Electronic Cigarette Ingredients

February 9, 2016  |  Electronic Cigarettes

Many people are on-board with electronic cigarettes and find them a wonderful alternative to the chemical-filled traditional cigarette. However, others still aren’t convinced. Many people fear that the true ingredients of electronic cigarettes simply aren’t known and can’t be measured for their effect.

This is actually inaccurate. Aside from flavoring, there are only four ingredients in electronic cigarettes, propylene glycol, water, flavor and nicotine. Compare that to the 5,000 ingredients (at least) that are in regular cigarettes, most of them carcinogenic chemicals, and you have a recipe for a much healthier choice in e-cigarettes.

ingredients of e-cigarettes

It’s What’s Inside That Matters: The Ingredients of Electronic Cigarettes

Here is a breakdown of the ingredients commonly found in e-cigarettes.

Propylene Glycol

It may sounds like a complicated, dangerous chemical, but propylene glycol is actually incredibly safe and is used in a wide variety of products. For instance, theatre smoke machines use this chemical to create fake smoke on stage, and several health organizations have stated that it is safe to do so. It does not irritate the skin, nor does it cause cancer or pose any other health risks. In fact, propylene glycol is actually an ingredient in asthma inhalers, which is a statement to its safety.


The ingredient of highest concentration is that of nicotine. There is a chamber inside the electronic cigarette filled with e-liquid nicotine that, when the smoker inhales, is heated, allowing vaporized nicotine to be inhaled by the smoker. Nicotine has developed a bad reputation because it is found in cigarettes. However, nicotine has been shown in studies to have very little, if any, negative health consequences. It functions much like caffeine in the system. Nicotine is the main “addictive” ingredient in cigarette smoke, so by removing all of the toxins and leaving only the nicotine, the safest ingredient you are likely to find in a regular cigarette, you are substantially improving your health.


There isn’t much to be said here. Water is used in the electronic cigarette in the vaporization of nicotine and in the steam, or “smoke”, released from the e-cigarette. The “smoke” from an e-cigarette is literally nothing more than water vapor.


E-cigarettes come in a lot of different flavors. Below are some of the ingredients in flavored e-cigarettes.

  • Malic Acid – Malic acid is found naturally in fruit and has a sour but pleasant taste, much like that found in green apples. It is perfectly safe and is used in everything from cough drops to fruity drinks.
  • Acetylpyrazine – It’s quite a word, but all it really means is chocolate flavoring. Many things that have chocolate or nutty flavorings, like hazelnut or mocha creamer or candy, for instance, likely have this flavoring as one of their ingredients. It is safe and non-toxic.
  • Vanillin – This one is a bit more straight-forward in its name. Vanillin is simply an ingredient that is used to provide a vanilla flavoring. Once again, it is safe.

Full Disclosure

Much talk has been made in some circles about the presence of nitrosamines in e-cigarettes. These are chemicals that are found in regular cigarettes and are known carcinogens. Some of those against e-cigarettes will tout this ingredient as evidence that e-cigarettes are not safe.

However, what they don’t mention is that in regular cigarettes, these chemicals are present in levels that are 1,400 times that of the trace amounts in e-cigarettes. It’s a bit like equating a glass of water with a half a drop of fruit punch in it to the entire bottle of fruit punch, only the difference is more stark in the discussion of nitrosamines and e-cigarettes.

Hopefully the above information has been helpful in explaining the ingredients in electronic cigarettes. When it comes to health, the known ingredients in electronic cigarettes are much safer and more beneficial to your health than the over 5,000 ingredients found in regular cigarettes. (These 5,000 ingredients are the only known ingredients; the exact count is not known.)

This should give you a bit more peace of mind when it comes to knowing what is in the electronic cigarettes you see around you, and it should comfort you to know that the risks associated with smoking or being around e-cigarettes are significantly lower, almost nonexistent, in comparison to actual cigarettes.