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What is in E-liquid?
The ultimate question. So many companies are secretive about their mixing practices, however the ingredients are not so secretive.
VG: Also known as Vegetable Glycerin. Usually this is coconut, palm or soy based. With soy being the least expensive but the taste is bitter. Most VG is 99.7% USP grade however there is a product called Glycerol or Crude Glycerin which is a byproduct of biofuel production. This should be avoided for e-liquid use as it is not pure and is not meant for ingestion. VG is commonly used in personal lubricants, cough syrups or as a more viscous carrier for products.
PG: Also known as Propylene Glycol. This is a very thin flavorless solvent. When we use the word solvent most attribute it with chemicals like acetone etc. However PG is a solvent by way of being compatible for solubility with many powders and crystals. This usually allows things to stay suspended in PG without separating. PG is a synthetic product and can cause allergies in some people however it is rare. If you feel itchy or have a sore throat when vaping switch to a high VG mix to avoid these issues. PG is commonly used in many industries from inhalers for asthma, fog machines to de-icing planes. Due to its low freezing point and solubility with water. It is considered safe for inhalation minus the very rare occasion someone is allergic.
Nicotine: Regular or salt nicotine. Derived from tobacco and diluted to the final product you get as a consumer. Nicotine is a stimulant with addictive potential however in e-liquids it is regarded about as addictive as caffeine. You will usually find your cravings for your vape are much lower than when you were a smoker. Common uses besides vaping for nicotine are chewing gums, pesticides and almost all smoking cessation products.
Flavoring: Natural and artificial. While most commonly these are artificially flavored due to the longer shelf life and lower price. Originally the flavorings were used for soda, candy or food. While no flavor manufacturer specifically endorses vaping use of their products the reason we use food grade versions is because they are considered safe for consumption. Though this doesn’t directly mean safe for inhalation. Flavoring is usually PG based as it is a great flavor carrier and doesn’t mute the end product. While VG based versions are available they are not as common due to flavors being muted.
Alcohol: Remember how I mentioned PG is a great solvent? Well alcohol is the ultimate food grade solvent. For flavors like citrus and cinnamon they are usually oil based when made. The only way to get these flavors to suspend without separating is to add some alcohol to dissolve the oils and make them more readily stable in a suspension. While most e-liquid manufacturers don’t add alcohol as an extra additive, it is usually added by the flavor manufacturers themselves.
Additives: These cover all the extra flavor enhances or cooling agents.
WS23 also known as Koolada is a cooling agent that doesn’t have a minty or menthol taste.
Menthol: Crystals are usually added to PG to be used in vaping. They give a very cold and minty feel.
Acetyl Pyrazine: Another additive that smells like corn chips. Used properly it adds body to tobacco and desert flavors
Ethyl Maltol: Commonly labelled as Cotton Candy flavor. This product has a slight sweet taste that is meant to round out fruits etc.
Triaceten: Commonly called Smooth. This additive works on your taste buds to give the perception that a flavor is more well-rounded and less harsh. If used properly it can balance out the brightness of certain berries, when used at too high of levels it can cause muted flavor and vapers tongue.
Sour: This is usually just citric or malic acid. The low melting point causes the souring agents to gunk up coils and never get vaporized. While lick testing this can give a great taste to the product, in vaping their use is almost futile.
Next blog post we will look at how we incorporate these ingredients into a final product.
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