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How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your System?

August 21, 2023

Nicotine is an addictive substance that has a wide range of impacts on your health. Whether you have used the drug in the past, use it now, or have never used it before, you might be wondering how long this substance remains in your system after you consume it. 

Whether you’re simply curious or want to know how long it’ll be until your system is cleared of nicotine after you stop consuming it, we’re here to help you understand what impacts the nicotine levels in your system and how long it takes to clear from your body. 

It turns out different factors impact how long nicotine remains in your system, from how often you consume it, to your age, kidney function, and more. 

Below, we’ll break down everything there is to know about how long nicotine lingers in your system.

Which Factors Affect How Long Nicotine Remains in Your System

Want to know how long nicotine remains in your system? 

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t exactly straightforward. The answer to this question differs for everyone, depending on several factors, which we will go through shortly.

When you are exposed to nicotine, whether through vapes, cigarettes, secondhand smoke, or otherwise, that nicotine is absorbed into your bloodstream, where enzymes in your liver break most of it down into something called cotinine. 

The amount of cotinine increases depending on how much nicotine you ingest. Eventually, the substances are eliminated as urine. 

Tests looking for nicotine in your system may detect nicotine, cotinine, or anabasine, another breakdown product. But how long do these things remain detectable in your system?

Below, we’ll cover some of the factors that can impact how long it takes for the nicotine to clear from your system:

  • Frequency, Type, and History of Usage: How long it takes nicotine to leave your system can be impacted by the frequency, type, and usage history. Keep in mind that different products contain different levels of nicotine. Nicotine accumulates in your body, so the more you use it, the longer it will take to clear out.
  • Genetic Makeup: Your genetic makeup can impact your nicotine metabolism rate.
  • Liver Function: Your liver function may impact the rate at which you metabolize cotinine, nicotine’s primary breakdown product.
  • Age: Those over the age of 65 may take longer for the substance to clear from their system. 
  • Sex and Hormonal Differences: Men typically maintain higher cotinine levels compared to women. 
  • Kidney Function: Those with kidney failure may experience a decreased rate at which their body clears cotinine and nicotine. 
  • Body Mass: The more body fat you have, the longer it can take for these substances to clear from your system, as they can be stored within fatty tissue. 
  • Hydration: By drinking water, you can speed along your body’s secretion of nicotine. 
  • Physical Activity: Your skin assists in regulating the excretion of metabolic waste products, so increased sweating from exercise can lead to increased excretion rates. 

These are some factors that can impact the amount of time this substance remains detectable in your system. 

As a result, when you look into how long it takes for nicotine to be undetectable in your system, you might be surprised to find that numbers are given in more extensive ranges than you may have expected. 

For example, if you are reasonably active, drink a lot of water, and only consume nicotine infrequently in small amounts, your system is likely to clear more quickly than if you are a heavy user who is mainly sedentary. It all depends! 

How Long Will Nicotine Remain Present in Your Urine?

As mentioned above, how long nicotine remains present in your urine depends on a wide range of factors, especially the amount you consume and how often. 

On average, you can expect nicotine to be detectable in your urine for three days, but it can take up to three weeks, depending on certain factors that alter how quickly your system clears. 

How Long Will Nicotine Remain Present in Your Blood and Saliva? 

Blood tests might reveal nicotine or its metabolites, including anabasine and cotinine. While nicotine itself might only stay present in your blood for 48 hours, cotinine can remain detectable for as long as three weeks. Results can take two to ten days after a lab draws blood. 

When it comes to saliva, nicotine typically remains for around 24 hours. Cotinine, on the other hand, can be detected for as many as seven days after the last use — or, for heavy nicotine users, that number can look more like 14 days.

There’s no concrete rule for how long it takes for your system to be clear of these substances for blood or saliva tests, as results can widely vary from person to person. 

How Long Will Nicotine Remain Present in Your Hair? 

As is the case with other substances, nicotine can be detected in hair follicles for much longer periods. Hair follicle testing is a less common method, though, as it usually comes with a higher cost. 

According to a 2021 review of literature, traces of nicotine may be detectable in your hair follicles for weeks, months, and even years after the last time you were exposed to it. However, the authors suggest that the results may not correlate with those of blood testing, and hair testing could also show environmental or passive exposure to tobacco smoke. 

Hair testing is possible but not used as frequently as saliva, urine, or blood testing. 

Can You Clear Nicotine From Your System?

To clear nicotine from your system, your best bet is to avoid using it for as long as possible. 

While hair tests take the longest to clear, people are rarely asked for a hair test unless it relates to research participation. 

While there’s no surefire way to flush your body of this drug quickly, some strategies include:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Exercising
  • Eating a healthy diet with plenty of antioxidants 

It’s best to avoid nicotine for as long as possible if you are trying to clear the substance from your system, but by adding in these extra strategies, it’s likely that you may be able to speed along the process. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take for Nicotine to 100% Leave Your System?

Several factors influence how long it takes nicotine to leave your system, including frequency, type, and history of usage, age, kidney function, physical activity, and more. In addition, how long it takes to get a negative result will depend on the kind of test you are taking. 

Can I Flush Nicotine Out of My System?

It takes time for nicotine to leave your system, and there’s no surefire way to speed along the process. While there’s no guarantee it will clean out your system quickly, some strategies include drinking plenty of water, exercising, and eating a healthy diet with plenty of antioxidants. 

Final Thoughts

There are several factors that impact how long it takes to clear nicotine from your system, including your frequency, type, history of usage, genetic makeup, age, hydration, level of physical activity, and more. 

How long it takes for your system to be nicotine-free varies from person to person.

Want to clear your system of nicotine? At RELX, we offer many nicotine-free vape options, so browse our collections today!




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