Whether you’re worried about a drug test, trying to quit, or wondering about the internal effects of nicotine, there are plenty of reasons why you may ask yourself, “How long is nicotine in your system?” When trying to find the answer to this question, there are a handful of factors to take into account– and they depend on the type of nicotine use and testing you’re considering. In this blog, we’ll go over how long nicotine stays in your system, how to get nicotine out of your system, and a variety of testing methods that nicotine shows up on. Whether you’re looking to flush your system out or are simply curious about how nicotine lingers, we’ll provide a few answers that may help you decide what to do next.
How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?
To figure out how long nicotine stays in your system, you first have to gauge your level of use; as you might’ve guessed, nicotine’s lingering traces in the system will be more present in heavy users vs. light or casual smokers. Cotinine is a reactionary product formed in the body after the ingestion of nicotine, and is the chemical that lingers in the body long after your cigarette or vape has run out. The more nicotine you ingest, the more cotinine you’ll find in your system. The truth is that nicotine itself typically only lasts in the body between a few hours and one day; cotinine, however, remains in your system for 1 to 4 days, depending on your usage. The heaviest smokers out there can expect cotinine to last in their system for up to seven days.
How Do You Get Nicotine Out of Your System?
There are a handful of methods you can employ to help rid your body of nicotine and cotinine:
Eat antioxidant-rich foods:
Antioxidants help flush your system out and cleanse your body of free radicals and toxins, such as nicotine and cotinine, that linger in your system after ingestion. Greens, carrots, radishes, and sweet potatoes are all great examples of antioxidant rich foods that can help cleanse your system.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “sweating it out” before and wondered if there’s any truth to the saying. Exercise and sweat increase your body’s metabolism, which can help drive out fats, toxins, and other chemicals from your body.
This is arguably the most important way to flush nicotine out of your system. Drinking water helps your body release more nicotine– and more toxins in general– from your liver and other organs and into your urine.
There are a few different tests used by employers (and home tests) to determine the amount of nicotine/cotinine in your system:
The most common form of testing is the saliva test. If you’ve smoked or vaped within a day of a saliva test, you can expect nicotine to be found in your system for up to 11 hours, and heavy, regular nicotine users can expect the chemical to be found in their saliva for up to 4 days.
Accepted as one of the most accurate and simplest forms of nicotine detection, a urine test will show if someone has used nicotine within the last 3 or 4 days. Heavy smokers or vapers can still test positive after more than 4 days due to nicotine/cotinine’s ability to linger in urine for longer increments of time.
This is an uncommon– and expensive– form of nicotine detection; it is also the most accurate. Hair testing can detect nicotine and cotinine in the body from the last 3 months, so regular users of nicotine are out of luck.
The second most expensive method of nicotine testing; it’s possible to either detect whether or not nicotine and cotinine are in your system, or to measure the amount of both chemicals in your system. Blood tests have been known to detect nicotine/cotinine from up to 7 days after usage.
In conclusion, heavy smokers will have a long waiting period to deal with if they’re worried about a nicotine/cotinine test. Casual smokers or light vapers can expect the chemicals to linger in their system for up to 7 days– it’s also important to note that vaping and smoking share about the same amount of nicotine/cotinine levels per usage once in the system. If you’ve got a drug test to pass or are simply wondering how long the chemicals stay in your system, you have a variety of tests to prepare for.