How to Get the Perfect Throat Hit From Your Vaping Setup
By Lee Johnson Posted June 15, 2018
Your throat hit is one of the most important things about your vaping experience. If your setup gives you too strong a throat hit, vaping can feel irritating to your throat and may make you cough. If it’s too gentle, you might not feel the same satisfaction you do when you’re smoking, and this could make it difficult to switch to vaping. The good news is that while vaping doesn’t damage your throat in the way that smoking does, you can choose to replicate the sensation as much or as little as you want quite easily. So here are the main factors that influence the throat hit you get from your vaping setup and how to adjust them.
- To increase your throat hit: Choose a higher-nicotine e-juice, a blend with more PG, menthol or fruity flavors, higher power settings, lower airflow settings and silica or even hemp wicks.
- To decrease your throat hit: Choose lower-nicotine e-juice, higher-VG e-liquids, more open airflow, sweet and dessert flavors, lower power settings and cotton wicks.
What is Throat Hit?
Throat hit is the term vapers use for the sensation at the back of your throat when you inhale from an e-cigarette. A strong throat hit provides a harsh feeling when you inhale, like you get when you inhale from a cigarette. Generally speaking, this is like a light irritation that peaks when you inhale and gradually fades afterwards. A gentle throat hit means your setup is a lot smoother when you inhale. This might be so gentle it’s barely noticeable, or it may leave a light tingling sensation on your throat.
What Affects Your Throat Hit?
So now we’ve covered the basics of what throat hit is, here are the main factors of your setup that contribute to it, and how you can change them to suit your preferences.
The Nicotine Strength of Your E-Liquid
The biggest factor in determining how much of a throat hit your setup provides is the amount of nicotine in your e-liquid. More nicotine means a bigger throat hit, and less nicotine means a softer throat hit. The throat hit from nicotine is most like the throat hit from smoking, with a very punchy, full-bodied feeling in your lower throat.
Adjusting your nicotine strength is the easiest way to change your throat hit to suit your preferences, because a small change in nicotine level can make a notable difference. The only downside is that you need to balance this against getting a suitable amount of nicotine. If you want a bigger throat hit, moving to a high-strength (e.g. 18 mg/ml) e-liquid will achieve that, but you may get too much nicotine when you vape. Similarly, if you switch to low nicotine (e.g. 3 mg/ml) to reduce your throat hit, vaping will feel a lot smoother but you might have to vape a lot to be satisfied.
You can balance this with the other factors included in this list to get the throat hit you want. For example, decreasing from 12 mg/ml to 6 mg/ml of nicotine to reduce the throat hit might leave you without enough nicotine. But increasing the power on your device can help you get more of a satisfying vape in terms of nicotine, and other factors (like the PG/VG ratio of the e-juice) can help you tailor the hit even further.
Your Power Setting
As mentioned a moment ago, the power setting you choose can have a big impact on the throat hit you get from your setup. If you’re vaping with a sub ohm tank or a rebuildable atomizer with a low-resistance coil, increasing your power setting is a great way to adjust your throat hit. Increasing your wattage setting boosts the vapor you get with each puff, but also makes the vapor warmer and contributes to the throat hit you get.
This has been described as “multiplying” the effect of other sources of throat hit, and that gives you a good idea of how to use your power setting. When you get to really high wattages – about 90 W and upwards – the vapor is very hot and has a sharp hit, but up until then it just beefs up your throat hit more generally. Experiment with your options and this can become a great way to make some final adjustments to the hit that you get.
If you’re using a higher-resistance coil (over 1 ohm), you’ll probably be vaping at less than 15 W and most of your throat hit will come from other sources.
The PG/VG Ratio of Your E-Juice
Juice with more PG will produce a bigger throat hit, and higher-VG juice will have a softer throat hit because it has less PG. The PG produces a scratchier, sharper throat hit. This can make some people cough, but if you aren’t one of these vapers, a bit of PG in the mix adds a bit of edge to the hit from the nicotine.
