Vape juice, or e juice as it is often called, isn’t really juice at all. People aren’t meant to drink it, yet it is a consumable product. Consumers must, then, be protected by standards in the making of e liquid; something like those regulations that direct companies producing fruit juice and processed food.
Should those regulations be exactly the same for e liquid? And if an e juice firm is able to prove they meet the strict codes of hygienic, safe production, should they be able to continue operating? These are some questions the FDA has in mind. Can they treat e liquid the way they regard fruit juice?
Dangers of Vaping
It is unclear, as yet, whether e juice is safe but it is certainly safer than a cigarette. Most consumers who don’t smoke have no concept of the contrast between vapor and cigarette smoke.
But when they see it, there’s no way to deny the positives of vaping, at least for a pair of lungs that has been assaulted by tar, ash, and formaldehyde for years. Yet dangers remain, especially relating to nicotine.
Should e juice be treated as a stimulant, the way coffee is? The great thing about coffee is that kids don’t like the look, taste, or smell of it. Brown stuff isn’t appealing, but bright yellow or blue “juice” is.
If a child were to ingest a small amount of nicotine, he might become sick, but consume enough of it and he could die. The e juice industry is responding, however; vapers usually find their bottles come with childproof caps and are covered in warnings.
This factor might not add anything to the manufacturing of e juice that isn’t already in place for making processed cheese but packaging standards and methods and also labelling have to be different.
This is a big problem in the e juice business: consistent methods established and complied with by all companies. Right now, some firms do things one way and others follow a different protocol.
There are businesses mixing bespoke e juice in a back room without the proper equipment or safety gear. Consumers don’t even know if their ingredients are sourced in the USA or follow USP standards.
It would be beneficial to the industry if the FDA could lay out guidelines that everyone can follow, although insiders fear that these directives could be too strict and that many companies will close their doors as a result of government rigidity.
The field of e juice blending (known as vapology) started with Chinese e liquids made by Hangsen and others, but the field is not dominated by American companies. In Los Angeles, there’s a vaping shop on every corner, like pubs in London or coffee shops in Seattle.
Like some of those pubs and coffee shops, a few e juice firms make their own blends of e liquid. In common with most of them, however, mass-produced bottles are dominant; the best-sellers. They win out because the makers ensure there is enough quantity to satisfy clients, but also variety within reasons.
By now it’s easy to tell which are the most popular types of flavors and they include some real basics like apple, mint gum, cotton candy, regular tobacco, and ordinary menthol.
Mass-produced e juice is generally subject to stricter standards than artisan e liquid. You will find it is made in US labs where a chemist is employed to supervise operations.
Everyone who works in the lab must wear special clothes like goggles, shoe coverings, lab coats, and gloves. Their equipment and mixing stations are all “to code” which means they are made from food-safe materials like stainless steel or Pyrex.
Some of these are “FDA-approved” labs where the ingredients are all USP (United States Pharmacy) grade, flavorings are FEMA/GRAS (used to make food), and nicotine is 99.9% pure.
Natural E Juice
In some ways, trouble arises when you start looking at natural or organic sources of e liquid flavoring. One would imagine that these products are automatically better than artificially flavored ones, but what are the mixing standards?
Often, a company focuses on advertising their natural and/or organic fruit and tobacco flavorings but neglects to speak about the facility at all. Several firms making e juices in their FDA-approved labs offer assorted natural varieties, usually fruits, so consumers enjoy the best of both worlds and can make an educated decision.
Artisan vapor juice companies are an enigma. They are not necessarily using organic or natural products, at least as far as anyone can tell. Their labs might actually be back rooms, although more and more of them are going to pains to either recreate their mixing facilities to higher standards or air videos showing how great their labs already are (Five Pawns is an example).
One has to wonder why they work in small batches: is it to regulate quality more closely? Are their ingredients rare? When the product is called a “reserve” blend, it is probably steeped in an oak barrel which once contained whiskey, bourbon, or cognac.
This is definitely a small-batch variety, almost like a varietal of wine. Other signs of gourmet intent include intense flavor layering: hints of herbs or spices interwoven with more dominant alcohol, fruit, or tobacco flavors and bulked up by a creamy undercurrent reminiscent of ice cream or yogurt.
Vegetable Glycerin and Vaping
Vegetable glycerin (VG) is the partner to propylene glycol (PG), the two base ingredients in most e juices. VG is thicker than PG and, thus, suitable for cloud-chasing setups with sub ohm coils and high-watt output.
Many firms which began with high-PG or PG-only blends are now either creating sub ohm (Premium) flavors or adapting prior flavors to contain more VG. Halo, for instance, now offers several of their best-selling flavors with a higher percentage of vegetable glycerin. Nicotine limits are usually lower and creamy flavors are prominent.
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