STEM Tuesday: e-cig anyone?

Sure, an e-cigarette can spare you the tar deposits in your lungs.  But exactly what are you putting in your body besides secret ingredients like Unicorn Milk?

E-cigs don’t come under a food or a drug, although FDA is trying to get jurisdiction over them.  That means pretty much anything goes. Lots of people think it’s no worse than breathing deeply over a boiling water with a little fruit flavored Vicks Vapor Rub added.  It is called vaping after all.

Here’s a list of common ingredients.  You be the judge.

Water is a key ingredient in the “vape juices.” The flavoring is the secret ingredient, mostly food grade concoctions. Some of these have interesting names like Unicorn Mil, Krispy Krack Doughnut, Pony on Acid. These are considered safe when eaten, but no one really knows what effect they have when inhaled.  Most people don’t inhale food on purpose.

Vegetable glycerine acts as a preservative or texture enhancer.  This is also a common ingredient in skin lotions. Some people think it’s what gives a pea-soup “smoke” upon exhalation. A smoker friend of mine told me he thought that curl of smoke wafting toward the sky was the most difficult thing to give up when he quit.

Propylene Glycol. Yup, antifreeze.  Not the deadly stuff, this is the food-safe kind.  In small doses, it’s safe for consumption.  However it can cause allergies to act up, and can cause eye and airway irritation.

Nicotine. This is the part that’s addictive, and why smokers are switching to e-cigs. The tiny particulates inhaled are pretty safe except for kids and babies. In liquid form, even a tiny amount either eaten or on the skin can cause vomiting, seizures, and even death.

Formaldehyde. It’s a byproduct of the heated propylene glycol.  It’s a carcinogen, and it can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat.

The CDC suggests limiting the sales and marketing.  FDA wants to regulate them as a drug delivery device.

Are you a Vaper?  What do you think of e-cigs?


English: Electronic Cigarette C, D, E-Class.
English: Electronic Cigarette C, D, E-Class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)