Safety Considerations in E Cig Juice
There have been a lot of hysterical reports about electronic cigarettes these days, and part of the reason for that it is because there’s that word “cigarette” in the product. The fact that it uses liquid nicotine and it’s becoming popular among teens has also caused alarm among parents. And most people aren’t all that aware of what’s in e cig juice (the popular term for liquid nicotine).
One news report had the headline blaring “E-Cigarette Vapor Contains Potentially Harmful Particles”, but within the news article it only mentions that one study found that 40% of the tiny particles produced by the e cig vapor reach the deepest part of the lungs. And this means that if the particles turn out to be harmful, the damage can spread through the lungs.
That same study however, did not find any toxic substances in the vapor produced by the e cigarette juice. That fact didn’t quite merit getting into the headline. Fears about electronic cigarettes make better copy, especially in light of the much publicized report that teen use of electronic cigarettes are increasing, while teen smoking is dramatically lessened in recent years.
What are the E Cig Juice Ingredients?
Another trend in electronic cigarettes is the increasing popularity of reusable vapor gadgets which can be refilled with electronic cigarette juice. This juice is easily available for purchase online, and in 2014 it’s estimated that a million or two litters of the liquid were sold to vapor enthusiasts. Customers read e cig juice reviews regarding vapor quality and flavor to pick the brand of juice they want to buy.
In an electronic cigarette, the juice is the very heart of the gadget. It’s the key in delivering the nicotine to the user. Once you heat the juice, it creates a vapor mist that you inhale deep into your lungs.
The main ingredient is propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, which acts as the base for all the other ingredients. These are FDA-approved substances, and they are the agents that create the vapor when they’re heated. The propylene glycol is responsible for the “throat hit” effect, while the vegetable glycerol produces more of the vapor. These two in combination make up about 84 to 92 percent of the juice.
The next key ingredient is the nicotine. This is the substance that makes cigarettes so addictive, and its stimulant properties are well known among smokers. However, it is not the ingredient in cigarette that causes cancer. The cancer-causing toxins in cigarettes are created when the tobacco is burned and smoke is produced.
The concentration of the nicotine varies depending on the brand. Some actually have zero nicotine, while others may offer a concentration of more than 5 percent. In most cases, the percentage of nicotine in the juice doesn’t go over 2.4 percent.
The rest of the juice is reserved for the flavoring ingredients. These substances include organic compounds, naturally occurring chemicals, extracts from plants and fruits, or food grade additives that have earned FDA approval. These are the chemicals that define the flavor of the juice.
Some of the flavors try to approximate the taste of real tobacco. Some are ice cream or candy flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, cocoa, and coffee, while other flavors resemble fruits such as cherry or strawberry. There are also other interesting flavors such as bubble gum or mint.
The Poison Potential
The real danger of the juice is when it is taken the wrong way. When it is ingested or absorbed through the skin, it is highly toxic. It can cause severe reactions that may require hospitalization, and it can even be lethal. Just a single teaspoon of even highly diluted e juice can kill a small child, and a tablespoon of it can be lethal for adults.
This can be a problem for adults who aren’t careful enough to hide the juice from children, and who are nonchalant about the dangers involved. Many of them don’t realize that the juice is toxic.
Only one death has resulted from e juice, and that was a suicide by an adult who decided to inject nicotine. But the incidents concerning the accidental poisoning of people with nicotine juice are increasing. In 2013, there were 1,351 cases of poisoning linked to the juice, and 365 of them were serious enough to warrant a visit to the hospital. One woman was poisoned when her electronic cigarette broke and spilled the juice in her bed, and she absorbed the poison through her skin
The danger is especially alarming for children. A typical incident involves a young child drinking the e juice that wasn’t secured properly. In Oklahoma January and February of 2014, 23 of the 25 cases of liquid nicotine poisoning involved children all younger than 5 years of age. In Minnesota in 2013, there were 74 cases of nicotine poisoning and 29 of them involved children age 2 years and under. In Kentucky, 60% of the cases involved children.
Dealing Safely with E Juice
While the safety of e juice vapor is certainly accepted, e juice in itself can represent a real hazard in the home. It’s for that reason that parents and adults should store these chemicals in a secure location away from children. Preferably, they should be hidden and perhaps locked away.
Adults may also want to mix or handle liquid nicotine, and during those times proper safety protocols should be observed. The liquid should not be handled when the children are around, and when mixing the juice gloves should also be worn.
In any case, you can at least breathe safely in the knowledge that inhaling the vapor produced by the juice is safe enough, and it is extremely safer than tobacco smoke. Its use is one way to effectively quit smoking. Even as a substitute for tobacco products the use of electronic cigarettes and liquid nicotine is much more preferable.
Just make sure you hide it from the little ones, and that you are really careful when you’re handling them. After all, being safer is probably one of the reasons you switched to using e cig juice in the first place.