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Are there any harmful chemicals in e-liquids?

Something that is often questioned around the topic of vaping is the potency of the chemicals contained within e-liquids. E-liquids are responsible for creating the vapour that is associated with vaping. Located within the tank of a vape, they are what you inhale and exhale hence why people are concerned with what e-liquids are composed of. 

Traditional e-liquids that are government approved are made up of three key ingredients: propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerine (VG), and food grade flavouring. Some, but not all, e-liquids also contain nicotine which is a great option for those who are wanting to give up smoking

With a society that is focused on health and wellness, understanding what is in your e-liquids is important for your own peace of mind. The bottom line is that there aren’t any dangerous chemicals within your e-liquids but there have been instances of companies that are considered dodgy selling e-liquids that have caused harm in some people. 

This is why it is crucial that people purchase e-liquids that are from reputable companies. If you don’t, there is every chance that these companies are using low quality chemicals and ingredients or ingredients that are illegal in certain countries. This has been a major problem in the United States, particularly with e-liquids that contain THC. 

We have put together a guide to help you understand what is in your e-liquids and what you should expect when you are choosing to vape with reputable e-liquid brands. Never skimp on e-liquids as it could compromise your health. 


What are E-Liquids? 

E-liquids are the fluid that vape users insert into the tank of a vape device or e-cigarette. It is what you inhale and then exhale as part of the process of vaping. 

Following the rules of evaporation, when the e-liquid is heated, it reaches a high temperature and then evaporates, changing from a liquid into a vapour. This, of course, is the cloud production we see when e-liquid is exhaled. 

E-liquids can be heated between 90 degrees celsius and 200 degrees celsius which is how it is able to change from a liquid to a vapour. This means that, when you inhale, you are getting great flavour and cloud production that adds to the vaping experience.  


E-Liquids Main Ingredients: PG and VG

Vaping is considered a perfect alternative to smoking and can produce incredible includes with impressive flavour. To achieve these things, chemicals known as PG and VG are used. They are included in all e-liquids and some people can be confused with them. Each have their own benefits and every reputable e-liquid brand will contain a good mix of both. 


What is PG? 

While most vapers know it has PG, this chemical’s full name is propylene glycol and it is an organic compound that is found in all e-liquids. Colourless and odourless, it has a low visoscity making it a thin liquid that won’t clog your vape as easily as VG will due to it being a thicker liquid. 

A liquid used frequently in other items, it is used in skin lotions and moisturisers due to its properties. Due to it being a thinner liquid, it is easier for users to handle when it comes to filling or refilling the atomiser or the tank. This also ensures that there is less build up of material on the coil making your vaping experience more pleasant. 

This ensures that your coil absorbs heat faster meaning that you can begin to vape more quickly when it is switched on ready to use. This also ensures that your vapour is warmer as it takes much less time to heat. Another great factor of PG being used in e-liquid is that it is tasteless and odourless which means it doesn’t interfere with the flavours of your e-liquid of choice. 

The only issues you can have with your PG based e-liquids is that there is a very small risk of having an allergic reaction and, due to them being less dense, the clouds won’t be as impressive in comparison to a VG dominant e-liquid. They are a great option for people who want intense flavours.


What is VG?

Vegetable Glycerine, otherwise known as VG, is a natural liquid that is extracted from plant oils and is used as one of the main ingredients in vaping. While it is an odourless liquid, it does have some colour to it. Another difference it has in comparison to PG is that it is slightly sweer to the taste and is much thicker or viscous than PG. 

As it is more viscous, this means that it can produce more impressive clouds than PG dominant e-liquids. Another great thing about VG is that, due to its thickness, it has a gentler throat hit but this does mean that flavour is sacrificed to allow for this. 

Due to being made of plant extract, VG has its own flavour and sweetness but some users find that this makes the overall flavour a little duller than PG dominant e-liquids. Something to bear in mind when using VG dominant e-liquids is their thickness can cause deposits of gunk which can accumulate in the coil.

This means that time must be carved out to clean coils regularly if you prefer to use e-liquids that are more heavily reliant on VG. The thickness of VG as a liquid also means that your vape will need more power before it reaches its optimal temperature where you vape happily at. If you are a cloud chaser, it is recommended to use VG as you will achieve bigger and thicker clouds with a VG dominant e-liquid. 

