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What You Should Know About E-liquid


There’s a lot of talk right now about electronic cigarette liquid, and some of it is confusing at best. Many people who’re new to vaping have questions about the liquid they’re putting in their devices, which is understandable. The problem is they don’t always get good answers. That’s understandable too; the technology is still quite new, so it’s no surprise that most people – including a lot of doctors and health experts – don’t really understand it. E-liquid is actually quite a simple mixture, though, so here’s everything you need to know.

What’s In It?

You’ve probably heard those who want to ban e-cigs saying “We don’t know what’s in them!” They’ve been saying that since e-cigs first hit the UK market in 2008. Back then they were wrong; now they’re lying. We know exactly what’s in e-cig liquid and it’s a short list. Basically liquid contains some or all of these five ingredients:

Propylene glycol (PG). This is a type of alcohol that vaporizes easily when heated. It’s the main ingredient in most liquids, so the bulk of the vapour you inhale is PG. The good news here is that PG has been tested for decades and is known to be safe. A lot of food contains PG, and so do health products like toothpaste. It’s even been used in asthma inhalers since the 1950s.

Vegetable glycerine (VG). VG is a sugar alcohol that’s extracted from plants. Like PG it’s found in many foods as well as products like soap. Most e-liquid contains a mixture of PG and VG, either 50/50 or with a larger proportion of PG. A few people are allergic to it though, so VG-only liquids are also available. A higher proportion of VG means more visible vapour but less throat hit. VG is known to be safe.

Distilled water. Some liquids are too thick to flow properly inside an atomiser. The solution is to dilute them slightly with distilled water.

Flavourings. Almost all e-cig liquid is flavoured. This is done with food grade flavours. In fact e-liquid manufacturers use stricter standards than food producers; some food flavourings have an oil base, which isn’t suitable for vaping.

Nicotine. This is the one that has a lot of people jumping up and down. Most (not all) e-liquid contains nicotine, which is extracted from tobacco plants. Medical products like gum and patches also use nicotine extracted from tobacco plants; it’s perfectly safe. Nicotine on its own is no more harmful than caffeine, and has several beneficial effects. It helps your memory and lets you think more quickly, for example.

How Is It Made?

If you buy liquid from a well-known manufacturer it will be made in a clean room with the same hygiene standards as cosmetics, food and many medicines. Any large British, European or American juice brand will supply safe liquid that’s free from harmful contaminants. Worried about China? If you stick with major brands like Hangsen, Dekang or Liqua their standards are just as high.

Of course if you’re talking about counterfeit liquid, or something bought from a market stall, all bets are off. The same applies to some of the hobbyists who make boutique liquids and sell them in small batches – they do their best, but it’s just not possible to set up a clean room in your home and most of us wouldn’t want to vape something that was mixed in somebody’s kitchen. Stick to genuine products from reputable brands and you’re guaranteed to get a safe, high quality vape.

Anything To Worry About?

The fact is we know more about what’s in e-liquid than we do about what’s in coffee. All the ingredients are safe to consume, and people have been inhaling the main ones for decades. If you buy good liquid, or mix your own from quality ingredients – BP grade PG, VG and nicotine base, and flavours sold for vaping rather than food – you have nothing to worry about. There has been a lot of scientific research into liquid by now and the news is all good.

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