The Evolution of E-cigarette

The Origins

Till recently, Tobacco was the primary ingredient of a cigarette or cigar across the world. Tobacco was the native plant of South American and Mesoamerican region and had been used by the indigenous tribes there long before it achieved a universal status. Infact, the credit for making Tobacco a global phenomenon goes to the great explorer Christopher Columbus. It was Columbus who introduced Tobacco, maize, potato and tomatoes to the world in the 15th century through what is now called as the Great Columbian Exchange.

However, soon these products found instant global acceptance and became native to wherever they went. While the other three, Maize, Potato and Tomatoes, have now become a vital part of everyday food basket, Tobacco has gained notoriety due to the presence of Nicotine, a highly addictive substance. For a long time a lot of research has happened across the world which aimed to segregate Nicotine from tobacco. While these researchers achieved success in varying degrees, the search still continues to find or develop a safer alternative to Nicotine.

In the last few years, electronic cigarette, also called as an e-cigarette, has emerged as one of the strongest alternatives to the conventional tobacco cigarettes.  Looking just like an ordinary cigarette, pen, pipe or a cigar, the e-cigarette attempts to give the user the same benefit as that of a conventional tobacco cigarette, but without its ill-effects.  Today, an e-cigarette comes in multiple forms like disposable, re-usable, re-chargeable and refillable. The first patent for an e-cigarette was filed by Herbert. A. Gilbert in the year 1963. While he succeeded in creating the first working version of an e-cigarette, the product proved to be very much ahead of its time and failed to gather adequate customer base, thus failing in the market.

However, the credit of making e-cigarette as a global phenomenon goes to a Chinese chemist by name Hon Lik. He invented the modern day e-cigarette in the year 2003. Ever since that day, the e-cigarette has not looked back and has caught on as wildfire across the world. In 2016 alone, it was estimated by the CDC that in US over 3.2% American adults were actively using the e-cigarettes.

What is the e-cigarette also known as?

Across the world, an e-cigarette is also known by various names like e-cigs, vaporiser cigarette or simply vape. However, irrespective of its name, the e-cigarette is as popular as ever. Infact, in certain countries, the e-cigarette is promoted as an alternative to the conventional tobacco cigarette and used as a de-addiction device.

Irrespective of what it is called, an e-cigarette consists of the following components that play a crucial:

  1. Cartridge or mouthpiece.
  2. Heating element
  3. Battery to power the entire device
  4. Electronic controller to make it work efficiently.

The cartridge or the mouthpiece is the one that holds the actual content of the e-cigarette called as e-juice or e-liquid. The e-juice is what is actually inhaled by the user. Whenever the user sucks air from the mouthpiece, the sensor inside the mouthpiece activates the heating element. This hot air blast passes through or over the e-juice and creates vapours that are inhaled by the user. This process is also called as “Vaping” and as the device appears like a pen, an e-cigarette is also called as a Vape pen in some parts of the world.

The e-liquid is available in multiple flavours like mint, fruits, menthol or tobacco. Different brands of e-cigarette makers offer a set of standard and some unique tasting e-liquids. Also, a lot many new flavours are currently being developed to suit different pallets as we speak.

What is the composition of e-liquid?

The e-liquid or e-juice is the consumable part of the e-cigarette. It creates vapours when a blast of hot air passes over it.  The composition and flavour creation is a very technical process and is done under strict supervision in very advanced laboratories under the guidance of trained chemists. It is in such labs that the team of chemists arrive at the exact combination to create a uniquely tasting e-juice. A typical e-juice generally consists of following elements in varying proportions:

  1. Vegetable Glycerine (VG)
  2. Propylene Glycol (PG)
  3. Desired flavour (nicotine, fruit flavour, mint etc)

Each element in this e-juice has a specific purpose.

Vegetable Glycerine (VG)

Generally VG is sourced from palm trees and is thick and viscous in nature.  Being sweet to taste, VG was primarily used in industries engaged in manufacturing processed food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals as a sweetener and preservative. Its ability to produce lot of vapour when heated is what makes it an important component of e-liquid.

Propylene Glycol (PG)

Being edible, PG is widely used in products like toothpaste, shampoos and a host of medicines. Also, just like VG, PG too produces a lot of vapour when heated.

Desired Flavour

This is the element that gives a particular flavour to the e-juice. This component is very critical, as PG and VG do not have any taste of their own. Their role is restricted to producing vapour alone. It is the flavouring substance that gives the e-juice its peculiar taste. One of the most popular flavours across the world is that of Nicotine. Nicotine is that substance which makes tobacco addictive. So, by using a low-nicotine content e-juice, the user can control the nicotine intake greatly and eventually may even get de-addicted.

Conclusion

Convenience and flavours are the key attributes that make an e-cigarette popular when it comes to recreational consumption. Also, by controlling the concentration of Nicotine in the e-juice, users can even attempt to get them off the habit of consuming tobacco. Also, e-cigarette allows the user to experiment with a variety of flavours and that too with absolute convenience. In certain cases, the e-cigarette does not even produce any smoke, thus allowing the user to continue discretely.

While there are a lot of options available when it comes to e-cigarette and the e-juice flavours, it is the user who needs to weigh the pros and cons to arrive at the right decision before buying the e-cigarette.