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Can Vaping Cause Nicotine Poisoning?

15th Feb 2017

Man Taking A PuffNicotine has always been a hotly debated topic and the fascination around it has only grown since vaping boomed in popularity. Whether you think it’s on a par with caffeine or a mere whiff of it is enough to do you serious harm, it’s likely that you have an opinion on this substance.

So who has the facts straight? Those who say nicotine is a deadly poison or those who say it’s nothing at all to worry about? As with most debates, the answer isn’t black and white. In today’s post we’re going to look at the risks nicotine can present to vapers and whether or not it’s possible to suffer from nicotine poisoning after vaping.

We want to preface this post by saying that the figures discussed are taken from medical papers and studies that have been linked within this piece. We want to stress that all figures are approximations and each person reacts to the consumption of nicotine differently, so if at any point you suffer from any of the symptoms listed below we urge you to speak to a medical professional and abstain from vaping until both you and they are happy for you to continue.

How much nicotine is dangerous?

Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to do some research into how much nicotine would have to be ingested to kill the average human. We say ‘average’ human because there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to how different bodies react to different substances. Veteran vapers and smokers would have a much higher tolerance to nicotine than non-vapers and non-smokers, and factors like age, weight and medical history all play their own role.

It’s been put forward in the past that a mere 30-60mg of nicotine can kill an adult human but in 2013 Bernd Mayer published a study refuting these claims, suggesting that the figure came from ‘dubious self-experiments in the nineteenth century’ and was wildly outdated. Mayer shared the results of his own research, estimating that a more accurate figure ranges between 500-1000mg, which converts to a plasma concentration level of 4 mg/L (with the original 30-60mg figure coming in at around 0.18 mg/L).

Can I get nicotine poisoning from vaping?

Now we have an idea of how much nicotine is considered deadly to humans, let’s take a look at whether it’s possible to consume this amount by vaping. For our facts and figures we’re going to be looking at a study Dr Farsalinos published in 2014 where he discussed nicotine absorption from e-cigarette use.

Using the figures from the above study (when using an 18 mg/ml e-liquid, ten puffs in five minutes resulted in a plasma nicotine level of 6.59 μg/L, N.B: 1 μg/L, is 1/1000 of a mg) we can see that it would be extremely difficult for an adult human to die from nicotine poisoning through vaping. The sheer amount you would have to vape would be almost impossible, particularly given nicotine’s two hour half life.

Even considering that it’s almost physically impossible to vape often enough to cause nicotine poisoning, there’s also the fact that (most!) adults are great at self-regulating. If you’re eating a huge meal and start to feel sick, chances are that you’ll stop eating. It’s the same for vaping; if you start to experience nausea (one of the earliest symptoms of over-consumption of nicotine) then you’ll more than likely put down your vape pen until the feeling subsides.

What are the symptoms of nicotine poisoning?

Young Woman Vaping

So now let’s look at the symptoms of nicotine poisoning. Some vapers do notice a nauseas feeling if they’re using a stronger e-liquid than usual, or if they’ve been vaping far more than they’re used to. Our advice is to hold off on vaping and contact a medical professional if you notice any of the following side effects during or after vaping:

-Stomach cramps

-Nausea

-Increased salivation

-Headaches

-Diarrhoea

-Agitation

-Confusion

-Muscle spasms

-Vomiting

-Convulsions

Are there any other risks?

While it might be difficult to overdose on nicotine by vaping it, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other risks you should be aware of.

It may seem like common sense but e-liquid should never be swallowed under any circumstances. If you spill e-liquid onto your skin then wash and sanitise the area immediately; nicotine can be absorbed through the skin so the risks of handling nicotine should never be taken lightly.

Additionally, be extra cautious if there are children or pets in your home. Keep your e-liquid locked in a safe place that they cannot access. While the risk of an accident might be slim, any risk at all should be avoided so be sensible and keep your vaping equipment in a safe, secure place.

What about synthetic nicotine?

In 2016 a lot of buzz built up around the idea of synthetic nicotine, created by NextGenerationLabs and marketed almost exclusively to the vaping industry. It’s an interesting concept and something that promises to bring with it a whole host of benefits. Like the rest of the vaping community, we’re interested to see if synthetic nicotine has a place in the vaping industry and what impact this new development can bring to vaping.

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Got any burning questions about nicotine and vaping? Get in touch with our friendly team of vaping experts or send us your queries on Facebook or Twitter.