Why is Vegetable Glycerin Used in Vaping

Is It Safe to Vape Vegetable Glycerin Pods?

Vaping Vegetable Glycerin Pods

In recent months, much has been written about concerns about the safety of e-cigarettes and vaping. In the middle of the controversy is a substance called vegetable glycerin. What is it exactly? Is it safe to use in vaping? And why is it used in vaping in the first place?

What is Vegetable Glycerin?

As the name implies, vegetable glycerin comes from vegetable oils. It is a brown, thick, sweet and odorless substance that is found naturally in some living organisms. It is used in everything from food products to anti-freeze to medical supplies. In the cosmetic and hair care world, vegetable glycerin is often used as a lubricant emollient and humectant for a variety of skin care products. Made from palm and coconut oils, it is also often used in various hair styling products to help smooth and soften hair.

How it is Used in Vaping

Along with propylene glycol (which is often used in vaporizers to help delivery of pharmaceuticals), vegetable glycerin is one of the main ingredients found in most vaping e-liquids used with electronic vaporizers and e-cigarettes. Simply put, the substance is used as a base and is heated to produce the aerosol that can deliver nicotine to the user.

According to David Gonzalez, co-founder and VP of Sales & Marketing at ProVapor Store, of the two liquids, vegetable glycerin has a slower absorption rate so it takes longer to become fully absorbed by the wick of vaping devices which can detract from the flavor of the liquids.

“Glycerin in its very nature offers a sweet taste when it’s combined into an e-liquid,” says Gonzalez. “For some users, this is great because it just adds to the overall flavor.” However, he also states that this “plus” might actually take away some of the pleasure from people who enjoy more bitter flavors.

He also says that it helps to create impressive smoke clouds.

“The thickness helps form massive clouds of smoke which many people love,” says Gonzalez. “This allows for amazing tricks to be performed… The more smoke, the better chance you have to pull off some impressive vaping tricks” (Pro Vapor Store).

Vegetable glycerin can also be used to help thin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD concentrates so that they can be vaped as well. According to Thought for Your Penny, tobacco, marijuana and other herbs can be dissolved in vegetable glycerin through a process known as steeping, much like how common teas are infused (Thought for Your Penny).

Side Effects of Vegetable Glycerin

Is vegetable glycerin safe to use? It depends on who you ask. Natasha Gilani, a writer for Heathfully.com cautions that the substance can cause reactions to those who are allergic to coconut or palm oils, but that isn’t surprising.

According to E Juice Connoisseur, the substance is “one of the most harmless organic liquids that ever comes in contact with a human body on a regular basis.” They also state that once the substance enters the body, “either orally, transdermally (through the skin) or via inhalation of vaporized glycerol, it is metabolized in an extremely efficient, simple, and common manner. Once broken down, glycerol is converted (mostly) into carbon dioxide (which we exhale) and water. A very small amount is transformed into essential sugars that are also regularly used by the body” (E Juice Connoisseur).

Even the United States Food and Drug Administration has classified vegetable glycerin as “generally recognized as safe.” But Dylan Roche, writing for Livestrong.com, cautions that the substance has not been thoroughly tested for its safety while vaping and may be dangerous for the lungs. “There is no long-term safety data showing how inhaling vegetable glycerin affects lung tissue, and short-term data shows that it can be an irritant to airways” (Livestrong.com).

Dr. Ananya Mandal, MD agrees stating that in a recent pilot clinical trial, test subjects who smoked e-cigarettes twice a day for a month had higher levels of chemicals in their blood and was associated with inflammatory changes in their lungs. “The count of the inflammatory cells in their lungs rises over time, speculate the researchers,” says Mandal. “However, they agree that this was a small study of a short duration and the magnitude of the changes noted in the lungs were small” (News-medical.net).

The Bottom Line

While the verdict is still out on how safe vaping is, most experts agree that the real cause for concern isn’t the use of vegetable glycerin, but some of the unknown added ingredients found in many e-cigarette Juices.


Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propylene_glycol and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycerol

Livestrong.com – https://www.livestrong.com/article/519369-side-effects-of-vegetable-glycerin/

Healthfully.com – https://healthfully.com/vegetable-glycerin-dangers-6949143.html

News-medical.net – https://www.news-medical.net/news/20191018/Vaping-propylene-glycol-and-vegetable-glycerine-may-lead-to-lung-inflammation.aspx

E Juice Connoisseur – https://ejuiceconnoisseur.com/2013/08/15/the-truth-about-vegetable-glycerine/

Pro Vapor Store – https://provaporstore.com/vaping-vegetable-glycerin-side-effects/

Thought for Your Penny – http://thoughtforyourpenny.com/lifestyle/vaping/dissolving-drugs-in-glycerin-for-vaping/?doing_wp_cron=1577999746.9793450832366943359375

Image Credits:

Vaping and pod [ID 81017426 © Alexandra Fedorova | Dreamstime.com]