People looking to quit smoking need all the information they can get to make an informed decision. Therefore, it is unsurprising that they ask many questions, including how long nicotine stays in their system after consumption.
This article discusses nicotine and its lifespan in the body extensively. It clarifies everything you need to know about how long nicotine is in your system. We also explain how long it takes to get one hit of nicotine out of your system and how to flush nicotine out of your system.
“People also process nicotine differently depending on their genetics. Generally, nicotine will leaves your blood within 1 to 3 days after you stop using tobacco, and cotinine will be gone after 1 to 10 days. Neither nicotine nor cotinine will be detectable in your urine after 3 to 4 days of stopping tobacco products.” – webmd.com
So, if you are ready, let’s get to it.
- How does nicotine work in the body?
- How long is nicotine in your system?
- Where do you find nicotine in the body?
- Can I flush nicotine out of my system?
- Key Takeaways
How does nicotine work in the body?
Your body absorbs nicotine from tobacco products, including cigars, pipes, snuff, and cigarettes. There is also a considerable amount of nicotine in vapes and e-cigarettes. Once in your body system, nicotine is distributed in different amounts to all body parts. For example, your kidneys, lungs, liver, brain tissues, and skeletal muscles receive nicotine.
Irrespective of the source, your body breaks down nicotine into different chemicals, including cotinine. The breakdown happens in the liver, and the components are transported to the kidneys, where they are filtered and passed out of the body through your urine.
Summarily, when you use any nicotine-containing tobacco products, your body absorbs nicotine and metabolizes it before expelling it out of your body as urine. Completing this chain of reactions depends on how much and frequently you consume nicotine.
How long is nicotine in your system?
Like every other drug substance, nicotine has a half-life. The half-life of a drug is the amount of time it takes half (50%) of the substance to leave your body system. For nicotine, the half-life is about two hours. This means it takes the body about two hours to expel 50% of the nicotine you consume at any point out of the system.
By this logic, nicotine is expected to be out of your system after two to three days. But, interestingly, nicotine tests return positive after several days or weeks of smoking or using a tobacco product. How is this possible? The culprit here is cotinine.
What is cotinine?
As mentioned earlier, nicotine is converted into several metabolites in the liver. One of these metabolites is cotinine. Cotinine is the processed form of nicotine and has a longer half-life. Therefore, it stays detectable in the body for up to three weeks in some cases. That is why lab technicians look for cotinine in your body when screening for nicotine.
A few factors affect how long cotinine stays in your body system. For example, nicotine clearance drops as you grow older. Similarly, women metabolize nicotine and cotinine faster than men.
The presence of estrogen hormones, which are hormones responsible for the development and maintenance of the female reproductive system and characteristics, also affects the rate of nicotine metabolism. Your history of nicotine use and the type of tobacco product used are also vital determining factors.
Where do you find nicotine in the body?
We have established how nicotine finds its way into different body parts. The traces of nicotine or cotinine remain in your urine, blood, saliva, and hair follicles. Therefore, laboratory technicians focus on these parts when assessing your body’s nicotine content.
Nicotine in blood and saliva
Nicotine remains in your blood plasma and saliva for up to four days after you stop smoking. Physicians prefer this because of its reliability, which works excellently among nonsmokers and smokers.
Nicotine in urine
Testing urine samples are another excellent way of testing and detecting nicotine in the body. It is the most widely used method because urine often contains four to six times more cotinine than saliva and blood.
Nicotine in hair
Testing for nicotine in hair samples only comes in handy when urine, blood, and saliva fail to produce a precise result. It is the least popular, slowest, and most expensive of the three options. However, it is the most reliable because hair samples still retain traces of cotinine for up to three months after the individual has stopped smoking.
Below is the summary of how long nicotine is in your body
- Urine, blood, and saliva: up to four days
- Hair: up to three months or 90 days
How long does it take to get one nicotine hit out of your system? Unfortunately, there is no direct answer considering it all depends on the factors like age, sex, and estrogen hormones. However, the nicotine in your system will finally begin to leave after 8 to 48 hours, provided you didn’t take any hit after your first puff. This process may take up to four days or 90 days, depending on the part of the body you are testing.
Can I flush nicotine out of my system?
This is another essential question former smokers and smokers looking to quit often ask. And the simple answer is yes; you can flush nicotine out of your system.
How do you do this?
The first step is to stop using every product containing tobacco altogether. Doing this gives the body ample time to process and expel the already-consumed nicotine. However, you can speed up this process by doing the following;
- Drinking more water. Hydration is vital in speeding up most metabolic processes, including nicotine processing and removal through urine. So, drink more water.
- Eat the right foods. Your body can also benefit from nutritious foods and a healthy diet containing ample antioxidants. Such foods may increase the rate of nicotine breakdown and removal from the body system.
- Engage in physical activities. Exercising your body boosts your metabolism and, by extension, how fast your body can break down nicotine.
You may have seen several products that claim to “cleanse your system of nicotine.” Some even claim this will take only a few days. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims. Considering that the body naturally processes and expels nicotine, you are most likely to test negative for a nicotine test after a few weeks with or without such products.
When you smoke cigarettes or use any other tobacco product, your body absorbs a few harmful chemicals. It is difficult to expel from your system. More smokers realize this and, therefore, are considering a switch to vaping. So, if you need another reason to make that switch, you have one.
You can find more educative articles targeted at new and existing vapers on our website. We invite you to subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated about all our latest content.