We believe in being completely transparent when it comes to vaping. When there’s a new issue in the news, we take the time to research the topic ourselves before giving you an informed and unbiased opinion. We still see a lot of the same questions crop up however so we decided to create a comprehensive guide to the positives and negatives of vaping, and what to expect if you’re switching from cigarettes to vaping for the first time.
Vaping Illnesses and Diseases
I’m sure every vaper saw the news from America regarding the ‘new’ Mystery Vaping Illness that sadly claimed the lives of several people. Unfortunately, the media outlets (especially in the USA) are very quick to condemn vaping and seem to print sensationalised news reports before all the facts have been obtained.
In this instance, people were purchasing black market (home-made) E Liquids which contained THC (the active ingredient in Cannabis that gets you ‘high’) and a chemical compound called Vitamin E Acetate. Vitamin E Acetate should not be ingested in this way and has been proven to be the cause of the “Mystery Vaping Disease”.
How do you avoid this Mystery Vaping Illness? Ensure you only purchase your E Liquids from a reputable manufacturer in the UK/EU. We’re bound by regulations that require us to make our E Liquids to the same standard as any commercially available food product.
Popcorn Lung Vaping Myth
Ok, maybe “myth” is a strong term, but it certainly isn’t true that vaping is the cause. Popcorn Lung is a real condition called ‘Bronchiolitis Obliterans’ which damages the smallest airways in the lungs and causes shortness of breath and coughing.
It gets the name “popcorn lung” because 8 workers from a popcorn factory developed the disease in 2001 after breathing in large amounts of the chemical Diacetyl (which is an artificial flavouring for butter). Diacetyl is commonly used in food as an additive and became a popular choice for ‘bakery’ flavoured E Liquid in the USA. The story of the popcorn factory workers prompted a small study in 2016 which reported that out of the 51 E Liquid flavours they tested in the USA, 39 contained Diacetyl.
Diacetyl was then cited as causing Popcorn Lung in vapers, but no actual testing was done to see if the small quantities of Diacetyl in E Liquid were enough to cause Popcorn Lung, or even what percentage of vapers had the illness compared to the non vaping majority.
Is Diacetyl Still Used in E Liquids?
TPD regulations in the UK and EU ban the production of E Liquids that contain Diacetyl just to be safe, so there are no E Liquids sold in the UK/EU which contain the chemical which supposedly causes the “Popcorn Lung” disease. Vapers on this side of the pond have no reason to worry at all.
This information is backed up by Cancer Research UK and the American FDA’s official findings which state that of all the vaping related illnesses they’ve studied, the E Liquids which caused the issues contained either Vitamin E Acetate or Polyethylene Glycol (instead of the usual Propylene Glycol). Neither of which are used in the production of E Liquids in the UK/EU.
Are PG and VG Safe to vape?
PG is used to deliver flavour and add a small ‘throat hit’ to mimic a hit of a cigarette.
Propylene Glycol is completely safe. It has a lot of uses, but it’s mainly used as a delivery agent in asthma inhalers. The PG holds the medicine in place as it’s inhaled, which ‘delivers’ it to the lungs. This has been the practice for over 50 years so we know for sure it’s totally safe to inhale. PG is a well known, highly used synthetic substance which is water-soluble, non-toxic and easily metabolised.
VG is used to thicken E Liquid and deliver larger clouds of vapour.
Vegetable Glycerine is a naturally sweet compound derived from vegetable fats. It’s most commonly used in cosmetics, pharmaceutical drugs and food products. Although approved for these uses, the question remained if VG was safe to inhale. A study in 2017 found “ no clear effects on the measured endpoints in the respiratory system” from inhaling VG or PG, meaning there was no change to the lungs after inhaling the main ingredients in E Liquid.
Both VG and PG are approved as safe additive substances the world over. To date, there has been no negative effects on health reported from using VG or PG in E Liquids.
Are The Flavourings in E Liquid Safe?
As stated previously, the concerns around the “Mystery Vaping Illness” and “Popcorn Lung” came from additives found in some specific E Liquid flavours. This has led to a lot of misinformation online and in the press, especially in the USA. The media have begun blaming any flavoured E Liquid for these illnesses, even though it’s been proven the ingredients which cause these illnesses are not found in any legal E Liquids.
E Liquids contain food grade flavourings. These are flavourings that have been rigorously tested to ensure they have no negative health effects when ingested. If you purchase your E Liquids from a reputable manufacturer in the EU, they will have to follow TPD guidelines. This means you can rest assured that your E Liquid flavourings have been approved by all the governing bodies that approved them for general consumption.
Nicotine Facts – Is Nicotine Safe?