These days, many e-juices come in lower nicotine levels with only 30% PG. This is perfect for people with higher-power devices using sub ohm tanks or rebuildables. If you push the power, you still get a throat hit from the nicotine (especially if you use 6 or 12 mg/ml), and the touch of PG is still enough to give a slight PG hit. You can increase the PG even further if you want a sharper hit, and this is a good approach to getting a stronger throat hit if you have a higher-resistance coil in particular.
Your Airflow Setting
Airflow isn’t as important a source of throat hit as some of the other points in this article, but it’s a good way to tweak the characteristics of your throat hit. Part of the impact it has is because less airflow generally produces hotter vapor, so you can close off the airflow setting to get a hit on the inhale like when you use a higher-power coil. This won’t have as huge an impact as your power setting or nicotine level, but it will make a difference.
Opening up the airflow doesn’t completely remove the throat hit, though. While it does make it less like the experience of smoking a cigarette – because you have to vape direct-to-lung rather than mouth-to-lung – the hit moves a little lower down and becomes stronger on the exhale. This is a different experience in many ways, so if you want a traditional cigarette-like hit, stick with lower airflow setups.
Your Choice of Flavor
Another lesser-known source of throat hit is the flavor you’re vaping. Generally speaking, sweet, dessert-style, coffee and tobacco flavors have less of a throat hit, and menthol options in particular or citrusy and fruity blends have more of a punch. The nicotine level and PG/VG ratio will have a bigger impact on your throat hit, but if you’re still looking to boost it or reduce it, choosing a different type of flavor can make a notable difference.
Your Wick Material
Finally, different wick materials can also contribute to the throat hit you get from your setup. Almost all devices these days use cotton wicks, and this doesn’t really impart much of a throat hit. There are tons of benefits to cotton though, particularly that it’s inexpensive and soaks up liquid effectively, so it might be worth adjusting your hit in other ways first.
However, if you’re still not happy with your throat hit, consider switching to a silica or even a hemp wick. Silica adds a bit of a sharp edge to the hit, but hemp is the best choice if you really want a stronger hit and have tried everything else. The hit from a hemp wick is notably harsher than other materials.
The only downside to this approach is that you really need a rebuildable atomizer to use it. However, if you have an RDA or RTA and are looking for the strongest throat hit, it’s definitely worth trying out.
Striking the Right Balance for Your Throat Hit
Bringing all of these tips together to get the right throat hit for you depends on the hardware you’re working with an what you want. It’s easiest to split the advice between people with a lower-power device using higher resistance coils (like a vape pen) and those using variable wattage mods with lower-resistance coils.
If you’re using a simple vape pen, the most important things to think about are the nicotine strength of your e-juice and the PG/VG ratio, with more nicotine and more PG leading to a stronger throat hit. You could choose your type of flavor to suit the throat hit you’re looking for, too. Choosing 12 mg/ml nicotine e-juice (or higher) and a 50/50 PG/VG blend will give you a stronger throat hit, and less nicotine or less PG will make it progressively softer. If your device has airflow adjustment, you can use this to tailor your throat hit too.
For vapers with mods and sub ohm tanks or rebuildables, the whole list above is applicable, so you can pick and choose which sources of throat hit you want to prioritize. If you want a softer hit, higher-VG juices and low nicotine (ideally under 6 mg/ml) is a good approach, paired with sweeter flavors. From this baseline, you can increase your power setting and close off your airflow if you want a stronger hit. For a strong throat hit, choosing 6 or 12 mg/ml e-juice and higher PG blend (again, 50/50 is a good level) will satisfy most vapers depending on your power setting.
Getting the wrong sort of throat hit for your preferences can really ruin your vaping experience, but the good news is that adjusting it is easy to do. Like all aspects of vaping, though, the only way you’ll really get what you’re looking for is to experiment with different setups and find the one that works for you. This post will point you in the right direction, but that’s the only way to find the right path for your needs.