Do e-cigarettes contain anti-freeze?
You may have noticed that anti-freeze contains ‘Propylene Glycol’, and so does your e-liquid. You might be wondering, does this mean it's toxic and you're vaping anti-freeze??
The answer is no, and it's a very safe ingredient that is used in many products that are fit for human consumption. The reason it’s used in anti-freeze is simply because its freezing point is lower than water.
So what is Propylene Glycol?
This is an organic chemical, also known as propane-1, 2-diol. It is a slightly thick, colourless liquid that has virtually no smell, though it has a slightly sweet taste. It is also used in food as an E-number (E1520).
When Propylene Glycol is mixed with water, as it is in e-cigarettes, the freezing point of the water becomes lower than zero. The chemical is used in vapes for this reason; otherwise there would be the significant risk of products breaking in transit (in the cargo holds of planes, for instance, where temperatures frequently drop below freezing) or even in the bags or pockets of customers walking around in freezing winter temperatures.
There is a chemical used in antifreeze that is very similar to Propylene Glycol, called ethylene glycol, which is in fact mildly toxic to consume. Propylene Glycol is more often used in antifreeze because it is more environmentally friendly.Vapes contain around 20% Propylene Glycol of a very pure, high grade that is perfectly safe for human consumption. Almost anything can be toxic to humans if consumed in large enough quantities and the same is true for Propylene Glycol - but you would have to consume a very, very large quantity of pure Propylene Glycol over a very short space of time to suffer any ill effects, far more than in regular consumption of e-cigarettes.
It is even used in products like ice cream, liquid sweeteners and fizzy drinks. It is also used in the medical profession in medicines that do not dissolve in water - Propylene Glycol is used instead to turn the medicine into creams, oral medicines or injections.
Humans can metabolize Propylene Glycol easily - we turn it into acetic acid, pyruvic acid and lactic acid, all of which occur naturally within our metabolic processes and are easily dealt with by the body. In America, the chemical has been classed as 'generally recognised as safe', and America has very stringent rules and guidelines on what can be classified as 'safe' or not.
So, Propylene Glycol is perfectly safe to consume in your vapes, even though it is also used in antifreeze. It is a chemical with many uses but is safe for human consumption. Like many consumable products e-liquids contain chemicals, but great pains have been taken to ensure that those chemicals are safe for human consumption.