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March 29, 2015

Formaldehyde & Vaping: The Truth

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Written by: vapeadmin
formaldhyde and ecigs

Although it’s widely accepted that vaping nicotine is safer than smoking cigarettes, the logistics of how much more so are highly debated – recently, a controversial New York Times article reported on Nicotine and Tobacco Research finding amounts of formaldehyde (a carcinogen) in the vapor from some e-cig tanks.

This study has sparked a heated debate over vaping. Many e-cig users like to think that what they’re doing is safe – this finding appears to throw a wrench in that bubble. However, when the study is broken down and examined closely, we see that with the right safety measures, formaldehyde isn’t a risk for responsible vapers.

What’s formaldehyde and why does it matter?

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. A carcinogen is a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue. When you smoke a cigarette, the burning ember releases 60+ carcinogens into the tobacco smoke – this is why so many smokers get different cancers all over their bodies.

The finding in the New York Times found only one carcinogen (formaldehyde) present in some nicotine vapor from certain tanks. These low quality tanks make the nicotine juice much too hot, and with that excessive, unsafe heat comes the formation of formaldehyde.

The overheating literally changes which chemicals are present in the vapor you inhale.

Ordinary e-cigs still okay

Disposable e-cigs, where you simply screw a cartridge onto a rechargeable battery, are not included in this formaldehyde problem. The problem comes with the tanks that are operated by separate, adjustable-voltage batteries.

If these batteries produce too much power, yes, you will get a bigger hit, but you will also increase the temperature to the point where formaldehyde is produced. This is one of the reasons why it’s so easy and so tempting to overheat your tank – more heat means more delicious vapor, but also more not-so-delicious carcinogens.

The study found that there was a drastic increase in toxins from 3.2 volts to 4.8 volts, but aside from that, the quantity was relatively hard to measure.

The problem that this study poses

E-cigs are supposed to be a healthy alternative to cigarettes – especially with the lack of government intervention in the market as a whole, health findings like this can be very worrisome for the future of e-cig regulation. If the proper precautions aren’t taken, e-cig users (who think that they’re being safe) may be using faulty tanks and inhaling chemicals along with the nicotine hit.

That means lawsuits and regulation.

Luckily, from what we know now, this problem with formaldehyde is 100% avoidable. You just have to be smart with how you vape. There’s no reason to worry if you take certain precautions – and anyways, when you’re eating or inhaling something, you should always try to be as safe as possible.

Steps to vaping safely

Don’t assemble your own rig as a newbie

The easiest way to vape too hot is by doing this: buying an assortment of different parts and putting them together with absolutely no knowledge on how they interact with one another.

If you try to do this, there’s a very good chance that you’ll end up producing too much power, and if you’re inhaling formaldehyde, you’ll never even know it.

Start small. As a beginner vaper, you can start with the minimum voltage and still be blown away. As you grow and become more knowledgeable about how your system works, you can gradually increase the voltage.

Keep the voltage under 3.2V until new research comes out

Although we can’t pinpoint the exact voltage when formaldehyde becomes a problem with vaping, we can see through empirical evidence that nothing over 3.2V should be pushed.

If you’re tempted to increase the voltage to get bigger hits, you can always try increasing the concentration of nicotine in your e-liquid instead.

Don’t get knockoff brands (liquid or tanks)

Knockoff/poorly made e-cigs (such as most of the ones sold from China) will lead to inaccurate voltage measurements. Unless the machines are assembled with care and there’s a strong commitment to quality, tanks can get dangerous – period.

Also, a knockoff liquid can contain certain chemicals in it right off the bat. Reputable liquid sellers will test their batches for contaminants – lesser-known or knockoff ones will not.

Go with a reputable brand that’s known for the quality of its products – period.

Don’t keep the battery running

Seriously, don’t! Take your hit, let go of the battery, and let the unit cool off before your next hit.

If you take hits too frequently, the battery will never cool down and you’ll be at a much higher risk for formaldehyde.


Conclusion: not certain safety, but it looks good

As e-cigs have only been popular for a short time, there aren’t many studies on the long term effects of inhaling nicotine vapor, either good or bad.

Studies like this formaldehyde can be offputting to some vapers – always be sure to read the study in full before making up your mind, though – vaping appears to be free of toxins unless a certain threshold of voltage and heat is breached.

For now, be careful with your tanks, make sure to stay below 3.2V, and be sure to keep up on the latest vaping research. Good luck, and happy vaping


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