What Is In your Favourite E-liquid?

Posted by Peter Nelson on

Have you ever wondered how e-liquid is made or what goes into it? In this blog I am going to explain what ingredients go into your favourite e-liquid and why. Just as importantly I will explain how safe or harmful they might be and what to avoid.

Its actually quite easy to find out what ingredients are in e-liquid. Here in the UK they are listed on the bottles by law, the same applies to the EU and will soon be law in the US. The problem is a lot of the ingredients are chemical names that we do not understand, similar to food ingredients on the side of jars and cans.

This confusion over what is  the bottle of e-liquid leads to a lot of scare stories, the favourite one being that there is anti-freeze in e-liquid, there isn't!!

There are four main components go into making e-liquid and, if you are familiar with these, it will make it easier to spot any "odd" ingredients, so here is what should be in your e-liquid:

Vegetable Glycerine (VG)

This liquid has been used in e-liquids for some time now though was not originally used. It can only be used in modern atomisers as it is a thick liquid and will clog up older atomisers or indeed some modern, but cheap, atomisers. Your e-liquid can contain up to 80% VG. If you ever wondered what produces huge clouds form your e-cigarette, VG is the reason for this. Before VG came along all you would get is a little whisp of vapour from your e-cigarette.

It is a natural substance that can be processed from most types of fat. The Glycerine used in e-liquids comes from vegetable oils.The important thing about VG though, is that it isn't and oil, even though it is processed from oil, it is in fact an alcohol which makes it safe to inhale.

Propylene Glycol (PG)

This liquid has been used in e-liquid manufacture from the beginning. Most of what is left after VG is added is made up of PG. Some e-liquids will have a higher PG content, these e-liquids can be used in older or the less expensive Clearomizer. This is because PG is more viscous than VG. Like VG, PG is also an alcohol so is safe to inhale. PG is almost odourless and has a very faint sweetness to it. It is also added to foods and medicines so is safe to consume, not that you could drink it concentrate for mind. 

PG is also used in anti-freeze. This is where the rumours started that e-liquid contains anti-freeze, this is totally incorrect. E-liquid does NOT contain anti-freeze. In fact PG is put into anti-freeze to make it safer for pets and children. It is there because it is non-toxic. Just because an ingredient is used in a product that is deemed dangerous, does not mean the ingredient is dangerous, after all water is also used in anti-freeze.

It is true that there are some minor health concerns around PG. This liquid has been studied since the 1940s and is regarded as safe. Swallowing it or inhaling it wont do you any harm, some people though are sensitive to it. The advice is if you feel any ill effects after inhaling a high PG e-liquid switch to a high VG e-liquid instead.

PG produces less vapour than VG so is not popular with cloud chasers, but is favoured by people who want to vape discreetly. PG also provides enhanced flavour so e-liquids taste better with more PG in them.


One of the great things about e-cigarettes is the vast amount of flavours available, from tobacco to custard, from strawberry cheesecake to lemon tart, there is something for everyone. E-liquid containing PG and/or VG has little or no taste on it s own so food grade flavouring is added to enhance the flavour. 

If there are any health concerns regarding the use of e-liquids it is largely down to the flavourings. There are some ingredients that are safe to eat but not inhale, Diacetyl for example (now banned in UK). With the new TPD regulations you can be assured that the flavourings in e-liquid have been tested and are deemed safe to inhale. If you stick to regulated e-liquids you can vape with confidence.


Most e-liquids contain Nicotine, you can get some that have 0% in, this is what makes vaping such and effective substitute for smoking. You can satisfy your Nicotine cravings without inhaling all the bad stuff that is in cigarettes. Nicotine e-liquids also give you the throat hit that is common with cigarettes, so if that is important to you then start off with higher Nicotine e-liquids.

Although it gets bad publicity. Nicotine itself is harmless to the human body in the doses you get from cigarettes or e-liquids, and long before you get to any kind of dangerous levels you would get light headed and nauseous, vapers and smokers know exactly how much Nicotine they need. 

And that's it, if you stick to these four ingredients you can vape with the comfort of knowing that what you are inhaling is as safe as it can be. As long as you don't add or buy e-liquids that contain other ingredients such as vitamins or caffeine, or any other ingredient that has not been tested for safe inhalation you will be ok.




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