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How I Quit, Part 3

Article: 02 Febuary 2015 – by Andy Prevost

As I write this, it's been roughly 53 hours since I switched to 0 mg/ml vapor liquid. That's right, zero nicotine.

I do a fair amount of research and wanted to get a sense of how many other vapers also vape zero nicotine and why.

There is a growing community of vapers that vape at zero nicotine. If you do a search, what you will find is most of the tobacco companies promoting their crap products. They even have shills that seem to interview or review vapers using zero nicotine products made by the tobacco companies.

I am sure that there are a few people out there who do not currently smoke that are taking up vaping. I just hate reading those stories, but in a lot of cases these people are smokers who have a history of quitting and starting back up - a cycle they want to break by using a healthier alternative: vaping. This, I understand. I used to joke about quitting smoking. It seemed like I was always on some stop smoking kick. Most of my friends and family wanted to support me in quitting too ... they would often ask how my smoking was going. My standard joke reply was "the smoking is doing great ... it is the quitting I am struggling with ... hehehehehe". The joking was a masquerade. I really wanted to quit, I just couldn't make it happen.

After finding vaping, I have gradually been cutting back on the nicotine strength. That was always my plan, keep reducing nicotine levels at a pace I was comfortable with. I started at 24 mg/ml and have cut back on a planned progression: to 18, to 12, to 6, to 3 ... and finally to 0 mg/ml. At each level, I had absolutely no problem with sensations, taste, flavor, aroma, throat hit, or nicotine impact. Probably the switch that I thought would give me the most difficulty turned out to be the easiest. The most that is the most challenging (note, I didn't say difficult) is going to zero nicotine.

That is also where my research showed the most confusing and controversial. Quite a few that have tried switching to zero nicotine have been unsuccessful. The reasons are varied, but I can sum them up after reading most of them. The techniques they used are complicated and way over the top. Getting to zero is simple, and there is no need to over think this. There is no need for chemical "cocktails" ...

I just used regular vapor liquid bought off the shelf of a vape shop ... and asked for zero nicotine. No other additives.

So, in this article, we will examine what creates throat hit and the effect of nicotine inhaled from vaping.

A smoker goes through the entire experience ... that is the hand/arm movements, the inhale, holding the smoke in, the exhale. Tapping the ash off. To most, it is beyond a hobby. We have our favorite matches, our favorite lighters. We have learned to blow the smoke through nostrils and tricks of smoke rings and other effects.  

And when a smoker switches to vaping, he/she replicates all of those experiences, including the hobby parts. Vaping becomes just as large a part of our lives as smoking was – it's consuming.

Most of us smokers tried to quit nearly every time we butted out. After all the years, we have become accustomed to not being able to give up the filty habit. And, we assume it's the same way with vaping and nicotine. But that thinking is wrong.

We can't forget what we don't know. Until you started vaping, did you know that the tobacco industry added compounds to cigarettes that make the nicotine more addictive and reach your brain quicker? Did you know that the tobacco industry custom blends their cigarettes to enhance the effect of throat hit? Once I found this documented, quitting took on an entirely different look. A cigarette is chemically-laden nicotine delivery system. A personal vaporizer is a nicotine delivery system. The nicotine in vaping reaches the brain much slower than smoking. The nicotine is no where near as addictive without tobacco company added compounds. And I proved that by make an easy and simple transition through various vapor liquid nicotine strengths ranging from a high of 24 mg/ml down to 3 mg/ml.

Throat hit is nothing more than the feeling you get in your throat and mouth when you inhale a cigarette. This can be harsh or smooth, depending on the chemicals added to the cigarette. The stronger the cigarette, the harsher the throat hit. For example, if you are used to smoking light filtered cigarette and you try a regular cigarette, you'll like start coughing right away and probably will be unable to fully inhale the regular cigarette. It's too "strong", you'll say ... it's actually the harsh throat hit that is preventing your from smoking that harsher or stronger cigarette. Tobacco companies add flavorings and chemicals to dial-in that throat hit in an effort to make it the ideal cigarette that you will associate with their brand and become a loyal user and buyer.

The nicotine in cigarettes is fairly consistent regardless of the brand designation for "lightness". Whether ultra light, light, smooth, regular, etc ... you still get about the same amount of nicotine per cigarette. To get more nicotine, you just smoke more cigarettes.

It's pretty much impossible to quit successfully with all the chemicals added by the tobacco companies. Those chemicals are designed to enhance the addictive effects of nicotine.