Finding Your PG and VG Ratio 

In e-liquids, the majority of them have a PG and VG mix that allows for intense flavours and impressive clouds. The most popular ratios are usually 70:30 or 50:50 and, depending if you prefer flavour or clouds, these can be mixed between PG and VG. For example, if you want more flavour and less cloud, a 70% mix of PG to 30% VG would be the best option. 

Using VG and PG together means that your e-liquid will produce great vapour that is packed with flavour and a nice throat hit. If you are unsure of what to go for, start with a 50:50 mix to ensure that you find something for you. 


Flavourings in E-Liquids 

While there is a mix of VG and PG (usually) within e-liquids and they can sometimes contain nicotine, food-grade flavouring is always used to ensure that the vaping experience can be enjoyable and personalised. 

Flavourings used within e-liquids are used commonly in other products, so it not unusual to see the labels appearing on foods that you eat as well. This is due to e-liquids only using compounds that have been developed and tested for their flavour and the quality of their product. Most flavours used in e-liquids are synthetic which ensures the safety of users. 


Why Use Synthetic Flavours? 

Safety is paramount to all reputable vaping brands. They want their users to have a good experience without causing the same damage that would occur if you smoked. Synthetic flavours preserve flavour over natural flavours because, when heated, natural flavourings are volatile and are sensitive to change. 

Synthetic flavours allow for a great flavour hit while ensuring your vaping experience is safe. Compounds are rigorously tested to ensure that they are safe for consumption and many of the flavourings used in our foods are then used in our e-liquids


What are the Compounds that Produce Flavours in E-Liquids? 

There are a wide range of compounds that produce incredible flavours in your e-liquids. Here are some that produce some of the best flavours:



The flavour associated with citrus, limonene is what allows us to achieve the clean, fresh taste associated with citrus fruits when vaping. It is used in products regularly like medicines to mask bitter notes from other ingredients and is often found in cosmetic products making it a safe compound. 



Not shockingly, this flavour is what gives the creamy taste associated with vanilla. Sweet but full bodied, it has the characteristic taste of the vanilla bean.

Ethyl 2-Methyl Butyrate

A very popular flavouring for users, Ethyl 2-methyl butyrate is what is used to give the taste of apple, kiwi, and strawberry. Found in strawberries naturally, it gives a juicy flavour to e-liquids. 


Methyl Cyclopentenolone

For those with a sweet tooth, Methyl Cyclopentenolone is used to create the famous pudding flavours associated with vaping. Found in perfumes, it is naturally smoking and is found in e-liquids that are caramel like. 

What Do Studies Show About Chemicals in E-Liquids? 

The bottom line is that you can safely ingest e-liquids without worrying about toxicity. When PG was first studied in 1978, Konradova and colleagues confirmed that it was practically non-toxic and it is used regularly as part of anti-seizure medication. 

Despite studies being done long ago, the FDA still mantains that these studies show that substantial toxicological data indicates that oral exposure to propylene glycol is not likely to be associated with adverse health effects.

The toxicology of glycerol, another name for vegetable glycerine, was reviewed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2002. A study of 10 male and 4 female volunteers who were administered glycerol in orange juice with each meal at a dose of 1.3 to 2.2 g/kg/day for 50 days reported no evidence of toxicity or adverse effects on blood or urine production.

Based on the highest administered dose, they estimated a no observed adverse effect level, known as a NOAEL, for glycerol greater than or equal to 2.2 g/kg/day. This study was repeated in 2014 with great success meaning that VG can be consumed without worry. 

Knowing What You Vape

While e-liquids have been shown to be safe to vape in regard to the chemicals that are within them, not every company is reputable and cares about what they put in their e-liquids. Always ensure that you purchase your e-liquids from a company that is well known and respected to prevent any issues from arising in the future with your health. 

If you want to know more about the safety of e-liquid chemicals or have some questions around what e-liquids are best for you, do not hesitate to get in touch with KIX Vaping today. As a reputable brand who has been selling e-liquids for over a decade, our expert knowledge can help put you at ease around the e-liquids you have chosen. 

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