Every time an e-cigarette releases a cloud of vapor, that aerosol mist contains ultra-fine particles derived from several key ingredients. Some of these raw materials, such as water and ethyl alcohol, are derived from the earth, while other trace metals, chemicals, and formulas present in vape ingredients come from synthetic materials. When people buy Vapes online, they can choose from hundreds of popular or unique flavors. While 5% of e-liquid juice comes from water and ethyl alcohol, there are also multiple other main ingredients, such as vegetable glycerin, trace amounts of nicotine, cadmium, formaldehyde, and propylene glycol. Check out the untold story about vaping’s raw materials below.
Vapes Contain Glycerin and Propylene Glycol
Most vaping devices contain raw materials that include vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol. Up to 80% of e-liquid juice comes from these two main ingredients. Glycerin is a thick, sweet substance that comes from processed oils found in plants and is often used in the cosmetics industry. It’s also the reason why vapes produce a visible cloud or mist when used. The more vegetable glycerin is present in a vape, the larger a cloud will appear, but the viscous consistency can also clog vaping devices.
Vapes Contain Water and Ethyl Alcohol
Water and ethyl alcohol are two additional ingredients in vapes that occur naturally. While water is present everywhere in the environment, from natural sources such as wells and artesian springs, vapes contain water that has been distilled for purity. Most vapes use ethyl alcohol to help the e-liquid blend well and boost the propylene glycol’s chemical action to intensify flavors. This ingredient is derived from the earth, from fermented agricultural plants such as corn or sugarcane before it evaporates into a vape cloud. The total percentage of water and ethyl alcohol present in vaping’s raw materials totals 5%.
Vapes Can Contain Nicotine, Heavy Metals, and Other Chemical Components
According to research performed for the American Lung Association, the e-liquids found in vapes contain a host of other chemicals and traces of raw materials. These include:
- Acetaldehyde – this component occurs naturally in bread, coffee, and ripe fruit, but is also derived from the partial oxidation of natural gas and ethyl alcohol.
- Acrolein – a chemical derived from burning animal or vegetable fats and fossil fuels. This toxic chemical is used to make herbicides and acrylic acid.
- Benzene: this volatile organic compound, or VOC, is present in car exhaust.
- Cadmium – this toxic metal compound found in fertilizers and derived from mining operations.
- Diacetyl – a chemical derived from fermented yeast byproduct. It is linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, a lung disease also known as “popcorn lung”.
- Diethylene glycol – this toxic chemical, found in antifreeze, is linked to lung complications and disease.
- Formaldehyde – this chemical is produced from raw materials air and methanol. It can cause lung irritation and pulmonary edema.
- Heavy metals that include nickel, zinc, tin, and lead are both present as ultra-fine particles in e-liquid and leach into vaping liquid when an atomizer made from these materials is used.
- Nicotine – flavorings and trace amounts, up to 36 mg per milliliter, are present in many vaping materials.
Vaping Devices and the Synthetic Side of the Spectrum
While it’s essential to understand the naturally-derived raw materials in vape devices, we cannot ignore the synthetic side of the spectrum. Vapes, especially reusable ones, contain trace metals and synthetic chemicals that have become a part of the vaping experience. These synthetic materials are primarily found in the vape device hardware, like the heating elements and the atomizers. These components are usually made from metals like nickel, zinc, tin, and lead. Unfortunately, during the heating process, tiny amounts of these metals can leach into the vaping liquid, ultimately being inhaled by the user. This is a significant health concern as long-term exposure to these metals can lead to various health issues.
What’s more, several of the other chemical components listed above, such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, and benzene, can be derived synthetically during the vaping process. They are byproducts of the heating process when certain raw materials, like propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, are overheated. It’s a phenomenon known as thermal degradation. Unfortunately, these chemicals are known to have potentially harmful effects on human health. For example, benzene is a known carcinogen, while formaldehyde can cause respiratory irritation and potentially lead to other respiratory diseases.
The Future of Vaping and Regulatory Challenges
The future of the vaping industry is promising, but it also faces many challenges, especially in terms of regulations. As the evidence on the potential health risks associated with vaping grows, so does the pressure on the industry to improve safety standards and transparency. While many manufacturers have made efforts to create safer vape pens, it is crucial to ensure that all products on the market meet minimum safety standards.
As the industry expands and new raw materials and production techniques are introduced, regulators face the daunting task of ensuring these developments do not increase the health risks associated with vaping. This includes closely monitoring the materials used in vape products, both in the e-liquid and the device hardware, and setting strict limits on potentially harmful substances. The regulations also need to address the synthetic components of vape devices, particularly those that can leach into the vaping liquid during use. For the vaping industry to continue growing while protecting public health, it will require a balanced approach that involves continuous scientific research, robust regulation, and responsible manufacturing practices.
Many people don’t realize that vapes contain many raw materials that undergo a chemical process during production before they reach the vaping market. Today, 90% of disposable vapes available worldwide are made in China. Meanwhile, EU regulations work to control the levels of certain materials such as nicotine in European-made vape products, and U.S. manufacturers have also gone the extra mile to develop safer vape pens.
While the journey is a long one from earth to cloud, all these raw materials work together to create a marketable e-liquid result.