The Toxic Dose of Nicotine: Shattering the Myth. The first port of call in any discussion like this is to address a long-standing myth. Even today, many high-profile sources list the toxic dose of nicotine (the LD50 – or the dose which will kill about 50 % of individuals exposed) as between 30 and 60 mg.
To set this in context of Vapor Cigarettes, this would be about 4 ml of 12 mg/ml e-liquid. Your body does process nicotine quite quickly (your blood nicotine levels will decrease by about 50 % after two hours), so you’d need to consume it all basically in one go, which makes it still quite a tall order.
However, research by Bernd Mayer has demonstrated this value for the toxic dose is utterly indefensible. Within the paper, he details several cases where people consumed much larger amounts of nicotine with only minimal symptoms. Along with this, the best quantity of nicotine based in the blood of people that died from nicotine was approximately 20 times higher than existing guidelines. Mayer revises the LD50 of nicotine with an estimated 500 to 1000 mg (or .5 to 1 g) on the basis of such results.
The rest of the question is where did the “30 to 60 mg of nicotine will kill you” claim come from? Mayer followed “circular and quite often misleading references” for quite a while and in the end hit on the source: a 1906 textbook from a German toxicologist.
With this basis alone, it’s clear there are probably some problems with trusting this as a source. He was actually a respected toxicologist at that time, but medical knowledge has advanced massively in the century since it was published, so that it isn’t surprising that repeating this claim verbatim without any further analysis isn’t the very best idea.
The textbook cited some self-experiments performed in the 1800s, by which experimenters had the equivalent of a few cigarettes’ amount of nicotine and reported seizures and loss in consciousness. It is going without proclaiming that there was clearly probably some error in measuring the dose: otherwise chain-smokers would regularly lose consciousness and possess seizures.
Signs You’ve Had Too Much Nicotine. Vapers aren’t likely to suffer nicotine poisoning, but one thing that’s fairly common is having a little too much nicotine in one sitting. The greatest tell-tale sign you’ve reached this point is feeling nauseous. You might notice this towards the end of any long vaping session, and it’s effectively your body telling you to have a break from vaping for a while.
In my experience, this nausea increases gradually, but it’s best to just have a break whenever you notice it starting. By doing this it never becomes too unpleasant, and you also won’t experience the most important other initial symptom: vomiting. This isn’t tough to avoid whatsoever, and a lot vapers could have a break in the first sign of nausea even without being advised to accomplish this. You could also get a headache if you’ve overdone it a bit, but nausea will be the easiest thing to watch out for.
It’s unlikely you’ll actually get to this stage by vaping, but it’s worth knowing the main things to consider. The most serious nicotine poisoning symptoms are even less very likely to occur when you’re vaping, but are worth mentioning anyway. Included in this are coma and seizures (like our 19th century experimenters experienced), slowed heartbeat as well as in the worst cases, respiratory failure. It might not be as poisonous as many sources claim, but it is really still poisonous.
Are You Able To Get Nicotine Poisoning by Vaping? For vapers, the most crucial real question is whether this is actually something to be concerned about in practice. Could you vape the right path to some nicotine overdose? Could you end up with some of the much more serious signs and symptoms of nicotine poisoning?
The easiest method to take into consideration this (and to acquire a straightforward answer!) is to determine how much e-juice you’d have to vaporize in the space of a few hours to hit the minimum toxic dose of approximately 500 mg.
Employing a 12 mg/ml e-juice, you’d have to vaporize over 40 ml to approach 500 mg of nicotine vaporised. Realistically, this just isn’t going to happen. To have an 18 mg/ml e-liquid, you’d still have to vape almost 28 ml of e-juice in a couple of hours to actually have a chance.
This is really only the first step, though, and also the nicotine will have to get into the vapour and become absorbed by your body before it could poison you.
Estimating this aspect is a little tough, but a report from Dr. Farsalinos checked out experienced vapers’ plasma nicotine levels after employing a mod as well as an 18 mg/ml e-liquid. The research didn’t make use of a modern device, but to answer the real key question here it’s a lot more than sufficient. The participants vaped 10 puffs in five minutes, then had one hour to djurpj the product however much they liked.
After a few minutes, experienced vapers wound up with about 8 nanograms (billionths of a gram) of nicotine per ml of blood. Following the full 65 minutes, vapers plasma nicotine levels rose to 24.1 ng/ml, even though the highest recorded concentration was 48.1 ng/ml.
In Bernd Mayer’s paper, he highlights that the minimum plasma concentration recorded from someone who died from nicotine overdose was 4,000 ng/ml (similar to 4 mg per liter).
Based on the vaper who got the greatest plasma nicotine levels, their blood nicotine level will have to be over 80 times higher to achieve the minimum lethal dose. To pile on yet more implausibility, they’d have to achieve this in just a couple of hours. Put simply, they’d have to get about 80 times more nicotine in their blood in less than twice the amount of time.
This will clearly show that vapers really can’t overdose on nicotine by utilizing their e-cigarettes as intended. It appears unlikely that it’d be also physically possible to inhale as much vapour as you’d have to.