Back around 2009-2010, the FDA performed various tests on e-liquids which gave a range of “results”. One of their findings was diethylene glycol. Since this finding, a popular search term has been “does e-liquid contain antifreeze“. This is the sole reason for the popular antifreeze/vaping myth. It does hold a certain amount of merit but is it something to fuss about? We say no.
The FDA was not the first organization to look into the chemical components of e-liquids. In fact, in 2008 New Zealand was first to test the liquids that were present in many disposable cartridges and refillable pens.
It was the 2009 report from the FDA that began the rumor that e-liquids contained anti-freeze. Out of several samples, only one returned a positive result for Diethylene Glycol. An industrial ingredient in the manufacturing of anti-freeze.
What Else Has Been Said?
The trends we have seen about vaping reports over the years have shown us one thing. Nobody ever mentions the levels of a certain chemical when reports are released. This is the same for the FDA testing. What they also failed to mention was that subsequent tests all turned up negative. So, due to one test being positive for this chemical they had their sights set on the e-liquid industry.
Vaping has advanced significantly over the years. Along with those advancements come additional safety regulations and precautions. Gone are the day of homemade juice companies. Now we are lucky to have juice makers set up in large laboratories with ISO certifications and a fully clean operation. Labeling laws, ingredients and overall QC is monitored heavily by businesses and governments.
So it goes without saying that e-liquids definitely do not contain any antifreeze. In some countries, e-juice makers are also members of some sort of regulatory system where they must regularly submit lab reports of their e-liquid. If any sort of trace chemical appears off, they must immediately remove it from their inventory.
Propylene Glycol, isn’t it used in antifreeze?
So, we have established that e-juice does not contain any antifreeze. But we also said that the statement does hold some merit. This is in part due to the PG used in e-juice manufacturing. PG (Propylene Glycol) is one of the main base ingredients used in e-juice.
PG is the ingredient responsible for carrying flavor as well as providing that throat hit that we all associate with smoking a cigarette. These days, PG is not used as much as it was said 10 years ago. With all of the high powered devices on the market e-juice, today contains more VG (Vegetable Glycerine) than PG. The reason is VG is the component that is used to create higher amounts of vapor.
PG is used in the manufacturing process of anti-freeze. But it certainly is not the product itself. Here is a snippet from Wikipedia explaining the use of PG in anti-freeze. With this information, you will clearly be able to see that PG is used as a non-toxic alternative when possible ingestion may be a factor.
Propylene glycol is considerably less toxic than ethylene glycol and may be labeled as “non-toxic antifreeze“. It is used as antifreeze where ethylene glycol would be inappropriate. Such as in food-processing systems or in water pipes in homes where incidental ingestion may be possible.
For example, the FDA allows propylene glycol to be added to a large number of processed foods. Including; ice cream, frozen custard, salad dressings, and baked goods, and it is commonly used as the main ingredient in the “e-liquid” used in electronic cigarettes.
As you can see from the statement above, PG is in fact not antifreeze. It is used as a substitute for anti-freeze when used in food processing, water pipes or where any sort of ingestion may be possible.
PG is used across the entire industrial sector for various reasons and it is indeed safe for human consumption.
You can rest easy. Antifreeze is most definitely not used in the manufacturing of e-liquids. Safety is absolutely number one in this industry. Myths come and go in the vaping world. You can count on new ones arising each year while old ones are resurrected almost daily.
This industry is massive. It accounts for billions of dollars of revenue which is taking away from the profit lines of big tobacco. They alone are responsible for much of the negative information spread about vaping and they will continue to feed the demon.
I am John Pietersma, a 30-year-old husband and father of three children who lives in Nova Scotia, Canada. Having vaped and built coils for four years, I am very passionate about vaping and writing product reviews for everyone to read.