At Kai's Virgin Vapor, we are constantly researching how to bring you the finest and purest organic e-liquids available. As part of the results of that search, we have made it our policy to only package our e-liquids in glass, never plastic. The reason? Bisphenol A, also known as BPA.
What is BPA?
BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used sine the 1960’s to harden plastics. It is commonly found in plastic water bottles and other beverage containers and is frequently used in the lining of canned goods. Studies have shown it can seep directly into food and beverages from these containers. BPA can also be found in compact discs, dental sealants and even infant formula.
The problem is, BPA has been linked to a disturbing laundry list of serious medical problems including brain and behavior problems, cancer, heart problems, obesity, diabetes, hormonal disruption, as well as decreased sperm count and reduced fertility in rats.
How Can I Avoid BPA?
Vaping aside, if you want to avoid or limit your exposure to BPA, follow these guidelines:
• Avoid plastics that have a 3 or 7 recycling code on the bottom. These types of plastics are much more likely to contain BPA than other numbers.
• Don't drink out of disposable plastic water bottles. Instead, carry your own refillable water bottle with you. Just make sure your trusty refillable water bottle is made with stainless steel, glass or BPA free plastic. There are lots of great brands out there such as Hydro Flask or Klean Kanteen and Lifefactory even makes glass water bottles fitted into a silicone mesh to protect them in case you drop your bottle.
• Check for products packaged in glass instead of plastic when you're shopping at the grocery store.
• Swap out your plastic Tupperware for glass. You can even use wide mouth glass Mason jars in various sizes to make this switch inexpensively. Mason jars cost about a dollar a piece and can double as drinking glasses, spice jars and containers for dry goods when they're not storing food in your refrigerator. Some people also use Mason jars for "salad-in-a-jar" creations, an easy way to prep your healthy lunches for the week in advance.
• Look for BPA free canned goods or, better still, switch to fresh or frozen versions instead. Studies have shown that frozen food retains most of the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are present in the fresh version!
• Discard any plastic products that will come into contact with food or beverages if they are scratched, cracked or chipped. This includes plastic Tupperware, plastic water bottles, plastic spatulas and sippy cups. Damage to plastics can increase the risk of BPA leaching into your food.
• Use powdered infant formula rather than liquid, or, better still, breastfeed. Breastfeeding has been linked to a host of positive benefits for your baby including an increase of up to 7.5 IQ points when measured in later life!
There's BPA in Those?!
Wondering what the oddest common source of BPA was that we found in our research? Sales receipts! That’s right, traditional sales receipts printed on thermal paper contain high levels of BPA clocking in at a full 1 to 2% BPA by weight. Handling these receipts can transfer the BPA to your fingers where, studies have shown, it can be absorbed by the food you eat. Water or grease on your fingers can also act as “dermal penetration enhancers,” that is, you can end up absorbing 100 times more BPA through your fingers than if you touched the receipt with dry hands. Also not a good idea? Placing a sandwich on your receipt to keep it from blowing away or holding your receipt in your mouth when your arms are full of groceries.
Vaping Specific Concerns about BPA
When it comes to vaping and BPA, there are a few concerns particular to electronic cigarette users. Most of them pertain to storing e-liquids in plastic bottles but you should also pay attention to your electronic cigarette device itself.
BPA & Your Electronic Cigarette
The e-juice in your tank gets frequently heated up when you are vaping. Studies have shown that plastic can leach BPA fifty-five times faster than normal when exposed to hot liquids so you want that e-liquid chamber to be made of inert materials--glass, stainless steel or silicone if possible. The small, stretchy o-rings that help seal the chamber of your vape juice reservoir are nearly always made of silicone which is great.
Since most vaping devices are manufactured in China, it can be a challenge to find out what materials were used in the device that you have. We recommend writing the manufacturer directly to ask but be prepared for some difficulty due to the language barrier. You can also check the manufacturer's website as some manufacturers will disclose the materials used there.
A Safer E-Cig: What to Look For
While it can be somewhat difficult to find out what type of plastic was used to create the portions of your vaping device that come into contact with e-liquid, if you can find it, silicone is one of the safest materials. Silicone is BPA free and is also one of the most inert and therefore safest materials available. We chose to carry the Joyetech Penguin in part because it features a silicone lined e-liquid chamber.
A glass tank that limits the exposure of your e-liquid to glass and stainless steel is another excellent choice. Both the Vaporesso and the Smok Stick X8 kits that we carry are these types of devices. Many electronic cigarettes feature similar designs so take a look at the basic design and look for something similar. The important thing is that the tank is made out of glass and that the surrounding materials, including the inner chamber that holds the body of the coil, are also made out of stainless steel.
