The effects of vaporised nicotine in electronic cigarettes

Nicotine vapourised in e-cigs: effects

Modified on: 07/06/2022

Liquid nicotine: what is it, what are the health risks and what is the medical opinion on e-cigs?

Since the first studies on the harmful effects of smoking were published in the 1950s, people have opened their eyes and become more interested in protecting their health.

The dangers of tobacco are now well established, and the damage caused by ‘blondes’ is even described on cigarette packets. But on the other hand, vaping devices are still at the centre of a great debate about their health effects, and liquid nicotine, in particular, is a product about which people have many questions.

For many, it is unclear whether it has the same contraindications as tobacco nicotine or whether it is more harmful to health.

In this article, we explain what liquid nicotine is, how it is produced, and its effects on the human body.

Liquid nicotine has a different chemical structure to that contained in the tobacco plant

What is liquid nicotine?

Liquids for electronic cigarettes contain a different type of nicotine than that found in the tobacco plant. The natural form of this molecule has a low bioavailability, i.e. our bodies can only absorb a small amount of the dose actually taken. For this reason, the nicotine in e-liquids first undergoes a chemical process called ‘de-protonation’, which improves the effectiveness of the substance by increasing its bioavailability.

To obtain an e-cigarette liquid, nicotine is mixed with propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine and a concentrated flavouring.

Propylene glycol is a molecule also used as a food additive and can improve taste perception and reduce dryness of the mouth when vaping. On the other hand, Vegetable glycerine is used to increase the density and quantity of vapour produced by an electronic cigarette.

Read also: Disposing of cigarette butts: How long do they take to decompose?

Liquid nicotine: Are there any health risks?

Liquid nicotine has the same effects as the nicotine contained in traditional cigarettes:

  • increased blood pressure and heart rate;
  • decreased hunger;
  • improved concentration;
  • acceleration of metabolism.

However, it should be remembered that nicotine is very toxic when taken in large quantities and can also enter the body through the skin. The lethal dose for an adult is approximately 50 to 60 mg or the equivalent of two packets of cigarettes.

Typical symptoms of nicotine poisoning include burning in the mouth and throat, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, weakness, mental confusion, headaches, impaired vision, breathlessness, convulsions and even cardiac arrest.

Ready-made liquids for DTL (i.e. ‘lung’) e-cigs contain a rather low concentration of nicotine, rarely exceeding 4 mg/ml. However, liquids for MTL (‘cheek’) devices can also exceed 12 mg/ml, and a single 10 ml bottle can contain more than 120 mg of nicotine. For this reason, these products should be used with caution and kept out of the reach of children who might accidentally swallow them.

If you make your own liquids at home, you should also pay attention to nicotine bases, which usually have a 20 mg/ml active ingredient concentration. These products should be handled with care, using gloves to avoid direct contact with the liquid. Just 3 ml of the base is enough to reach the lethal dose of nicotine for an adult.

Medical research on the electronic cigarette

What medicine says about electronic cigarettes

Liquid nicotine is a health hazard to the same extent as nicotine in traditional cigarettes. As we have seen, it is a highly toxic substance, but it is not carcinogenic and is much less harmful than the many poisons contained in smoking ‘blondes’.

The main contributor to the harmfulness of traditional cigarettes is the combustion of tobacco, a chemical process that releases numerous toxic molecules that increase the risk of cancer.

According to several scientific studies, since the devices used by vapers do not produce these harmful substances, vaping is less dangerous than smoking. In addition, studies conducted by King’s College London have shown that e-cigarettes have been the most popular way for British people to quit smoking, and the UK government seems keen to promote their use as an aid in the fight against tobacco.

Read also: Buying electronic cigarette liquids abroad: is it a good idea?

In conclusion

We have explained what liquid nicotine is, how it is produced, and its effects on health. There are no particular differences with the nicotine contained in traditional cigarettes, as we have explained.

In both cases, the effects on the human body are the same, and the same applies to the risks of long-term nicotine consumption.

The big difference between e-cigarettes and ‘blondes’ is the absence of combustion that characterises vaping devices. Thanks to this feature, vapers run fewer health risks than smokers, as several scientific studies seem to confirm.

If you have decided to give up traditional cigarettes in favour of e-cigs and are looking for quality products to relax and enjoy your vaping sessions, Terpy is the shop for you. You will find a wide range of electronic devices and liquids for all tastes on our website.

What are you waiting for? Start shopping on!