No so with vapor liquids. The nicotine is in a base of either propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin (or a mix of those two). No other additives to impact the addictive effects of nicotine. Propylene glycol (PG), though, can provide a similar effect to smoking. PG is a known irritant. It's not a strong irritant, but when used as a fogging device as concerts, some of the listeners close to the stage report minor throat irritation. Widely used in vapor liquids, PG is GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe by the US FDA). PG is used in pharmaceutical products, restaurants have PG in their food and recipes ... it's widely used by the general population daily.

When initially starting on zero nicotine vapor liquid, we can borrow some strategies from some of the vape hobbyists. Hobbyists that use dripper atomizers, for the most part, use zero nicotine high VG (vegetable glycerin) vapor liquids. The high VG is for huge clouds. They choose zero nicotine because the high wattage they vape at generates extra heat and that would enhance the effect of nicotine ... get the idea? If we switch this around and use PG, we get better throat hit and with zero nicotine, we still get all the physical manifestations of nicotine – without the nicotine buzz. So, in priority order, here's what worked for me:

1. High wattage. By high wattage, what I mean is that I regularly vape at 8.5 watts – anything over this is high wattage for me. I need to make sure that I can reach up to 50 watts, if needed. And only experimenting starting at 8.5 watts will dictate what the final setting is going to be. In practice, I found that different juices require different wattage.

2. High PG juice. Here's where I spend some time testing various juices to come up with the right juices for that critical 4 day period where I wanted the nic completely out of my system. In doing tests, I determined that a mint/menthol with cooling effect was the number one choice followed very closely by any juice with red berries (strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate) and grape were the ones that provided a slight throat hit of their own at zero nic. I ended up using the berries most of the time, and often mixed in a big of the mint/menthol – that kept the throat hit going.

What I found interesting is after a night's sleep, I would need to get the wattage up at about double what I ended the night before. So, if I was at 10 watts when I went to bed the night before, I kicked up the wattage to 20 watts to start after I woke up. I could start reducing the wattage so that within a few hours of waking, I was back at the ideal wattage for the rest of the day (for me, that was often right back at 8.5 watts) to get a satisfying vape. The wattage really doesn't matter much ... set your vape gear at whatever wattage works for you to avoid going back to any nic levels (or worse, smoking).

I also want to ready you for some important changes you will experience for the first few days. The first is that I used a lot more juice than usual. In the first two full days, I went through about 35 ml of juice – all zero nic. Part of this is because of the second change I noticed, and I have no idea why this is: my sense of taste and smell is acutely improved. That started after the first full night's sleep after the zero nic change over. I was not expecting this and it has surprised me considerably. The zero nic juice I am vaping is tasting so much better, as are all foods and drinks. I'm enjoying this. And, PS, the increases in juice won't last. I already started to notice that I am going to back "normal" quantities into day 3.

More later ...


  • Posted by Mark Timblin on June 21, 2015, 4:59 pm

    Interesting observations Andy. I like thick or max VG juices. So much so that I will take a 50/50 mix on up to even a 70/30 or 80/20 VG/PG mix. I started at a 34mg/ml nicotine level, it was the highest I could find on line at the time, 2 years ago. I was on 34mg for about 3 moths, the dropped to 24mg was there for a month then to 18mg/ml. When I got to 12 mg/ml I was thinking..hey I got this down now. So after a week or 2 at 12 mg. I decided to switch to 6 mg/ml. Bad idea, I was not ready to come daown that low, way too soon to cut the nicotine level in half. Went back to 12 mg/ml and after a day at that level I was once again my mostly happy self.

    Fast forward to about 6-8 months ago, I started "mixing" my juices. The main flavor I wanted peanut butter could only be had in 6 mg./ml. and I needed 3 mg./ml. so I would get a 0 mg./ml and a 6 mg./ml to get to my 3 mg./ml. It worked, and at a 50/50 mix it would work OK in my Kanger Aerotank. But I wanted a thicker juice, found some other peanut butter flavors at the 3 mg level that were decent and then added VG to get it to a thicker level. Well, this did 2 things that I had not considerred, 1 the VG decrreased the nicotine level, so if I took a 30 ml bottle and doubled it I then had a 1.5 mg./ml nicotine level, also gave my juice a better flavor. So...I decided to add VG to all my juices, regardless of weather or not it was 50/50 or 80/20 mix. The result is;I lower the nicotine levels of my ejuice, at times enhance, but never detract from the flavor of my juice, and, I can stretch out my juice to make it last longer. Being a disabled vet 100% and on a fixed, a very fixed income that is important, I now can make my juices last at least until payday.