E-liquid Storage and BPA
When it comes to your e-liquid bottles, you want to keep in mind the same concerns about heating plastic that is in contact with a liquid you will be consuming. Scratched or damaged plastic bottles also spew BPA into surrounding liquid at a much higher rate. Who among us hasn’t inadvertently left a bottle of e-liquid in a hot car during the summer or reused a beat up but favored squeeze bottle one too many times? If you use plastic e-liquid containers, be sure to keep them out of the sun and toss them if they get scratched, bent or beat up. Better yet, switch to glass or, if you purchase e-liquid that is packaged in plastic, at the very least transfer your e-liquid to glass bottles for storage after purchase.
Of equal concern to vapers is the fact that acidic foods have been shown to increase BPA transfer risk. When plastic containers are exposed to acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus, it causes them to corrode, leaching BPA at a far faster rate than normal. Since some flavorings, particularly natural flavorings that contain real fruit extracts, can be acidic, this is yet another reason to avoid storing your e-liquids in plastic containers.
A Warning About Sour Vape Flavors
Sour e-liquid flavors also get their pucker from the addition of acids to the formula. While we recommend against using sour vape juice based on our research, if you do chose to use it, be particularly careful about keeping it out of contact with any plastic that might contain BPA. The acids present will much more rapidly leach any BPA out of the plastic and into your vape juice.
Flavors Known to Interact with Polycarbonate Plastic
There is also the issue of certain types of flavors that are specifically known to crack plastic e-cig tanks. This is a widely known problem in the vape community--specific types of flavors will crack or even melt polycarbonate tanks. Polycarbonate plastic bears recycling code #7, which, if you remember your BPA recycling code cheat sheet above, is on the list to avoid due to the high probability of BPA content. Even if the flavor components in your e-juice aren't enough to actually melt or crack your tank, they are definitely corrosive and that's the last thing you want in contact with BPA-containing plastic.
If you are using a polycarbonate plastic tank, pay particular attention to flavors that contain these flavor components as they are more likley to cause problems with your specific type of tank:
Cola and root beer flavors
If, however, you have taken our advice above and use glass or silicone lined tanks, these flavors by themselves are nothing to worry about so go ahead and enjoy.
Triacetin and Polycarbonate Tanks
Triacetin, also known as glyceryl triacetate, is very rarely used as a base for e-liquids in place of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin. It is colorless and odorless but with a viscous texture making it a suitable e-liquid base found in a small number of e-juice manufacturer's recipes. Triacetin in known to cause the same problems with melted and/or cracked polycarbonate tanks that certain flavors do. In general, you should avoid using polycarbonate tanks to begin with since they are more likely to contain BPA but, if for whatever reason that is what you're stuck with, don't exacerbate the problem by using a triacetin based e-liquid in your polycarbonate tank!
A Final Note of Warning
With all the attention that BPA has been getting, manufacturers have been moving to create BPA free versions of your favorite canned goods, plastic bottles and other items all handily labeled "BPA-free." Sounds great, right? Not so fast.
Enter "BPS." BPS or Bisphenol-S has been used by manufacturers as a supposedly safer replacement for Bisphenol-A. Unfortunately, BPS is already showing signs of being just as bad as BPA, causing the same hormone disruption and other serious issues that have given BPA such a bad name.
Be warned, manufacturers can legally label an item as "BPA-free" even thought it contains BPS. So just when you thought looking for the BPA-free label would keep you safe, we're sorry to say, it won't. And it doesn't end there. There's also BPF, BPAF and BPHF waiting in the wings. These new versions of BPA offer slight chemical differences, just enough so that manufacturers can legally claim their products are "BPA-free," but there's mounting evidence they're just more of the same toxic hot mess found in BPA, only given a minor chemical makeover. Yup, it's nothing more than a chemist's version of putting lipstick on a pig. Just one more reason to skip plastic altogether and look for glass and stainless steel whenever possible.
The alarming and, in our opinion, vastly under regulated issues with BPA are precisely why we don’t take chances with our e-liquid. While the research and debate continues about just how bad BPA is for human health, we don’t want our customers to be among the lab rats. We believe in the precautionary principle; when assessing risk management situations in the absence of definitive scientific certainty, if there is the potential for harm to human health, we err on the side of caution. We believe this is an ethical responsibility that binds our company and, moreover, it's the right thing to do. Although it costs us a bit extra, we package our e-liquids only in glass. Hey, we vape this stuff, too!
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