As e-cig forums overflow with testimonials from vapers experiencing negative reactions from vaping PG, and with almost 20,000 online searches for 100% VG e-liquids per month, every vape shop owner should ask: am I adequately catering to, and capitalizing on, the significant sector of the vape community looking for PG-free e-liquids?

Propylene Glycol (PG), a synthetic liquid substance derived from petroleum, is a main ingredient in most e-liquids, used not only as 50 percent or more of the base, but also as a carrier for the flavorings and sometimes for nicotine, as well, though other petroleum-derived solvents are more common. PG is largely responsible for the strong throat hit vapers experience, is said to enhance the flavors of e-juice, and does produce some vapor, though the majority is a result of the vegetable glycerin (VG). While a majority of vapers have no problem vaping PG, there is a sizable and increasingly vocal market looking for an alternative, for two main reasons.

Allergic Reactions
It appears there is a pervasive sensitivity to PG not only sweeping the vape community but also detracting countless potential vapers. Adverse reactions to PG result in a number of reported symptoms, including: sore throat, sinus irritation, nausea, hives, bronchoconstriction (constriction of the airways in the lungs, resulting in coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath), swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea, difficulty sleeping, fatigue and even sore muscles. Vaping a level of nicotine that is too high can also result in some of the same symptoms, so it is important to discern the cause and take appropriate action.

It’s interesting to note that sensitivity to PG seems to be progressive in nature, judging from vapers’ testimonials, which often assert that at first there was no adverse reaction to vaping, but eventually symptoms surfaced that continued to worsen until they thought to switch to 100% VG e-liquids, at which point they reportedly felt better. Of course, this is the best case scenario: someone who already believes in vaping begins to experience negative reactions and has the wherewithal to find a solution. However, what about the person trying to quit smoking, who tries vaping for the first time and experiences bronchoconstriction, stemming from a sensitivity to PG? Not only is that one smoker who won’t be supported by our industry in the pursuit to be smoke-free, and not only is that a lost customer for your vape shop, but it also tarnishes the reputation of our industry. With enough cases like this, the effect could be remarkable.

Fortunately, there are 100% VG e-juices, which anyone experiencing the above symptoms can try instead, and which stores can share with new vapers as a precautionary measure. Indeed, customers—and especially customers new to vaping, look to the staff at vape shops to help guide them and being aware of the different options for e-liquid is absolutely critical. Most products on the market that are labeled 100% VG would be suitable for anyone with a mild sensitivity to PG, as this term is used to describe the contents of the base, regardless of whether flavorings or nicotine are carried in PG. It is advisable that anyone experiencing more than a mild sensitivity (or simply interested in avoiding PG), look for e-liquid that’s advertised as 100% PG free, from suppliers that can truly guarantee the chemical’s absence. The easiest way to ensure the absence of PG is to seek out a USDA-certified organic e-liquid, as organic certification prevents the use of PG but it’s also possible to ask e-liquid manufacturers that offer 100% VG e-liquids about the carriers for their flavorings and nicotine.

Increased Demand for All-Natural E-liquid
E-cigarettes just may be the foremost smoking cessation devices, according to researchers from University College London’s Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, though e-cigs have yet to be recognized by official public bodies as much. As everyone in this industry can probably attest, most people who become interested in vaping are smokers attempting to better their lives by quitting cigarettes. Indeed, cigarettes contain thousands of chemicals and while vaping in general is reported by Public Health England to be 95 percent safer than smoking cigarettes, people who vape are becoming increasingly aware that the inundation of synthetic and potentially harmful chemicals into products used on a daily basis is antithetical to their well-being.

Studies exposing the presence of diacetyl and acetyl propionyl were exaggerated but not nullified by poor science, and these chemical ingredient scares have caused the vape community—both consumers and store owners—to be more aware of ingredients in e-liquid, and increasingly skeptical of synthetic chemical additives, the necessity of which are being called into question.

While the FDA has classified PG as an additive that is “Generally Recognized as Safe,” meaning it’s considered acceptable for use in flavorings, drugs, and cosmetics, and as a direct food additive, there is no scientific determination about heating and then inhaling the substance. Of course, what works for some doesn’t work for others, and that’s why it’s important that consumers not only have a choice, but realize that they have a choice. SVBS

Sheerlie Ryngler Headshot NewSheerlie 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. Contact Sheerlie at [email protected] or visit her website at