“ Organic ” is a complex concept, carrying meaning and implications of varying dimensions depending on the position of the observer of the entire production chain. For the consumer, it is generally synonymous with health (limiting the presence of potentially harmful products in production and transformation processes) and low ecological impact (sustainable agricultural practices).
In a nutshell: the production and processing of an organic product are done under conditions that take care of health and the environment.
Labels ensure the consistency and continuity of this concept. Or third-party organizations whose role is to monitor compliance with “ organic farming ” standards. And this is at all stages that separate the initial production from the consumer.
The example of the electronic cigarette is extremely significant. Since 2014, many e-liquid manufacturers have marketed ranges of e-cigarette liquids presented as organic. Some manufacturers and resellers have even completely emerged to carry out projects based on this concept. On paper, this is an intention all the more laudable as the electronic cigarette also affects the notion of health.
Nevertheless, the appellation organic e-liquid is immediately problematic in itself. To date, there is no organic certification specific to e-liquids. Remember, the “ organic ” designation is a label that is obtained by respecting standards. However, the standards supposed to define what a biological e-liquid simply does not exist. These cases (admittedly extreme) perfectly illustrate the idea that organic as a marketing tool can be completely off the mark when trying to put it into perspective with its initial approach.
Partially organic e-liquids
If an e-liquid cannot (yet) be completely organic, organic is however not completely incompatible with the electronic cigarette market. This is gradually being understood by historical manufacturers such as Alfaliquid and Liquideo.
An e-liquid as a finished product cannot receive organic certification, but some of its components can.
As a reminder, an e-liquid to vape is composed of a base mixing vegetable glycerin and (very often) propylene glycol. To this base can be added synthetic or natural flavours, nicotine and additives such as alcohol.
The glycerine, natural flavours and certain additives may come from organic farming. They can therefore benefit from the organic certification. However, it is necessary to put this notion into perspective with the very operation of the electronic cigarette.
The case of glycerine is particularly striking. The presence of the latter in an e-liquid is far from trivial. Its chemical properties allow it to be vaporized without causing any health impact. Under these circumstances, it is easy to realize that the purity of the product is fundamentally more important than its origins. A molecule of pure glycerin will have the same formula, the same properties and the same impact, regardless of its mode of manufacture, vegetable, organic, or even synthetic (production costs make synthesis unnecessary here.)
The same goes for all the other products eligible for organic certification in the composition of a vaping liquid. In terms of health, the purity of the product is infinitely more important than its origin. 100% pure beet alcohol is the same as 100% pure sugar cane alcohol, namely ethanol. To obtain the expected properties without unpleasant surprises, purity is favoured over origin. That’s the whole difference.
So organic in e-liquids is hot air?
The answer is simple: no.
Admittedly, it is obvious that the biological name of a liquid as a finished product is simply misleading in 2016. No, an e-liquid whose certain components are biological is not more neutral in terms of health than an e-liquid for electronic cigarette quality.
However, there remains the environmental dimension.
When you vape an e-liquid made partly from organic products, it is no better for your health than any trusted ready-to-vape e-liquid. However, you contribute modestly to support production initiatives that want to be more concerned with the environment. And that is already something.