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What's the Deal with Vaping Alcohol and Water?

Gary Simpson

What's the Deal with Vaping Alcohol and Water?

As vaping has become more of a mainstream hobby, everyone’s at least heard of it and most see vapers on a regular basis, obviously people have begun experimenting with vaping other substances they intake regularly besides THC, CBD or Nicotine. And what are the two most popular substances that may lend themselves to vaping? Why, alcohol and water of course. Let’s take a look at this and see if it’s a good idea to try:

What’s in Standard Vape Juices?

Before looking into alternative substances to vape with, let’s first go over what people generally vape in their rigs on a day-to-day basis.

E-cig Juice, Vape Juice or Nicotine Juice, whatever you want to call it, are by and large made up of the same base ingredient with additives such as nicotine and flavors added. These are Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerine (VG). They both have low vaporization temperatures, bond with other chemicals or flavors well and have a long history of use in a lot of fields safely. This has made them the obvious go-to for use in vaping. It also is processed in the body fairly innocuous into acids that naturally occur in the body anyways, so for the most part it’s a good choice for a harm reduction substance.

Why Not Water?

Well, you may ask, why don’t we use water then? We know for a fact that water is safe for the body as well. At first glance this makes sense, but there’s a few reasons water isn’t used in vaping:

The Heat

First off it’d be too hot. Water vaporizers at a much higher temperature than either PG or VG, that’s what steam is after all. If you inhale large quantities of steam directly into your lungs you risk scalding your throat and mouth, and potentially the alveoli of your lungs though most likely it would cool down before getting that far.

Still, mouth burns and throat burns are no fun. If we used water vapor most people who vape would end up with incredibly hoarse voices and constant sores in their throats and mouth. Definitely not great.


Furthermore water lacks viscosity when compared to PG and VG. Vape rigs need to maintain a fairly sealed chamber to avoid leaks, and park of the reason we’re not constantly spilling juice all over ourselves is that PG and VG are thick liquids that don’t want to spill out onto everything.

Pure water in a vape would be like having a steaming hot cup of water with you at all times, burning your mouth, throat and body wherever it spilled out. Also, not great.

The Flavor

Finally, steam just doesn’t hold flavor as well as vapes with PG and VG. It simply isn’t a very satisfying hit, even beyond all these other issues. It will dull out any flavor that is put into it, and if you’re using it with THC it won’t even bind with those molecules. Water works best with essential oil set ups, but you don’t want to inhale oils directly. Pure water is best left to humidifiers and misters for in-home use.

However, there is a caveat to all this. Small amounts of distilled water can work well for diluting e-cig juices, as long as you’re not using only water in the tank. Some people can be sensitive to PG as well, and diluting the mix with distilled water is a great way of toning back these issues. It’s also useful if a flavor or nicotine mix is too strong, a dilution of about 15% distilled water will still maintain most of the hit of a Glycol juice.

How About Vaping Alcohol?

There’s a good chance you’ve stumbled across a video of someone vaping alcohol to some degree of success in the past. But you may be wondering if there’s any legitimacy to the claims of alcohol being viable as a vape product. If so is it safe to do? Is it better than drinking it?

How Do You Vape Alcohol?

Vaping alcohol through a standard tank is not a good idea. Alcohol has a very low vaporization point, and a low flammability point. This means your tank will have the opposite problem that it would with water, it’d get too hot for the alcohol. In some cases their may even be a risk of fire doing it this way. Not a great idea.

However, there are devices that can be used to vaporize alcohol. These are fairly safe, at least from the standpoint of catastrophic device failure like you’d get from vaping it in a standard rig, though there are other dangers.

Bypassing the Liver

When imbibing in alcohol in this manner it’s important to realize that you’re basically bypassing your body’s fail safe mechanisms, the stomach and the liver, and putting alcohol directly into your bloodstream.

This means two things. One, you will get drunk faster this way if enough is consumed. Two, you can get alcohol poisoning quite easily doing this. Users of this manner of alcohol consumption report, unsurprisingly, that it’s very easy to overdo it as it’s difficult to measure just how much alcohol you’re consuming when compared to counting your bottles.

Alcohol’s Drying Effect

So, when inhaling alcohol it has to pass through a number of sensitive membranes that really don’t want to have alcohol on them. Regular use of this manner of alcohol consumption will lead to dried out respiratory passages, making them very susceptible to infection. If you’ve ever had a sinus infection before, trust me, it’s not great.

Final Words

It may be fun to experiment around a bit, especially when first getting into vaping, but be careful with vaporizing compounds that aren’t specifically meant for it.

Water, at least, has its uses and worst case scenario you’ll get a bad taste and a minor burn. Alcohol on the other hand may have its uses as a novelty if used responsibly, but the risks are real.  There’s more tried and true compounds to be vaped instead of alcohol that are still fun.

It’s best to stick to good old PG and VG.

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