One of the most common questions that smokers interested in electronic cigarettes ask is, “what are the agents used as e-liquid and e-cigarette ingredients?” Many electronic cigarette companies are very forthcoming about the ingredients their e-cigarettes contain, and I’d like to explain in layman’s terms what these ingredients are and how they contribute to the flavor of an e-cigarette. This list appears courtesy of The Safe Cig, and these ingredients are present in the company’s Traditional, Classic and Menthol e-cigarettes.
Nicotine: Nicotine is the ingredient that gives tobacco its addictive quality. It is the most dangerous ingredient in e-cigarettes and is known to have effects on the cardiovascular system and blood glucose levels. A person who is not already a smoker should never try e-cigarettes, and e-cigarettes are not approved as a method for quitting smoking. However, smokers who wish to eliminate nicotine while continuing to have an experience similar to smoking can purchase e-cigarettes without nicotine.
Propylene glycol: Propylene glycol is among the e-cigarette ingredients that you will typically find in the highest quantity. It is commonly added to foods because it allows ingredients to emulsify easily and carries flavors readily. Propylene glycol also turns to vapor easily, creating a vapor that is white in color. While plain water vapor is almost clear, propylene glycol vapor looks very similar to smoke.
Glycerol: Glycerol — or glycerin — is created when vegetable fat is used to create soap via saponification. Like propylene glycol, it is commonly found in goods as an emulsifier. Glycerol may also be used as a thickening agent in some cases, such as in e-liquids. Many e-liquids contain a mix of approximately 80 percent propylene glycol and 20 percent glycerol. The Propylene glycol carries the flavor, and the glycerol thickens the vapor to produce a fuller feel in the mouth and lungs. Some e-liquid ingredient lists do not contain propylene glycol at all, as some electronic cigarette users prefer e-liquids based entirely on vegetable glycerin.
Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract is created by boiling vanilla beans in a mixture of alcohol and/or water. When used with other e-cigarette ingredients, vanilla extract lends a character to the vapor that is reminiscent of tobacco.
Malic Acid: Malic acid gives fruit its tart flavor. You can find it in large quantities in foods such as apple juice, wine and tart candies. As an e-liquid ingredient, malic acid adds to the complexity of an electronic cigarette’s vapor.
Linalool: Linalool is a terpine that lends a slightly herbal flavor and aroma to e-cigarette vapor. Some of the plants that contain high concentrations of linalool include coriander, cinnamon and bay laurel.
Menthol: Menthol is an extract of the peppermint plant. Because menthol feels cool when it touches the skin and mucous membranes, it is a common additive in cigarettes to reduce irritation from the inhaling of smoke. Likewise, it is commonly used among e-cigarette ingredients even in flavors not specifically labeled “Menthol” because it adds a slight coolness to the vapor.
Beta-damascenone: This ingredient is commonly found in perfume, because it is one of the key components of the scent of roses. When a very minute amount is used as an e-liquid ingredient, it perfumes the scent of the vapor slightly.
Acetyl pyrazine: This ingredient is found in graham crackers. It contributes flavor notes of yeast, bread, nuts and butter to the vapor created by an e-cigarette.
Tabanone: Tabanone is a flavor component of chocolate and tobacco. It imparts a rich flavor and is commonly used as a food additive.
Ethyl Acetate: Ethyl acetate is commonly added in small amounts to perfumes and candies. It has a sweet scent that resembles pears.
Ethyl Maltol: Ethyl maltol is one of the e-cigarette ingredients that imparts a sweet, malty flavor to vapor. It is commonly used to flavor sweet baked goods.
2,3,5,6-tetramethylpyrazine: This ingredient is an alkylpyrazine that occurs naturally when food browns during cooking. You can find it in coffee and wine, and it is the chemical that gives freshly baked bread its distinctive scent.
2-hydroxy-3-methylcyclopent-2-en-1-one: This ingredient has a scent reminiscent of honeysuckle and is commonly found in perfumes.
2-acetylpyridine: This substance is one of the e-cigarette ingredients imparts a scent similar to popcorn. Used in trace amounts, it adds flavor notes reminiscent of coffee, bread and roasted nuts to an e-liquid.
4-(2,6,6-trimethylcyclohex-1-ene-1-yl)-but-3-ene-2-one: This ingredient is found in the oil extracted from roses. It gives e-cigarette vapor a pleasant smell.
L-menthan-3-one: This flavor is created from the oil of a plant called the Sandfly Zieria, which is native to Australia.