Skip to content

Vaping Products Contain Nicotine, a Highly Addictive Chemical. – Health Canada
Les Produits de Vapotage Contiennent de la Nicotine.La Nicotine Crée une Forte Dépendance. – Santé Canada

What the F&$K is E-Liquid ?

  • 6 min read

So today, let’s talk about e-liquid aka vape juice, e-juice. There still remains a lot of misconception about e-liquid and sometimes this prevents people from giving it a go to quit cigarettes. So let’s dig into it.

There are broadly two types of e-liquid: Freebase and Nic Salts.

Both of these are composed of 3 base components to which flavourings are added.

Nicotine Propylene Glycol (Pg) Vegetable Glycerin (Vg)

Pg is a clear, colourless, slightly syrupy liquid at room temperature. It is practically odourless and tasteless as well. It is a chemical commonly used by the food, pharmaceutical and chemical industries for everything from maintaining moisture content to the solvent used for IV drugs and even cough syrups.

Vg is an oily, hygroscopic liquid with a warm, sweet taste. Again it is commonly used in food, pharmaceutical and personal care products.

Freebase e-liquids are the original, this is nicotine in its purest form. They have a higher pH than Nic Salts and can come with variable ratios of Vg to Pg, though commonly a mixture of 70/30 is used. Nicotine levels for freebase e-liquid in Ontario are 0mg, 3mg, 6mg and 12mg. You can easily lower the amount of nicotine by combining 0mg with any of the other levels. Speak to your local vape shop if you want to learn more about reducing your nicotine levels.

The advantages of freebase are a flavourful, smooth hit that produces large amounts of vapour or clouds.

Nic Salts have the same components though the ratio of Vg to Pg is 50/50 in most cases making for a thinner liquid. What makes them different is that they have an additive of benzoic acid; this is how Nic Salts get their name as the ‘salt’ refers to the compound formed when an acid reacts with a base. There’s plenty of science behind this with amino acids and stable molecules but it basically comes down to a few resulting properties

-Reduces the pH level of the nicotine, this allows for significantly higher nicotine levels than conventional e-liquid

-Nic Salts cross the blood-brain barrier more quickly than freebase nicotine

-Allows the Nic salts to vaporize at a lower temperature, meaning it can be used in cheaper, less powerful devices

-Provides a smoother throat hit

We mentioned higher nicotine levels and they are significant as Nic Salts in Ontario are available in a range from 10mg to 50mg, this may be too strong for many people.

Nic Salts are what is found in disposable and pod devices such as Juul, Stlth, Ghost, Puffbars etc. These are marketed as being 1.5%, 3% and 5% and users should be aware this translates roughly to 15mg, 30mg and 50mg.

Any products over 20mg can only be purchased in licensed specialty vape stores in Ontario, like your local Anytime Vapors.

And finally, there are flavours, in Ontario, only specialty vape shops may sell products with flavours other than tobacco and mint. And there are many flavours everything from sweet and fruity to cornbread (yes we’re serious).

When deciding on what e-liquid to use you need to consider a few things as they require different devices and/or coils based on the consistency of the liquid.

Your device – is it a Nic Salts device? Or is it a device that has a coil (the element that heats to vaporize the e-liquid) that can be switched for either liquid?

How much nicotine is right for you – This is very much a personal choice but your body will also tell you what is too much. Does your throat hurt after taking a hit? Does your head swim or start to ache? Do you feel a little sick?; the nicotine level is likely far too high for you. Often when first switching from cigarettes a higher nicotine level will be the go-to, but most find they very quickly start reducing. Check out one of our customer’s personal journey with switching to vaping to quit smoking here.

Flavours you are interested in – not all flavours are available as Nic Salts, though the availability is expanding. Check out our recommended Winter 2020 flavours here

We know you’ve heard other things about e-liquid and vaping so we’re going to talk about those for a moment as well.

The most recent item in the news concerning vaping was the lung illness in 2019 that struck heavily in the USA and became the catalyst for many of the regulations here in Canada and elsewhere. The culprit in this was Vitamin E Acetate. This is a sticky, honey-like substance that is NEVER used by reputable labs in producing e-juice. The CDC clearly linked this to THC oil cartridges where the Vitamin E Acetate was used as the carrier for the THC oil.

NEVER purchase counterfeit e-liquid, pods or devices. These frequently come from disreputable sources and you do not know what is being added to them. Always visit a licensed specialty vape shop!

Going backward in the newsreel on vaping we have Diacetyl (or other Diketones). These are chemicals used by the food manufacturing industry to add flavours like butter, caramel, pina colada and strawberry. These ingredients have been linked to adverse respiratory effects and this is the chemical referenced when ‘popcorn lung’ became a term linked to the vape community. Again reputable e-liquid labs do NOT use these chemicals in their products and source their flavourings responsibility.

Ethylene Glycol – This is frequently brought up by people outside the community and another big reason you should only purchase your e-liquid from licensed shops that purchase from reputable labs. Ethylene glycol is sometimes found in counterfeit or non-regulated manufacturing of e-liquids and it is an industrial solvent, it does not belong in your e-liquid.

And finally in the newsreel are Carbonyl Compounds. These are not exactly present in e-liquid but as a result of heating *some* juices for vaporizing. Studies are still being performed but they have conclusively found that the levels of these in vape are lower than those found in combustible tobacco smoke. This is why we can safely say that vaping is not harmless but certainly less harmful than smoking cigarettes.

Never hesitate to ask questions at your local vape shop. The staff there should be knowledgeable and happy to help you whether you’re thinking about vaping to quit smoking or been vaping for a while already.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *