Sugar, spice and everything nice? Or snips and snails and puppy-dogs’ tails? What exactly little boys and girls are made of remains a mystery – and for many, the same goes for electronic cigarettes.
How a relatively simple device and small vial of liquid can allow you to produce wonderfully flavoured clouds - from your mouth, no less – is pretty amazing. We don’t claim to be scientists or as brainy as the masterminds behind the e-cigarette and there will always be elements of vaping which will baffle us (flavoured clouds! From your MOUTH!!).
But we can tell you what we do know. The following ingredients are the main components that make up e-liquid – this is the stuff that is filled into your e-cigarette and is heated to produce the vapour. As is the case with food, cosmetics and anything else which makes contact with your body, it’s important to be aware of these ingredients so you can make an informed decision as to whether vaping is right for you.
Propylene Glycol (PG)
PG acts as one of the bases of e-liquid:
Colourless, odourless liquid
Safe in low concentrations
Found in many personal care products e.g. shampoo, hair conditioner, deodorant
Found in food additives
Carries the flavour of the e-liquid well
Vegetable Glycerin (VG)
VG can also be used as an e-liquid base and is usually combined with PG in varying amounts:
Colourless, odourless liquid
Derived from plant oils
Widely used in food industry, including as a sweetener, preservative or thickening agent
Does not decay teeth
Used in various foods, personal care and pharmaceutical products e.g. soap, toothpaste, cough syrup
Heavier than PG – thicker and smoother
Naturally sweet taste
Creates large amounts of vapour
E-liquids contain varying amounts of nicotine (including none whatsoever):
Found naturally in plants
A stimulant similar to caffeine
Stimulants temporarily make heart beat faster and blood pressure rise
They can also speed metabolism and suppress appetite
However not proven harmful in responsible amounts
Does not cause cancer
Minimal risk of causing cardiovascular disease
The flavouring gives each e-liquid its unique taste:
Ingredients vary between manufactures, but typically flavouring used in e-liquids is naturally occurring, food-grade additives
Examples of flavouring used in e-liquid include:
Acetylpyrazine – commonly used flavouring added to coffee, popcorn, sesame seed, almonds, wheat bread, cocoa, pork and beef.
Beta-Ionone – a food-grade fragrance found in essential oils used to provide aroma.
Dimethylpyrazine – ingredient found in the food, drug, and perfume industries.
Ethylpyrazine – used in food products such as pork and soups.
Rose Oil – a natural extract from roses used for its scent.
Trimethylpyrazine – commonly used in caramel, chocolate, cocoa and coffee.
Vanillin – primary component of vanilla bean extract, can be extracted from vanilla pods or artificially made from lignin.
Distilled water is sometimes added, particularly when thick VG is the primary base ingredient of the liquid:
Used as a diluent to thin e-liquid mixture
Prevents build up
Ensures smooth delivery
And that's all, folks! Consisting of such few, relatively harmless ingredients does seem promising for e-cigs, particularly when you compare this with the thousands of chemicals found in a traditional cigarette. It's important to remember, however, that electronic cigarettes are still relatively new and the long-term health effects remain unknown.