We are often asked to explain how much nicotine liquid to put into e-juice to achieve a particular strength, and to explain what nicotine levels mean. This article has been updated in January 2018 to reflect the availability of products given the limitations imposed by the TPD (Tobacco Products Directive) which came into force in May 2017.
Quick links to Nicotine Calculators
- If you are making your juice from scratch, click here for our e-liquid calculator.
- If you have non-nicotine e-liquid or shortfill and would like to know how much 18mg nicotine liquid to add to achieve a required strength, click here.
What do nicotine levels mean? What is 3mg?
E-liquids are commonly marked as a number of mg, commonly 3mg, 6mg, 12mg or 18mg. This tells you the nicotine strength of the liquid, expressed as number of mg (milligrams) of nicotine in each ml (millilitre) of liquid.
So 3mg means 3mg per ml of liquid. In a 10ml bottle there is a total of 3mg x 10ml = 30mg of nicotine in total.
If the bottle is bigger, the total amount of nicotine is more, but the strength per ml of liquid is the same.
Sometimes this is expressed as a percentage, which tells you the percentage of the total that is nicotine. So instead of 3mg, you will sometimes see 0.3%, or for 12mg, 1.2%. This tells you what percentage of the whole is nicotine.
How much nicotine do I need to put in to get the strength I want?
Nicotine is now not available to buy in the EU in bottles bigger than 10ml, or in a strength higher than 20mg. “Nicotine shots” are most commonly sold at 18mg strength, because with most people aiming for 3, 6, or 12mg liquid, it makes the calculations easier, as we will see below.
If you are using 18mg nicotine, working out how to get the right strength e-liquid is fairly straightforward.
For 3mg liquid, add 1 part nicotine to 5 parts flavoured base. So divide the volume of the nicotine free liquid you are adding to by 5, and add that much 18mg nicotine liquid.
- To make 100ml of liquid 3mg strength, add 20ml of 18mg nicotine liquid. You will then have 120ml of 3mg strength e-liquid.
- To make 50ml of liquid 3mg strength, add 10ml of 18mg nicotine liquid. You will then have 60ml of 3mg strength e-liquid.
- To make 10ml of liquid 3mg strength, add 2ml of nicotine liquid. You will then have 12ml of 3mg strength e-liquid.
For 6mg liquid, add 1 part nicotine to 2 parts flavoured base.
- To make 80ml of liquid 6mg strength, add 40ml of 18mg nicotine liquid. You will then have 120ml of 6mg strength e-liquid.
- To make 40ml of liquid 6mg strength, add 20ml of 18mg nicotine liquid. You will then have 60ml of 6mg strength e-liquid.
- To make 8ml of liquid 6mg strength, add 2ml of nicotine liquid. You will then have 12ml of 6mg strength e-liquid.
|Amount of nicotine free base liquid||Amount of 18mg nicotine liquid to add||Total amount of liquid at 3mg strength|
|Amount of nicotine free base liquid||Amount of 18mg nicotine liquid to add||Total amount of liquid at 6mg strength|
Shortfills are nicotine free e-liquid sold in a bottle that is “short-filled” to allow you enough space to add your own nicotine liquid. Commonly, they are 50ml of liquid with enough space to add nicotine liquid which will make the final result 3mg. The infographic below shows the amount to add in each case. Please click image for full size version.
For other amounts, you can enter your initial amount of nicotine free liquid and your target nicotine strength in the calculator below, to discover how much 18mg nicotine to add.