What Chemicals Are In Your E-Cigarettes

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Are E-Cigarettes Good or Bad?

scientist mixing chemicalsIf you have been wondering about the oils and chemicals found in electronic-cigarettes, this article will help. You’ll find a list of the chemical ingredients along with the percentages found in each. I also explain the properties of those chemicals and outline the reasons why they are used in the product and whether they are actually harmful.

This information was obtained from several reputable sources that I’ve cited, including one of the oldest and most respected e-cigarette companies, Green Smoke. 

Do You Have E-Cig-Phobia?

Hundreds of thousands of smokers think about trying an alternative to smoking regular tobacco cigarettes but they’re scared of the supposed “chemicals”. The fact is, the most “dangerous” chemical in an electronic cigarette is nicotine (unless you choose a zero nicotine filter) and nicotine is now known to be virtually harmless. 

If you’re really worried about ingesting dangerous chemicals, don’t drink beer, wine or water; or eat tuna, sardines or brussels sprouts because they contain toxic amounts of arsenic, but that’s not the trending story.

What is trending right now are questions about e-cigarette oils and supposed carcinogens.

Electronic cigarettes contain both Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerine Neither of which oils. Both are harmless, soluble FDA approved ingredients. Propylene Glycol was first approved in 1950 and then again in 1959 by the FDA for use in hospitals as air disinfectants because it was believed to have curative properties when inhaled.

source: United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Today, there is fearful misinformation being broadcast about Propylene Glycol even though we still happily ingest it in hundreds of foods, (including beer), use it in cosmetics and feed it to our children in the form of Gummy Bears.

Misinformation comes directly (or indirectly) from those who stand to lose from the success of a revolutionary product that replicates the smoking experience without the smoke, smell or thousands of chemicals found in tobacco cigarettes.  

If you guessed that those groups include the pharmaceutical industry and the American Heart Association you’re sharp. But then you chose to read this article, so there you go.

It’s interesting to note that members of many health organizations (as well as some elected officials) sit on the board of Big Pharma companies. Some governments, (including Japan) have stakes in the tobacco industry.

All that aside, there’s now public information, and one significant court ruling that leads to proof of an obvious deception by the FDA when it tested the chemicals electronic cigarettes.  

FDA methods “have been lambasted in journals by some medical and health research experts who noted that potentially harmful chemicals were measured at about one million times lower concentrations than are conceivably related to human health.”

Source: Understanding Strategic Management

So lets move on to answer the question…“What Chemicals are in E-Cigarettes?” Here are a few examples of the harmful chemicals suspected to be found in electronic cigarettes. 

Nitrosamine                   Diethylene glycol                    Anti-freeze                   Nicotine

In recent FDA testing, three of the chemicals listed above have been found. But don’t go tearing your hair out just yet.  Those chemical ingredients are listed below along with reasons why they are potentially harmful.

#1- Nitrosamine –  Defined as a chemical compound produced from Nitrates and secondary Amines, Nitrosamines often occuring in the form of proteins. They are not good proteins as they are highly acidic, and the human body doesn’t react well to anything highly acidic… but read on.

In large quantities Nitrosamine can cause cancer. Beside e-cigarette filters, Nitrosamines also occur in wine, beer, meat, cheese, tobacco, balloons and condoms. Happily, the risk of cancer is far less from the last two on the list. 

Wine and beer (which both contain a lot of nitrates) usually have soft “warning” on the label which plainly states, “contains nitrates”.  

You probably noticed that “tobacco” is included in the above list. Yes, tobacco products contain Nitrosamines although the FDA did not make mention of it in its report against electronic cigarettes.

Some e-cigarettes do contain microscopic amounts of Nitrosamine; however, reputable e-cigarette companies including V2CigsGreen Smoke  and South Beach Smoke do not contain Nitrosamines. The above companies have undergone safety tests and do not contain any carcinogenic ingredients. Most list their ingredients on their websites.

Moving on to #2 on the list – Diethylene Glycol. Compared to Nitrosamine, Dietylene glycol is far more lethal, but there’s a lot more to the story. First….here’s the definition:

Dietylene glycol is an organic compound. It is a colorless, practically odorless, poisonous, viscous liquid with a sweetish taste. The original taste-tester of Dietyline glycol must have had the digestive constitution of Andrew Zimmern.  This noxious ingredient is widely used as a solvent and a humectant (meaning it keeps things moist). Dietylene glycol is used in making many chemical products including anti-freeze. 

Several years ago, when the FDA conducted tests on electronic cigarettes, they found minute traces of diethylene glycol, in 1 of the 18 e-cigarette cartridges tested, (Smoking Everywhere 555 High cartridge) and they revealed that it was at a concentration of much less than 1%. 


