As interest in organic e-liquid soars, hovering at over 120,000 online searches per year, it’s clear that a significant portion of people who made the switch from smoking cigarettes are looking to upgrade their vaping experience. Still, many prospective and existing vapers, not to mention industry insiders, may still be wondering: what exactly are the benefits offered by certified organic e-liquid?
1. Natural Ingredients
One of the most striking differences between mainstream and certified organic e-liquids is the type of ingredients used in the formulations thereof. You won’t find any artificial ingredients in truly organic e-liquids, which has far-reaching implications.
Certified organic e-liquid is not only 100% VG, a claim made by many brands offering products that are not truly organic, but also 100% free of PG. PG is a synthetic liquid substance derived from petroleum, and is a main ingredient in most e-liquids, used as a base of the finished product, as well as a carrier for the flavorings and often for nicotine, as well. If online e-cig forums are any indication, an increasing number of vapers have discovered sensitivities or outright allergic reactions to PG with prolonged use, while others experience a negative reaction the first time. The latter scenario is especially damaging; established vapers who begin to develop symptoms, including bronchoconstriction and coughing, are most likely aware that their symptoms may be mitigated by abstaining from PG or opting for a lower nicotine level. However, someone who has just tried vaping for the first time and experiences a negative reaction to PG may be turned off from vaping all together and continue to smoke cigarettes instead.
PG, like many “standard” ingredients in the e-liquid industry, can never be considered organic; therefore, organic certification ensures that this substance is not only absent from the base of the e-liquid, but that it hasn’t snuck in through any flavorings or nicotine, either. As for the flavor source, certified organic e-liquid contains no artificial “flavorings,” and is instead flavored with real, plant-based extracts from the natural world. Other banned substances include artificial sweeteners, and synthetic—sometimes toxic—chemical residues from conventional pesticides and chemical-laden extraction processes.
2. Free of Synthetic Chemical Additives
Our industry has been rocked by major diacetyl scares, and to a lesser extent the substitute additive acetyl propionyl—both of which have been used by many e-liquid companies for flavoring purposes. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), diacetyl was a prominent chemical used for butter flavoring in the flavoring and microwave popcorn production plants where workers developed bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung,” a severe lung disease.
Vape advocates and researchers are correct to point out that flawed anti-vape studies have incorrectly described the threat of chemical additives such as diacetyl and acetyl propionyl as specific to e-cigarettes; in fact, these chemicals are present in analog cigarettes, and usually in higher quantities. Nonetheless, these additives are completely unnecessary; the more pronounced the differences between cigarettes and e-cigs, the better! All vapers should be aware that these synthetic chemicals are never added to certified organic e-liquid.
3. Viable Alternative
The purpose of the entire vape industry is to offer an alternative—it’s our raison d’etre. While for years people have been busy exploring the potential benefits of e-cigarettes over analog cigarettes, there is a deeper layer still. After all, certified organic cigarettes are available, and enjoy immense popularity with a particular niche market. Has anyone paused to consider whether smokers of organic cigarettes would switch to an alternative method of nicotine delivery, as revolutionary as it is, with synthetic, completely non-organic e-liquid? It’s important that the e-liquid industry has a viable alternative to offer to this niche market of organic-inclined smokers who prefer to minimize their intake of synthetic chemicals and shun conventional agricultural methods, including for tobacco.
Further, it’s incredibly beneficial to offer vapers another alternative within their established alternative of choice—e-cigarettes. Variety is good, and the more options available, the wider the net we cast, and the more people can fine-tune their vaping experience to suit their many (and differential) needs. Not everyone cares about organic food (or e-liquid), but for those who do, it’s important that they have a real, certified organic option so that they are able to make e-liquid choices in integrity with their wider lifestyle choices.
4. Certified Organic Nicotine
Offering a viable alternative entails a commitment to innovation, and one of the vape industry’s top milestones has been the securing of organic certification for liquid nicotine. Tobacco is a chemical-intensive crop, commonly treated with a large number of pesticides, including insect-killers, weed-killers and plant growth regulators. In fact, researchers have found traces of three pesticides in smoke from cigarettes, two of which are suspected carcinogens; it is possible that such pesticides may likewise seep into the liquid nicotine used in e-liquid.
Certified organic nicotine is created from USDA-organic tobacco grown on family farms in the USA. This organic nicotine is extracted utilizing the supercritical CO2 extraction method, which is organic-compliant as it is free of the chemical residues characteristic of other extraction methods. Further, certified organic nicotine utilizes 100% organic VG as the carrier, instead of petroleum-derived solvents (such as PG) that are otherwise the industry standard. Of course, the mere fact that liquid nicotine from a small vape-sector business was certified as organic by a federal agency as stringent as the USDA (years before the FDA’s deeming regulations were released), was a major accomplishment for the industry. Proving that it is possible, that every single ingredient in e-liquids can be natural—right down to the nicotine, and that the vape industry is capable of rising to regulatory challenges, gave our industry a new flavor of legitimacy in the eyes of many.
5. Transparent and Accountable
In order for a product to be certified organic, the facility in which it is produced must first obtain organic certification; this prerequisite has significant implications. Through third party oversight by an organic certifying agency, the integrity of the final USDA-organic product is guaranteed through full compliance with federal organic regulations, including but beyond ingredients, to the manufacturing facility, production process in accordance with established good manufacturing practices (GMPs), and level of accountability required.
Facility certification requires complete transparency and traceability in the manufacturing process, from beginning to end. Thus, every bottle of certified organic e-liquid features a lot number, retains of every batch of product are kept for five years, and strictly high-quality, approved production materials like stainless steel and glass are utilized. In terms of process, there are manufacturing standards to ensure the final product is truly organic. For example, extraction methods must be in compliance with organic standards, which clarifies why organic liquid nicotine utilizes supercritical CO2 extraction.
This highlights another benefit of USDA certified organic e-juice: while many vape companies may contain some organic ingredients, their manufacturing processes may not be ideal for the handling of those ingredients. Cleanrooms are extremely important in ensuring a manufacturing environment free of air-borne contaminants. This is incredibly important for all e-juice manufacturers, but especially for all-natural lines utilizing exclusively organic ingredients, which are more susceptible to bacterial contamination. The climate-controlled clean room is a preventive measure, ensuring that bacteria, mold and fungus are deprived of the conditions in which they thrive.
This level of accountability and transparency has been a welcome development in what has largely been a young and experimental industry. With the USDA seal on e-liquid comes trust in the product, as well as enhanced legitimacy for the industry as a whole. SVBS
Sheerlie Ryngler is the Director of Operations and Creative Director for Vape Organics, the first certified organic e-liquid line. A native of Los Angeles, Sheerlie has traveled extensively, receiving her BA in International Relations and MA in Conflict Resolution. She has been a passionate activist for a number of causes around the world; for almost two years Sheerlie has focused her attention on the vape industry and believes that standards of excellence and commitment to progress are crucial to ensuring its continued success. You may contact Sheerlie at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.pureorganicvapors.com.