Chemicals to Avoid in E-Liquids

E-cigarettes and the liquids used in them are extremely popular. While most e-liquid manufacturers provide a list of their products’ ingredients to the FDA, many others do not.

This means that some e-liquids can still contain harmful chemicals that can eventually damage your lungs. A few of the most common chemicals are well known and widely used in the food industry. Others are used in a variety of industrial products.


Nicotine is a well known ingredient in cigarettes. E-cigs were actually developed to help people stop smoking and reduce their dependence on nicotine gradually.

Most e-liquids are custom-made, this means the nicotine is added when the liquid is being mixed. While commercially manufactured e-liquids have specific amounts of nicotine, custom-made e-liquids can contain unusually high levels of nicotine that may be dangerous. It’s best to be careful and purchase your vape juice from a trusted U.S.-based company, rather than from overseas.


Many of the chemicals found in e-liquids are included to enhance or improve the flavor. Two of the most common chemical flavorings used are Diacetyl and Acetyl Propionyl.

Both have a flavor similar to that of butter and can be found in many foods, including caramel and popcorn flavorings. They also react in much the same way once inside the lungs. They can damage and, with excessive use, destroy the tiny airways inside the lungs. Prolonged use of these kinds of chemicals can lead to what is known as “popcorn lung”.

One thing to remember when looking at ingredients, is that just because the FDA says something is safe to consume as a food, it doesn’t mean it is safe to be inhaled into the lungs.

Miscellaneous Chemicals

Studies have proven that e-liquids contain a variety of chemicals. Many are harmless, but a few have the potential to be dangerous if ingested in large amounts. A few of the most common chemicals found in e-liquids include the following:

  • Benzene – Often found in gasoline and pesticides, it is considered to be a carcinogen, no matter what route. It may cause damage to the red blood cells and has been proven to cause reproductive side effects in women.
  • Diethylene Glycol – Commonly found in anti-freeze, it is known to cause intense eye irritation and may be the cause of fetal abnormalities in pregnant women.
  • Isoprene – Isoprene is a primary component in rubber and products made from rubber materials. Studies have shown that it is possibly carcinogenic, depending on the level of exposure.
  • Phenol – Also referred to as carbolic acid, phenol as used as a disinfectant and antiseptic cleanser. It can cause irritation to the eyes, mucus membranes and lining of the throat.
  • Proponal – An alcohol isomer that is used as an industrial solvent.

Before you purchase an e-liquid, request a copy of the ingredients contained its formula. Identifying potentially harmful chemicals is important if you want to reduce your risk of exposure and protect your health.