Can you vape essential oils?

Vaping is still a very new concept and there isn’t much research that has been conducted to prove whether or not it’s safe.  Some claim vaping can help users quit smoking. The claims are true. Vaping hasn’t been around for a long time and scientists can’t fully comprehend its long-term effects on human beings. Therefore, experts are sort of sitting on the fence wondering whether it’s worth the risk- This is the main reason why vaping hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a smoking cessation technique. Now, to answer your question: Can you vape essential oils? Well, yes and no. Allow us to explain. For us to better answer this question, we have to understand what vaping is, the science behind it, and what happens when essential oils are vaped. 

What is vaping?

Vaping is one of the newest ways of consuming substances in vapor form using a vape pen or e-cigarette. An e-cigarette is an electronic device that heats liquid substances (e-liquid) to form the vapor that people inhale. In case you’re wondering, e-cigarettes contain nicotine, but the content varies with each model.

What are essential oils?

These are plant extracts in the form of aromatic compounds. They can be obtained from plant leaves, flowers, stems, or even roots by solvent extraction, wax embedding, distillation, and many other techniques. Essential oils were mainly used as perfumes to spice up rooms. This was until the discovery of an alternative medicine practice known as aromatherapy.  Aromatherapy is the use of certain scents to induce healing in the human body. The effect is usually psychological and brings about a relaxed and calming effect on its subjects. A good example is clove oils.  Ever since people discovered the healing capabilities of essential oils, they have tried consuming it in every possible way. Essential oils are now embedded in soaps, applied on the skin, and even mixed with food and drinks to add flavor. We’re now devising ways we can directly inhale these healing compounds. Therefore the question: Can you put essential oils in a vape?

What happens when essential oils are vaped?

We have to appreciate the fact all essential extracts are natural oils. This means they break down into VOCs once they’re heated past certain temperatures (usually 150 to 180 ℉). Why don’t you opt for the good old bongs? They produce less heat and have a water filtering system that further cools down the smoke. Interested? Here is more information about water bongs. VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds that react with the oxygen in the atmosphere to create harmful substances such as carbon monoxide. These harmful substances are building blocks of toxic compounds like tar that damage the lungs, throat, teeth, and can even cause cancer. 

What about distilling essential oils?

Some argue that they have been diffusing essential oils in their homes for years without suffering any serious health complications. Why haven’t experts made a big deal out of it? First, it’s important to note that not all essential oils are the same. Some are stable at 212℉. In addition to that, home diffusers don’t produce a lot of heat enough to decompose essential oils to VOCs.

Vaping and essential oils

Vape pens and e-cigarettes produce a lot of heat. A standard vape pen can hit 800℉ almost instantly! This makes it impossible to vape essential oils without decomposing them into harmful VOCs.  In addition to that, e-liquids also contain other chemical substances that combust into carcinogens. These are some of the harmful chemicals to look out for in vaping liquids (e-liquids):
  • Nicotine
  • Propylene glycol
  • Ethyl vanillin
  • Diacetyl
  • Acetyl pyrazine
  • Methyl cyclopentenone

What are the side effects of vaping essential oils?

Up to this point, we must both agree that essential oils are toxic when vaped.  For now, you’re better off with diffusing essential oils, until experts come up with safer ways to inhale these healing compounds.  Here are the noted side effects of vaping essential oils:
  • Coughing fits
  • Swelling itchy throat
  • Asthma trigger
  • Bronchospasm

What about these “specialized” vape pens for essential oils?

Some manufacturers claim to have come up with specialized vape pens that don’t decompose essential oils. You need to be very careful and know the boiling point of your essential oils before you use these vape pens. Even then, you’re not 100% safe from harmful substances. A small amount of your essential oil will be broken down into VOCs. It might not sound like a bad thing, but it will be deadly when consumed over a long time.

Conclusion: Can you use essential oils in a vape?

Yes, but at your own risk.  There is still a lot that remains a mystery to scientists on vaping essential oils. For now, just keep and stick to approved consumption methods.