E-liquid, also known as liquid nicotine or e-juice, is the liquid vaporised within an e-cigarette. There are many different liquids available on the market, all with varying flavours, strength and quality. Knowing exactly what they are can help distinguish between them, and how they will affect you vaporising experience.
E-liquids can normally be bought in one of two forms. These are in a bottle, used to refill a liquid chamber, or as a prefilled cartridge, that is disposed of after it runs out. Refill bottles work out cheaper in the long run, as you will normally be able to get many more smokes out of this than from a refill cartridge. Also, disposable prefilled cartridges tend to be the less green of the two options, as they need to be replaced much often, creating waste.
An e-liquid is made up of three basic components. These are the nicotine, the flavouring and the diluent/carrier.
Nicotine is the main ingredient of any tobacco cigarette, and it‘s largely the main reason most people smoke. It acts as a stimulant, inducing feelings of alertness and relaxation at the same time. The ability of an e-cigarette to deliver this kick without any of the tar, or other toxins associated with smoking tobacco is its largest draw, although it is possible to find e-liquids without nicotine in now, purely for the flavour.
The strength of an e-liquid can vary greatly to suit the needs of the individual. E-liquids can have any amount of nicotine in them and it varies from shop to shop. Most e-liquids denote their nicotine content in mg. For example, if an e-liquid has a strength of 18mg, it means it has 18mg of nicotine in it per 1ml of liquid. The amount of Nicotine in the liquid is commonly divided into three groups: light, medium and strong.
As there is no need for tobacco to be present, and nicotine does not have a taste itself, it allows manufacturers to add in any flavour they desire. It is of course possible to get tobacco flavoured e-liquids, for those who love the taste; but it is also possible to get a myriad of other delightful and intriguing flavours, enhancing the experience as a whole.
This component of the e-liquid is used for two purposes. Firstly, it is used to dilute the solution to the point that the other two components are at the correct strength. Secondly, it is this component that is vaporised, acting as the carrier for the flavour and nicotine into the mouth and lungs. There are three main types of diluents used, these are:
Propylene Glycol – Propylene glycol is a pharmaceutical grade food additive that is also used in asthma inhalers. It is safe to use and is classified as a GRSS (generally recognised safe substance) by the Federal Drug Administration of the US. It is the glycol in e-liquids that produce the “throat hit”.
Vegetable Glycerine – Vegetable glycerine is another food additive that is often used in addition to propylene glycol to make e-liquids. It adds a little sweetness to it as well as improving the quality of the vapour.
Aqueous Glycerine – Aqueous glycerine is a much rarer carrier and is not used very often. It is a very high grade pharmaceutical ingredient that has been diluted with de-ionised water.
While many companies may have the same flavourings of e-liquid, their quality can vary greatly. This can be in terms of both nicotine and flavouring content, causing some e-liquids to taste better or worse than others of the same flavour. A good example of a brand that has struck a great balance with its ingredients is Stigx. Their e-liquids are made using high quality pharmaceutical ingredients and are very nicely flavoured.
It is worth being wary of any company that has diacetyl in their liquid nicotine. Whilst diacetyl is perfectly safe to consume (it is used as flavouring for popcorn), it can be very dangerous inhale over long periods of time.