Nicotine is generally detectable in your blood for 1-3 days after you last vaped (or used a tobacco product :() It’s important to note that that is a rough estimate, and the length of time that nicotine stays in your system is dependent on many factors including age, how much or how often you vape or smoke, and your general health condition.
So as long as you haven’t vaped in 3 days you’ll pass the test with flying colors, right? Wrong. Sometimes nicotine tests are actually testing for a substance called cotinine, which is what nicotine transforms into when it metabolizes in your body. Cotinine can stay in your body for up to 10 days.
What is the point of a nicotine test?
People are usually tested for nicotine as a way to determine their eligibility for and cost of health or life insurance. This is because tobacco users are riskier to insure, so the insurance companies need to make sure that they are charging an appropriate premium for the level of risk that they are taking on by insuring you.
The only problem with this is that many insurance companies don’t distinguish between risky tobacco use and vaping, which is much safer. If you’re vaping nicotine e-juice with a mod or a portable e-cig, you’re significantly healthier than someone who smokes cigarettes. But unfortunately, insurance companies aren’t keeping up with the times and will assume that if you test positive for nicotine that you’ll be a higher insurance risk.
Different types of nicotine tests
There are a few different ways that you can be tested for nicotine. The most common methods are blood, urine, saliva, and hair.
Blood testing is one of the most expensive method of testing for both nicotine and cotinine, so it’s not quite as common as other methods. Blood testing is available in two different types: either a simple positive-or-negative test that simply determines whether nicotine and cotinine are in your system or not, and a more specific method that can actually measure the amount that is present in your blood.
Urine nicotine tests can usually detect the presence of nicotine in your system for up to 3-4 days. For some individuals this can be much longer. Urine contains much higher concentrations of cotinine and nicotine than either blood or saliva, so this test is much more widely used and accurate.
Urine tests are extremely simple and don’t require technicians with advanced training. A strip is inserted into cup of urine, which reveals either a positive or negative result. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Hair testing is by far the most expensive nicotine and cotinine testing method available. It’s also the most accurate, making it ideal for scientific testing and for situations where the results of your initial urine or saliva test are being doubted.
Unfortunately, cotinine and nicotine can remain present in your hair for up to three months.
Saliva testing is the easiest, and therefore most common, method of testing for nicotine.
Employers and insurance companies who want to test you for nicotine will usually use kits supplied by third-party labs. They will swab the inside of your cheek, seal the swab in a plastic tube, and ship it off to the lab for testing. The lab will then inform you of your results via phone or email.
The benefit of saliva testing is that it’s easier and more efficient for everyone involved.
Do all insurance companies test for nicotine?
No, not all insurance companies do. If you’re a vaper who doesn’t want to give up the habit, it’s worthwhile to spend some time shopping around for an insurance company that won’t discriminate against vapers. Be sure to ask tons of questions about their policy on nicotine use before you sign anything.
There are some insurance companies that are willing to make an exception for vaping. However, as I previously mentioned, most of them are still living in the dark ages and assume that if you have nicotine in your system that you’re smoking cigarettes and are going to drop dead of cancer at any moment. Hopefully they’ll start changing their policies soon.
How can I get nicotine out of my system?
Time is the best method. If you know that you’re going to be taking a nicotine test in the near future, the best thing you can do is abstain from vaping until after the test.
But let’s be real: not everyone is willing or able to go without nicotine for that long. If you’re in a situation where you’ll be taking a nicotine test soon and you didn’t abstain for long enough, there are a few ways that could help you purge the nicotine from your system.
Make sure that you drink plenty of water, get tons of exercise, and eat a healthy diet. Take of your general health and you should see dramatically reduced levels of nicotine in your body. Of course it’s not going to be 100% effective, but if you’re right on the borderline then these methods might help you reduce your nicotine levels enough to pass a test.