The vaping community uses words like e liquid and e juice every day, and will generally assume that everyone understands what they are referring to when they talk about juice, but the truth is that the majority of the general public has almost no idea what an e juice is and how it is used. This is probably why there is so much misinformation about “second hand vapor” and what is in it. This misunderstanding is at the root of why people think that a vapor cloud is the same thing as smoke, and contains all of the same particulate matter that everyone realizes is dangerous to breathe. By defining and discussing exactly what is an e juice, how an e juice is used, and what is in that vapor cloud that is seen when a person breathes out, we are better able to educate the public on why vaping should not be compared to smoking. So, lets start by discussing what e juice is.
E juice is a name that has been given to the liquid product which is used in e cigarettes and personal vaporizers. It is also known by other names like e liquid and smoke juice, although “smoke juice” is probably one of the worst ways to describe it because it is not used for smoking and there is no smoke in it. The liquid itself serves the purpose to transfer nicotine and flavorings into a person’s lungs through inhaling. The nicotine levels can vary widely, and can even contain no nicotine at all. The main thing to understand is that the e juice itself is a mechanism to transfer either the nicotine and flavors or just the flavors. The e juice itself if vaporized using a battery and a heating element, the same way that water on a stovetop turns to vapor when heat is applied. What is the most important distinction is that this is not smoke, and nothing is being burned. Smoke is the by product of the actual incineration of something, and contains the carcinogens that cause health issues if breathed in. Liquid is not able to burn, so nothing carcinogenic is contained in the vapor cloud that is seen when a person breathes out after using a vaping device.
Now that we have established what IS NOT in e juice, it is important to discuss exactly what IS in e juice, as there is a common misconception that there are a whole host of chemicals which are hazardous to your health being put into e juices and sold to the public. All reputable e juice manufacturers are going to list all of the ingredients used in their blend. Almost no e juice manufacturers use more than five ingredients, those being:
- VG (Vegetable Glycerin) This is known as the Base of e liquids and makes up 80-90% of e-juice. It is either 100% VG or a proportional mix with PG. VG is completely safe to consume, and is used in many types of foods and toothpastes.
- PG (Propylene glycol) is common to mix with VG as the base for e-juice. This ingredient is commonly used as a solvent in household items, and is also the juice that is used in fog machines. The reason many companies use PG is because it produces a thicker vapor cloud, however it is known to potentially dry your throat or cause some allergic reactions, so it is generally used sparingly.
- Flavor. This is generally 10% – 20% of the e juice. All flavorings used by reputable companies are food grade, and are the same ingredients used in cooking and baking.
- Nicotine. This is usually somewhere between 0% and 2.4% of the mix. All reputable manufacturers use pharmaceutical grade nicotine.
- Distilled water. This is only used to thin the liquid if necessary.