When the report was released, it was seized upon by pro-tobacco and pro-pharmaceutical interest groups and widely distributed to the media who gave it considerable coverage. I wonder which lobby initiated the testing in the first place? Hmmmm.

The FDA’s “findings” resulted in banning sales by two electronic cigarette manufacturers. Similar testing was not performed on tobacco cigarettes even though there’s more  Diethylene glycol in tobacco products than in electronic cigarettes .


Number three on the list, Anti-Freeze has been said to be present in electronic cigarettes, but it is totally unfounded. Clever wording by the media linked Diethylene glycol with Anti-Freeze because Anti-Freeze contains Diethylene glycol. It’s far easier for people to substitute the word “anti-freeze” for the ingredient Dietylene glycol when discussing the safety of electronic cigarettes and that’s exactly what happened. 

V2 Cigs electronic cigarettes - Don't Quit, Switch - See why millions have switched to V2!

Good Old Fashioned Nicotine

Nicotine was another supposedly dangerous ingredient found in the cartridge filters of the electronic cigarettes. Although many e-cigarette companies allow e-smokers to choose whether or not they wish to inhale nicotine along with the water vapor “smoke”, the FDA only tested filters that contained this stimulant.

tobacco plant in Washington D.C.What nicotine is:

It is a nitrogen-containing chemical made by the lovely flowering tobacco plant, Nicotiana tabacum. It may also be produced synthetically.

In the plant kingdom, the tobacco plant belongs to the nightshade family, which also includes potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and red peppers. They all contain nicotine but you’re not likely to get jittery after a bowlful of mashed potatoes.

Nicotine can cause physical effects including increased heart rate and oxygen consumption by the heart muscle as well as powerful psychodynamic effects such as euphoria, increased alertness, and a sense of relaxation; however, I was surprise to learn that Nicotine is highly addictive only when combined with burning tobacco.

The nicotine found in smoking cessation products is produced synthetically. 

What nicotine is not:

Nicotine is not a carcinogen, meaning it has not been proven to cause cancer. Nicotine is not a poison. Nicotine alone is not a highly addictive substance. 

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine#Psychoactive_effects

People think nicotine is a dangerous drug because it is associated with tobacco cigarette smoking which is dangerous to your health. 

Here’s our article that contains new reports about nicotine.

Other Than Nicotine, What Chemicals Are In the Most Popular E-Cigarette Filters?

The following information was obtained from Green Smoke. I have included all the chemicals for all of their flavored filters for your reading pleasure. (if you’ve read this far I’m either a fascinating writer or you’re seriously into e-cigarette chemicals).

Please note; the e-cigarette filter you choose will only contain the respective chemical for that particular flavor.

Acetylpyrazine 3%– A commonly used food flavoring used in beef, coffee, popcorn, potato chips, sesame seed, almond, wheat bread, cocoa, pork and beef.

Beta-Ionone 5% –  A food-grade fragrance used to give the vapors their fragrance and flavor. The chemical iscurrently being tested for prevention and treatment of colon cancer.

Dimethylpyrazine 2% –  Used in the creation and/or manufacturing of flavor concentrates of all types. Used in biological, drug, flavouring and perfumery industry .

Ethylpyrazine 4% – A flavoring concentrate used in food products such as pork and soups.

Glycerol 2% a/k/a/ Glycerine – Widely used in pharmaceutical formulations such as eyedrops and cough syrups and in foods such as cookies and liqueurs. Very low toxicity. Serves as a humectant. solvent, thickener and sweetener, and may help preserve foods. Glycerol is also used for an evaporative fogging agent as an alternative to Propylene Glycol in some solutions for electronic cigarettes.

Linalool 5% –  a naturally-occurring chemical found in many flowers and spice plants used in many commercial applications.

Flavoring essence from tobacco 15% – an extracted essential oil found in tobacco. (toxins in cigarette smoke come from the actual burning of the plant material).

Propylene glycol 1% – Used as a solvent in many pharmaceuticals and as a moisturizer in cosmetics and tobacco products.

Rose oil- 4% A natural extract of the flower used for it’s scent.

Orient tobacco absolute 30% – A food-grade fragrance.

Tobacco essential oil 5% – A food-grade fragrant oil extracted from the tobacco plant.

Trimethylcyclohex 2 butene 4 one 1% – Another food-grade fragrance used in combination to give the vapors an authentic tobacco flavor.

Trimethylpyrazine 2%  – An approved  flavoring used in caramel chocolate cocoa and coffee  2%

Vanilla extract 2% – An approved food flavor additive.

Pure water 13%

So Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe? Check out this Video from #1 Seller V2 Cigs

The bottom line is that smoking electronic cigarettes is a far safer way to ingest nicotine and to satisfy the “hand to mouth” habit associated with smoking without the ingestion of the other 4000+ toxins, chemicals and carcinogens found in regular tobacco cigarettes. Are e-cigarettes a valid smoking cessation product? The FDA says not. Actually, to date, there has not been enough serious control testing to show that the product merits such a claim. There have, however been tests that show e-cigarettes are more effective at helping smokers quite than nicotine patches. 