Nicotine is an addictive substance derived from Tobacco leaves. A lot of people ask “is nicotine bad for you in vapes?” and the answer is pretty simply, no. Nicotine found inside an E Liquid is no more dangerous than the nicotine found in tobacco (which isn’t dangerous at all, it’s all the other chemicals that you need to worry about). Nicotine comes with a warning because it’s an addictive substance. Your body will get used to having it in your system and if you stop using it, you will begin to feel withdrawal effects. The more nicotine you use, the more intense the withdrawal could be.
From a toxicological standpoint, nicotine is as safe to consume as coffee. It causes mild side effects such as an increased heart rate and sometimes an increase in blood pressure (like coffee), which can cause dizziness and lightheadedness. Nicotine does not cause cancer and has not been linked to any illness or disease (besides nicotine poisoning of course, but we’ll speak about that below).
As with everything in life, moderation is key. The worst effects you’ll experience from nicotine while vaping is either a nicotine rush (a sudden rush of adrenaline causing dizziness), or the usual side effects from intaking too much nicotine at once (such as nausea and headaches).
What is Nicotine Poisoning?
Nicotine Poisoning is simply the term for when your body has ingested too much nicotine and you feel unwell. The effects of this range from mild to moderate, but it’s extremely rare for Nicotine Poisoning to be serious. Don’t be worried if you think you’ve ingested too much nicotine, the effects are unpleasant but they will pass on their own in time.
The side effects may include nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, coughing and pale skin. If you experience these effects when using nicotine, simply stop using it for a while until the symptoms pass, then consider using a lower nicotine dosage going forward.
Can a Nicotine Overdose be Lethal?
Well…Yes, but so could coffee in extremely large (and impossible to consume) amounts. The original estimate for a lethal dose of nicotine was thought to be 60mg (about 30 cigarettes). The book which details the research performed to attain this figure was compiled by renowned pharmacologist Rudolf Kober over 100 years ago. Kober did not perform any tests or experiments on humans himself however and based his findings primarily on the self-experimentation of other toxicologists… from way back in 1856. Because Kober was a famous toxicologist, everyone kind of just took his word for it and it became the standard figure.
This was widely accepted without challenge until 2013 when it came to light people had survived nicotine doses much higher than the aforementioned 60mg. The latest estimates suggest you would need to ingest between 500mg and 1000mg of nicotine for it to be fatal to an adult. That’s the equivalent of around 250 to 500 cigarettes. As you can probably tell, that’s pretty much an impossible task for even the most prolific smoker. “But vapes have batteries and produce big clouds” I hear you say. This is true. So is it possible to reach these kinds of nicotine levels with vaping?
No. Not even close. But let’s take a look at the numbers and see for ourselves.
How Much Would You Need To Vape?
The strongest E Liquid you can buy is 20mg which is sold in a 10ml bottle. This isn’t pure nicotine, it’s mixed with PG and VG which make up 98% of the E Liquid’s total volume. This means the nicotine content of a 20mg E Liquid is only 2% by volume (or 0.2ml). Since the largest vape tank allowed has a 2ml capacity, the nicotine content of a filled tank drops to 0.04ml (which is 2% of the total volume of the E Liquid in the tank).
Phew… Okay. Still with me? Good.
Now considering you get between 150 and 250 ‘hits’ from a full tank, your maximum nicotine intake would be roughly 0.13mg to 0.08mg per hit. This means to reach the minimum level of 500mg of nicotine, while vaping the maximum strength E Liquid, you would need to take a full hit on your vape 3,846 times to get enough nicotine into your bloodstream to prove fatal (even when calculating at the lowest possible estimate).
What is Vapers Tongue?
Vaper’s Tongue is a condition where a vaper suddenly cannot taste their E Liquid, and they sometimes experience a dry mouth or a ‘furry’ tongue sensation. This phenomenon is synonymous with new and veteran vapers alike and is actually easy to explain.
Like with most of our senses, when you become used to a stimulant your body stops noticing it as much. This works the same way with perfume for example. When you first apply the perfume you can smell it in all its glory but after time, your nose becomes used to the smell and you stop noticing it. The solution? Change your perfume, or wait a while before putting more on.
The same applies with your E Liquid. Change your E Liquid flavour for at least a day and when your taste buds have ‘forgotten’ the previous flavour, you should be able to taste it again.
The dry mouth and furry tongue however will only go away if you stop vaping for a while. This is simply caused by the act of inhaling. By drawing the vapour and air over your tongue repeatedly, it will naturally dry out the inside of your mouth. This is temporary and will usually go away within a couple of hours.
Everything Else You Might Want to Know!
The remaining questions don’t need as much explanation so if you have a question not covered above, have a look below!