Is there really antifreeze in e-cigarettes?

Many people believe that electronic cigarettes contain toxic antifreeze. While there are a lot of rumors going around about this, it is simply not true. There is no antifreeze, at least not anything toxic, in e-cigarettes.

PG or Propylene Glycol is used as a solvent in the process of making the electronic cigarette e-liquid solution. The same substance can indeed be used as an anti-freeze, but it is not toxic. What’s toxic in regular car antifreeze is Ethylene Glycol, but this is definitely not added to e-cigarettes. Even the newest antifreeze solutions don’t contain this toxic solvent anymore. PG has been used for a long time in many consumer products and foods. Still, people usually think of Ethylene Glycol when they hear the word “antifreeze”. If they bothered to do some research, they would find that Propylene Glycol that is used in e-cigarettes is totally safe and even recognized as such by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It has been used in the medical field as well as in the food business for many years, so there is really nothing to fear.

Some Foods with Propylene GlycolPropylene Glycol has many uses. It is common to use PG as a humectant (moisture stabilizer), an emulsifier or even with items that can’t dissolve in water. In the medical industry, pharmaceutical products, including a lot of injectable, oral or topical drugs often use PG as a solvent. Some ingredients in foods use PG to keep the food moist or to dissolve some of the ingredients. It likely that you have several products at home, that contain Propylene Glycol and that you use on a daily basis: shampoos, cosmetic products, medicines, mouthwashes, creams, hand lotions, massage oils and even deodorants are just some of the common products that have PG in their ingredients.

Thus, Propylene Glycol is not poisonous or toxic. Not only is it an FDA approved food additive, it has also been used in cosmetics, food and pharmaceutical industries for decades. As well as fog machines for the movies or stage shows, even training programs for firefighters. It had many uses long before it was ever used in smokeless electronic cigarettes. Yes, it can lower the freezing temperature of water, but that is not why it’s used in e-cigarettes and it is ridiculous how quickly lies can spread.

In 2009, the FDA tested 18 e-cigarette cartridges. They only tested 2 companies and based their decision on these findings. Unfortunately, one of those tested cartridges had a tiny amount of Diethylene Glycol in it (around 1%). As this is a more toxic ingredient also found in antifreeze, FDA reported their findings based on that. It is disturbing that they only did a small test like this, which didn’t really give the proper perspective on things and only caused people to be afraid of e-cigarettes.

Diethylene Glycol or DEG is still not hardly as toxic as Ethylene Glycol and is only harmful if ingested in large amounts. It is not allowed for use in foods, like PG is, but it is used in the manufacturing of tobacco, and some pharmaceutical products. That can only mean that we still get in contact with it as traces are found in products like toothpaste or aspirin, that we use on daily basis. These amounts are far from being toxic and our body gets rid of it easily. DEG works as a humectant, removing moisture from different tobacco products and is a byproduct of the cigarette manufacturing and nicotine liquid manufacturing processes. Moisturizing creams contain propylene glycol

In conclusion to all of the above, Propylene Glycol is used in making solutions for electronic cigarettes, NOT Diethylene Glycol. There has ever only been one e-cig cartridge that has contained traces of Diethylene Glycol. Even there, the amount of DEG was not significant, in fact it was such a tiny amount that it can in no way be considered toxic. To make it more clear, there was about forty times less DEG in that e-cigarette cartridge, than what can be found in a regular tobacco cigarette. So, even if it was present in every e-cigarette cartridge, we would sill inhale 40 times less DEG, as opposed to with smoking a regular cigarette. Still, remember that it is not present in all the cartridges, until today it has only been found in one. All quality brands regularly check their electronic cigarettes for nitrosamines and other carcinogens.

Unfortunately, even though these toxicity claims are false, those who are against e-cigarettes have made it their point to spread disinformation about electronic cigarettes to give them a bad name. There aren’t any e-cigarette companies that use DEG in their electronic cigarettes. Ever since that FDA report of 2009, a lot of testing has been done on many more e-cig brands but Diethylene Glycol has not been found in any of them. So, if you happen to read an article that claims that electronic cigarettes contain Diethylene Glycol, or even “poison”, don’t believe it, its author has his own agenda and it’s far from being the truth.

It is a fact that smokeless electronic cigarettes are much safer to smoke than regular tobacco cigarettes.

About the Author

Senior Editor

After many previous failed attempts at quitting smoking I stumbled upon electronic cigarettes and decided to give them a try. It has been five years now that I smoked my last tobacco cigarette and I am 100% nicotine-free!

One Comment

  1. Over 47,000 Canadians die each year from smoking, according to Alberta Health Services. As far as I know, none of them were related to electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes are not sold in Canada if they contain nicotine.

    “On 27 March 2009, Health Canada issued an advisory against electronic cigarettes. The advisory stated, “Although these electronic smoking products may be marketed as a safer alternative to conventional tobacco products and, in some cases, as an aid to quitting smoking, electronic smoking products may pose risks such as nicotine poisoning and addiction.”

    You can buy nicotine free electronic cigarettes, but if you are a smoker that really isn’t an option.

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