What’s in Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigs)?

Klaus Kneale
by Klaus Kneale
21 Comments
November 8, 2012

Electronic cigarettes are small electronic devices that vaporize a nicotine solution to be inhaled by users.  There’s not a lot to them.  Researchers have even said that, for the average smoker, two additional months of smoking could be more harmful than using electronic cigarettes instead for the rest of his or her life.  More research still needs to be done, but knowing what is in most electronic cigarettes leads most individuals to believe that they can’t possibly do the same amount of harm as conventional cigarettes.

The industry is only now beginning to self-regulate and there are still companies that aren’t totally open about their products and processes.  But here’s the essential pieces that make up what you’re breathing in when you use an electronic cigarette.

Propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), or a combination of both. To form the base of the vapor electronic cigarettes produce, most companies use a combination of PG and VG.  These substances are considered safe for consumption and are in a number of vaporized delivery methods used by medical groups.  On rare occasion, some individuals have been found to be allergic to either base but can often find a product using only the substance they can tolerate.  For individuals that care, there is at least one company that has perfected an organic VG compound.

Natural or artificial flavors. This is were the least clarity exists with some electronic cigarette products.  Some flavors when converted to vapor (particularly buttery and sweet flavors) can be toxic.  Most companies now have statements on their products and websites about the existence or non-existence of dangerous substances (namely diacetyl).  Legitimate American-based companies use FDA-approved flavor additives.

Nicotine. Most electronic cigarettes contain some amount of nicotine to provide the buzz that other tobacco products provide.  The amount of nicotine is generally rated in milligrams per milliliter (expressed simply as mg).  Zero mg means there is no nicotine, 4 to 8 mg is considered a low amount, 12 to 16 is considered moderate, while anything 18 mg and up is considered high.  Few companies will produce liquid or electronic cigarettes above 24mg.  Nicotine by itself is considered a toxin, but it is not a carcinogen (in this way, it is very similar to caffeine).

Researchers are working to determine just how toxic electronic cigarette use is.  Currently, things are looking good.  By simply getting rid of the smoke associated with conventional cigarettes, scientists say electronic cigarettes remove 98% of the health hazards.  It may be some time before the FDA and other anti-smoking organizations admit that electronic cigarettes are a safer, acceptable alternative to smoking.  It may be never.

Curious about the science behind electronic cigarettes?  Read more here.

Comments

21 Responses to “What’s in Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigs)?”

      Steve Mitchell on November 9th, 2012 7:00 am

      That is some great information. I hope to hear more about studies for e-cigs. I know for me at least it has saved me from smoking. I would love to say that it will be there for other to quit as well.

        Sabrina Mitchell on November 9th, 2012 7:27 am

        I don’t know much about the e-cigs but I can say people who vape over smoke don’t smell bad like cigarettes.

          Karla Lyle on November 9th, 2012 11:55 am

          Great information!! This is what all those people who are knocking ecigs need to read. I have heard people say there is antifreeze and all kinds of stuff in electronic cigarettes. The thing that is most important to me is there is a lot less crap in electronic cigarettes than there was in those awful cigarettes I was smoking.

            Mike on November 10th, 2012 1:36 pm

            I really liked that, actually I shared it to FB. Great little article explaining to anyone what it is and why its better. A person should walk away understanding.

              kjpennell on November 12th, 2012 4:14 am

              people who vape over smoke don’t smell bad like cigarettes.

              I agree with this statement

                Mandi on November 12th, 2012 2:55 pm

                I was nervous about ecigs. I as well had heard SO much about antifreeze.

                  MorrinB on November 12th, 2012 11:26 pm

                  Excellent article. Very informative. Great information to pass along to someone who is just getting started or looking into ecigs for the first time. I’m bookmarking this to pass along to friends. Thank you!

                    Boston Deeta on November 26th, 2012 10:39 pm

                    Definitely a good article to pass on to those who are new to ecigs and have questions about them.

                      robovape on November 27th, 2012 6:13 pm

                      i wish it was easier to get info like this out to the general public… especially in contrast to what is in cigarettes…

                        Adam on January 5th, 2013 11:49 pm

                        So an estimated 50-60 years of using an e-cig is less harmful than 2 months of regular cigarette smoking? Sign me up!

                          Michelle on January 20th, 2013 7:24 pm

                          A lot of great info! A friend was saying e-cig were just as bad as analogs So I made her read this lol

                            Nathaniel on January 23rd, 2013 3:09 pm

                            Thank you very much for this, now I finally have something to make my friends understand!

                              saboinia on February 10th, 2013 3:06 pm

                              great iformation……ty for posting

                                RCO67 on April 12th, 2013 8:43 am

                                Klaus, the work you do is a tremendous contribution the vaping community. Thanks for yet another well thought out entry.

                                  Tyler on April 14th, 2013 4:54 am

                                  great post loved reading it!

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