What’s in Your Vape Juice? (Ingredients, How It’s Made + More)


Vape juice is generally made from five core ingredients — propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavorings, nicotine, and water. 

Besides, there may be potentially harmful chemicals as well.

With countless brands and unclear guidelines from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you might wonder: what am I inhaling when vaping? 

In this post, we'll look closer at the common vape juice ingredients and uncover the process of making vape juice. 

Then we’ll introduce you to high-quality, nicotine-free vapes and address some questions about vape juice ingredients.

Read More:

  • Discover How To Vape Like A Pro and understand the two main vape delivery systems in this step-by-step guide. 

  • Looking to use the nicotine patch to quit smoking? Explore the Side Effects and Necessary Precautions first. 

    This Article Contains

    What Are the Ingredients in Vape Juice?

    Vape juice is made up of the following base ingredients:

    1. Propylene Glycol

    Propylene glycol (PG) is a colorless, odorless, slightly sweet-tasting organic compound. It’s commonly used as an additive in the food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries.

    What makes propylene glycol such a sought-after ingredient?

    Its ability to retain moisture. This property makes it an ideal ingredient for many products, from bottled coffee beverages to decadent desserts.

    Question is:

    Why Is It Used in Vape Juice?

    When combined with vegetable glycerin in different ratios, propylene glycol forms the base of a vape liquid. 

    PG is a superior solvent to vegetable glycerin (VG) due to its lower viscosity. A PG-dominant e liquid will typically have an enhanced ability to carry flavors and aromas.

    Here’s how PG affects your vaping experience:

    • Provides a distinct throat hit while vaping, mimicking the feeling of smoking a cigarette 
    • Produces fewer vapor clouds than VG
    • Offer bolder and more distinguishable flavors

    While propylene glycol is considered generally safe by the FDA, it may have potential health risks when inhaled. 

    Potential Side Effects

    • Airway and lung inflammation
    • Dry mouth and throat irritation
    • Allergies
    • Lactic acidosis in children
    • Oral health damage (gum disease, weakening of teeth)

    Note: These side effects are uncommon and generally associated with prolonged use or very high doses.

    2. Vegetable Glycerin

    Vegetable glycerin (aka glycerine or glycerol) is a clear, mildly sweet, and odorless liquid that’s frequently used in the pharmaceuticals, food, and cosmetics industries.  

    Vegetable glycerine is extracted from vegetable oil, including palm, soy, and coconut oil. 

    Why Is It Used in Vape Juice?

    VG is both a thickening agent and a sweetener in e-liquids, eliminating the need for an artificial sweetener like sucrose.

    Besides, its high viscosity helps hold other vape juice ingredients together.  

    Here’s how VG affects your vaping experience:

    • Boosts the amount of vapor produced
    • Provides a more gentle throat sensation (compared to juice with a higher proportion of PG)
    • Adds a subtle sweetness to the vape juice

    And just like propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine is considered generally safe for consumption by the FDA. 

    However, consuming high doses of VG through an electronic cigarette may lead to some mild side effects.

    Potential Side Effects 

    • Dry mouth 
    • Sore throat 
    • ‘Vapers tongue’ (lowers taste sensations)
    • Lung inflammation
    • Upset stomach and nausea 
    • Sore throat

    What’s the ideal VG/PG ratio for vape juice?

    Well, it depends on your vaping preferences… 

    Here are some common VG/PG ratios used for e-liquids:

    • 30% VG / 70% PG: Strong throat hit, commonly used in basic e-cigs to mimic a cigarette-like experience
    • 50% VG / 50% PG: Well-rounded vaping experience, primarily used in a beginner vape pen
    • 80% VG/20% PG: Smooth vaping experience with a mild throat hit, made for today’s popular vaping devices
    • 100% VG: Made for cloud chasers and high-powered devices

    3. Flavorings 

    The flavorings used in vape juice come from various sources, including natural and artificial food-grade flavoring and aroma additives. 

