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What is E-liquid

Published on 11/12/2017

What is E-liquid

E-liquid is the mixture used in vapour products such as electronic cigarettes. The main ingredients in the e-liquid usually are propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, and flavourings. However, there are e-liquids sold without propylene glycol, nicotine, or flavors. The liquid typically contains 95% propylene glycol and glycerin. Propylene glycol and glycerine are used to produce the vapour while the flavouring provides the taste and aroma. The flavourings may be natural or artificial. About 8,000 flavors exist as of 2014. There are many e-liquids manufacturers in the USA and worldwide. While there are currently no US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) manufacturing standards for e-liquid, the FDA has proposed regulations that were expected to be finalised in late 2015. Industry standards have been created and published by the American E-liquid Manufacturing Standards Association (AEMSA).

Aerosol (vapor) exhaled by an e-cigarette user.
Aerosol (vapour) exhaled by an e-cigarette user.

The aerosol of electronic cigarettes is generated when the e-liquid reaches a temperature of roughly 100–250 °C within a chamber. The user inhales the aerosol, commonly called vapour, rather than cigarette smoke. The aerosol provides a flavor and feel similar to tobacco smoking. In physics, a vapour is a substance in the gas phase whereas an aerosol is a suspension of tiny particles of liquid, solid or both within a gas. Vapour from an electronic cigarette simulates tobacco smoke, but the process of burning tobacco does not occur. The aerosol is made-up of liquid sub-micron particles of condensed vapour, which mostly consist of propylene glycol, glycerol, water, flavourings, nicotine, and other chemicals. The various chemicals in the aerosol give rise to many issues concerning the safety of electronic cigarettes that have been much discussed. After a puff, inhalation of the aerosol travels from the device into the mouth and lungs. A 2014 review found that the particles emitted by e-cigarettes are comparable in size and number to particles in cigarette smoke, with the majority of them in the ultra fine range. The particles are of the ultra fine size which can go deep in the lungs and then into the systemic circulation. A 2014 review said local pulmonary toxicity may occur because metal nano particles can deposit in the lungs. Others show that the quantities of metals emitted are minimal and permissible by medicinal standards.

After the aerosol is inhaled, it is exhaled. Emissions from electronic cigarettes are not comparable to environmental pollution or cigarette smoke as their nature and chemical composition are completely different. The particles are larger, with the mean size being 600 nm in inhaled aerosol and 300 nm in exhaled vapour. Bystanders are exposed to these particles from exhaled e-cigarette vapour. There is a concern that some of the mainstream vapour exhaled by e-cigarette users can be inhaled by bystanders, particularly indoors, and have significant adverse effects. Since e-cigarettes involve an aerosolisation process, it is suggested that no meaningful amounts of carbon monoxide are emitted. Thus, cardiocirculatory effects caused by carbon monoxide are not likely. E-cigarette use by an expectant parent might lead to inadvertent health risks to offspring. E-cigarettes pose many safety concerns to children. For example, indoor surfaces can accumulate nicotine where e-cigarettes were used, which may be inhaled by children, particularly youngsters, long after they were used.


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