What is Vape Liquid Actually Made From?
The true makeup of Vape Juice or Vape Liquid is something not everybody is entirely certain on. Many people have questions about what the actual liquid is comprised of, what is the necessity of each component, etc. There are also a number of misconceptions in the public, such as some people believing that vape juice is made from oil, or even water.
Any vape liquids that contain oil or water would be unsafe to vape, as vaporizing and inhaling water into your lungs can result in pneumonia, and vaping certain oils can result in damage to the lungs.
Premium vape liquids are made from two primary elements: Vegetable Glycerin, and Propylene Glycol. Commonly, premixed juices will come in a 70% Vegetable Glycerin (VG) and 30% Propylene Glycol (PG) ratio, but some juices will go down to as low as a 50/50 ratio.
Vegetable Glycerin, also known as Glycol or simply Glycerin, is a thick viscous liquid compound with a slightly sweet flavour - it is often used as a food additive to provide sweetness. This substance is useful for creating vape liquids because of its thickness and ability to absorb and hold on to flavours. Sweet liquids often have a high VG ratio because of the natural sweetness that the compound possesses. Interestingly, but not really surprisingly, Vegetable Glycerin is the primary active component in the fuel used by smoke machines to generate smoke. It is also used on film sets to create fake prop water that doesn’t evaporate.
Propylene Glycol is an organic compound that has more of a water-like consistency - it is thinner than Vegetable Glycerin, and does not have as much natural sweetness. For this reason, many non-sweet liquids such as tobacco flavours will use a high PG ratio, as to not confuse the flavour of the liquid. Though this varies on different accounts, many people suggest that higher PG liquids provide a stronger throat hit to the vaper, giving the vape a more cigarette-style experience.
Both of these compounds are more or less flavourless, which makes for the perfect blank canvas for flavouring. Flavourings used in reputable premium vape liquids are FDA approved food safe flavourings - the same ones that you find in foods such as candy. For this reason, as a side note, it can be a good point of reference to imagine the closest-sounding candy you’ve tried to a vape juice you’re considering buying as an indication of its flavour.
There are a few prominent e-liquid flavouring brands to note - FlavourArt, FlavorWest, The Flavour Apprentice, Inawera, etc - most of these companies are based throughout Europe and the USA, but there are some noteworthy flavours that come out of Malaysia and other Asian countries. Juices are generally left to ‘steep’ for a period of time, preferably in a dark place, after having flavourings added. As a general rule, the longer a juice is left, the better the flavour will be when it is vaped. This is especially true for dessert flavours such as cakes, cookies or custards.
Some people have expressed concern about the fact that artificial flavourings are used for vape liquids - it seems at first thought that it would be safer to use natural flavourings, but in fact it is much easier for scientists and researchers to understand what happens to an artificial compound at different temperatures, and they act more consistently under different circumstances, meaning it is actually safer to use artificial flavours for this purpose considering how they are much easier to control and predict.
Vape Liquid manufacturers normally incorporate a number of flavourings from a number of brands to create a unique blend that sets them apart from their competitors. Some companies even bring in professional chefs and people from the food industry to help them develop the perfect flavour profile for their juice.
But really, that’s all there is to it - VG, PG, and food-safe flavourings.