    These are the commonly used flavoring agents found in vape juice: 

    • Diacetyl
    • 2,3 Pentanedione (or Acetylpropionyl)
    • Acetoin 
    • Acetyl propionyl
    • Vanillin
    • Ethyl vanillin
    • Ethyl maltol
    • Ethyl butyrate
    • Cinnamaldehyde
    • Benzaldehyde 
    • Isoamyl acetate

    Why Are They Used in Vape Juice?

    Flavoring concentrates provide vape juice with a distinct flavour and enhance the taste and aroma of the liquid. These flavors allow you to enjoy a more customized vaping experience. 

    The best part?

    The different flavors in e-liquids are made to mimic your favorite snacks, candies, and drinks. So, don’t be surprised if you stumble across a lemonade-flavored vape.  

    Today, there are over 7,000 different flavors available. Some of the most popular ones include: 

    • Blueberry
    • Vanilla 
    • Tobacco (generally used to imitate the taste of a traditional cigarette) 
    • Cola 
    • Coffee, etc.

    While these vape flavors may delight your taste buds, remember that some flavoring concentrates have potential health risks. 

    Potential Side Effects

    The possible side effects of inhaling flavorings agents in vape juice are many:

    • Shortness of breath
    • Wheezing
    • Coughing
    • ‘Popcorn lung’ 
    • Damage to lung tissue 
    • Inflammation of the lungs
    • Heightened risk of lung disease

    Note: Most of these side effects result from inhaling diacetyl. 

    Did you know? ‘Popcorn lung’ got its name from diacetyl's use as a flavoring ingredient in microwave popcorn.

    4. Nicotine 

    Nicotine is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in the tobacco plant. 

    It’s a highly addictive stimulant that affects the sympathetic nervous system, leading to a range of physiological effects, including a euphoric buzz (due to a surge in ‘happy’ hormones like endorphins and dopamine). 

    While nicotine is the active ingredient in tobacco cigarettes and e-liquids, it’s also used in nicotine replacement therapy products to help people quit smoking. These products have  different nicotine strengths, including nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, etc. 

    Why Is It Used in Vape Juice?

    Nicotine is used in vape juice to mimic the experience of smoking a traditional cigarette. 

    More and more smokers are switching to vapes and e cigarettes as they are believed to be safer than tobacco cigarettes. A nicotine vape device allows you to get your daily dose of nicotine without the risk of inhaling deadly chemicals and tar found in cigarette smoke. 

    There are two main types of nicotine used in vape liquid — freebase nicotine and nicotine salts.

    Here’s a quick overview of the types of nicotine, their strengths, and who they’re for:

    What is it 

    Nicotine strength 

    Used in 

    Ideal for 

    Freebase Nicotine 

    Pure form of nicotine

    0mg to 18mg 

    High-powered, high-maintenance, Direct-to-lung vaping (DTL) sub-ohm devices

    A heavy smoker or chain smoker (freebase has a strong throat kick)

    Nicotine Salt

    Blend of naturally occurring nicotine and benzoic acid

    0mg to 60mg

    Low-powered, easy-to-use, Mouth-to-lung vaping (MTL) devices, high nicotine absorption

    New vapers and people who need a medium or high nicotine intake

    So, how exactly do you choose the right nicotine strength?

    Depending on the type of vaping experience you’re after, you can choose from different nicotine strengths. Freebase nicotine vape juice offers:

    • 3mg to 6mg: Perfect for an average day-to-day light smoker or vaper who doesn't enjoy too much nicotine. 

    • 12mg to 18mg: This higher nicotine strength is for seasoned smokers and vapers. A higher freebase nicotine level can provide a strong throat kick, and head rushes. 

    Here are the regular nicotine levels found in nicotine salt vape juice:

    • 20mg to 25mg: Starting strength for new vapers, provides a smooth throat hit 

    • 30mg to 40mg: Excellent nicotine level for an average smoker 

    • 50mg: This higher nicotine strength is for heavy smokers 

    Interestingly, many electronic cigarette manufacturers are switching from tobacco-derived nicotine to synthetic nicotine. 


    Synthetic nicotine is lab-made, which means these manufacturers could circumvent the FDA regulations regarding tobacco-derived nicotine. 

    Ultimately, synthetic nicotine is still nicotine and can pose the same health risk as its natural counterpart. 

