The history of vaping is very interesting with many vaporizers, advances, and improvements. The more we know about vaping, the more we advance to offer a better and safer vaping experience.

When it comes to e-liquids, there are many things to consider. E-liquids are traditionally made of a combination of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavorings, and nicotine. However, there are some ingredients you should avoid and some of them are quite controversial such as diacetyl.

Vaping is very different to tobacco smoking as it doesn’t contain plant material and other harmful additives. Tobacco smoking produces tar and other carcinogenic substances that are absorbed in your lungs then enter in your bloodstream. Instead, e-cigarettes use a liquid often called as ‘e-liquid’, ‘vape juice’ or ‘e-juice’.

Vape juice ingredients consist mainly of water, nicotine, PG (propylene glycol), VG (vegetable glycerin) and flavorings.

You can find vape shops almost everywhere and there are many different vape devices and e-liquid options such as, non-nicotine e-juices, nicotine e-juices, flavored, nic salts and a long etcetera.

Let’s explain a bit more about the most common vape juice ingredients and their functions.

Which Ingredients are Safe?

Most of vape juices are made of ingredients that are safe for human consumption. Both PG (propylene glycol) and VG (vegetable glycerin) are considered safe and they are widely used in very diverse industries, including the food industry.

Vape Juice Ingredients: Nicotine

Let’s start with the basic ingredient in many e-liquids: nicotine.

Nicotine is extracted from tobacco plants and it has both stimulant and relaxant properties, which makes it a unique substance. In addition, tobacco was a sacred plant in pre-Columbian America and cultivated and harvested for more than 5000 years.

It was used for ritual ceremonies and also as a medicinal plant to treat common cold symptoms, cure wounds and, in Europe, it was even used to treat ulcers and basal cell cancer.

There are two basic forms of nicotine used as vape juice ingredients: Freebase nicotine and nicotine salts.  The latter one, is more common than freebase nicotine as it comes in more nicotine strengths. In addition, nicotine salts offer a milder flavor than freebase nicotine.

If you vape freebase nicotine, you should probably not want a nicotine strength greater than 18mg / ml. That is because freebase nicotine hits the throat harder than nicotine salts. Users who only vaped 3-4 mg / ml of freebase nicotine could vape more than 16-18 mg / ml of nicotine salts. In conclusion, nicotine salts allow you to vaporize amounts of nicotine in tobacco cigarettes that a person would usually smoke.

You can get vape juices in different nicotine strengths. For example, you will find e-liquids with 0mg, 6mg, 12mg, 18mg, 24mg, and 32mg.

Water as an E-Liquid Ingredient

There is not that much to say here. Water is one of the vape juice ingredients. Obviously, water contributes to the consistency and viscosity of the e-liquid. If you add more water, you dilute it more. As you can imagine, water by itself does not contribute to e-liquid flavor.

Vape Juice Ingredients: Vegetable Glycerin

Vegetable glycerin or VG is a clear liquid, odorless and with a mild sweet flavor.

It is one of the most common vape juice ingredients. In addition, it is responsible for producing the vapor in your vapes. In other words, more vegetable glycerin means more vapor.

It’s a non-toxic and viscous liquid that is very common in food ingredients. For example, it’s commonly used as a humectant (to keep things moist), sweetener, solvent and also to preserve food.

VG is, together with propylene glycol, one of the most common vape juice ingredients. If you are a cloud chaser and you are looking for bigger clouds, then e-liquids with a higher VG:PG ratio is the best option for you.

VG is considered safe to humans. It is usually combined with PG or propylene glycol because VG by itself is very viscous and therefore, it would be difficult to vaporize 100% VG vape juices.

Propylene Glycol or PG

PG is widely used in the food industry and also in many medical products as a solvent. Propylene glycol is considered safe to humans. However, there is some controversy because formaldehyde is a product of PG vapor degradation.

There is some concern about aldehydes (acrolein and formaldehyde) present in the vaping process. Firstly, it’s important to emphasize that aldehydes are present in much higher levels in cigarettes and cigars. Moreover, there is no scientific consensus whether aldehydes cause acute respiratory conditions or not. It would take years of vaping for someone to experience any serious health issues, if there really are any.

Propylene glycol produces vapor, although not as much as vegetable glycerin. It is mainly responsible for giving the vaper the “throat hit” that helps to resemble cigarette smoking. Furthermore, if you are concerned about PG in your e-liquid, there are many e-juices without PG.

Vape Juice Ingredients: Flavorings

Many e-liquid companies don’t list their flavor in order to protect their recipes. You can find many different types of flavors, from fruit flavors such as watermelon, strawberry or cherry to menthol, coffee or just tobacco flavor.

We recommend you that you always buy vape juices that contain food-graded vape juice ingredients.

From all the vape juice ingredients, one of the most common ones is diacetyl. Diacetyl was highly controversial because some sources related it with the development of “popcorn lungs”. Diacetyl is a common flavoring used in the food industry that gives a buttery flavor to foods.

Nonetheless, if you don’t want to vape diacetyl vape juices, there are many options for you that are diacetyl-free.

Vape Juice Ingredients you Should Avoid

There are some vape juice ingredients that are considered harmful. You can find e-liquids free of these chemicals. That’s why it’s important you know how to read the labels so you know which e-liquid ingredients to avoid.


This compound is used to give the vape juice a cinnamon flavor. It is approved by the US FDA. However, to vape cinnamaldehyde may inhibit our lungs’ antibacterial defense mechanism. It can cause adverse effects in our lungs by reducing cilia, which are small hair-like projections that move microbes and debris up and out of the airways.


It is an additive that gives the vape juice a distinctive buttery and creamy flavor. It’s required by law that diketones in food are tested. Diketones are a group of chemicals such as acetoin or the famous diacetyl.

Diacetyl is an organic compound that is widely used in the food industry. It has a buttery flavor and therefore it’s very appreciated in the food industry. Its color varies between yellow and green and its chemical formula is (CH3CO)2.

It’s widely used in the food and beverage industry and as a flavoring for many food products to add that buttery flavor. For instance, microwave popcorns use diacetyl to give them that characteristic buttery flavor.

It’s unclear to whether diacetyl causes respiratory problems or not. Nonetheless, if you are worried about vape juices containing diacetyl, there are many e-liquids that are diacetyl-free.


O-Vanillin has been widely researched as it might cause cell toxicity and oxygen restriction. Its might cause potential negative health effects similar to cinnamaldehyde.

Vape Ingredients: Conclusion

You can find e-liquids that are diacetyl-free and e-liquids without any of these flavorings. In addition, you can also make your own vape juice by combining PG, VG, natural flavorings and nicotine. This way, you will always know what you are vaping. The same way many vapers are into RBAs, there are also many vapers who make their own e-liquids.


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