Shortfills and Nic Shots – Do You Really Need to Buy Them?

Now, even if you’re new to the vaping game, you may well be aware that vaping tends to have an unfair, rather prickly relationship with the powers-that-be that make the laws in our countries. And it’s because of this, essentially, that in the UK, shortfill e-liquids and nic (short for nicotine) shots have suddenly saturated the e-liquid market and become such big hits – excuse the pun – with UK-based vapers.

But why? Well, buying a nic shot goes hand-in-hand with buying a relatively large bottle of nicotine-free e-liquid; that is, one that features free space at the top of the bottle. Yes, granted; it sounds a bit a weird and confusing to the uninitiated. And to explain what it’s all about… well, first, it’s best to explain what a shortfill is.

What’s a shortfill?

Quite simply, a shortfill is the aforementioned large-ish bottle of vape juice that’s not filled to the top – and, importantly, comprises no nicotine in its chemical mix. This ensures that each and every shortfill has enough space to add the contents of one of those small bottles featuring a nicotine shot (an unflavoured, nicotine-rich mix of e-liquid).

So, by adding this shot of nicotine to a bottle of non-nicotine but otherwise ordinary vape juice – and, of course, shaking it well – you now have yourself a nicely nicotine-featuring e-liquid, which should last you a little while. Great news, eh? But why on earth go to this trouble, instead of buying a decent-sized, nicotine-rich vape liquid bottle in the first place?

TPD and the rise of shortfills

Now we get to the heart of the matter. Why non-nicotine shortfills and high-nicotine shots came about and took off like the proverbial house on fire was because of legislation that became UK law in 2016. The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), then, stipulated that, from 2016 onwards, no vape retailer in the country (such as any London vape shop) could sell nicotine-featuring vape liquid in a bottle larger than 10ml. And, bear in mind, probably the most popular size of vape juice bottle up this point was as big as 30ml or – even 50ml.

So, inevitably, this change in the law meant real change for vaping. And that change was to buy non-nicotine vape bottles of whatever size you wish… along with nicotine’d-up shortfill bottles.

What size nic shot should you buy?

So, now the reason is clear why so many vapers buy a shortfill and nic shot combo ought to be clear – obviously, it works out as a decently-priced compromise when purchasing e-liquid (unless, of course, you use the likes of a JUUL Starter Kit UK device, with its easy snap-in liquid cartridges, but that’s another story).

All the same, you’ll doubtless now be wondering just what size of nic shot you ought to be buying along with a shortfill bottle of your favourite e-juice flavour. Well, this, understandably, depends on just how strong you want your nicotine hit to be. If you’ve come to vaping from smoking (and, no doubt, are looking to quit the ciggies), then to start with, the more nicotine for you the merrier (perhaps 6mg/ two 1.8% nicotine shots). Conversely, if you’re looking to replicate some of that tobacco-like nicotine hit but not all of it, a less strong nic shot might be the way to go (say, 3mg/ one 1.8% nicotine shot).

Either way; remember that if you’re adding more than one nicotine shot bottle to a shortfill bottle, you’ll have empty out (into a spare bottle) around 10mg of the latter’s non-nic juice to make space for all the nicotine juice you’re adding – because that’s how it usually works out.

Good luck – and happy vaping!