You may not know the phrase, but “bathtub e-juice” refers to e-liquid that could be mixed just about anywhere using ingredients of unknown quality and with unknown production standards. The frustrating thing is, you probably don’t know where your e-juice comes from or under what conditions it was mixed.
As we discussed in What Ingredients Are Used in E-liquids, there are just a few components used when making your vaping solution:
- Propylene glycol (PG), which is mostly harmless.
- Vegetable glycerine (VG) is made from plant triglycerides and is widely used in food.
- Nicotine, which is optional, can be toxic at extremely high levels and can make you quite ill at high levels – much higher than you would be exposed to when vaping.
- Flavoring, which is also optional. For the most part, flavoring is made using additives approved for use in food.
- Water, which is also optional and generally considered safe for human consumption.
What you need to be concerned with when it comes to bathtub e-juice is the quality of the ingredients used to make the e-juice and the cleanliness of the environment where the e-liquid is made.
For instance, if they use water, are they using it straight from the tap? Or are they running it through a reverse osmosis process to purify the water? In some parts of the world, you wouldn’t want to use tap water to brew coffee or make ice cubes for a cold drink – and that’s even true in parts of the US.
Quality Ingredients and a Clean Room
Reputable businesses will use only high-quality ingredients when making your vaping juice: PG and VG that meet USP standards, safe flavorings, and purified water – not the stuff that comes straight out of your tap.
Chemicals should be mixed in a clean room following professional standards. Those mixing the liquid should be wearing clean suits, have their mouths and noses covered, and wear gloves, especially when dealing with nicotine, which is easily absorbed through the skin. The clean room should have limited access and slightly high air pressure so that the flow is outward, not into the room.
Some shops and factories will even have a window where you can see the product being mixed so you know it is being done with the utmost care.
With bathtub e-juice, you don’t know where it’s made, how clean the environment is, how clean the person mixing it is, what precautions are being taken to avoid contamination, and how the ingredients have been stored. Anyone can put ingredients together, but that doesn’t mean the end result will be safe or even consistent.
The American E-Liquid Manufacturing Standards Association (AEMSA) has set standards for the e-juice industry, and AEMSA certification means that the liquid you are buying meets these standards.
ISO, the International Organization for Standards, has been working on global standards for the vaping industry since 2016 and hopes to release its standards this year.
In the US, the FDA is developing standards for the entire vaping industry, covering everything from e-juice and e-cig hardware to the batteries used in them.
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