How Does Vaping Actually Work?

The first e-cigarette was invented by Hon Lik in 2003. Ancient Egyptians used hot stones and herbs to get similar effects, and Indian cultures have been using hookahs to vape shisha for thousands of years.

While vaporized tobacco is nothing new, the modernization of electronic cigarettes has raised a lot of questions about their function, safety, and side effects. Many people have made the choice to put down traditional cigarettes and to try out the e-cig trend. But what do you need to know about vaping before you start?

The Basic Chemistry of Vaping

At the most basic level, e-cigarettes convert liquid into vapor that can be inhaled to give the user the same feelings they would get from cigarettes.

Some people try to quit smoking by using vape juices containing nicotine whereas others opt for nicotine-free juices. These flavored juices are poured into the clearomizer that holds the juice.

Under this part is a heating coil that is triggered when the user inhales; this action atomizes the liquid into vapor. Essentially, the nicotine is boiled, releasing vapor, which is where the name “vape” originates. This entire process is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery.

Many vapes also include a light at the end to mimic the end of a cigarette.


The Chemicals in e-Liquids

The basic composition of most vaping juices is:

  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Propylene glycol
  • Nicotine
  • Candy flavoring

Many people argue that vaping is much safer than smoking because cigarettes contain hundreds of additional chemicals. However, the effects of inhaling flavorings are not yet known, and the nicotine in the vapor is still considered addictive by the FDA.

Just as secondhand cigarette smoke is toxic for non-smokers, the vapor emissions, when inhaled second hand by non-vapers, can contain things like formaldehyde.

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How e-Liquids are Made

The base of the e-liquid is made from vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol. Then, nicotine is carefully measured before being added to ensure that the correct percentage of each is achieved.

A small amount of flavoring is added to create the perfect taste. Everything is shaken well and allowed to sit for a few days so that the ingredients can meld together properly.


Different ratios of vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol are used to create a different type of vaping liquid. Propylene glycol is pretty tasteless, so it is often used in a greater quantity than vegetable glycerin, which has a sweeter taste.

Vegetable glycerin can allow the user to make bigger clouds, but it affects the taste. Users typically know which brands are for clouds and which brands are for taste.

Vaping Other Substances

While some people stick to specially formulated e-liquids, others want to expand their vaping repertoire a bit. So what is safe to vape and what isn’t? In addition to the normal vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol mixtures, some people have started using coconut oil, but you should make sure you make it into vegetable glycerin first.

Some people are tempted to vape their favorite substances, such as alcohol, THC, CBD, and essential oils.

However, if you are using a substance that isn’t specially created for vaping, you risk damaging your vape pen or hurting yourself severely. For instance, vaping alcohol will heat the alcohol to combustible temperatures.

Additionally, THC and CBD tinctures contain other ingredients, which also raise the risk of explosion. Instead of a pleasant vaping experience, you could accidentally inhale a mouth of fire.

No matter how tempting it is, it is best to stick with e-liquids that have been specially made to be vaped.

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Legal Restrictions on Vaping

Similar to smoking, there are legal restrictions on vaping. As of August 2016, the FDA has regulatory power over vaping and has mandated that they are regulated as tobacco products, despite not containing tobacco.

In order to legally vape, you need to be at least 18 years old and you need to present ID in order to buy e-cigarettes of e-liquids. Some cities and states have increased the age limit to 21, so make sure you check your local laws before you decide to vape.

These regulations have been put in place in part to keep nicotine out of the hands of minors, as it can be incredibly damaging to them.

Additionally, there is some variation in laws on where you can vape. Some smoke-free areas allow you to light up your e-cigarette, but not all of them do. Most places do not allow you to light up inside, so make sure you check before doing so.

The Bottom Line

Vaping isn’t likely to go anywhere any time soon, so if this is something that you are interested in, make sure you do your research before starting. You don’t want to end up in trouble or accidentally hurting yourself because you jumped in too fast.

If you want to be more, do more, or know more, we offer plenty of resources to guide you. Education can change your life, and you can learn almost anything you want without enrolling in a formal school and paying tons of money. Join us and become a knowledge hacker!

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