Synthetic Nicotine: What Is It & Why Should Vapers Care
Let’s talk about synthetic nicotine.
Even if you didn’t know what it is a few months ago, you probably do now. It made a big splash in the vaping news since it was classified as a tobacco product… despite having as much to do with tobacco as it has with bananas. Meaning, not a damn thing.
Think of synthetic nicotine [or tobacco-free nicotine, as it’s known] as the ‘can’t believe this isn’t butter’ of the vaping world.
What is synthetic nicotine?
Synthetic nicotine is the nicotine that’s not derived from the tobacco plant. Instead, it’s produced in a lab by combining different elements into a molecule of nicotine.
The quality is pretty much the same, if not even better. And there’s no way you can tell the two nicotine molecules apart.
But why is all this important for vapers?
Well, it’s important because the current over-regulation of electronic vapes focuses on them using tobacco derivatives, such as nicotine. But since synthetic nicotine isn’t derived from tobacco, it doesn’t fall into this definition.
Or is that true?
Recent developments in the US have seen a crack-down on synthetic nicotine as well. What was once thought of as the salvation of the e-liquid industry, now falls under the FDA jurisdiction. But before we get to that, let’s check out what tobacco-free nicotine is and does it have any benefits.
Is Synth Nicotine the Same as Tobacco Free Nicotine?
Yes, this type of nicotine is also known as tobacco-free nicotine.
It’s also often referred to as ‘pure’ or ‘clean’… which is ridiculous. All nicotine is pure and clean, regardless of where it comes from. Provided, of course, that it has been properly manufactured.
Tobacco-free means tobacco leaf wasn’t used during the process of creating/extracting nicotine.
What Is It Used for?
The main use is for vaping purposes, of course, but also used in nicotine pouches, lozenges, and other nicotine replacement therapy products, as well as other synthetic nicotine products. Many users will say that there are no special or noticeable differences in taste, but there are claims presenting synth nicotine as a healthier option due to its pureness.
And while it has been proven again and again that nicotine as a compound doesn’t cause any type of lung problems, and isn’t a carcinogen, other compounds found inside the tobacco leaf due to its treatment can be. On that note, synthetic nicotine, made completely tobacco-free doesn’t get in touch with other compounds making it automatically safer.
In recent years it became part of many disposable e-cigarettes, cartridge pod systems, vape pens, and pretty much any other device that comes with prefilled e-juice tank.
What Are the Benefits of Synthetic Nicotine?
The biggest benefit of synth nicotine is the fact that you end up with absolutely ZERO tobacco impurities inside it.
For vape juice manufacturers, this is important because the nicotine is then completely tasteless and odorless. They don’t need to add extra flavors to hide the tinge of the tobacco leaf.
Also, in some rare cases, tobacco-derived nicotine can contain large amounts of nitrosamines that are dangerous. By using synth nicotine, this is avoided.
How is Synthetic Nicotine Made?
Don’t worry, I won’t fully dive into the scientific terms of the process, because in this day and age, with the advanced molecular technology we have at our disposal, it’s not that complex.
But I will run through some interesting parts and facts.
Basically, the whole process revolves around imitating something that already exists. In this case, that is nicotine. So, in order to mimic the nicotine alkaloid vastly found inside the tobacco plant, scientists created synthetic, BUT without using any tobacco derivatives.
Once the whole process is done you get a synthesized form of nicotine produced in FDA-approved facilities with absolutely no tobacco components. This allows for synthetic nicotine to be over 99.5% pure.
Unfortunately, the whole step-by-step process is still kept under the curtain by manufacturers, but it’s easy to assume they all have their own way of doing it.
Maybe for the best, because God knows we would get an idea of making it in our basement or something. The final result is identical nicotine to that which we already get from the tobacco plant. Depending on the companies and their policies, the base components for the synthesis process can differ, but in reality, it doesn’t make any difference. When I say that components can differ, they can come from different distributors and brands. The utility part needs to be the same, of course.
The end result is always the product with 100% pure nicotine, completely odorless and flavorless without any other compounds.
Is Synthetic Nicotine Safe?
In regards to public health and human consumption, it is safe, no questions asked.
And while some might disagree, mainly because it’s still somewhat similar to tobacco products. Let’s be real, it provides the same “service” as tobacco nicotine but it’s safer. There are many studies, such as this one published in 2021. providing enough evidence to remove synthetic nicotine from the equation regarding health issues.
And while its main reason for existing is to help reduce nicotine cravings for vapers or smokers, it has been stated that it’s a better alternative and way to transition. With the end result of completely removing nicotine from one’s life routine, of course.
Legality: Is Synthetic Nicotine Regulated?
Now, this is a good question.
For many manufacturers, using synthetic nicotine was a way to launch their products on the market without too much hustle from the government.
Initially, even though fully legal, it wasn’t regulated as it didn’t fall under the Tobacco Control Act. And while all these electronic cigarette companies were waiting for their PMTAs to be approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, which were likely to be refused, they turned to synth nicotine.
Yes, it was an obvious loophole but a good one.
For some time.
However, on March 15th, 2022 President Biden signed the omnibus spending bill which states that all synthetic nicotine and products that use it are now considered tobacco-derived products and are subject to FDA regulation, giving the FDA agency regulatory authority.
The law goes into effect on April 14th, 2022.
And then the whole hell breaks loose when it comes to Premarket Tobacco Product Applications.
Why Is Synthetic Nicotine Important for Vapers?
There is no doubt synthetic nicotine has its benefits.
One of the most notable is that is not derived from tobacco. As I mentioned before, while nicotine, as it is, doesn’t pose any danger to overall health, many compounds that can be found in tobacco can.
Even though it’s made in a lab, it still provides the same level of satisfaction as tobacco nicotine. You won’t be missing out or have weaker nicotine hits because of it.
It is tasteless and odorless, so your e-juice won’t taste or smell like anything else except the flavor written on the label.
Many manufacturers don’t joke around when placing their products and the same thing goes with synthetic nicotine. The same as all other vaping products it undergoes strict quality procedures. You can always look up certificates such as ISO 9001:2015, HACCP, and GHP/GMP standards.
And maybe the most important is the fact that synthetic nicotine, being tobacco-free, has more chances of helping you completely get rid of it in the long run.
Now, not to completely bash “regular” tobacco products, regardless of the type you decide to go with, vaping has been increasingly accepted as a less dangerous variant of consuming nicotine than traditional smoking.
And while Vaping community is just about to tackle yet another gruesome battle against Big Tobacco, regarding the new omnibus spending bill, I’m 100% sure synthetic nicotine will be a big part of the range regardless of the label.