November 07, 2020 4 min read
The vaping industry has been around for well over a decade now, and its evolution has been rapid and impressive. We’ve all observed the radical advancements in vaping technology in terms of the astounding hardware that has come out over the years. E-liquids themselves have evolved as well, in equally stunning ways.
The large majority of people who vape are primarily interested in the nicotine that’s in e-liquids, unsurprisingly. But few do question just how the nicotine in e-liquids is derived. When the vaping market first began, e-liquids were all made with freebase nicotine, which is the same nicotine used in cigarettes. Invented by the tobacco companies several decades ago, freebase nicotine is chemically altered tobacco-derived nicotine that’s designed to be stronger, thus making it more addictive. The issue with freebase nicotine is that it was never designed to be vaporized and proved to be extremely harsh and irritating along the throat when vaped at higher output levels.
Then came salt-based nicotine, which is an alternative to freebase nicotine. It’s nicotine extracted from tobacco and combined with benzoic acid, which makes it more potent and less harsh. This type of nicotine is now extremely popular, and most e-cigarettes use it.
But there’s a new development in the e-liquid industry, and it’s tobacco-free nicotine, which is commonly shortened to “TFN.” As you will see, TFN could very well become the future of the vaping industry.
Tobacco-free nicotine, in short, is synthetic nicotine. Up until now, nicotine used in vaping products was derived from the tobacco plant, which naturally has a high nicotine content. It’s worth noting that other plants contain nicotine as well, including eggplants, tomatoes and potatoes. But, extracting nicotine from these plants, which only have trace amounts of nicotine, would be an outrageously laborious and costly process.
TFN was developed in recent years to be an alternative to naturally occurring nicotine. It’s created in a laboratory, and so it’s completely synthetic in nature. However, when it’s absorbed into the human body, it behaves exactly as tobacco-derived nicotine, and so its effects are identical.
Maybe you know that the FDA has had a complicated relationship with the vaping industry for years. According to the FDA, all vaping products made with tobacco-derived nicotine are considered tobacco products. This has meant that standard vaping products have been subjected to the same regulations as products like cigarettes and chewing tobacco.
The FDA’s Deeming Rule of 2016 determined that moving forward, all vaping products would be subjected to the same standards and rules as traditional tobacco products. Complicating matters further, the FDA subjected the vaping industry to the PMTA deadline this year, which stands for the premarket tobacco application. This required all vaping companies to submit their products for FDA approval individually, due to their being considered tobacco products.
This rule demanded that vaping products must be proven to be conducive to public health. However, the FDA’s guidelines regarding vaping products have been notoriously strict, and some argue that they have been stricter than standard tobacco products like cigarettes.
Fascinatingly, the FDA has also determined that tobacco-free nicotine is not classified as a tobacco product. Therefore, companies that produce e-juices made with TFN rather than tobacco-derived nicotine are seemingly exempt from these regulations and approval requirements.
Now, you can understand a major appeal of using TFN rather than tobacco-derived nicotine. E-liquid companies feel that they are essentially off the hook as they are no longer classified as tobacco companies. There are other appealing factors to using TFN as well.
Nicotine that’s derived from the tobacco plant is known for potentially having decently high levels of impurities. Many of these impurities are known toxins to the human body. Regulating the purification process of tobacco-derived nicotine compounds has been a struggle, which means that users of e-liquids containing this derivative could be at risk of inhaling potentially harmful impurities on a daily basis.
Tobacco-free nicotine does not contain such impurities, because its production is completely controlled, and because, obviously, it does not come from the tobacco plant. This is a huge advantage, and a serious gamechanger for an industry constantly trying to prove its safety and legitimacy.
Another factor that’s rarely discussed is that e-liquid companies that derive their nicotine from the tobacco plant are keeping the tobacco industry alive and well. They’re getting their nicotine from the same farms that are supplying the cigarette industry with its tobacco. Therefore, e-liquid brands are helping cigarette companies stay afloat. This creates an ethical dilemma, needless to say. By relying on TFN rather than tobacco-derived nicotine, e-liquid companies can operate independently of the tobacco industry.
And, like we said, TFN behaves just like regular nicotine in the body, and so there is no difference when it comes to how this type of e-liquid affects a person. It still provides the same satisfying nicotine buzz.
Interestingly, because TFN is completely free of impurities, it’s more flavorless and odorless than nicotine extracted from the tobacco plant. What this means is that e-liquid companies don’t need to use as much flavoring and sweetener in order to attempt to mask the faint tobacco flavor of e-liquids. This leads to cleaner formulas overall.
Well, for one thing, if the entire e-liquid industry were to switch to this type of nicotine, then it would be completely isolated from the tobacco industry. Right now, TFN is a patented substance, which means that e-liquid companies cannot produce it in house. But, things could change in the future, which would give these brands more control over their products, which is always a good thing.
TFN is an extremely promising development in the vaping industry, for a multitude of reasons. At Swagg Sauce, we are excited about how tobacco-free nicotine will take the world of vaping to new heights, offering a cleaner product while helping e-liquid brands stay independent from the tobacco industry.
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