It was only a matter of time. As the electronic cigarette industry continues to grow from its once niche market to an over 10-digit juggernaut in sales, it’s not surprising some of today’s most notable trends have pervaded the vaping world. For example, the increased prominence of organic e-liquids.
What exactly ARE organic products?
Without getting mired in excessive detail, the “organic” label is applied to consumable products that must be derived from a USDA-approved source, or created using USDA-approved methods.
Products such as food, beverage, medications and vitamins can only be deemed “certified organic” if they adhere to the following standards (source: USDA.gov)
- Produced without excluded methods, (like, genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge).
- Produced using allowed substances. (Check out the USDA’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for more insight.)
- Overseen by a USDA National Organic Program-authorized certifying agent, following all USDA organic regulations.
To be considered “100% organic” a product must meet the above parameters, plus only contain ingredients that were produced and harvested from a USDA-approved organic environment. If these standards aren’t met, then companies cannot make an organic claim on their ads or packages.
But, it might just be a hard rule to govern. In other words, those brand-less “organic” gas station nacho chips might not be everything they claim to be. Caveat emptor.
What does “organic” mean for vape juice?
As you know, while the vaping industry has made wonderful strides in the last five years, it is still riddled with a pervasive “wild west” mentality. Between unclear labeling practices, questionable marketing, and even copyright infringement, many smaller vape companies seem content to simply collect your money while straddling the lines of ethics and legality.
So, when e-liquid companies suddenly begin touting products are “organic,” we take pause. Without concrete USDA regulations in place, or even consistent ingredient labeling standards, how are consumers supposed to determine if they’re vaping truly organic product?
Short of conducting tests themselves, it’s difficult. And considering most e-liquids contain some level of propylene glycol (PG) and/or nicotine, there’s a good chance they’re not vaping anything close to what authorities have deemed organic consumables.
But there is one way to move to a more organic vape juice, if that’s your goal. And it’s a simple one: Vape ONLY 100% vegetable glycerin (VG), nicotine-free e-liquid.
(Alright, maybe “simple” wasn’t the best word to use.)
VG is derived from plants, just as the name implies—though not as simple as it sounds. It can therefore be sourced from certified farms. If combined with 100% organic flavor extracts, this is a real possibility for interested parties. But this is the mostly a unicorn—not only are such liquids extremely hard to come by, companies are likely to charge you quite a bit for the trouble.
What about propylene glycol and nicotine?
Propylene glycol: No. While beneficial for improving flavor and throat hit in liquids, is a synthetically generated substance, automatically removing it from consideration. Fortunately, it’s also not essential for vaping, and can be omitted by those interested in a more organic approach.
Nicotine: Technically, nicotine can be certified organic. But the vast majority of nicotine on the market is from Asia and is derived from petroleum-based extraction methods. Also, it’s made in facilities not meant for the stringent rules of organic certification, and the incredible amounts of tobacco used for extraction are virtually impossible to be kept under such watch.
Which currently available e-liquids are certified organic?
Short answer? Very, very few. Obviously, we can’t analyze them all, and are wary to take many companies at face value.
That said, a handful of proven organic e-liquid companies have risen in prominence of late, and warrant attention—not only for diligently achieving and maintaining certified organic status, but also for producing darn tasty e-liquid.
Vape Organics is a wholesale-only manufacturer of USDA-certified organic e-liquids. They currently only sell to brick-and-mortar vape shops and online retailers. According to the company’s very detailed website, the sustainable production facility includes:
- In-house R&D department, lab and ISO-certified clean rooms
- Solar power
- In-house nicotine extraction
In addition to being 100% VG, Vape Organics liquids are vegan, free of GMOs, chemicals and artificial flavorings, and feature USDA-certified 100% organic tobacco. This ensures the extracts are organic, as well.
It’s a proprietary process they use for extraction, but the USDA deemed it worthy of the vaunted “100% organic” tag, making it good enough for us.
Kai’s Virgin Vapor is a longstanding member of the vape community, and has continued to build its brand around the concept of purity.
All of the company’s flavorings are certified organic, pesticide-free, GMO-free, and vegan. They assure, through the use of certified organic, USP-grade VG as a base, their liquids are 98.2-100% organic, depending on desired nicotine level.
Should you buy organic e-liquids?
While certain organic flavorings and extracts might be safer and healthier for your body to eat and digest, there’s no current evidence of what they might do when inhaled.
There is also a concern of cost. Obtaining these certifications, and performing the countless extra steps to achieve them, doesn’t come cheap. Prices vary, but in general, organically sourced e-liquids tend to be more expensive.
And since they’re 100% VG-based, organic vape juice also requires “thirstier,” heavier-wicking hardware, which leads to increased juice consumption. Vaping isn’t necessarily an inexpensive practice—why add extra costs where they may not be necessary?
This a debate that comes down to personal choice. In other words, does it make YOU feel better? If so, vape organic e-liquids!
This is a habit of preference, and you should only vape juice in a way with which you’re comfortable. If that means gaining a little peace of mind from 100% organic ingredients, there’s little argument to be had.