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How efficient are e-cigarettes at nicotine delivery?

Discussion in 'Nicotine' started by kinabaloo, Nov 21, 2009.

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  1. kinabaloo

    kinabaloo Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Nicotine from analogs

    Analogs are about 10% efficient in delivering their nicotine content to the bloodstream. Some is not vaporised in time, being held in structures of cellulose etc; some exits in side-stream smoke.

    The amount stated on analog packets is the typical amount found to reach the bloodstream when smoked in typical style. This is in the range 0.5 - 1mg per cig. With the cig itself having about 10mg nicotine.

    Nicotine from E-Cigs

    Studies measuring absorbed levels of nicotine have shown that the nicotine absorbed is much lower than expected, given the content in the e-liquid. On the face of it the nicotine should have no problem being absorbed to a high level as the nicotine is both freebase and simply dissolved in a carrier liquid.

    If the nicotine was in salt form (acidic liquid), the nicotine would still be released efficiently as nicotine salts typically split easily on heating. Perhaps surprisingly it has been found to not be 100% efficient.

    Particle size

    One explanation, that I put forward many months ago, is that nicotine in liquid droplets (the mist/fog of re-condensed vapor) is not so easily absorbed / nicotine released from the liquid. In smoke, the nicotine arrives either as vapor or on tiny ash particles from which it can easily be in direct contact with the mucous membranes to be absorbed. In simple terms, the particle size is much larger with e-cig 'vapor' than with smoke.

    Fog particle size is approximately 10x larger than the ash particles in smoke.

    Mouth or Lung

    It also has been suggested that the nicotine in e-cig 'vapor' (mist) is absorbed more through the mouth and upper respiratory tract whereas the nicotine in smoke is more absorbed via the lungs, probably because of the larger particle size (does not travel so far), but perhaps also because of the nature of the carrier.

    Absorption Rate

    In any case, one can surmise that e-cig nicotine will be more slowly absorbed. Studies show this is the case, but not so slow as to fool absorption tests. Unless only some is relatively quickly absorbed and some takes much much longer, or is mostly exhaled.

    Loss in the Atomiser

    Hence I began to wonder if some of the nicotine was being lost in the atomiser, through oxidation and / or decomposition at the point of being heated and, particularly, vaporised; molecules are far more vulnerable when spaced out in the gas state and in the minority.

    Some tests have now confirmed that an appreciable amount of nicotine is indeed lost in the atomiser.

    The primary nicotine oxidation products cotinine, myosmine, nicotine-cis-N-oxide, nicotine-trans-N-oxide and beta-nicotyrine. If nicotine loss was simple oxidation to cotinine (the main primary metabolic product) it would still show up as nicotine in titration measurements. So some amount of decomposition may be involved too; this might be a mix of solid and liquid vapors, some possibly toxic, with liquid vapors being most likely.

    Experimental recovery of nicotine from an atomiser can be nearly 50% higher than in the worst case tested so far, so it would be well worth finding out why. Clearly it depends on the atomiser (typical operating temperature, which is related to factors that could have other influences too: air and liquid rates, and the liquid base (PG vs some VG or PEG).

    At best, the loss could be as 'low' as 20-30%; it could be as high as 60% or more.

    Given that some of the inhaled nicotine will be exhaled, or for other reason not absorbed, the amount absorbed from e-liquid is probably typically in the range of 30 - 50%.
  2. kinabaloo

    kinabaloo Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    The possible role of nicotyrine in the loss of nicotine in the atomiser

    The following study suggests that any nicotyrine created at heat-up time could play a further role in the body:

    Nicotyrine Inhibits in Vivo Metabolism of Nicotine

    On the face of it, the nicotyrine study suggest that if it were present, it could boost the psychoactive effects of nicotine by inhibiting the metabolic breakdown of the nicotine. In this case, higher temperature atomisers such as the 510 could be losing more nicotine but gaining more effect? Its an interesting thought that could explain the popularity of the 510 - and high voltage mods.

    Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, beta-nicotyrine is a TSNA, a type of HCA, (in this case produced by oxidation / heat decomposition).

    Molecularly imprinted polymers selective for nitrosamines and methods of using the same - Patent Application 20070186940
  3. kinabaloo

    kinabaloo Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    In simple terms, what does this mean?

    Ok, let's be cautious and say that the absorbed nic is about 50%.

    Someone who consumes say 2ml per day of 24mg juice will have used up 48 mg of nicotine, but only aborbed (at most) 24mg. So about the same as 1 pack of 20 standard analogs (@1mg / cig).

