How Long does Nicotine Stay in your System?

Nicotine is an addictive substance found in tobacco products, which acts as a stimulant. Most health institutions have already warned the public about the detrimental and life-threatening effects of nicotine-containing products. However, smoking is still one of the leading unhealthy habits of many people. Because of this, nicotine testing has become a requirement when getting a life or health insurance. Aside from that, one will have to take this type of drug test before a major surgical procedure.

If you are a smoker, it is vital to know and understand how long nicotine stays in your system. It is also advantageous to learn the practical tips that can help you pass a nicotine test.

How Long Does It Take for Nicotine to Completely Leave the Body?

Before the body flushes nicotine along with urine, nicotine is transformed into its metabolite known as cotinine. Drug tests can detect both substances. However, the results may vary depending on the sample and the substance that the test is trying to identify.

Test Description Nicotine Cotinine
Blood The blood test is an accurate method to detect nicotine and its metabolite. However, the substances will not stay long in the bloodstream. 1 to 3 days 1 to 10 days
Urine The most common and inexpensive way of nicotine testing is the urine test. 3 to 4 days 15 to 20 days
Saliva A saliva test can measure the estimated amount of nicotine that a person has taken. Up to 4 days Up to 4 days
Hair Because the hair takes months to grow, the hair test can detect the long-term use of nicotine. Up to 3 months Up to 3 months

Tips to Clear Nicotine from Your System Quickly

Nicotine has a short half-life, meaning, the body is able to process and remove this substance quickly. However, frequent smokers will have a difficulty getting rid of nicotine and cotinine because of the build-up of these substances in their tissues. If you have to take a drug test soon, there are ways to quickly get rid of these compounds, which include the following:

  • Stop using Nicotine

The first step to completely free your body of nicotine and cotinine is to quit smoking or stop using nicotine-containing products. It will be a challenging task, yet imperative. Don’t worry, various methods can help you overcome your cravings such as meditating, joining a support group, and doing activities that divert your attention away from tobacco products.

  • Stay Hydrated

Drinking sufficient amount of water will help your body clear nicotine and its metabolite swiftly. This occurs due to the increase in urinary flow rate, which decreases the reabsorption of these substances in the kidneys. However, one should know the difference between proper hydration and over-hydration. You should avoid drinking too much water because it can lead to electrolyte imbalance.

  • Eat the Right Kind of Foods

One effective method to remove toxic compounds in your body is to acidify your urine. By doing this, you can prevent the reabsorption of cotinine and nicotine, and enhance the elimination of these substances. The best way to have acidic urine is to eat foods with a low pH such as meat products, eggs, rice, and sugary foods.

In addition, you should also eat foods rich in fiber and antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables. These products will ensure that your body is operating efficiently and help in the detoxification process.

Some experts suggest that increasing the liver’s bile can also help in clearing nicotine quickly. You can increase your bile production by eating foods such as garlic, onion, and eggs.

  • Exercise

Exercises can help get rid of nicotine and cotinine by enhancing the body’s overall functioning, speeding up the breakdown of these substances, and boosting the kidney’s ability to excrete toxic compounds.

Overall, doing regular exercises will not only help you detoxify your body. It can also boost your mental and physical health.

  • Take Vitamin C Supplements

In theory, taking vitamin C supplements can increase your chance of passing a nicotine test. This theory was tested in one study with 75 male participants who smoke cigarettes (1 pack) every day. The results showed that the participants who took sufficient amounts of vitamin C have low concentrations of nicotine metabolites in their urine compared to those who took lesser doses of ascorbic acid.

Various reasons can explain vitamin C’s effectiveness in clearing cotinine and nicotine.

First, this antioxidant can boost the body’s ability to efficiently process and get rid of these substances. Aside from that, this vitamin is an acidic product that prevents the reabsorption of nicotine and its metabolites by acidifying your urine.

How Long Does Nicotine Stay in your System: What Factors Influence?


Test - Nicotine stay in your body
There is an average timeline on how long nicotine stays in the body. However, each person may have varying results due to the numerous factors that affect the body’s ability to flush out nicotine and its metabolites including the following:

  • Frequency of Smoking

Depending on how often a person smokes, there are three categories for smokers, which are light (once a week), moderate (three times a week), and heavy (every day).

Generally, light smokers can quickly get rid of nicotine and its metabolites, which can last up to three days. For heavy smokers, it will take up to a year to completely remove these substances out of their body.

  • Age

The body of a young person is highly functional compared to the elderly. Because of this, an elderly will need more time to process and clear these compounds.

  • Genes

Some researchers suggest that a person’s genetic makeup can play a role in their body’s ability to breakdown various substances. According to them, Hispanics and Caucasians can quickly metabolize nicotine compared to African-Americans and Asian-Americans.

  • Hormones

Sex hormones specifically estrogen can affect the metabolism of nicotine and cotinine. Females who are taking estrogen or pregnant women can break down these compounds faster than males.

  • Liver and Kidney Functions

Because the liver and kidneys are valuable organs in the processing of all the substances ingested by a person , the conditions of these organs can affect how long nicotine stays in your system.

When a person’s liver and kidneys are able to function at its peak, one can quickly get rid of nicotine and cotinine. However, as the performance of these organs decline, it will also take longer to remove these compounds.

  • Certain Medications

Certain medicines can influence the body’s ability to break down nicotine. Some medications such as rifampin and phenobarbitals can speed up the process. Conversely, drugs such as ketoconazole and amlodipine can slow down the metabolism of nicotine.

How to Pass Nicotine Test?

For smokers, getting a negative result in a nicotine test is doable. The following are tips that can help you pass a nicotine test even if you are a heavy smoker.

  • As mentioned, the first step in passing a nicotine test is to quit smoking. However, this can be challenging for some people, especially for heavy smokers. If you are not ready to give up smoking, you can still pass the drug test by abstaining for about three to five days or longer.
  • While you are abstaining, you can try natural remedies to ease your withdrawal symptoms such as ginger, ginseng, and grape juice.
  • Deep breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga will help relax your mind while you are getting rid of nicotine and cotinine.
  • Aside from abstaining, you should also avoid second-hand smoke. It is best to stay away from other smokers during your detoxification process. This will also help you control and overcome your cravings.
  • If you are taking a saliva test, you can buy saliva detox gums or mouthwashes. These products will stop the production of saliva for about 30 minutes.
  • You can also try some detox techniques such as juicing. Drinking lemon juice, apple cider vinegar juice or a detox drink can acidify the urine and may help you pass a nicotine test.