Disclosure: All of the pod systems reviewed down below were provided by ecig-city.com
It seems like there have been a lot of e-cig vendors that have been pushing Salt Nic e-liquid and pod systems lately. At first I thought it was a fad. I mean I’ve seen more than a few vape trends that have come and go through the years. Then more juice lines started offering a salt nic alternative. And, more manufactures started having more than one pod system available. So, I started asking myself what am I missing here. I spent hours on Google trying to understand whats different about salt nic e-liquid. I called the team over at ecig-city and they sent me three different pod systems so that I can have a good idea of whats out there in the market. Then I started using them on and off for the last few months. Armed with all this new information… I thought I would put out a newb guide for everyone out there (like me) that was interested in picking up some salt nic e-liquid and a pod system but didn’t know where to start.
Salt Nicotine vs Freebase Nicotine
What is salt nicotine? Is it different than the e-liquid I already own? Those were a few of the questions I had when salt nicotine e-liquid first started hitting the market. Well, I’m not gonna get super complicated with my answer. Short & sweet… salt nicotine e-liquid IS different than freebase nicotine e-liquid. And each is geared towards a different kind of user. Want a more in depth (but still not complicated) answer? Read on.
Freebase nicotine is the nicotine found in e-liquid, cigarettes, gums, patches, sprays, etc. It is the purest form of nicotine. It is mixed with vegetable glycerin (VG) and/or propylene glycol (PG) and enhanced with flavoring to form e-liquid. It can be pretty harsh. And, you might need to vape it at high wattage to get a satisfying “hit”.
To make things simple… salt nicotine (at its core) is the same exact nicotine found inside the tobacco leaf. It’s not as potent as freebase nicotine. And, it tends to be a smoother hit even at lower wattage. Like the wattage provided by the various pod systems being released to the market (anywhere from 5 to 20 watts, give or take).
Which One Is For Me?
No one can really tell you which type of e-liquid your taste buds will prefer. But, I can give you an easy way to look at it.
- Do you like clouds or would you prefer a more discrete vape? If you prefer clouds… stick with freebase nic and get yourself a high wattage mod with a sub-ohm tank and you’re good. If you prefer a more discrete vape then you might wanna try a pod system with a bottle of salt nic juice.
- Do you want a harsh throat hit or a smooth inhale? If you want that throat hit then freebase is for you. If you’re looking from something a little more smooth then try salt nic.
- Do you want an affordable vape setup or money isn’t an issue? Pod systems tend to be more affordable. Especially if you get one that’s refillable. So, give salt nic a try. If you don’t care about the price of your e-cig then either is alright. But, freebase nicotine e-liquid setups (box mod, tank/rda, batteries & charger) tend to be more expensive.
Then again… why do you have to choose just one type? Personally… I can see times for either kind of setup. Sometimes I would like chuck clouds with the best of them. Sometimes I need something that’s a little more discrete. That’s what my pods systems are for.
Bō Vaping (Black Soft Touch)
Cost The starter kit has a MSRP of $39.99. It includes the battery, USB charger “dock” and 2 caps. You can buy 3 additional Bō Caps for $19.99.
Build Quality I gotta say… I kind of like it. It’s small at just 100mm x 15mm x 8mm. It feels like it’s metal with a black rubbery “soft touch” coating that makes it easy to grip. Very similar to the coating on a Lenovo Thinkpad.
Refillable The Bō Caps are pre-filled with 1.5mL of salt nic e-liquid. Unfortunately they are not refillable. I mean they are refillable if you get one of the older caps with a silicone plug. But newer caps are not so easy to refill.
Charging They provided a magnetic USB dock that I’m not too fond of. A micro USB port on the device would have been a lot easier. And, that’s not even mentioning that the paperwork specified that the dock requires a 1A USB port. So, hopefully you have a 1A USB port available. I looked on the manufacture’s website and they offer a USB cable charger $9.99. Why they didn’t just include it instead of the dock… I don’t know. But, I would have preferred it over the included dock. #justsaying
Features It is as simple as you can get. Charge up the 380mAh battery. Pop in a fresh Bō Cap. And, you’re good to go. The device auto fires when you inhale and stops when you stop. Pretty much all of these devices auto fire on the inhale and stops when you stop. It has a multicolor led that let’s you know the battery charge level. Well kind of. It glows blue when it’s fully charged. It glows white when it’s about half way empty. And, it glows red when the battery is almost dead. I don’t know about you but I would prefer something a little more accurate. With that said… it did last fairly long off of one charge.
