What Are the Possible Safety Implications of Vaping?
If you’re a smoker, you’re well aware of the fact that quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. There’s a good chance that you’ve already tried to quit, though, because many long-term smokers do at some point – and you probably weren’t successful. That’s why you’re curious about vaping. You know that many millions of people around the world have used vaping to help themselves transition away from tobacco, and you’d like to know if you could potentially join them.
Here’s the good news about the safety of vaping. Health experts such as Public Health England have analyzed vaping and determined that it appears to be as much as 95 percent less harmful than smoking. The bad news is that “less harmful” doesn’t mean “harmless.” Your best option is definitely to quit nicotine completely if you can – and if you don’t use nicotine already, you definitely shouldn’t start.
If you can’t quit, though, vaping is definitely the next best option – but you should still remain mindful of a few potential safety issues. Here are the potential safety issues with vaping and what you can do to mitigate them.
Unwanted Additives in E-Liquid
The first potential safety issue that you need to look out for as a vaper is unwanted additives in the e-liquid. That’s especially the case with hemp-based products like Delta-8 THC. Hemp products are very expensive to produce, so there’s always a potential that unscrupulous sellers might be tempted to dilute things like Delta-8 vape carts with substances that look like hemp distillate but don’t actually have any effect at all.
Vape cartridge dilution is actually something that has happened before, and it has caused serious illnesses and even deaths. In 2019, a new type of severe lung illness called E-Cigarette or Vaping-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) appeared. More than 2,700 people contracted the illness, and at least 64 died. Black-market THC vape cartridges diluted with Vitamin E acetate were strongly implicated and appear to have been the primary cause of the illness. Vitamin E oil looks just like hemp distillate, and shady sellers were using it to dilute the cartridges and pump up their profits.
You might think that the discovery of Vitamin E as an unsafe ingredient for vape cartridges would cause people – even the shadiest sellers – to stop using it, but that hasn’t been the case. As of 2022, new EVALI cases are still appearing from time to time. It’s very important to buy all of your products from a specialized vape shop that’s very careful about product sourcing and only gets its products directly from the manufacturers or from authorized distributors.
Battery Fires and Explosions
The next safety concern of vaping has to do with the batteries used to power the devices. A vaping device uses a lithium-ion battery as its power supply. A lithium-ion battery stores a great deal of power in a very small package – and if you’ve spent any time reading the news, you’re probably aware of the fact that batteries of this type can cause violent fires if they’re mistreated.
Battery fires have occurred with vaping devices, and most of those fires have occurred due to user error. The most common causes of vaping battery fires include:
- Using improper charging equipment, such as a high-speed charger for a mobile device.
- Attempting to stretch a battery beyond its capabilities, such as by connecting a powerful sub-ohm tank to a device with no power regulation circuitry.
- Improper transportation of bare batteries, such as by carrying them in a pocket.
If you treat your vape batteries properly and use a high-quality regulated device with built-in safety circuitry, there is almost no chance that you’ll ever experience a problem. To maximize your safety, though, you should never charge any lithium-ion battery unattended.
Safety of Specific E-Liquid Ingredients
If you’ve ever discarded a used vape coil that was covered with a dark, sticky residue, you’ve probably wondered if there are any safety implication associated with inhaling that residue. When you vape, the ingredients in your e-liquid may not all turn fully to vapor. Some ingredients only vaporize partially. The rest sticks to the atomizer coil in your tank and creates a dark layer that grows thicker and eventually starts to burn. When the burnt flavor becomes overwhelming and vaping is no longer enjoyable, you replace the coil – and the cycle starts over.
The sweetener sucralose is the ingredient that contributes most to the formation of black residue on a vape coil, and no one has ever examined the safety implications of using a vape coil that’s covered with residue. If you’re concerned about whether sucralose residue could potentially be unsafe, there are two easy ways to ensure that you won’t have to worry about inhaling it. You can either replace your coils more often – before the residue begins to form – or you can buy e-liquid that doesn’t contain sucralose. Sweetened e-liquid is extremely popular, but unsweetened e-liquid does exist if you do a bit of searching. If you use unsweetened e-liquid, you’ll find that your coils take a very long time to develop residue or that they don’t develop residue at all.
The other safety aspect of e-liquid that you should consider is the safety of the flavoring ingredients. All e-liquid is flavored with food-grade flavoring agents – and although those agents are perfectly safe to consume as food additives, the safety of those ingredients has never been studied with regard to inhalation. It’s entirely possible that some vape juice flavors are safer than others, but it could be a very long time before researchers come up with reliable information about the safety of each individual ingredient. There are many thousands of different flavoring agents used for e-liquid.
If you’re concerned about the safety of e-liquid flavors, you might consider using unflavored e-liquid instead. There are many companies that sell vape juice with no flavors at all, and you might actually find unflavored e-liquid quite enjoyable to use. It’s also wise to avoid e-liquids with buttery flavors because diacetyl is one of the most common flavorings used in artificial butter – and it’s one of the few potential e-liquid ingredients that’s known to be unsafe for inhalation.