What is in Vape Juice? (Ingredients & Health Risks)

E-cigarettes (popularly known as vapes) have helped millions of people to quit smoking. It is considered a safer alternative to smoking, where you can control your nicotine intake.

Vaping devices use e-juice that vaporizes when the coil heats up at a certain temperature and generates vapor clouds.

However, there is still a lot of misinformation about what goes into vape juice. In this blog post, we’ll take a close look at the ingredients in e-liquid and dispel some vaping myths.

E-liquid, also known as e-juice, typically contains Propylene Glycol (PG), Vegetable Glycerin (VG), Flavorings, and Nicotine.

What Ingredients are in Vape Juice?

Vape Juice Flavor

The main ingredients in vaping liquid are Propylene Glycol (PG), Vegetable Glycerin (VG), and Flavoring.

These are all considered safe chemicals used in food and cosmetics. However, some e-juices have nicotine which is an addictive chemical.

1. Propylene Glycol (PG)

Chemical Structure Of Propylene Glycol
Propylene Glycol Chemical Structure

Propylene Glycol is a clear, colorless liquid with a slightly sweet taste. Its chemical structure is CH3CH[OH]CH3OH. It’s used in food and cosmetics as a stabilizer or solvent.

In vaping, PG is responsible for the “throat hit” that mimics the sensation of smoking cigarettes. It also carries flavor better than VG.

However, some people are sensitive to PG and may experience dry mouth, throat irritation, or nausea. If you’re sensitive to PG, look for e-liquids with a higher VG ratio.

2. Vegetable Glycerin (VG)

Vegetable Glycerin, or VG, is a colorless, odorless, sweet-tasting liquid made from plant oils.

VG is thicker than PG, which gives vapes a smoother throat hit. It also produces more vapor than PG, making it ideal for cloud chasers.

However, VG can cause gunking and leaking in some vaping devices. It’s also more viscous than PG, making it harder to mix with flavorings.

3. Nicotine

Nicotine is an addictive chemical found in tobacco plants. It’s responsible for the “rush” that smokers crave and is the main reason people become addicted to cigarettes.

Nicotine can be harmful to your health if you’re not careful. It can increase your heart rate and blood pressure and contribute to heart disease.

If you’re looking for an e-juice with no nicotine, look for juices labeled “nicotine free.”

4. Flavorings

Flavorings are chemicals used to give e-juices their taste and smell. They can be natural or artificial.

Most natural flavorings are safe to consume, but some have been linked to health problems like respiratory diseases.

Diacetyl, for example, is a chemical used to give buttery flavors their taste. It’s been linked to lung disease.

Is Vape Juice Safe?

E-Cigarettes Risks
Credit: Cancer Research UK

Vape juices are not safe completely, but it’s much less harmful than tobacco smoking. In tobacco, more than 700 harmful chemicals are found.

While vape juice contains Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerin (VG) as the main ingredients.

U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognized Propylene Glycol as safe when consumed under the limit.

However, the FDA considers an average daily dietary intake of 23 mg/kg of body weight safe for persons 5 to 65 years of age.

Similarly, Vegetable Glycerin (VG) is a safe ingredient in e-juices. However, some people may have allergic reactions, headaches, nausea, thirst, and stomach upset.

Vape Juices also contain nicotine (it’s optional) and flavoring additionally. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical that can be dangerous in overdose.

What are Harmful Ingredients in Vape Juice?

Vaping Dangers

Anything overdose is harmful and can cause long-term adverse effects. So, excessive intake of VG and PG is also unsafe in the long term.

But, nicotine is the prime concern for health risks. It’s a highly addictive substance found in tobacco leaves.

Overdose of nicotine can kill you. So, it’s better to use nicotine-free e-liquids for vaping. You can also use low-strength vape juices to fulfill your daily nicotine need and decrease the intake gradually.

Is Vaping Safe Without Nicotine?

Generally, vaping without nicotine is considered safe because there is no other harmful chemical in vape juices.

However, some research found that vaping is not completely safe in the long run, even without nicotine.

If you’re not a tobacco smoker, it’s better to avoid vaping as well. But, you can take a few puffs with premium nicotine-free juices that don’t affect much.

Why Does Vape Juice Make Me Cough?

Coughing when Vaping

The main reason is the Propylene Glycol (PG) in vape juices. It’s a thinning agent and carries flavor but is also an irritant.

When you first start vaping, your body isn’t used to the PG. This can cause coughing and throat irritation.

You can try switching to a juice with a higher VG ratio or use a distilled water solution to dilute the PG in your juice.

Coughing from vaping is also caused by taking too big of a hit or inhaling too deeply.

Start with small puffs and work your way up to bigger ones. Don’t hold the vapor in your lungs for too long.

Sometimes, flavoring agents also make you cough while vaping. You can also try switching to a menthol-flavored juice or using a cough drop to help with the cough.

Menthol soothes the throat and helps with congestion. Cough drops can also help relieve coughing and throat irritation.


Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerin (VG) are the main ingredients of vape juices. However, vapers add nicotine to vape juices when they are quitting smoking. This fulfills the daily nicotine need.

Many vaping brands claim that e-cigarettes are safe without nicotine, but that’s not the reality. Some research found that it has ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs, which may cause lung diseases.

Hemok was an active tobacco smoker two years back. I used to smoke 12-15 packs of cigarettes every day before shifting to E-Cigarettes. I'll share my vaping journey with readers.

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