any number of things can be attached to the need to have a cig, and the e-cig decimates all of them because it is not a timed event, no longer do i reach for a cig just because i have a pleasurable or a stressful event and then smoke it for a full 5-10 minutes after words, now i only take a hit when i need it i don’t smoke a full cig just because i lit it…


Ingabella December 31, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I got my e.sigarette for christmas, and ordered e- liquid with taste that arrived today. My question is: I usually smoke Kent that contains 0,5 mg of nicotin pr sigarette. The liquid I received today is 8 mg/5ml bottle. This was the lowest on nicotin. Is that the correct amount for me? Do I have to add more pg/vg or is it ready to use? I’ve tried some puffs, but feel a little dizzy……


stephen January 7, 2013 at 10:26 am

I am having a bit of a challenge because I am a clove smoker. from what I understand cloves have about half the nicotine as regular cigarettes, so for me smoking is mostly a habit. but at the same time there is definitely a certain relief, or ‘high’, that I get from smoking a clove after not having done so for about 6 hours or so. I don’t seem to get that feeling from vaping. another thing is that the whole time I smoked cloves, I could never take a drag off an actual cigarette because I would hack and cough and get high like when you first start smoking. so I’ve really only been able to smoke cloves this whole time, even if I liked the taste of cigarettes I couldn’t have ever smoked them. so now when I’m trying to get that relief, and I go anywhere close to 12 mg, my gag reflex starts acting up and I want to stop vaping. any ideas?


Joyetech March 17, 2013 at 5:39 am

Not had a cigarette for 5 weeks now due to using an e-cig.
I am now a promoter of these electric cigarettes.
I tell everybody I meet to just Google for electronic cigarettes to check how well rooted this industry is,
and how large the choice is for these wonderful products is.
What really annoys me, though, are the growing number of stories
in the media saying how dire they are. Apparently the big drugs companies –
the producers of stop smoking aids are funding an anti-e-vape battle – less so the tobacco companies
(as one might think) as many are putting money into them.
I can FEEL the benefits of e cigarettes. Just broadcasting – that there is always some
reason with large corporations trying to censure e cigs .
.. our country’s politicos should do a lot more too. It makes me cross. I hope they don’t
get banned


Michael May 28, 2013 at 9:44 pm

It’s interesting you mention moving down in strength over time…this is a common thread I have heard from many people. They start high, and move lower over time! I rarely hear the opposite. It’s usually not a conscious decision either, I think vaping really does reduce your need for high amounts of nicotine.

I’m not surprised you were blown away by the 24mg liquid…that’s some pretty serious stuff. I would say your estimates are a bit high for all but the most dedicated of cigarette smokers.

I myself have tried many varieties of 18mg strength and while it does give you that great buzz, I tend to go for a mid-range 12-16mg (which ever the vendor offers, I’ve sampled a great many flavors and brands of liquid) and sometimes even 8mg or lower if I’m just going for pure taste.

Personally I’ve landed on a few different types of organic e-liquids that I like (I’m a big whole/raw foods supporter and I like the concept of organics) with 100% VG because I tend to get a swollen throat if I smoke too much PG at once. Perhaps an allergic reaction, I don’t know.


Sohail June 6, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I’m confused. According to this I should be on the 18mg e-juice. Because I go through 15-20 cigarettes a day which are B&H Gold with 0.9mg. But I still find the vape harsh. So should I move a grade down?


Sohail June 6, 2013 at 9:40 pm

I’m confused. According to this I should be on the 18mg e-juice. Because I go through 15-20 cigarettes a day which are B&H Gold with 0.9mg. But I still find the vape harsh. So should I move a grade down?


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