    Potential Side Effects 

    Nicotine can harm various systems throughout the body and may cause:

    • Dizziness and headaches 
    • Coughing, shortness of breath, and asthma 
    • Weakened sense of taste 
    • Nausea
    • Mouth and throat irritation
    • Lung damage/scarring 
    • Muscle twitching 
    • Exposure to secondhand smoke/aerosol
    • Elevated risk of high blood pressure 
    • Increased heart rate

    The best way to eliminate these risks?

    Switching to high-quality, nicotine-free vapes from companies like Cyclone Pods.

    5. Water 

    Vape liquids require water to provide better consistency and help combine the PG, VG, and flavoring agents. 

    Typically, vape juice contains no more than 20% water. 

    6. Other Ingredients in Vape Juice

    Besides the four base ingredients in vape juices, researchers have found that e liquid may also contain several potentially harmful chemicals:

    • Acetaldehyde
    • Formaldehyde
    • Acrolein
    • Benzene 
    • Cadmium 
    • Diethylene glycol 
    • Heavy metals like nickel, tin, lead, cadmium, etc.

    Some of these substances are known carcinogens and can even be fatal in unsafe quantities.

    And that’s why we cannot emphasize the importance of choosing high-quality vaping products free from such chemicals. So, be sure to vet your next purchase thoroughly.

    Fun fact: Many seasoned vapers use a combination of the above ingredients to blend their own DIY vape juice.  

    Next, let’s see how a final vape juice product is created using the above ingredients.

    How Is Vape Juice Made?

    The process of making e juice is a lengthy one that requires precision. 

    • It all starts by adding the flavoring agents to a base of PG and VG (aka solvent).
    • Next, nicotine is added to the above mixture and mixed thoroughly. 
    • The e liquid is left still in a cool, dark place (aka steeping) for 2-7 days, allowing the ingredients to mix well and the flavor to intensify. 

    So, given that vape juice might even contain harmful chemicals, what’s the safest option for a vaping enthusiast? 

    Choose No-Nicotine Vapes from Cyclone Pods for Care-Free Enjoyment!

    If you’re looking for high-quality vape products that can mitigate the side effects of nicotine and other harmful chemicals, look no further than Cyclone Pods!

    This California-based vape shop provides first-class vaping products that are free from:

    • Nicotine
    • Tobacco
    • Diacetyl
    • Formaldehyde
    • Vitamin E acetate 

    Interested in giving Cyclone Pods a go?

    The Thunder Device Starter Kit is an excellent way to start your vaping journey. This pod system comes with a vaping device, a charger, and a single flavor pod. Choose from five delicious flavors, including strawberry, coffee, and more. 

    If you’re looking for a long-lasting disposable vaping device, the Gust Super is exactly what you need. This device packs a punch with up to 5,000 puffs and is rechargeable. It comes in 15 tempting vape flavors, including super fruit punch and menthol. 

    Other FAQs About Vape Juice Ingredients

    Next, let’s answer some questions about vape juice ingredients you may still have.

    1. Does Vape Juice Contain Sugar?

    No, vape juice gets its sweetness from flavouring agents and dilutants (propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, or both.) 

    2. Does Vape Juice Contain Any Calories? 

    On average, vape juice contains roughly 5 calories per 1ml. So, a 20ml bottle of e-liquid contains about 100 calories. 

    3. Does Vape Juice Contain Anti-Freeze?

    No, e juice doesn’t contain any anti-freeze. People often mistake propylene glycol for ethylene glycol, a toxic chemical present in antifreeze. Ethylene glycol can be deadly if ingested. 

    However, some antifreeze brands use propylene glycol in their formula, so many fear they might be vaping antifreeze. 

    Put Your Health First With Nicotine-Free Vapes 

    Vape juice is a blend of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavorings, nicotine, water, and other ingredients. 

    While the FDA considers most of these ingredients safe for consumption, some low-quality and unregulated vape juice products may contain harmful chemicals that can severely impact your health. 

    Thankfully, you can negate many of these risks by opting for a high-quality nicotine-free vape device. 

    Check out Cyclone Pods’ impressive range of high-quality, nicotine-free vape products to embark on a safe vaping journey. 

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