What is E-Liquid?

January 15, 2016  |  E-Juice Guides

E-liquid is content used in electronic cigarettesWhat is e-liquid, e-juice, vape juice? Simply explained, e-liquid is the liquid content that is used in electronic cigarettes to create a smoke-like vapor and delivery nicotine (unless you are using a nicotine-free e-liquid) to the user. E-liquids usually contain glycerin, propylene glycol, nicotine, and flavorings.

E-liquids are currently not regulated by any official government or public health agencies. The safety of the product is therefore left up to the manufacturing standards of any company which sells e-liquid. AEMSA is currently the only organization that is encouraging safety manufacturing standards. For a full list of AEMSA’s e-liquid standards see this document.

As more and more people are searching for safer alternatives to their smoking habit, the electronic cigarette has become increasingly more popular. Because electronic cigarettes can provide the same flavor, appearance, and sensations as a traditional cigarette, but without many of the commonly associated health risks, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that more people are using electronic cigarettes.

What may surprise some is that a survey done by the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Geneva, Switzerland found that the majority of people making the transition to e-cigarettes were doing so to help them quit smoking altogether.

While many people do not know exactly what a tobacco cigarette contains, they understand that it is a combination of thousands of harmful particles. This begs the question: what is in these electronic cigarettes that allows them to provide the same satisfaction and buzz as a real cigarette? What exactly is this liquid solution called, E-liquid?

E-liquid Basics

As with anything, we have to start with the basics. E-liquid, sometimes referred to as nicotine juice, smoke juice, or e-juice, is the liquid solution that we find inside an electronic cigarette. This often contains a level of nicotine and produces the vapor commonly associated with smoking an electronic cigarette. Aside from the nicotine, the most commonly used products include a hydroscopic component and flavorings.

Different E-liquid brands

The hydroscopic components are often composed of polyethylene glycol 400, vegetable glycerin, and propylene glycol. The production of the smoke-like vapor is because of the nicotine and flavor being dissolved in one of these three solutions. Propylene glycol is the base most commonly used in electronic cigarettes. This product has been used since the 1950s and has been used in asthma inhalers and nebulizers.

Now that we have addressed the basics of e-liquid, it is possible to look at what sets the many brands on the market apart and why certain brands are considered “good” e-liquids.

“Good” VS “Bad” E-Liquid

Even though the basic elements of most eliquids are the same, a few differences are rather important between the different brands on the market. These help differentiate the best e-liquid from the bad ones. There are four different elements to look for if you are trying to determine the overall quality of an e-liquid. These include the regulation of production, the throat hit, the vapor production, and the flavoring.

Regulation of production

e-liquid-regulationBecause e-cigs are becoming increasingly popular, it should come as no surprise to see manufacturers come out of the woodwork everywhere and try to make a quick dollar off the popularity.

Unfortunately for the consumers, many of these companies care very little about quality control and only worry about the bottom line. Oftentimes these vape juices are often created in unregulated conditions in foreign countries. They also use poor quality ingredients in order to save money. It is important for both your safety and health to choose an e-liquid that meets quality-controlled standards and is carefully regulated.

Throat hit

Ultimately, the idea behind using electronic cigarettes is creating a similar sensation and experience to smoking real tobacco cigarettes but without the adverse health risks. To reproduce the sensation of an actual cigarette, the vape juice must produce a strong “hit” to the throat. This way there is a physical response for the user. If the user opts for inferior quality, there is a chance that he or she feels as though they are vaping nothing but air, thus defeating the entire purpose of the electronic cigarette.

Vapor production

Keeping with that line of reasoning, what would the entire vaping experience be if the user did not have the smoke-like vapor that produces the same sensations that they are used to? If the user opts for low-quality e-liquid, they will only have a thin vapor that does not cannot conform in the air. If the user wants a conformed vapor that resembles the smoke of a real cigarette, they need high quality e-liquid.


It should be rather obvious that in order to make the experience enjoyable, the flavoring of the e-liquid plays a vital role. There are new flavors on the market constantly and these can range from fruity concoctions or traditional cigarette flavors like menthol. Regardless of the flavor selection, the most important part here is genuine quality because it ensures a pleasurable flavor and taste. Oftentimes the low quality flavors come with a rather bitter after-taste that does not encourage further use.


Now that you have a better understanding of what e-liquid is and why it matters to your vaping experience, it becomes easier to make the right choice the next time you are shopping for electronic cigarettes.

Terms Glossary

Many terms can be used to refer to what is commonly known as “e-liquid”: e-juice, vape juice, nicotine juice, tobacco juice, electronic cigarette liquid, e-cig flavorings.