Vape Liquid Flavors: A Closer Look at Their Ingredients

You may want to keep reading if you've never looked at what goes into your vape liquid. This article explores the ingredients in vape liquid flavors.

Everyone loves the wide selection of vape flavors tempting your taste buds. You can get everything from sweet to salty, candy, fruit flavors, and more. Do you wonder what ingredients create those vape liquid flavors?

Many have concerns about the chemicals they are inhaling into their body. On May 12, 2022, the University of Washington published an article indicating that smokers who change to e-cigarettes are more likely to make other healthy lifestyle changes.

Vape device users report being in better physical health, exercising more frequently, being socially active, and having a higher socioeconomic status.

You know vape liquid is healthier than traditional tobacco products, but what is in it? Keep reading to get all the answers about your favorite vape liquid ingredients, including nicotine levels.

Basic Vape Ingredients

If you are new to the vaping scene, you may wonder what the difference is between vape liquid and vape juice. They are different names for the same product. They come in various flavors and nicotine levels to meet user preferences.

The essential vape ingredients are:

  • Propylene glycol (PG)
  • Vegetable glycerin (VG)
  • Nicotine
  • Water
  • Flavorings

Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are the two main ingredients in all vape juice and account for about 90% of its contents.

If so much of the vape liquid is PG and VG, how much nicotine are you getting? What do those ingredients do? Why are manufacturers adding water to vape liquid flavors?

Vegetable Glycerin (VG)

VG is a “food grade” plant oil, meaning 99.7% pure. This part of your e-cigarette produces a cloud when you vape.

Vegetable glycerin is the primary ingredient in vape liquids. This thick, odorless, and colorless liquid has a naturally sweet taste.

Extracted from plants, including soybean, palm, and rapeseed, VG is non-toxic. You will find vegetable glycerin as an ingredient in products, including cough medicine, soap, shampoo, and suppositories.

It is used as a thickening agent in alcoholic liquors. VG appears as a sweetener under the name of E422 on low-fat food products, beauty products, medications, and toothpaste.

The primary purpose of VG in your e-cigarette liquid is to lower the vaporization point. This allows it to vaporize at low temperatures, giving it the smoke effect when the vape is in use. The viscosity prevents the non-toxic liquid from thinning out and leaking from the vape device.

Propylene Glycol (PG)

PG is the second largest ingredient in vape juice. It is a clear, liquid organic compound with a faint smell and slightly bitter taste. It carries the most flavor in an e-cigarette and produces little vapor.

Propylene glycol is found in beauty and healthcare products, including toothpaste, shampoo, and body wash. PG is purified and highly refined. The American Food and Drug Administration considers this a safe ingredient as a preservative in foods, including ice cream, soft drinks, and flavorings.

Other uses include as a bactericide in air purifiers, hospital ventilation systems, and as a pharmaceutical solvent. This means it is a carrier for delivering medication topically, orally, intravenously, or by inhaling. This is what makes it an essential part of e-liquids.

Flavorings and nicotine in a vape liquid bond with the PG, allowing the liquid to vaporize and be inhaled. If the PG were not present, the other ingredients would not vaporize and would burn on the vape device heating element.

Nicotine

Nicotine is a natural substance in plants. High nicotine levels appear naturally in eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, and cauliflower.

The benefits of ingesting nicotine include alertness, relaxation, calmness, and sharpness. It is a stimulant similar to the boost you get from caffeine in tea, coffee, and carbonated drinks.

Not all vape liquids contain nicotine. There is no requirement on how the nicotine strength appears on the label of an e-cigarette.

Some manufacturers use a qualitative labeling method, such as zero, low, medium, high, and super high. Others use a specific unit of measure per cartridge (mg) or a percentage per volume, such as 2.4% nicotine.

A collection of studies evaluating chemicals in vape liquids revealed a wide variance in the most popular brands of Western Europe and the United States. The label nicotine range is 6-30 mg, and the nicotine concentration is 6-29.0 mg/ml.

Numerous studies were reviewed, and the final determination is that nicotine content varies significantly from brand to brand and may be impacted by the characteristics of the vape device.

For a long time, nicotine has bore the image of an addictive substance. The failure rate of nicotine replacement patches and gum has scientists and the medical profession questioning how addictive it is. They believe a smoker's habit may be due to nicotine’s interaction with other chemicals found only in tobacco cigarettes.

Don’t let all this good news about nicotine fool you. It is a toxin and can poison pets and young children. Make sure you don’t leave your bottles of vape liquid where little ones can accidentally consume the flavorful juice.

Water

The water in vape juice is to help with the consistency and viscosity of the liquid. Viscosity refers to how much resistance a fluid has to change. It prevents bond deformation of the ingredients in vape juice.

Water does not help with flavoring. Adding more water to your vape juice will dilute the flavor.

Flavorings

Every vape liquid manufacturer protects their flavor recipes, ingredient combinations, and percentages, much the way Grandma protects her recipe for that special dish no one can duplicate.

The best practice is to purchase vape juices that contain food-grade ingredients and flavorings. However, you don’t want to grab food flavoring out of the cupboard because it and e-liquid flavoring are different and cannot be interchanged.

Food flavoring uses oils as a base that are safe for human consumption, low cost, and solvent properties. That does not mean the oils are safe to inhale. To use flavorings to vape, PG is the necessary solvent.

There are ingredients in food flavorings that are unsafe for inhaling. For instance, cinnamaldehyde, which gives cinnamon its flavor, is a skin irritant. It is safe to ingest, but inhaling it may cause lung irritation.

Another food flavoring that can negatively impact the lungs is diacetyl, which gives food a buttery flavor. When inhaled, diacetyl can cause obliterative bronchiolitis or popcorn lung. The nickname is from eight employees developing the disease after inhaling diacetyl in a popcorn factory where it was used for flavoring.

Where do the flavors in your vape liquid come from? They are the same artificial and natural flavorings that companies use when manufacturing snacks, beverages, candies, and other foods.

When mixed with PG and VG, they compound into a flavoring mixture you can vape without separating.  The manufacturer ensures that their flavorings do not contain oil, which can lead to health problems when inhaled.

In the U.S., the favorite vape flavors tend to be fruity. It doesn’t matter whether you want a Banana Milkshake, a Blueberry Slushie, or Peach Lemonade; there is a vape juice flavor to tempt your pallet.

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