Understanding Nicotine Strengths and Percentages

Nicotine percentages can be confusing to a new vaper, in this article we help make sense of it all.

4 min read

Understanding Nicotine Strengths and Percentages

If you are new to vaping, it can be confusing to look for your usual mg/ML nicotine level if you have been smoking. Instead, e-juice for vaping comes in percentages. You will need to know the difference between nicotine strengths as mg/mL and those as percentages and convert from one to the other to get the right nicotine level.

Nicotine strengths explained

Nicotine strengths shown as percentages of an e-liquid aren’t that different, but a lot easier to understand. Rather than combining mass (mg) and volume (mL), a percentage is used to show how much nicotine is in the bottle’s e-liquid. 

By default, e-juice does not come with any nicotine level. Nicotine is an ingredient that is added. If you don’t currently use nicotine, you should not vape e-liquid that contains any amount of nicotine. If you now use nicotine and are trying to quit nicotine by vaping, then start with a low nicotine strength and decrease the nicotine level over time, eventually getting the dose down to zero. Although you may find a lower strength e-liquid insufficient to stem cravings for your habit as nicotine is an addictive chemical.

Converting nicotine strengths

Converting from a nicotine strength in mg/mL to a percentage is easy. Just divide the amount of nicotine in mg/mL by 10. To convert back from the percentage to mg/mL, just multiply it by 10.

You may see vaping e-liquid strengths written as mg, mg/mL, or in percentage form. Here is how they are displayed to show the different nicotine levels:

0mg= 0mg/mL= 0%
3mg= 3mg/mL= 0.3%
6mg= 6mg/ML= 0.6%
12mg= 12mg/mL= 1.2%

If you are vaping and have some e-liquid containing 1.2% nicotine, any amount you measure out will be 1.2% nicotine and 98.8% PG, VG, and flavorings.

Measured in the same way as alcohol, described on a bottle as ABV or “Alcohol by Volume” how much nicotine content exists is measured in the same way and referred to as “Nicotine by Volume” shortened to NBV .

Different Nicotine Strengths

Nicotine Level Chart

Nicotine has a lot to do with how an e-cigarette performs. This is commonly referred to as the “throat hit.” When moving up or down the nicotine level scale, try only one level up or down compared to the nicotine strength you are currently on due to the throat hit.

Combining weights and volumes

If you can confidently convert between percentages and mg/mL values, then there isn’t much else you need to know about nicotine strength levels. If you are interested in the conversion reasons, here is a little history of why this is the case.

Why you need to convert nicotine strengths

A cigarette’s nicotine content is measured in milligrams or mg, and this is how you measure the mass of solid objects. The measurement of a fluid volume is per milliliter or ml. Because the e-liquids we vape are fluids, their measurements should be given in ml, and the nicotine level should be listed as a percentage by volume.

If we think about alcoholic beverages, they are marketed as ABV or alcohol by volume, which is the ratio of alcohol to other beverage ingredients. If a bottle of beer is sold as 4 percent ABV, this means 4 percent of the entire bottle’s content is alcohol, then each sip you take will contain 4 percent alcohol.

How to convert nicotine strengths

If we are going to work it out, we need to know how much volume each mg of nicotine occupies in liquid form. Nicotine has a density of 1.01 grams per cubic centimeter, which means that 1,010 mg of pure nicotine takes up one milliliter. We can use this to convert mg of nicotine to mL of nicotine.

Let’s say we have a 10ml bottle of e-liquid, and we need to find nicotine level in mg. If the strength of the nicotine is 8mg/mL then 10 x 8 = 80mg of nicotine. if we convert this to grams (80/1000=0.08) and divide by the density of nicotine (1.01), we get 0.08/1.01, which is 0.079 mL of pure nicotine.

Now that we have the two volumes, nicotine (0.079mL) and the volume of the full e-liquid bottle (10mL), we can calculate the percentage of nicotine in the bottle (0.079/10) x 100, which is 0.79%, which is a very accurate small number, so a manufacturer will round up to 0.8% listed as the nicotine content in the bottle.

The simple cheat to calculate nicotine strength

The above explains how best to do the math, but if you understand why and how. Using a simple calculation to find the amount of nicotine that gives the same result without the exercise.

We know that nicotine’s density is 1.01g, which is 1,010mg or 1.01mg/ML – so all you need to know to go from mg/mL to a percentage is to divide by 10.

ConcentrationDosage EquivalentPercentConversion
1:10001mg/ML0.1%Divide by 10