What is vegetable glycerin?

The chemical formula of vegetable glycerin or propane-1,2,3-triol is HOH₂C–CHOH–CH₂OH.

Its food code is E422

It is colorless, very viscous, odorless, and has a slightly sweet taste.

The ingredients of vegetable glycerin

Originally, glycerin or glycerol was essentially an animal product.

Today it is vegetable, derived from rapeseed, palm or sunflower oil.

How glycerin is made?

Glycerin is the result of a saponification reaction.

A fatty substance - vegetable oil - is mixed with soda.

The result is soap and glycerine.

It is also produced by transesterification reaction, the usual technique for producing biodiesel (rapeseed).

How do I use vegetable glycerin?

Widely used in pharmaceuticals, glycerin is also a cosmetic.

It is a moisturizer for the skin and hair. It lays down a protective film on the epidermis which helps in healing.

Due to its absorbent effect, it protects from
microbial development and thus plays a role of preservative.

Can I drink glycerin?

It is quite possible to ingest glycerin.

Grandmother's remedy, it has long been used to fight constipation and is known to be an aid for dehydration.

It is also found in many medications ranging from cough syrups to suppositories.

In the food industry, it is an additive, a flavor enhancer texture agent that is found in ice creams, chocolate, pastries and various products.

It is also used in toothpaste.

Can you heat up vegetable glycerin?

Used in electronic cigarette products, alone or in combination with propylene glycol, the glycerin is heated by the resistance to vaporize it.

It is strongly discouraged to overheat an e liquid so as not to degrade its components.

Indeed , volatile compounds such as aldehydes - formaldehyde, aldehyde, acroleine - are then likely to form and are potentially harmful to health.

Note that the latest devices are designed to avoid what is called "dry hit", the resistance heating a wick insufficiently soaked in liquid which generates a taste of burnt and the formation of aldehydes.

Why is vegetable glycerin in vape juice?

Most of the e liquids available on the market are composed of a propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin mixture at equal parts.

The combination of these two substances makes it possible to create a balanced electronic cigarette e liquid, near what we call the hit, the throat contraction when the vapor is inhaled, and a consistent cloud.

vegetable glycerin for vaping

How much vegetable glycerin to use?

Most e-liquids are offered for sale at a 50% propylene glycol to 50% vegetable glycerin ratio.

Some liquids are available in 70/30 or 30/70 PG VG.

You are free to purchase these two ingredients to create your own e-liquid base and the ratio that suits you best, whether you want 90% or 80% glycerine to reduce the propylene glycol.

Note that a high ratio of VG requires increased power to heat up.

How is glycerin metabolized by the body?

You should know that glycerin is naturally present in the body.

It is the central part of the triglycerides and is a source of energy.

Its metabolism takes place mainly in the liver and kidneys.

Is inhaling vegetable glycerin safe?

The studies available on glycerin tend to show that inhaling glycerol is safe.

A test conducted on exposed rats with a continuous inhalation 6 hours a day for 70 days at various concentrations concluded that they presented "Minimal to mild squamous metaplasia of the epithelium lining the base of the epiglottis" at maximum dose, that is to say a slight thickness trachea.

Vegetable glycerin toxicity

Tests conducted on healthy humans have shown a tolerance to 2.2g / kg for 50 days without any side effects.

Inhalation of vapors at high concentration may irritate the respiratory tract.
Ingestion at high dose may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Glycerol is not judged toxic in contact with skin, eyes or if swallowed.

Is vegetable glycerin harmful?

Inhaling glycerin is the major concern of many vapers.

The quantity of total glycerin consumed while vaping is less than 1mg per puff.

This quantity is 1650 times less than what was previously evaluated as safe for oral dose in humans.

The precise calculation follows the following formula: (2.2 g / kg * 75kg / person) / (100 puffs / day * .001g / puff)

Researchers have furthermore shown that although an electronic device can diffuse an acute concentration of 300 to 500mg / m3 by a single puff, the actual use of an electronic cigarette by aspiration of 1 to 3 seconds followed by a break ranging from 15 to 60 seconds considerably decreases the concentration of glycerin.

Thanks to this regular interval, one hour of continuous use of a personal vaporizer results in an actual exposure of 180 seconds.

Vegetable glycerin side effect

Like propylene glycol, glycerol is hygroscopic, it absorbs moisture.

It is therefore likely to cause drying of the mucous membranes and dehydration if the intake water is not enough.

Glycerin is generally well tolerated and is rarely sensitizing but the risks of allergy are not to exclude for a minority.

In addition, the 70% VG vaper I am will also refer you to a slight thickening of the bronchial secretions, leading to the occasional intake of bronchial fluidifying agents such as acetylcysteine.

What is the benefit of using glycerin in vape?

Most of the time, a declared allergy to propylene glycol forces the vaper to choose glycerin to improve tolerance to e-liquid.

We can therefore say that it is its major asset. But that's not all.

It also offers a more dense vapor, a smoother vape, a vaguely sweet taste which softens dry flavors.

It is widely used for the sub-ohm, vape that is practiced with a lower resistance than 1ohm for more power ... and vapor.

What are the disadvantages of using vegetable glycerin?

Glycerol is a thick liquid that is not suitable for use in all atomizers.

It is difficult to use in cheap electronic devices with a resistance that does not allow too thick liquid to pass through.

You can nonetheless liquefy it by adding a little water.

It has also the disadvantage of creating very quickly a deposit on the resistance, thus forcing to change it more regularly.

On the other hand, glycerin tends to reduce the flavors perception in an e liquid recipe.

If you are making your own liquids, you will need to increase the percentages of flavor for optimal taste.

It also tends to reduce the hit, the throat contraction when the vapor is inhaled.

What is vegetable glycerin substitute?

The first answer remains the obviousness of propylene glycol, faithful companion of glycerin in vape juices.

But if you want to stay on the line, a vegetable liquid, propanediol can be your alternative.

Coming from cereal sugar, propanediol is a more fluid liquid than glycerin, odorless and colorless, endowed with a light tobacco taste and providing a tight throat hit even without nicotine.

Although used in food to preserve sensitive foods and recognized to be harmless to health, we must admit that there is still a lack of perspective in relation to its main competitors.

In summary

The vegetable glycerine is a commonly consumed product considered to be safe to human health.

Its fields of application are very broad and do not cause major problems.

Found in vaping products, it is a major component of e liquids and allows to generate the vapor.

To date, its side effects when inhaled do not appear to be major. Its impact on the body remains moderate.

Endowed with advantages when one suffer from an allergy to propylene glycol, it can replace it mainly and relieve irritated sensitive throats.


- Week and 13-Week Inhalation Studies of Aerosolized Glycerol in Rats - Renne, R. A. et al. Inhal. Toxicol. 4, 95–111

- Safety evaluation and risk assessment of electronic cigarettes as tobacco cigarette substitutes: a systematic review - Konstantinos E. Farsalinos - Riccardo Polosa


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