Share on Pinterest
Experts say people making vaping juice from online recipes face dangers while mixing chemicals together. Getty Images
  • As flavored e-cigarettes are being taken off the market, more people are mixing their own vaping juices at home using online recipes.
  • Experts say DIY vaping juice can be unhealthy as well as dangerous as amateurs try to mix chemicals together.
  • The trend has evolved as teen vaping continues to rise.

Do-it-yourself home remedies generally aren’t endorsed by medical experts.

But mixing your own vaping liquid is one that health experts in particular don’t recommend.

Those experts include Dr. Osita Onugha, an assistant professor of thoracic surgical oncology and director of the Surgical Innovation Lab at John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

“Mixing your own vaping liquid is life threatening,” he told Healthline.

Amid a rising number of lung illnesses suspected to be linked to vaping, cities, counties, and states are banning the sale of flavored nicotine products, namely fluids used in popular vaping devices.

That includes San Francisco, where Juul — the de-facto biggest name in the vaping game — is based.

Juul says it’s ditching the majority of its popular flavors — mango, creme, fruit, cucumber, and now mint — amid mounting accusations they were used to get a whole new generation of kids addicted, reversing decades of advances in keeping kids off cigarettes and other forms of nicotine.

Just like when authorities crack down on an illegal drug dealer, these sudden changes have left a vacuum in the supply-and-demand chain, leaving many people addicted to these forms of nicotine with no immediate way to satisfy their cravings.

So some are going the DIY route.

Kaiser Health News reports that many people are turning to mixing their own vaping liquids, using a combination of instructions and products found online.

Doing that comes with its own risks as handling the chemicals can be dangerous, namely the concentrated liquid nicotine being added to the other chemicals.

Most of the ingredients to mix “e-liquids,” as they are known, can be purchased through online retailers. There are also dozens of video tutorials available to show people how to do it.

One YouTube video, which has nearly 2 million views, shows viewers how to use vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, nicotine, and flavorings to mix in graduated cylinders to create a home versions of popular e-liquid flavors. Others teach how to make coffee-flavored liquid.

This is troubling to many health experts.

In October, a 17-year-old Michigan boy underwent a double lung transplant at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Experts note this was the first such surgery needed due to the effects of vaping.

“This is an evil I haven’t faced before. The damage that these vapes do to people’s lungs is irreversible. Please think of that — and tell your children to think of that,” Dr. Hassan Nemeh, surgical director of thoracic organ transplant at Henry Ford Hospital, told Time magazine.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there have been more than 2,000 suspected cases of lung damage — including 42 deaths — linked to vaping and e-cigarette use.

Experts warn that these cases stem from vaporizers that contain nicotine and cannabis-based derivatives — including THC and CBD — with some evidence linking some of the illnesses to black market vaping liquids.

While officials are still working to pinpoint an exact cause, CDC officials say vitamin E acetate is likely the culprit in many cases. This sticky liquid is sometimes added into some vaping liquids.

While fine taken orally or applied to the skin, vitamin E acts much differently when inhaled and absorbed through the lungs.

Onugha says it causes a “horrible” response in the lungs, resulting in death for some.

“Just in the same way people developed lead poisoning and blindness from creating their own alcohol or ‘moonshine,’ people have developed interstitial lung disease, ARDS [acute respiratory distress syndrome], and death so far with mixing vaping liquid,” he said. “It remains to see if there are any other consequences of mixing your own vaping liquid or from e-cigarettes as a whole.”

Companies such as Juul marketed themselves on a way to get smokers to quit traditional cigarettes while they popularized a product that hadn’t undergone rigorous review from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The use of the device became so prevalent in some circles that vaping simply became known as “Juuling.”

To help combat underage use, the FDA has teamed up with Scholastic to create a public health campaign of warning young people about the dangers of vaping, including age-specific lessons on things like deciphering marketing tactics and understanding the power of addiction.

Meanwhile, adult smoking — as in traditional combustible cigarettes — has reached a historic low in the United States.

A report released Thursday says less than 14 percent of U.S. adults now smoke cigarettes, although they still remain the world’s number one cause of preventable death.

Some of those adult smokers have “made the switch” to e-cigarettes like Juul.

But the rise of e-cigarettes isn’t just from adults using e-cigarettes instead of traditional ones.

The CDC says from 2017 to 2018, the last full year data is available, e-cigarette use among adults increased from 2.8 percent to 3.2 percent. That’s the opposite of what happened the 3 years prior.

The increase, the CDC says, was primarily driven by the increase in use in the youngest of adults, ages 18 to 24. That age group went up from 5.2 percent to 7.6 percent in just one year, which included 17-year-old users turning into 18-year-old users.

Despite a relatively minor uptick in the use of smokeless tobacco — from 2.1 to 2.4 percent — the CDC’s experts say there weren’t any significant changes to other forms of tobacco included in their study.

“The sustained drop in adult smoking is encouraging as we work to reduce tobacco-related disease and death in the U.S. through science-driven policy, compliance and enforcement in addition to public education,” Admiral Brett Giroir, a medical doctor and Assistant Secretary of Health and Acting FDA Commissioner, said in a press release.

Some experts fear vapers — particularly young people — may now seek out their nicotine through traditional cigarettes.

That is something that rightfully worries people in the public health sphere.

Onugha says traditional nicotine replacements like gum and other medications that prevent people from smoking or using e-cigarettes are the best alternatives.

“Vaping is more dangerous than smoking cigarettes,” he said. “Cigarettes slowly kill you over years, while vaping can cause immediate hospitalization and death.”