E-liquid, or e-juice is one of the great things about vaping. Unlike traditional cigarettes, there are hundreds of different flavours and mixes of e-liquid, so you’re sure to find one that you love sooner or later.
So, what is e-liquid made of? E-liquid itself is a relatively simple concoction made from four separate ingredients – a chemical base (either propylene glycol, or vegetable glycerine), nicotine, water and flavouring. By using different bases, different levels of nicotine and a variety of interesting flavours, e-liquid can provide a bespoke experience for anyone looking to quit smoking.
If you’re asking yourself “what is e-liquid made of?” and are worried that the explanation may get a little too complex, there’s no need to worry, and there’s certainly no need to hold a PhD in chemistry. However, the first and most important ingredient is the base.
A base is little more than a substance that does not dissolve in water, and is neither an acid, nor an alkali. It can, however, be combined with other ingredients to create chemical compounds for a number of different uses.
E-liquid uses a combination of both propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerine (VG) as a base. These bases have been used for decades in a number of household products and are considered to be very safe for use in an e-cigarette.
By using different amounts of each of these bases, e-liquid manufacturers can change the characteristics of the vapour produced. E-liquids that are predominantly VG-based are more likely to produce larger clouds of vapour, but with a lighter ‘hit’ at the back of the throat. PG-based e-liquids on the other hand are more likely to provide a harsher ‘hit’, but without the clouds.
It is worth pointing out, however, that high-VG e-liquids tend to be more viscous, and as a result require you to change your coil more often as the wick will get filled with gunk a lot faster and ultimately lose its ability to absorb.
As many vapers are ex-smokers, they will be well-versed in the importance of nicotine for eliminating cravings.
When vaping was originally introduced, users were able to purchase e-liquid with as much as 24mg/ml, however, since the introduction of the TPD law, they have been limited to a maximum of 18mg/ml. This is bad news for those who are trying to quit cigarettes but are used to high levels of nicotine, as they may find that e-cigarettes do not reduce their cravings enough to work as a cessation device. For most people though, less than 18mg/ml should be fine.
While chemical bases do not dissolve in water, they are diluted by them – along with the nicotine and flavouring. If there was no water added to the liquid, the taste of each ingredient would be extremely unpleasant to vape, and the resulting volume of product would only be a fraction of what we normally buy from manufacturers.
Each manufacturer will experiment with their flavourings, striving to provide the best selection of flavours for their customers. This competitive approach has led to a wide range of flavours to suit all palates – from sweet to savoury – so for the end user, it’s important to try a few different flavours before settling on a favourite.
So next time some asks you “what is e-liquid made of?”, you’ll be able to share your knowledge with them!