First things first; although talking about it is not illegal, the sale of nicotine liquids is completely illegal in Australia. So no, we do not sell it, gift it, exchange it, provide it, etc in any way shape or form.
Nicotine; for a lot of people starting out with vaping, raises a lot of questions. How do I order it? How do I mix it? How can I make sure I’m being safe with what I'm doing? How do I know if it's gone “off”? This blog post is going to answer a lot of those questions as best we can. If you would like up to date legal information about what you can and can not do in regards to nicotine, we recommend doing your own research on the matter. A good place to start is with Legalise Vaping Australias article on the topic. Please make sure that you do your own research to confirm what you read.
The Short Story
First of all, a quick summary of all of the important stuff you need to know in regards to nicotine.
Nicotine liquid for DIY mixing is classified in Australia as a schedule 7 poison, and rightly so. Nicotine in its concentrated form can be highly toxic if not handled with due care and the respect that it deserves.
To keep it simple, you should treat nicotine as you would any other dangerous chemical, this means wearing gloves, eye protection, working in a well-ventilated area, and making sure that your work area is tidy and distraction-free. Another good tip for mixing dangerous chemicals is to make sure that you are not seated, that way if there is a spill, it shouldn’t spill onto your lap. As with any other dangerous chemical, you need to make sure that you store it safely and correctly, and in the conditions best suited to that specific chemical (see the long story)
The Long Story
Gloves should always be worn when handling nicotine. Nicotine can be absorbed through the skin. Not just any glove is suitable as nicotine can eat away at certain compounds, making the gloves useless. Gloves made of Nitrile are ideal as they are chemical resistant. It goes without saying but cloth/material or perforated gloves are not acceptable as they will not stop any liquid ingress to your skin.
Eye protection should also be worn when handling nicotine. Chemicals can absorb extremely quickly if they come into contact with your eyes, and that is not to mention the pain involved. Ideally, the eye protection worn should seal against the face (think safety glasses/goggles) to prevent a drop running down into your eyes.
It helps to make sure you are working in a distraction-free tidy environment where others will not disturb you while you are mixing. Be sure your nicotine and equipment are placed on flat, stable surfaces in a tidy working area. This will help to improve the accuracy of your mixing/measuring whilst protecting yourself and others from potential accidental spills.
Don’t use everyday household equipment, especially equipment or containers used for food preparation or storage. If you need to use a different container than what the nicotine came in, make sure it is appropriate for storing nicotine. Bottles made of colored glass or opaque HDPE (#2) plastic should be used. Also, it is a good idea to assemble a DIY mixing kit specifying which syringes, containers, and bottles come in contact with your nicotine. This will help prevent cross-contamination.
When mixing nicotine accuracy and safety are obviously the two most important things. When mixing, make sure you fully understand what ratio you should be mixing before selecting a final mg ratio.
Using the above table is super easy. If you have a 30ml bottle of juice and want to make It 6mg, you would add 1.8ml of 100mg/ml to the bottle and shake until thoroughly mixed.
When you are mixing (shaking) your bottle of juice, you need to make sure that it is evenly dispersed. When you are done shaking the bottle, it should almost look “fizzy” with little bubbles of air all throughout it.
As mentioned above in the mixing section, don’t use everyday household equipment, especially equipment or containers used for food preparation.
Nicotine will stay colorless and tasteless longer when refrigerated. Nicotine is a natural item and needs to be stored in certain conditions to extend its life and avoid quality degradation. Over time nicotine can turn a variety of colors (including but not limited to yellow, pink, brown and even a bluish-green color) and develop a distinctive smell and peppery taste. There are several factors involved in this process. The main ones being oxidation, UV light, and heat. Because PG and VG act as preservatives, the higher the milligram strength of your nicotine, the faster it can degrade. PG is the better of the two as a diluent when it comes to preservation.
To protect the quality of your nicotine, follow these quick and easy suggestions.
- Keep away from direct sunlight or other bright light sources.
- If you do not plan to use your nicotine within the first week or so, we recommend storing it in a refrigerator or freezer. Nicotine suspended in VG/PG freezes at a lower temperature than normal freezers reach, so it will remain in a liquid form, though it will be much thicker than it would be at room temperature. Nicotine suspended in vegetable glycerin will turn gelatinous and should be allowed to warm up a bit before use. Nicotine suspended in propylene glycol will stay thinner than that suspended in glycerin and is easier to work with right out of the freezer.
- If you have a larger quantity of nicotine to store, it is recommended to split it into smaller separate bottles so that you only open one at a time. This will mean that you can reduce the exposure to heat, light, and oxygen of the majority of it while only exposing a small portion of it at a time.
Children are resourceful, observant and curious about anything adults do. Treat nicotine as you would any other toxic chemical, and store your nicotine in a secure location, preferably with a lock or at a minimum, our of reach of the wrong hands. Keep it away from children and pets. As parents or caregivers of children, it is your responsibility to keep them safe. Nicotine is a dangerous, toxic substance that must be handled with care. Even if children aren’t normally in your house, precautions will help keep you and any visitors safe.
Bottle Safety and Cleaning
Visually inspect your nicotine:
Check to make sure that the bottles aren’t leaking; check caps and the outside of the container for small punctures or signs of damage. If it is leaking, wear gloves, transfer nicotine to a safe, closed container and wipe up residual nicotine with a wet warm cloth, and dilute/wash in a sink with warm soapy water. A good rule of thumb when it comes to cleaning up spilled nicotine is to treat it for what it is – a chemical spill. If you were to spill acid on your kitchen counter at home, I'm sure you would go to the enth degree to clean up the mess, make sure there is no residue left behind, and then probably clean it again just to be sure!
This same degree of cleaning can be said for any mixing implements that you use in the mixing process. They should be thoroughly cleaned so that there is no chance of contamination. For example, if you have used a syringe to mix, it should be thoroughly rinsed out and cleaned so that there is no residue left in it to leak over a surface where you may accidentally contact it later.
If there is a spill and nicotine makes contact with your skin, wash immediately. If you start feeling sick or notice symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, fast and/or irregular heartbeat, upset stomach or pain, go to your nearest emergency room. This is especially important with higher nicotine strengths, which can be fatal.
THE SCARY STUFF
Nicotine is a highly toxic chemical. Most databases and safety data sheets on the product set the lethal dose for adults between 30 and 60mg/person (Mayer, 2014) Such discrepancy has been noticed before, but the 60 mg-value is still widely accepted. The 60mg would correspond to an oral LD 50(lethal dose high enough to kill 50% of subjects) of around 0.8mg/kg for humans, a dose that is considerably lower than the values determined in laboratory testing, which are in a range from 3.3mg/kg (mice) to over 50mg/kg (rats) (Hayes, 1982). This low lethal dose makes nicotine more toxic than many other compounds including cocaine which has an LD 50 of 95.1mg/kg in mice.
Despite its high toxicity, a person cannot easily overdose on nicotine just by smoking/vaping the substance. Overdose, however, can occur if a person uses too many nicotine patches or chews too much nicotine gum or chewing tobacco as well as smoking. As nicotine can be absorbed into the bloodstream easily through the skin, if an extremely high concentration of nicotine is spilled on the skin, this can lead to toxicity and death.
With all of the above said, when it comes to nicotine safety, it isn’t rocket science. Common sense will prevail 9/10 in making sure that you are handling and mixing nicotine safely. Please don’t take everything we have said as gospel, as with everything, we always recommend doing your own research if you are unsure as we did.