Synthetic Nicotine E-Liquid: Coming Soon to a Vape Shop Near You
If you vape, you’re about to see some major changes in the types of e-liquid available at your favorite online or local vape shop. Vape juice makers across the country are transitioning their full product lines to tobacco-free nicotine, and synthetic nicotine e-liquid is likely to be the vast majority of what you’ll see on the shelves of any vape shop by the end of the year. Very soon, you’re going to shop for vape juice, and you’ll find that virtually every bottle has the words “Synthetic Nicotine,” “Tobacco-Free Nicotine” or “TFN” somewhere on the label.
So, what’s going on with the vaping industry? In this article, we’ll give you a primer on what tobacco-free nicotine is all about. That way, you won’t feel blindsided when every bottle of e-liquid at your favorite vape shop suddenly looks a little different.
What Is Synthetic Nicotine?
Let’s start out by answering the question that’s almost certainly on your mind: What is synthetic nicotine?
We’ll begin by discussing e-liquid as it currently exists. As you may already know, the nicotine for virtually all of the nicotine replacement products on the market – and for virtually all of the e-liquid in the world up to now – comes from tobacco leaves. The tobacco goes through an extraction process that’s not dissimilar from the process that would be used to create an herbal supplement. The tobacco is mixed into a slurry with a solvent such as ammonia, which frees the nicotine from its salt-based form and increases the yield of the extraction process. With further distillation and refinement, the final product is a pharmaceutical-grade nicotine that’s over 99-percent pure.
Synthetic nicotine, as the name implies, is nicotine that’s not extracted from tobacco leaves and is instead synthesized in a laboratory setting. Every laboratory has its own method for creating synthetic nicotine, but the general process involves taking a molecule that’s a precursor to nicotine and mixing it with a chemical that triggers a reaction and changes the nicotine precursor into nicotine. The nicotine is then extracted from the solution through fractional distillation or by introducing a solvent that forces the nicotine to crystalize.
Are All E-Liquid Makers Switching to Synthetic Nicotine in 2021?
It is highly likely that virtually every e-liquid maker in the United States will be using synthetic nicotine by the end of 2021. The vaping industry has never experienced a transition as rapid as the switch to tobacco-free nicotine will be, and there are three reasons for that.
- The vaping industry is currently fraught with regulatory issues. Hundreds of e-liquid makers have attempted to take millions of vape juice products through the premarket application process, and only one product to date – the Vuse cigalike – has received approval. Millions of e-liquids, meanwhile, have been denied and have no way to remain on the market. Many of the makers of those products have transitioned to synthetic nicotine with the view that the FDA can’t regulate e-liquid as a tobacco product if it contains no tobacco-derived ingredients.
- The producers of synthetic nicotine, after years of effort, have finally refined their processes to the point where tobacco-free nicotine is very affordable and completely viable for use in commercial products. E-liquid makers have wanted to switch to synthetic nicotine for years, but the pricing wasn’t attractive until now. Now that tobacco-free nicotine is so affordable, the laboratories are selling as much of it as they can possibly make. The demand is definitely greater than the supply at the moment.
- As mentioned above, the makers of vape juice have wanted to use synthetic nicotine in their products for virtually as long as vaping has existed. Vapers have wanted it as well. The move away from tobacco-derived nicotine severs the independent vaping industry’s last remaining connection with traditional tobacco products, finally satisfying a desire that vaping consumers and business owners have had for years.
Does Synthetic Nicotine Have Any Benefits?
So, what’s it going to be like when the vaping industry completes its transition to synthetic nicotine? You’re probably curious to know whether synthetic nicotine has any benefits other than the ones mentioned above. Tobacco-free nicotine is a good thing in the sense that it provides the American vaping industry with a potential way to continue operating, and it’s also a good thing from a philosophical standpoint in that it creates a clear separation between the vaping and tobacco industries. What about you as the end user, though? Does synthetic nicotine have any benefits for you?
In short, there is no research suggesting – and no reason to believe – that synthetic nicotine is any healthier or less risky to use than tobacco-derived nicotine. Remember that the tobacco-derived nicotine used for e-liquid production is already more than 99-percent pure. Although some makers of synthetic nicotine may suggest that their products are purer than the existing pharmaceutical-grade nicotine, there’s currently no evidence to prove that.
Some people, however, find that synthetic nicotine does seem to have a cleaner and less peppery flavor than tobacco-derived nicotine. Taste is subjective, but if you agree with that notion, you may find that the switch to tobacco-free nicotine improves the flavors of your favorite e-liquids.
Does Synthetic Nicotine Feel Different From Regular Nicotine?
If you enjoy your vaping experience as it currently is and don’t want anything to change, the good news for you is that you don’t have to worry about the possibility of synthetic nicotine feeling different or less satisfying compared to tobacco-derived nicotine. Most people find that they’re not able to detect any difference at all between the two. If anything, people who prefer to use higher-nicotine e-liquids actually tend to report that synthetic nicotine feels better from a user experience standpoint because it seems to be less likely to trigger hiccups. If you’ve ever dealt with hiccups when using higher-nicotine e-liquids, you’ll probably be extremely happy with the industry’s transition to synthetic nicotine vape juice. The same seems to be true of other alternative nicotine products derived from synthetic nicotine.
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