Even so young an industry will be confronted with rumours, outright lies, and pernicious “alternative facts”. Among these, there is a particularly damaging urban myth, namely antifreeze in your e-liquid! Don’t panic just yet, this is obviously fake news.
This modern myth is as usual the result of people jumping to conclusions, as one of the main ingredients in e-liquids exists in certain types of antifreeze. So what is at the heart of this conspiracy theory? In this case the culprit is propylene glycol, a proven germicide which has been studied and used for over 40 years. Used in e-juice products as a base for flavouring (it’s also the ingredient that generates the hit sensation at the back of the throat), PG is indeed present in antifreeze compositions. Just like water. Thankfully, drinking water is not the same as drinking antifreeze.
Ethylene glycol however is very dangerous, and has a particular sweetened flavour. If ingested, it can cause a sensation of drunkenness, unfortunately followed by nausea and vomiting. A few hours later, this can devolve into a coma and cause serious damage as the liver will break it down into other toxic elements. This is not the case with propylene glycol.
PG in food products
Propylene glycol is almost scentless. It has a very subtle, sweet aroma, however not enough to be used as a sweetener. It is non-toxic and present in numerous processed food products, in particular on the American market. Certain tea and infusion products, not to say ice cream and chocolate cake, include propylene glycol in their composition. This is not a naturally-occuring ingredient, however you have probably eaten it before.
The other main ingredient in e-liquid, vegetal glycerin or VG, is also harmless. VG is even recommended for the small subset with an allergy to PG, and who can enjoy 100% VG juices with no adverse reactions.