    TWISTED VICTOR Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Sep 14, 2009
    The edge of Mayhem
    Ah, there you is. Good thread. I'll direct as many inquiring minds here as I come across. :thumb:
  5. firechick

    firechick Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 24, 2009
    Upstate New York
    Thanks for the breakdown, Kin. This seems to fit.
  6. Slickstick

    Slickstick Unregistered Supplier ECF Veteran

  7. TommyGunBC

    TommyGunBC Super Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jan 28, 2009
    Vancouver B.c.
    I know I get my fix at 6 volts with my SB and Adaptever with 24mg , I have been analog free since January 17 of this year , I know I'm getting my fix .
  8. breakfastchef

    breakfastchef Moved On

    Feb 12, 2009
    I agree completely with your statment!
  9. Adik Ted

    Adik Ted Super Member ECF Veteran

    Feb 25, 2009
    There's a study (it's on here somewhere) that suggested e-cigs only delivered around 20% of the nicotine an analog delivered per draw. Not sure what strength nicotine was used.
  10. breakfastchef

    breakfastchef Moved On

    Feb 12, 2009
    You may be referring to the Safety Report on the Ruyan® e-cigarette Cartridge and Inhaled Aerosol, by Murray Laugesen of Health New Zealand in 2008.

    Two of the more interesting points are:

    • Each puff contains one third to one half the nicotine in a tobacco cigarette’s puff.
    • Inhaled nicotine in cigarette smoke is over 98% absorbed, and so the exhaled mist of the e-cigarette is composed of propylene glycol, and probably contains almost no nicotine; and no CO.
  11. chocopie

    chocopie Senior Member ECF Veteran

    Nov 14, 2009
    i second that
  12. kinabaloo

    kinabaloo Vaping Master ECF Veteran


    Latest testing (DVap and Exogenesis) leads me to revise the figures, one up and one down, so the aborption rate is unchanged.

    Nicotine survival from vaporisation in an average atomiser with average liquid is about 60%, and a third of that is exhaled (my estimate); so the absorbed nicotine from e-cigs is about 40% *. Epidemiological data supports this value.

    So 2ml of 24mg liquid has 48mg of nic.
    Avg absorbed would be 19.2mg
    (roughly equivalent to 20 analogs @1mg)​

    * This value probably varies quite a bit depending on many factors, such as juice type, e-cig model, vaping style (especially depth and time of inhale) and humidity; from 30% to 55%.
  13. a2dcovert

    a2dcovert Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Apr 24, 2009
    I wish I could agree with you on all points. You may be getting your fix but it isn't the same for all of us. I haven't had a cigarette since May 1st but I am far from out of the woods yet. In fact my cravings for "something" are getting worse. I'm taking in all the nicotine my body can tolerate and it's still not enough of "something".

    Be very happy that you have it licked. Some of us are not that lucky.
  14. DonleyDoRight

    DonleyDoRight Unregistered Supplier ECF Veteran

    Jun 20, 2009
    Florida Panhandle
    Here is an interesting study on nicotine absorption.
    Full story :
    news DOT bbc DOT co DOT uk/2/hi/health/8391871.stm

    Smokers who light up on waking display higher levels of nicotine than those who wait, regardless of the number of cigarettes smoked, US research shows.

    Sorry about the DOT's
    Would one of you fix it for me please?
  15. kinabaloo

    kinabaloo Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    "Among smokers who consumed 20 cigarettes each day, cotinine levels varied dramatically - with the top levels nearly 75 times higher than the lowest levels.

    The highest levels were seen among those who lit up within 30 minutes of waking - categorised as high dependency."

    "The reasons for the differing levels were unclear, but are thought likely to reflect a more intense way of smoking among those who light up first thing - as their need may be greater than those who can wait."

    'Higher risk' of lung cancer from smoking first thing

    TWISTED VICTOR Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Sep 14, 2009
    The edge of Mayhem
    Oh, jeeze cheese, why do I always have to rank highest when it means the baddest ??? :grr: I swear, I must be the poster child for a "THIS COULD BE YOU" warning label, move over Mr.Yuck :mad:. Fartnoodles, seems I'm naturally best at being the worst :-x. Just tattoo a skull and crossbones across my forehead... :evil::evil:!! And I thought I just had bad breath...well, poopycakes, I say!!!
  17. phillyd

    phillyd Senior Member ECF Veteran

    I totally agree with you, I don't know if I should move up to 36mg or what. I have quit smoking with just 24mg and after a month without cravings or withdrawls it has been pretty easy but as I am into my second month, I feel quite irritable lately and I can't seem to find that "Big Lung Hit" that I am so searching for. I get the throat hit and vapor with a 510 and Ecopure rich in 30mg but it aint cutting it for me. I was HOPING that someone could HELP me with this. Do I need to switch up to 36mg or should I be using 6volts or what. I am almost ready to go on a Marb RED binge and I only smoked lights. I dont want to go back. Please HELP:confused:

    TWISTED VICTOR Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Sep 14, 2009
    The edge of Mayhem
    It's a long one, friend, but if you can bear through it, here's the answer you're looking for: :).
  19. Wireguy

    Wireguy Super Member ECF Veteran

    Oct 24, 2009
    Birmingham Al
    You and me both.

    The good news is I have the same obsession for learning and building (making, creating) etc.

  20. phillyd

    phillyd Senior Member ECF Veteran

    Well Thank you for the referal and I managed quite a few pages but I still dont think I found the answer yet aside from one that might not exist8-oI sure hope thats not the answer. I will keep reading and hoping. Thanks,
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