What is vaping?

Vaping is the inhaling of an aerosol or vapour created by an electronic cigarette, vape pen, or personal vaporizer (known as “mods”). They are different from cigarettes in that they don’t burn (or combust) the inhaled substances.

Vaping devices can be used to inhale variety of substances that are usually in liquid form. The device consists of a mouthpiece, a battery, a cartridge for e-liquid or e-juice, and a heating component that is powered by a battery. The battery heats up the heating component, which turns the contents of the e-liquid into an aerosol that is inhaled.

What’s in the aerosol/vapour?

It’s not just a water vapour that the vape produces. In vaping liquids, nicotine and/or flavouring ingredients are dissolved in a liquid mixture. This mixture is typically made up of propylene glycol and/or glycerol (vegetable glycerin) and other chemicals. Flavouring ingredients include chemicals and blends of chemicals used to make different flavours.

All legally sold vapes in BC contain nicotine. The level of nicotine can vary. Since July 2021, the Nicotine Concentration in Vaping Products Regulations establish a maximum concentration of 20 mg/mL for vaping products manufactured in or imported into Canada. Legal vaping substances now contain a maximum of 20 mg/ml of nicotine.

Nicotine forms

There are two forms of nicotine commonly used in vaping liquids:

  • Freebase nicotine

Freebase nicotine is nicotine that has been dissolved in a liquid mixture, typically propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin, and other chemicals. Freebase nicotine products can be used in refill liquids and, more rarely, in cartridges for closed systems.

  • Nicotine salts

Nicotine salts refer to nicotine that has been dissolved in a liquid mixture that is chemically adjusted to be weakly acidic. Much like free-base nicotine products, these liquids contain propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin, as well as flavouring and other chemicals. Nicotine salts can be used in refill liquids and in cartridges for closed systems.

Find out more

HealthLink BC: Vaping

Health Canada: Vaping