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Ethanol Concentration in 56 Refillable Electronic Cigarettes Liquid Formulations Determined by Headspace Gas Chromatography With Flame Ionization Detector (HS-GC-FID)

NCJ Number
Drug Testing and Analysis Volume: 9 Issue: 10 Dated: 2017 Pages: 1637-1640
Date Published
4 pages

This study used a headspace gas chromatography with flame ionization detector (HSGCFID) to analyze 56 commercially available eliquids purchased from various sources and containing a variety of flavors and active ingredients.


Personal battery powered vaporizers or electronic cigarettes were developed as an alternative to traditional cigarettes. The modern electronic cigarettes were patented in 2004 by Hon Lik in China. In May 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) imposed regulatory statutes on e-cigarettes and their liquid formulations (eliquids); prior to that, they were unregulated. Eliquids are typically composed of propylene glycol and/or glycerin, flavoring component(s), and active ingredient(s), such as nicotine. In the current study, only one of the eliquids listed ethanol as a component. The chromatographic separation of volatiles was performed on a Restek BAC column. A linear calibration was generated for ethanol with limits of detection and quantification (LOD/LOQ) of 0.05 mg/mL. Ethanol concentrations in the 56 eliquids ranged from none detected to 206 mg/mL. The ethanol determined in these products may have been used in flavorants or a solvent; the reason for inclusion cannot be fully ascertained. The implications of vaporizing ethanol as an eliquid component are unknown. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2017