We get quite a few customers who come to Kai's Virgin Vapor because they are experiencing allergic reactions when vaping. The most common culprit is propylene glycol (PG), a commonly used base in e-liquids. PG can cause allergic symptoms ranging from a scratchy throat to sinus problems, headaches, and even feelings of nausea. In extreme cases, PG can even cause numbness in the face and tongue as well as swelling and redness in these areas.
Make Sure Dehydration Isn't Causing Your Symptoms
It is important to note that milder symptoms may not be coming from an allergic reaction at all. Vaping is dehydrating and can dry out your sinus passageways, mouth and throat. If you vape regularly, you may not be aware of just how much of a dehydrating effect vaping can have. Try upping your H2O intake first to see if this simple fix can eliminate any mild symptoms.
Rule out Nicotine Overdose
For more severe symptoms, be certain to first assess if your symptoms are being caused by nicotine overdose. Symptoms of nicotine overdose can include nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat and a general feeling of being unwell. While rare when using standard nicotine strengths offered by most e-liquid manufacturers, nicotine overdose can be a very serious medical emergency, so it is important to be alert for signs and symptoms that may be coming from nicotine overdose rather than a reaction to PG. If you are using nicotine salts, which frequently contain much higher nicotine levels (25 to 50 mg versus 3 to 18 mg for standard nicotine formulations), you should be even more alert to this possibility. Please read our complete guide to avoiding nicotine poisoning for more details on possible symptoms, action items to prevent nicotine overdose and who to call if you suspect you have ingested too much nicotine. If you have any doubt about what is causing your symptoms, please consult your doctor.
Try Vaping PG-Free E-liquid
If your symptoms are coming from a PG sensitivity however, you can easily avoid exposure by choosing only 100% vegetable glycerin (VG) based vape juice. At Kai's Virgin Vapor, all of our organic and natural e-liquid flavors are 100% PG-free, so we make it easy to avoid PG exposure. Many other vendors also offer VG-based e-liquids, however, always be certain they are truly PG-free. The vast majority of flavorings come in a base of PG, so even if the vape juice is VG based, it may still contain PG added with the flavorings. For people that are truly sensitive to PG, that can be more than enough to trigger allergic symptoms. Ask your vape juice vendor if their flavorings come in a base of PG to be certain.
While perhaps 99% of allergic reactions to vaping are due to PG, we have seen one or two cases where the reverse was true. These people were actually allergic to vegetable glycerin (VG) and were only able to find relief by switching to a 100% PG e-liquid. This is extremely rare in our experience, but it is worth noting just in case you fall into this category!
Eliminate Flavors That Might Not Agree With Your Body
Allergic symptoms may also be caused by the flavorings themselves or other additives. While flavorings used in e-liquids are approved for human consumption, they have not yet been specifically and extensively tested for safety when vaporized and inhaled. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, "the flavorings industry has estimated that over a thousand flavoring ingredients have the potential to be respiratory hazards due to possible volatility and irritant properties (alpha, beta-unsaturated aldehydes and ketones, aliphatic aldehydes, aliphatic carboxylic acids, aliphatic amines, and aliphatic aromatic thiols and sulfides)." For this reason, if you are reacting to a particular e-liquid or a particular flavor, listen to your body and avoid it! If you just can't stand flavorless vape juice, give menthol or mint flavors a try as they are usually well tolerated.
Cut Out Unnecessary Additives
In addition, regular e-liquids may contain a wide variety of chemicals which can cause irritation or allergic symptoms when vaped. Artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners and other additives are all often present in e-liquids. These components may cause a reaction in some individuals.
Our philosophy in creating our vape juices is to use the fewest possible ingredients. There's no reason to vape artificial colors as the coloring is only added to vape juice to make it more "appealing" to customers. A cherry colored vape juice doesn't taste any better than a cherry vape juice that doesn't have any coloring added to it. If you're finding your body is having issues when you vape, cut out any additives that you don't need.
Avoid Artificial Sweeteners, Especially If You Get Headaches
Pay particular attention to the possible presence of artificial sweeteners in your vape juice. Most vape juice manufacturers don't list their ingredients yet many of them use artificial sweeteners because they pack in a lot of sweetness without taking up much volume. However, as reported by WebMD, a recent meta-analysis of studies involving thousands of participants (a meta-analysis looks at the combined results of numerous previous studies making it one of the most powerful ways to pick up on potential concerns) found that the consumption of artificial sweeteners is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems.
Medical web authority Dr. Axe says flatly, "If you haven't stopped using artificial sweeteners, do so now!" His blog pointed out that artificial sweeteners can cause headaches and migraines, weight gain, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and atherosclerosis--and that's just when it's eaten. Given that inhalation is an even more direct pathway into the body, we recommend you avoid artificial sweeteners in your vape juice, particularly if you are experiencing headaches.
Avoid Sour Vape Juice Flavors
Of particular concern are the acids used to impart a sour note used in sour pucker type flavors that many vape juice companies offer. Our research clearly indicates that these acids are irritants to the lungs and should be avoided.
Use High Quality Vape Juice
There is also the possibility that your vape juice may be adulterated by ingredients or compounds that shouldn't really be in there to begin with. A lot of lower quality vape juice is manufactured overseas, particularly in China. While these products may be significantly cheaper, unfortunately, overseas manufacturers do not have a great track record when it comes to quality control. Chinese products have been linked to a string of adulteration scandals, including infant formula contaminated with melamine which caused 300,000 children to get sick, pork contaminated with a drug that caused heart palpitations and honey that contained antibiotics and heavy metals.
According to an article about adulteration of Chinese products by The Institute of Food Technologists, "Scandals are proliferating, in part, because producers operate in a cutthroat environment in which illegal additives are everywhere and cost-effective. Manufacturers calculate correctly that the odds of profiting from unsafe practices far exceed the odds of getting caught, experts say."
If you are experiencing allergic symptoms when vaping, it is worth the extra money to pay for vape juice that is manufactured in the United States. You will generally benefit from far better quality control and you'll find companies work harder to make a better product because their reputations are at stake.
Remember, if you are experiencing allergic symptoms when vaping:
If your symptoms are severe or if the above tips and tricks don't offer relief, it is best to stop vaping and to go and see your doctor.
Our Vape Juices
None of the above problem ingredients are present in Kai's Virgin Vapor's e-liquids. We use only USDA certified organic and natural flavorings. Our flavors do not contain any nuts, gluten, sugar or other added sweeteners. They are also vegan (with the exception of our flavors that contain flavor extractions from honey). Because our flavors are steam extracted and/or extracted in organic ethyl alcohol, there is no chemical residue left behind from the extraction process. We also use the highest quality nicotine we could find, extracted in the United States from organically grown tobacco leaves. Even our VG is certified organic and free of numerous common additives, adulterants and impurities. These methods produce a superior e-juice that can, because of its purity, significantly reduce potential irritation and allergies and we have had many vapers find relief from allergic symptoms by switching to our e-liquids. When it comes to allergic reactions, quality definitely matters!