I see more and more e-cigarette users around me making their own liquid instead of buying industrial products already assembled. They use exactly the same components (glycerin, propylene glycol, flavour, and optionally nicotine) as the industry, and they decide to do that for various reasons: taste, fun, money, and even health for some.

This health reason is the one that makes me ask a question here:

I have the impression that DIYing liquid is actually unsafe. Because there is more dust in a regular room than in a laboratory, and also because the bottles, pipes, etc, used for making/storing the liquid are unlikely to be as clean as those used in professional laboratories.

This being said, I might be wrong or missing something. And I can't find any serious reference regarding this issue, to make my mind.


3 Answers 3


NOTE: I have no affiliation to any companies mentioned below and I am not advocating one company over another for any particular product.

Links to products on sale are for examples only

There are many places including Totally Wicked, where you can buy kits to make your own e-liquid.

As long as you

  • use flavourings which are made for e-liquids not food flavourings
  • use pharmaceutical grade ingredients such as those provided in Totally Wicked's kit
  • do not use ingredients containing Diacetyl, Acetoin or Acetyl Propionyl, and
  • correctly mix the liquids in the correct ratios - maybe with the help of mixing calculators

you are then doing everything you can to be as safe as possible.

Diacetyl was banned in eliquids in the UK in 2016 under the EU Tobacco Products Directive as it was attributed to the cause of popcorn lung (also known as Bronchiolitis obliterans). The thing is, Acetyl Propionyl and Acetoin are chemically similar to Diacetyl and therefore it is considered wise to avoid them too.


Dust shouldn't be too big an issue as they're not inhaling a mist, they're inhaling the evaporated fumes.

As far as health goes, it would depend much more on the quality of ingredients they're getting. I'm not talking about microbiologic or viral issues either, I'm talking like the ppm of heavy metals contained in the syrup. Lab cleanliness certainly is important, but not as important as the purity of the starting ingredients.

Almost all e-juice on the market is USP grade. If you were worried about contaminants, just by using reagent grade or higher and a cheap DIY glove box with basic sterilizing equipment, you've already exceeded the cleanliness of every commercial e-juice on the market that I've seen. After that it's just a matter of following proper ISO protocols in regard to laboratory cleanliness and how much money you want to spend. Cheapest option for a sterile e-juice would be to build a large positive pressure glove box and use only sterile pre packaged tools and sterilization and depyrogenation of beakers/etc. all of which are far, far beyond necessary for making a liquid you're are then going to deliver by dumping into an open-air vial and then super heating to the point of vaporization + inhaling.

More than necessary, but not, in anyway, unobtainable for a home laboratory.

So the answer is "It depends". Are all DIYers going to be cleaner than all manufacturers? No. Are all manufacturers going to be cleaner than all DIYers? Also no. Is your friend's DIY juice 'good enough' to use? I would ask to watch him while he makes it, take note of his lab practices and chemical purity levels, and then make my decision based on how much his lab resembles the cleanliness standards of your average meth lab.

Really though, if he's at least following basic food safety protocols, and not using some below-food-grade chemicals to make his e-juice you're probably not going to die if you take a hit.

  • 2
    We require supporting references here. They don't have to be extensive but they do have to support your main factual claims.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jan 25, 2018 at 5:35
  • @CareyGregory I don't understand, at all. My main factual claim is 'it depends'. The issue with demanding 'supporting references' is a question like this is a simple logic question and the answer is not something of a hypothesis, it's a basic proof, a boolean, logical true or false. "Is making your own e-juice healthier" - there was not enough variables given to answer that question so I gave a few possible scenarios and proved the answer could be true or false as well as provided a practical method of determining within personal tolerances the safety of a product produced at home vs a lab
    – Noah Wood
    Jan 25, 2018 at 7:16
  • 2
    You make several factual claims. For example, most e-juice is USP grade. Sources supporting those claims are what's expected.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jan 25, 2018 at 15:18
  • Ah! Well I didn't expect to need to cite anecdotal evidence as my name appears right next to the post. From what I have seen nearly every e-juice on the market is rated under USP (United States Pharmacopeia) which would make it USP grade, and not reagent or A.C.S. which have objectively higher purity standards (along with a higher production cost and value). Wouldn't be lower than USP because of FDA regulation, and to grade it higher would be a ludicrous waste of money which businesses are not want to do.
    – Noah Wood
    Jan 25, 2018 at 23:40
  • 2
    This is an old, much-debated topic here, and it has been firmly decided. Supporting references are required and lack of them may lead to downvotes and/or deletion of your answer. Personally, I think the rules are too strict, but the community sets the rules, not me. You can read the reasoning here health.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1/…
    – Carey Gregory
    Jan 26, 2018 at 2:21

I do not believe that you will be able to find a decent article which swings one way or the other due to the fact that this particular form of smoking is still in its relative infancy.

On top of this it is a fairly broad statement to declare something unsafe where individual methods may vary greatly. ( someone who works in a lab running elisa tests all day is going to take a little bit more care than your average high-school dropout. ) and on the flip-side of that coin I somehow doubt that the majority of manufacturers are properly sterilizing everything which comes into contact with the product and then following a complete clean-room protocol. I would guess that the standard of cleanliness is more in line with food preparation as opposed to pharmaceutical production.

The liquid itself would most likely provide a really nice environment for bacterial growth if it is stored at a appropriate temperature.

As far as I understand the majority of e-cigarettes use a wick which absorbs the liquid which runs out of the chamber and into a separate coil, which should filter the majority of non-liquid particles out of it.


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