When we begin to analyze the safety of smoking an electronic cigarette, we should ask ourselves not whether they are safe but whether they are safer than tobacco cigarettes. What you need to do is to compare an electronic cigarette to a Marlboro cigarette.


Compare All Features of the Best Selling E-Cigarette Brands

If you’re ready to try an electronic cigarette, I suggest you begin with one of the more reputable on-line companies. Check out Cloud Nine’s e-cigarette comparison chart to find the brand that suits your style and taste. They all have been independently tested for safety.

If you need more information about electronic cigarettes, return to Cloud Nine’s Home Page where you’ll find many reliable articles on the subject.

You May Also Find These Articles Useful:

New Study Reveals E-Cigarette Second-Hand Vapor Poses No Risk to Human Health

Best Selling Electronic Cigarette Comparison Chart 

Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe?

Electronic Cigarette Clinical Studies and Medical Research Update

About the author

Hillary Hillary Miles, Cloud Nine’s editor and contributing author is an Emmy award-winning national television writer, producer and marketing expert whose clients have included HGTV, The Food Network, CNN, TBS, TNT and The Cartoon Network. She is the editor for Cloud NineSavvy ExaminerBest E-Cigarette Guide and ECigarette News . A talented artist, Hillary also creates uber cool ecig t-shirts for Vaper Design Studio. Follow Hillary on Google+

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About the author


Hillary Miles, Cloud Nine’s editor and contributing author is an Emmy award-winning national television writer, producer and marketing expert whose clients have included HGTV, The Food Network, CNN, TBS, TNT and The Cartoon Network.

She is the editor for Cloud NineSavvy ExaminerBest E-Cigarette Guide and ECigarette News . A talented artist, Hillary also creates uber cool ecig t-shirts for Vaper Design Studio.

Follow Hillary on


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  1. wisconsin union theater map

    This a very good post by the author looking forward to read more very soon.

  2. hillarymilesproductions.com

    wisconsin -What a nice comment! Much thanks! I hope you’ll subscribe to my rss feed to get my latest posts. You have a cool site too that promotes important issues.

  3. Julian Guardiola

    I am a pack a day smoker, have been since September of ’10, I smoked off and on starting in 2000. Back then, I was at a pack every 3 to four days. I quit in ’01, started again in ’03, quit again in ’05…started again in ’09. My brand of choice is Marlboro Special Blend, Lights 100s. I too am looking to quit this awful habit, as I am in my 40s now and grandchildren multiplying yearly!! Lol!! I have heard both sides of the eelectronic cigarettes argument…and have to say…I am convinced that they are a far more healthier solution to a habit, than ingesting the life threatening chemicals of a tobacco cigarette, with God knows how many deadly toxins I am inhaling!!??!!! I look forward to giving these vapor doohickeys a try!!! Be Blessed everyone!!!

  4. Thanks Julian for your positive comments and great attitude. I know you will enjoy the change. Happy vaping!

  5. ArcherB

    I started “vaping” about a month ago. In the first week, I also had two packs of cigarettes. As of today, however, it’s been three weeks since I’ve smoked a cigarette. I’ve been a smoker since I was 13 years old. I am 42 now. That’s 29 years of smoking, at least 20 of those trying to quit. At this point, I have no urge to smoke cigarettes at all. Will I ever quit “vaping”? Who knows! But I know for sure that I am no longer a smoker and never will be again.

  6. Hi ArcherB. What a great testimonial! Kicking the tobacco habit after 29 years is a major accomplishment and you are to be congratulated. Amazing how E-cigarettes really get you through it. Thanks for commenting!

  7. Cara

    Hi, I am only having to do this for a report! I have learned some new things!

  8. Hi Cara,

    Thanks for commenting Cara. I’m happy you found this article useful. We’re trying to help so many who have misconceptions about electronic cigarettes.

  9. Gerry

    I found your article interesting and while the proof of mixing these chemicals and inhaling them will only become apparent in the future I most whole heartedly agree that they do seem to be a much better, that is to say less toxic alternative to conventional cigarette.
    I do however dislike the term “healthier alternative to conventional cigarette” since healthy indicates its good for you, where as in this case the actual fact is that it’s less bad, consequently to say “healthier” in this context is relative and a twist on it true meaning and thereby somewhat misleading.
    i.e. if a poison is only half as bad as another poison, it isn’t really healthier…. it’s less bad.

    I also have concerns for a whole new generation of children that might take it up, not because they where going to smoke anyway but because it’s the “healthy alternative to cigarettes”.
    Out history is littered with products that were created and reported to be fantastic and safe only to be shown many years later to be exactly the opposite.