Would I Buy It? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong… it’s a solid device that’s easy to use. The magnetic USB charging dock makes it harder to charge. And, having to buy pre-filled pods increases on going costs while limiting me to the juice they provide. Unless I want to try and refill the pods on my own.
Hangsen IQ 3SECS
Cost The starter kit has a MSRP of $48.99. It includes the battery, 1 pod & 1 micro USB cable. Additional pods can be purchased for $14.99 a 2 pack.
Build Quality I really liked this device. So much that I found myself reaching for the Hangsen IQ 3SECS over almost all of the others. It’s probably because it features a pretty slick design and a LED display. But, this doesn’t mean it had the greatest build quality. The body is made of some sort of plastic while the front and back covers look like glass. But, they are really thick (rubbery) stickers. What’s even worse is that my back sticker didn’t sit flush with the sides. I did have a pre-release promotional version though so hopefully they have this ironed out with the retail release.
Refillable I don’t think they even offer pre-filled pods. The supplied pods are easily refillable… assuming you have a juice bottle with a needle tip. Anything bigger than a needle tip and there is no possible way to refill these pods. Luckily I had a needle tipped bottle laying around so this really wasn’t an issue with me. Hopefully they include one with the retail release.
Charging This is one of it’s best features. The 400mAh battery seemed to charge rather quickly using the supplied micro USB cable & port. I’m thinking 20 to 30 minutes will last you a few hours of vaping. I did notice a drop off in vapor production once the LED screen showed 50% battery remaining. Which was weird to me. But, it took a while to get to 50% remaining so I just replaced 50% remaining with start charging in my head.
Features The plastic and thick sticker build doesn’t shout top of the line. But, the slick design, fast charging and LED screen made up for it.
Would I Buy It? I would probably buy it. That’s assuming that the retail version’s front and back covers fit flush with the side and they change “50% remaining” to “0% remaining” in the software. I would have a hard time paying the almost $50 retail though. At the $30 to $35 price point this would be a no brainer for me. What can I say. I’m cheap. Hey, I could buy a bottle of salt nic juice with the extra $15. =)
Cost The starter kit has a MSRP of $29.99. It includes the Suorin Drop battery, a micro USB cable and 1 pod. Additional pods can be purchased for $4.99 each.
Build Quality As one of the cheaper devices I tested… I wasn’t expecting much. In fact, I was expecting a plastic body that was feathery light. It turned out to be the complete opposite. The Drop features a metal body with a shiny “slime green” paint job that gives it just the right amount of weight. Especially considering it’s super compact size (73mm x 49mm x 12mm).
Refillable It might be the most refillable out of the whole bunch. The 2mL pod features two fill holes that of decent size. Don’t get me wrong… they are by no means large either. But most juice bottles on the market should fill it. The only bottles I tried that wouldn’t fill it easily are the 120mL bottles from TheSauceLA or FugginVapor that have the twist top. But, chubby gorilla type bottles easily fill it.
Charging It features a built in micro USB port that you can use to charge it’s 310mAh battery. The only thing I didn’t like about the Drop is that it only has an LED indicator. And, the indicator isn’t the greatest either. It lights blue when the battery is between 30 – 100%. And, it lights red when the battery is below 30%. Now that I think about it… I guess it’s not that bad. Just charge it when it starts glowing red. But, it would have been nice to have a middle light when there was about 50% left like the Bō Vaping. That way I would know if I needed to give it a quick charge before heading out (for example).
Features One feature I noticed (the manufacturer lists it as a main feature on their website) is that it’s built for salt AND freebase based e-liquid. I only used salt nic juice in mine. And, I don’t know why you would want to fill it with freebase nic e-liquid. But, it’s nice to know you can if you want to. What else can I say. I features an easy to fill 2mL pod, 310mAh battery capacity, 13 watts of max power, a metal body & built in micro USB port. It’s simple, compact and works pretty well.
Would I Buy It? Yup. Considering that it’s one of the cheapest pod systems I tested AND replacement pods are cheaper than the other systems I tested this fits my cheap criteria. But, it’s metal body, easy to fill pod and built in micro USB port makes it feel higher end. I wouldn’t get it in the “slime green” colorway that I tested. It’s just a personal preference but I would prefer something a little more subtle like black or grey.