Let’s dispel some of the myths and mis-information that is floating around the internet about this ingredient of electronic cigarettes. Most negative mis-information about propylene glycol stems from the confusion between the industrial grade variety and its far less concentrated pharmaceutical counterpart.
Pharmaceutical grade propylene glycol, one of the four ingredients found in electronic cigarettes along with water, nicotine and glycerol (sugar alcohol), is an organic compound in the form of a colourless liquid which has the ability to attract and hold water molecules. This hydroscopic ability allows the properties of other liquids to properly mesh together without separation. It is also a humectant, which is a substance used to keep things moist.
Propylene glycol is a useful ingredient for electronic cigarette cartridges as it helps combine the flavour and nicotine liquids while keeping them fresh and ready to be vaporised by the e-cigarette’s atomiser. Liquid propylene glycol is almost odourless with a slightly sweet taste. It has been used as a preservative in food and tobacco products for a long time, as well as being a prime ingredient of personal cosmetics and pharmaceutical care products.
It is has been declared ‘generally recognised as safe’ by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because the oral toxicity is very low, and can only cause perceptible health damage to humans via extremely large quantities absorbed over a very short space of time. It is practically impossible for a human being to achieve toxic levels by consuming foods or taking supplements which contain propylene glycol, let alone the small amounts contained in an electronic cigarette’s liquid cartridge.
Compare this to tobacco cigarettes which contain over 70 cancer-causing chemicals as well as hundreds of other poisons.
Arsenic is a good example, as it is one most of us have heard of. It’s also one of the most dangerous chemicals found in tobacco cigarettes. It’s a cancer-causer and also damages the heart and blood vessels. The form of it that appears in tobacco smoke is a much more dangerous type than that found in some sea foods, which is a form of arsenic which easily find its way out of the body. The type of arsenic found in tobacco smoke, however, collects and builds up over time, interfering with our DNA’s ability to repair itself.
The fact that arsenic alone is not present in e-cigarettes or their vapour is evidence enough that they are a healthier alternative. Also consider all the other toxic chemicals that tobacco smoke contains that are not in the vapour of an electronic cigarette. Chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide and ammonia, not to mention the teeth and finger staining tar from tobacco smoke which itself is made up of many chemicals which can cause cancer. That’s just a handful of some of the more famous ones. A quick internet search will show you websites which have listed all of the damaging chemicals found in tobacco, and it’s an eye-opener even if you thought you already knew exactly how unhealthy tobacco cigarettes were.
It’s really not difficult to see why electronic cigarettes, with its massively reduced list of ingredients, none of which threaten our health like those listed above, are considered a healthier alternative to tobacco smoking.