You have decided to become healthy and kick the butt and have slowly started reducing the quantity.

You have also shifted to e-cigarettes as an aid in the transition. But ever wondered if using an e-cigarette is safe? No, then read on.

As you know, e-cigarettes are devices that turn a fluid into vapor which is then inhaled by the user. The vapor fluid, of the e-liquid, contains flavoring, and sometimes drugs of abuse like THC or nicotine.

The conventional base fluids in any vape pen are vegetable glycerin (VG) or propylene glycol(PG). Certain e-liquids contain a combination of VG and PG.

While flavorings used in vape pens are generally approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for oral consumption, there are certain ingredients whose use can result in irreversible lung damage. They are:
  • 2,3-Pentanedione (cream, caramel, or cheese flavor)
  • Acetoin (butter flavor)
  • Cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon flavor)
  • Diacetyl (butterscotch or butter flavor)
  • Vanillin (vanilla flavor)
These ingredients, while being safe for food or drinks, can cause damage when inhaled. Many flavorings have been banned due to the irreparable damage it can cause to the human body.

Vegetable Glycerin

Vegetable glycerin, or glycerol, is a brownish or colorless liquid that is sweet-tasting, odorless and found naturally in few living organisms.

Vegetable glycerin finds its use in industries like:
  • Food industry: Thickening agent, sweetener, or preservative
  • Beauty industry: Haircare products, skincare products, and soaps, among others
  • Pharmaceutical industry: Drug formulations
  • Medical sector: OTC (over-the-counter) laxative, eye moisturizer
Vegetable glycerin is safe for human consumption. Proper use of vegetable glycerin does not cause any toxicity. That said, glycerol inhalation has found to be toxic in animals.

Chemicals Found in E-Liquids

Vegetable glycerin is the base for several e-liquids, but it also contains various other ingredients. Some common chemicals found in vape fluid include nicotine, colorings, and flavorings.


Nicotine is a major component in many e-liquids. Nicotine is the primary ingredient found in tobacco and causes addiction and abuse.

Many manufacturers give wrong information when it comes to the quantity of nicotine in e-liquids. Many “nicotine-free” e-liquids have been found to some amount of nicotine.


The flavorings that are found in e-cigarettes are food-grade flavorings. Flavorings are fit for oral consumption. There is not much data that suggest that one can safely inhale flavorings.

A study suggested that inhaling flavorings can result in altered lung functions by preventing cells from healing and dividing. Diacetyl, which gives butter flavoring, causes bronchiolitis obliterans (BO).

Cinnamaldehyde is a known skin irritant and carcinogen.


Coloring used in e-cigarettes, are food-grade coloring. A widely used food coloring is titanium dioxide, which is safe for oral consumption.

Inhalation of titanium, dioxide, however, has been found to cause lung injuries in laboratory trials.

Vegetable Glycerin Side Effects

Some of the most common side effects of vegetable glycerin based e-liquid are dry mouth, increased thirst, and sore throat.

These symptoms can last from a few days to nearly a week while the body gets adjusted to vegetable glycerin. Drinking an increased quantity of liquids and water can help in addressing these symptoms.

Some of the side effects caused by vaping is also a result of the transition from traditional cigs to e-cigs. A person new to e-cigarette tends to attribute symptoms from quitting cigarettes to e-cigarette incorrectly.

So, is Vegetable Glycerin Safe?

Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer.

While vegetable glycerin is safe for oral human consumption, there are not enough studies that can state with scientific backing that vaping with vegetable glycerin is unsafe.

There are few things which have to be kept in mind about e-cigarette and e-liquid safety:

Not enough studies

Vegetable glycerin has been approved by leading FDA across the world for eating, drinking, and topical skin applications, but there has not been enough research in terms of being safe for smoking or vaping.

Unsafe for inhalation

Coloring and flavorings are food-grade; however, it does not mean that they are safe for inhalation.

As a matter of fact, FEMA - The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association has noted that there are more than 1,000 flavorings that can be potentially hazardous if inhaled.

In Conclusion

The above information clearly states that even though there are enough studies that prove that vaping glycerol is unsafe, there is no conclusive evidence to indicate it is harmful.

Be that as it may, vaping any liquid or, for that matter, smoking is a risk worth not taking.