The History of eLiquid
Before we get into the history of eliquid, here is a quick refresher on how the ecigarette was first conceived. Herbert A. Gilbert was the first to think up of a device that could replace the analog cigarette. He patented a device in 1963 that was essentially a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette that would replace burning tobacco and paper with a “heated, moist, flavored air”.
The 60s, being an era known for people’s voracious tobacco smoking habits, the idea of a smoking alternative never took hold.
It was not until about 40 years later when a Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik desired to create a smoking alternative after losing his own father to lung cancer and in the hopes to stave off his own pack-a-day habit as well.
In 2001, inspired by vaporization created by household humidifiers he came up with the brilliant idea of using a pressurized heating element to vaporize a liquid that contained nicotine. This would then form a vapor that simulated smoke and that vapor would also deliver the nicotine to the user’s system.
In 2003 he was able to use resistance coil heating which enabled him to create a mechanism around the size of a cigarette, which would still deliver the perfect amount of nicotine to the user. It was this same year that he filed his first patent for the revolutionary ecigarette.[i] Read more on the history of ecigs here >
The Advancement of eLiquid
Lik needed the perfect liquid that could hold the nicotine and yet be vaporized to simulate the delivery of tobacco smoke. So he set on with his research, reflecting his expertise as a chemist, Hon Lik’s pioneering innovation was the idea of suspending pharmaceutical-grade nicotine in a diluent.
After much trial and testing, he was able to use propylene glycol as a successful medium for holding the nicotine. It was the perfect diluent as when it was heated it vaporized into a cloud very similar to smoke.
Propylene glycol or PG is a food additive that has been listed on the GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) list by the FDA and has been used in many consumer products (from food to pharmaceuticals) for over 50 years. Curious about its safety? Learn more about PG here >
Lik was able to infuse the propylene glycol liquid with pharmaceutical grade nicotine extract and flavorings to simulate a smoking experience that tasted, felt (throat hit), and delivered the nicotine satisfaction almost exactly like a tobacco cigarette.
Lik chose PG because of its low viscosity, as it is readily absorbable by the wick material in the ecigarette. PG is also tasteless and odorless, so it does not change the flavor added to it. Another advantage to using PG is that it has a low vaporization point, which means faster and warmer vapor clouds (much like the smoke from a tobacco cigarette).
In addition, an alternative base liquid was sought after and so vegetable glycerin (VG) was discovered. VG is a less popular base compared to PG because of its much thicker consistency. But because of its consistency it has the characteristic of producing thick voluminous clouds of vapor, which some people prefer. Since it is made out of plants (hence the moniker vegetable), people sensitive to PG do not get the same reactions when they use VG.
But it also lends to less of a throat hit (which some people may not like) and it is also naturally sweet. Its distinct sweetness is why many food manufacturers use it as a sweetener in the foods that they produce. Learn more about the many uses of VG here >.
Though because of this sugariness, it dulls the flavor added to it. Another negative characteristic of full VG base liquids is that it creates build up around the coils of the heating elements and inside the ecigarette, this is due to its thick consistency.
With much trial and error, many eliquid manufacturers have found that mixing the two solutions together would yield to a balance of the positive characteristics desired from the solutions and lessening the negative.
Typically you will see a mixture of 50PG to 50VG, 60 to 40 or 70 to 30, which is our ratio for our VOLCANO eliquid line. The 70PG to 30VG ratio we find is the perfect balance of both worlds—enough throat hit, perfect flavor intensity, and thick voluminous vapor cloud creation. Read up on the different PG & VG Ratios here >. Worried your eliquid has passed its prime? Read this >.
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, because of one man’s desire to avoid the ill fate of his father; a great innovation in the smoking world was created—the ecigarette. It is the perfect smokeless delivery system that has given smokers all over an alternative choice over their old tobacco cigarette habit.
From this came eliquid, Lik’s pioneering discovery—the perfect liquid that holds the nicotine and flavor to deliver a satisfying experience nearly identical to smoking. But the user isn’t smoking anymore, they are now vaping and we all know that vaping is just so much better.