Got A Nicotine Drug Test? These Few Tips Will Help You Pass!

How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your System 0

You may be asking yourself does nicotine show up on a drug test or how long does nicotine stay in your system?

As smoking is recognized as one of the most harmful things you can do for your long-term health, nicotine testing is becoming more and more prevalent by employers and insurers. Sometimes employers look to test as a condition of employment, more frequently though, the tests are conducted to determine the costs of health or life insurance policies. In many cases, two people who are seemingly very similar regarding background and demographics may face vastly different premiums based on whether or not they pass a nicotine screening.

Unfortunately, when it comes to these tests, employers and insurance agencies do not delineate between nicotine consumed through combustible cigarettes, and nicotine absorbed through alternative sources. So those using medical tools such as patches, gums, and vaping are still at risk for testing nicotine positive. That’s why it’s so crucial for vapers to understand precisely what we’re up against when shopping for insurance or looking for work. With that in mind, we created this guide to everything you should know about screenings and how to get nicotine out of your system fast.

How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Urine?

The first thing you’ll want to understand about a nicotine test is how long does tobacco stay in your system. The truth is that nicotine itself does not remain detectable in your body for long. It can be traced in your blood for one to three days, and in urine for up to four days. However most employers don’t test for pure nicotine anymore, they instead check for the metabolized version of nicotine, known as cotinine. So really what you need to know is not how to pass a nicotine test, but a cotinine test. Cotinine is what nicotine is turned into once the liver processes it. Additionally, the amount of time cotinine stays in your body depends significantly on variables such as gender, ethnic background, diet, and even what medications you’re currently taking.

A man, for instance, is likely to test with higher levels of nicotine than a woman who last consumed nicotine at the same time. While in most cases people can pass a cotinine test in about a week, for some people it can be detectable in your system for as many as three weeks. This result is becoming more common, especially as science advances and the level needed for a positive test become smaller. If you’re still wondering how long does nicotine stay in your blood, be sure to avoid ingesting any nicotine at all for at least a few weeks before your scheduled test.

Types of Nicotine Testing

There are several methods with which we can determine the nicotine levels of an individual. Most commonly these include blood, saliva, urine, and hair tests. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each type:

Nicotine Blood Tests

Blood tests are by far the most invasive of the testing options. They require a lab visit, as well as needing a trained technician to draw the blood. These realities make it a relatively expensive and inconvenient endeavor for employers and employees alike. Because of this, blood tests are some of the least frequently used tests.

That being said, blood tests are incredibly accurate. They can test for both nicotine and cotinine, and there are two different versions of the testing that can be done. One will prove negative or positive, the other, more advanced, style specifies the levels of nicotine or cotinine found. This new type of test offers a deeper level of understanding, which can ultimately make the effect greater.

Nicotine Saliva Test

Saliva testing is becoming more and more popular, both because of the ease for employers and employees as well as the low cost. For this test, the employer will be sent swabs and self-sealing containers for the swabs by a lab. They then simply swab the individual’s mouth, seal the container, and send the swab to a lab to be tested.

But there are some serious downsides. For instance, saliva is the least accurate of the conventional testing methods, only being able to detect ⅓ of the level found in blood tests, and just 1/15 of the levels detectable in urine samples. As such, saliva tests are still not used by anyone not looking to save on testing.

Nicotine Urine Test

Urine samples are a relatively standard and easy test to perform. This method requires that a test strip is soaked in the urine sample. The strip will determine whether or not nicotine was present with a simple positive or negative reading. There’s another reason why it’s a popular choice among insurance companies and employers.

It’s one of the most accurate testing methods we have. In fact, the answer to how long does nicotine stay in your urine can be quite long. It contains a much higher level of cotinine than the other potential testable materials, making it much more accurate for detecting lower levels. If you’re looking to beat a drug test, it’s becoming increasingly likely that this is the specific test you’re going to face.

Nicotine Hair Test

Testing hair for cotinine is the most accurate and reliable method for insurance companies and employers. It also involves the biggest hassle and the most dedicated time, all while still being the most expensive method.

But it’s a great option to have when other tests are inconclusive. Hair tests are often only used if there is doubt about the results of another trial. That is somewhat because of the accuracy, and mainly because hair can contain testable levels of cotinine for up to 3 months.

How To Avoid Failing

There are products as well as homemade remedies that claim to be able to flush your system of nicotine within just a few days. Whether those claims have anything to back them up is questionable at best. Some people swear by these treatments, but you may want to have a backup plan unless the cure didn’t exactly work. The truth is, unless you’re a long time heavy smoker, many people can easily get a negative test result within a week of stopping nicotine intake, with the vast majority passing by two weeks. If you’re anxious about passing, and you’ve got the time, it wouldn’t hurt to abstain for a full three weeks to be sure.

Simply stopping nicotine intake is not simple or easy, but there could be substantial gains for doing it. For vapers, the solution could be as easy as opting to vape zero nicotine versions of your favorite e-liquids for the couple weeks leading up to your test. It’s also helpful to drink plenty of water, which can essentially flush out your system. Most people are amazed when they see just how quickly they can pass a nicotine test with a little effort.

Why It Matters!

If after all your efforts the nicotine test still comes back positive then you’ll have to face the consequences. It could be a few different things; being denied employment, being denied insurance, or given insanely higher rates for the same or worse coverage.

There is a small bit of hope for vapers out there that things may improve in the future. Currently, a few companies have updated guidelines for policyholders who vape or use NRTs which take into account the fact vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. Other companies have started offering discounts to those who are willing to do phone interviews and counseling about their nicotine habit.  Unfortunately, this is far from the norm, as most businesses will still only acknowledge a simple positive or negative result on a nicotine screening.


Vaping is still widely seen as being as bad or worse than smoking when that is simply not the case. As studies continue to roll in, proving the extreme harm reduction and smoking cessation value of e-cigarettes, there are bound to be more and more companies willing to change their guidelines on the matter.

Until things change and vaping is more widely accepted by the public, it’s likely best for vapers and other users of NRTs to abstain from nicotine for a few weeks before the test. Ultimately getting the job, saving on health insurance, or being approved for life insurance will benefit you much more than you’ll struggle over a few weeks without nicotine in your e-liquid.

Jimmy, lover, blogger, vaper and ex-smoker. I’ve been blogging about and supporting Vaping since 2009. They changed my life and I think history will show them as one of the most significant public health invention of the 21st century.

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