    So as I said I’m delighted that finally the market has produced something that can help smokers and reduce the health issues associated.
    I’m also delighted that people like yourself are investigating the products and discussing it.

  10. Gerry,

    Thank you for commenting here and expressing your concerns about the marketing of electronic cigarettes. I agree with you when you say that e-cigarettes are a ” less toxic (and hence, safer) alternative to conventional cigarette” as those viewpoints have been backed up by tests that analyze and compare the ingredients of both products.

    I also agree with your concerns that exuberant fans of e-cigarettes will express the opinion that e-cigs are a “healthier alternative to conventional cigarettes”; however, that fact has yet to be proven.

    You will rarely see a professional reviewer of e-cigarettes use that term which is why you don’t see it anywhere within our article on e-cigarette chemicals. We do; however, choose to allow our readers to express their views. Thanks for expressing yours! You have made an important distinction that will be read by our readers as well as those who comment.

  11. Wizard

    Howdy :D Very well put lots of good info ..I been smoking since i was 17 56 now tried to stop many times got a e-cig and just in 3 days I wasn’t smoking any more its been a month now and am even starting to feel better Love this thing … And lets not forget its so much cheaper too 24 bucks gets enuff juice for a month and a 1/2 with cigs that’s 5 days at the most. A friend of mine also stopped smoking with them she was spending $70 a week on cigs …. Keep up the good work The more that know the facts the more that can stop smoking :) Happy Vaping

  12. steve

    There is only one issue I have with the small slim electronic cigarettes, you know the kind that don’t have a button to push. Ive had my share of issues with them, and having to take them apart, which is not easy by the way, to fix them by re-soldering a wire. I noticed that more so then not, it seems that the e liquid somehow gets down into the battery compartment, perhaps as vapor. And that vapor condenses all around the battery to literally soak it, or at least the outside of the battery as it is wrapped in a type of silver tape. But I was thinking that perhaps its possible for some vapor from inside the battery to come out or e liquid to go in the battery. There is a sensor in the tip of the e cigarette that detects air pressure being pulled or rather sucked into the tip of the cigarette as you toke on it from the other end. This air pressure make a sound the sensor can hear which turns on the power, and that’s its internal switch so to speak. But the same hole at the end of the battery, where you screw on the atomizer,,is where this air gets pulled as you toke on it, pulling air from the tip,,down threw the tube, around the battery and a tiny bit goes into the atomizer, again through that hole I mentioned. I know this from taking many of them apart. And as I said earlier finding the battery soaked in e-liquid goo. Which I don’t think is really safe, but I’m no expert here. I have noticed the E-cigs like ego-T and so forth, the kind that have the button, have no hole, nor way for e-juice or e-vapor to get into the battery compartment, so I would assume they are safer. Just thought I should mention this given it seems few have taken apart some well used electronic cigarettes to have noticed this.

  13. Hillary

    Hi Steve,

    I’ve never experienced eliquid seeping into a battery, although I have experienced ejuice leaking from the bottom of a cracked tank. Of course, I don’t ever take apart or modify a commercially produced e-cigarette so I wouldn’t know if I had a product with such a problem, unless there was compromised performance.

    I always recommend calling the manufacturer and requesting a refund or a replacement. Unless you’ve had your ecigarette for over a year, most will comply. Messing with e-cig parts to “fix” those that may be defective can be very dodgy and the world doesn’t need another exploding ecig story to pounce upon.

    As for manual buttons vs automatic, I have experienced the buttons going bad, but that was years ago and ecigs have come a long way from 2009. Now I just recommend getting one without a manual button for ease of use; getting one with a button if you enjoy pressing buttons (and I do) or if you have small curious children.

    Thanks for commenting!

  14. Dana

    I think this article answered every question I had. I have been using an e-cig for 6 months now. I love it. I smoked for 25 years and is the first thing I have tried (and i have tried it all) that actually works!!!
    Happy Vaping!!!

  15. Hillary

    Thanks Dana and congrats to you! Thanks for sharing your success with ecigs :)

  16. Bryan

    Ive been using an e-cig for just over a week now and have not felt the need to go back to normal cigarettes at any point, i went from a pack+ a day to none instantly.
    They have got to be safer than burning than smoking for me and those around me, plus the choice of flavours means i get a better tasting sensation and my clothes smell much better

  17. Hillary

    Thank you Bryan and congrats on your accomplishment. Ecigs can be a tremendous help when trying to quit.

  1. Judge Rules in Favor of Electronic Cigarettes

    […] The shipment of e-cigarettes was seized because the FDA had previously conducted it’s own non-controlled “safety” tests. They claimed the products tested contained detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals.  […]

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