The answer is yes you can trust the contents of your e-liquid, as a rule of thumb, but here’s where things can get a little confusing. As the controversy about electronic cigarettes heats up in Washington, New York City and Los Angeles a wide variety of facts are being tossed around regarding the potential hazards or benefits of the product.
More specifically, the vaporized liquid substrate, known as e-liquid, is regularly decried as posing a health hazard. Although this is true, it’s usually a non-sequitur argument about the hazards of consuming e-liquid; this really shouldn’t have any meaning that it shouldn’t be sold for vaporization. Here are their primary evidences up to this point.
Most e-liquids are made largely from combinations of vegetable glycerin, sometimes known as glycerol, and propylene glycol, as well as trace amounts of flavoring agents and nicotine which can be anywhere between zero and ten percent. Generally, however, nicotine levels are between zero and 2.4 percent. Vegetable glycerin is generally accepted to be practically inert and non-harmful, excepting perhaps potential weight gain from sugars absorbed by the body, as well as hypoallergenic.
Propylene glycol, the other main ingredient is currently regarded by the FDA as GRAS, or Generally Recognized as Safe. Further, it’s approved for human inhalation as well by the EPA. Finally, nicotine is basically a naturally occurring pesticide and should not be eaten, drunk or absorbed through the skin. That’s not exactly news to anyone though.
This is the substance that used to be placed into e-liquid by American companies and has since been phased out by many of them, although Chinese manufacturers could be using anything. Polyethelyne glycol is also placed in anti-freeze to lower the freezing temperature of the substance. However, it produces ethylene glycol when processed which never even comes close to reaching what are potentially lethal doses of a toxic byproduct.
As long as you’re using a reputable brand and notconsuming e-liquid from something that’s the size of a coal power generating station, you’ll be in little to no danger from polyethelyne glycol and its toxic byproduct ethylene glycol.
As a recent article in the New York Times suggests, there is some controversy regarding the ingestion of e-liquid, particularly by children. Digesting nicotine is in fact toxic but standard concentrations of 1.8 to 2.4 percent are non-lethal even to children. However, they will cause sickness if ingested. Much of the mania surrounding e-liquid consumption is when the nicotine concentration approaches the upper limits of 7.2 to 10 percent. According to the New York Times article, a tablespoon of this nicotine concentration can be lethal for even an adult, so basically it’s simply not intended for drinking.
The main reason that e-liquid is being vilified as deadlyand banned in many places is due to a few different compounding effects that take place in cases that involve children.
First, children are supposedly attracted by the sweet flavors and bright colors of e-liquid containers which lead them to mistake it for candy. Laundry detergent is brightly colored and enticingly scented, but there aren’t regulations protecting children that may find it left out and easily accessible.
Second, children are unaware of the concept of the dangers of nicotine ingestion which means that they go to put it directly in their mouth as they often do with anything that they come in contact. This is a direct fault of the parents who are leaving their children unsupervised.
Third, children are smaller than adults, obviously, whichmeans the small amounts of nicotine in the e-liquid become exponentially more harmful.
Nicotine Skin Exposure
Nicotine is in fact toxic when absorbed by the skin as well, which is possible with e-liquid. This is precisely what sent a Kentucky woman to the hospital with a racing heart after she broke open her vaporizer in her bed and absorbed it through her skin.
However, that’s a pretty unlikely occurrence for the average user. Again, for children the danger is increased due to the increased ratio of nicotine to body mass, so users should be careful to prevent e-liquid access by children and especially toddlers. In this context, vaporizing it is fine, but taking a bath in the substance is discouraged.
Finally, there are allegations coming out within the last two months that vaporization via “dripping” or vapingat very high temperatures can change the chemical composition of byproducts to produce formaldehyde. Dripping is a method of modifying the consumption method as an end user to place e-liquid directly onto the heating element. A source in the New York Times article claims that among heavy users, only about five percent are drippers.
As for the high temperature products, most that are sold and used in the marketplace don’t fall into that category. There are only two articles that report these findings, both so new that only one of them has had time to undergo peer review and even then the findings and study were narrow in focus. Much more research needs to be done in this area to determine potential byproducts of e-cigs, particularly at high temperatures and via dripping. Even should this prove to be true, the researchers in the Huffington Post and New York Times article still believe e-cigs will prove to be healthier than traditional cigarettes.
Truthfully, you can generally trust your e-liquid, as long as you get it from a reputable dealer, and follow basic common-sense safety practices, like not dripping and keeping your e-liquid away from children.