Can You Vape Essential Oils? No. Here's Why: - Plant Therapy Blog

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Essential Oils Blog

Can You Vape Essential Oils? No. Here’s Why:

By Katrina Scampini, Certified Aromatherapist

Let’s talk about something a bit controversial today: vaping essential oils. It’s marketed as an appealing, convenient, and portable way to enjoy your favorite EOs. There are plenty of positive online reviews and individual success stories raving about this new craze. But is it safe? What are the short and long term consequences? Do we even know?

To inhale, or not to inhale, that is the question.

A selection of different vape pen varieties

Well, I’ve treaded through the murky underbelly of the Internet to gather as much information as I can about the subject. And trust me, there is no shortage of personal opinions, anecdotal stories, and extensive claims supporting both the positive and negative sides of the issue.

And here’s what I’ve discovered: there is simply no hard scientific research to back anything up. None. And while there are companies that do put a positive marketing spin on vaping EOs, time and time again, there was no research they could point to.

In fact, some places cited studies to support their company’s claims of safety, but when looking into this further, it turns out the studies are actually talking about inhaling oils through the nose. There is just no explanation for the passive consumer who doesn’t want to take the time and click the link and read the article. But don’t worry—that’s what I’m here for!

So what do we know?

woman's hand holding vape pen

We know how a vaporizing pen works. It has a heating element inside that activates with suction. Oils or waxes are heated to approximately 400℉, where it becomes a vapor. A person inhales through a mouthpiece and exhales out the nose or mouth. A quick disclaimer: Some pens heat up to higher or lower degrees, but about 400℉ is a good general estimate. On the high end of the spectrum, vape pens will have settings that allow you to heat all the way up to over 800℉.

Why is this important? Because another thing that we know is that vegetable glycerin, a common ingredient used in vaping cartridges, changes into a substance known as acrolein when exposed to heat over 536℉ [1]. Acrolein is a highly reactive substance that is very irritating to the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, stomach, and skin [2].

We also know that the chemical makeup of essential oils change when they’re heated.

Like vegetable glycerin, the change may not be an ideal compound for your overall health. But this is really the caveat because we simply do not know exactly what happens to every essential oil when it is heated to such a high degree.

It’s also important to consider that vape pens haven’t even been around that long. Definitely not long enough to have substantial long-term evidence from controlled trials or systematic reviews. Because of this, we do not know the full safety profile of vaping essential oils.

And I don’t know about you, but I am not comfortable with intentionally inhaling something into my lungs if I don’t know what it is.

Some companies tip-toe around this concern by saying it’s okay to use the vaporized essential oils as long as you’re not aggressively inhaling through your mouth by taking shallow draws from the pen, then exhaling through the nose. This helps ensure the essential oils do not go to your lungs and are instead passing through the body’s olfactory receptors. Other places even say not to inhale at all (which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I’m sure encompasses legal issues that may come up). But if you wanted to enjoy your essential oils with your olfactory receptors, doesn’t it seem safer to carry around your aromatherapy inhaler or diffuse at home?

Ready for the bottom line?

essential oil bottles with herbs

If you haven’t already guessed it, we do not recommend that anyone vape their essential oils. However, this is a fluid topic; hopefully, in the near future, we will have studies that can confirm or deny the safety of this practice. But until then, we suggest that everyone steer clear of loading their vape cartridge with Lavender. There are so many safer ways to enjoy it!

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, please do so with a critical eye and a desire to find independent scientific information that is unaffiliated with a company trying to sell the idea that vaping essential oils is safe.

I realize this article may bring up concerns about vaping with CBD, which is also quickly becoming a popular topic of discussion. As of right now, Plant Therapy does not have an aromatherapist on staff with expertise in CBD usage; however, this may be an area we offer at a later time and will be better able to revisit this topic.

Want an inside look at what essential oil lovers have to say about vaping and essential oils? Become a member of our Facebook group Safe Essential Oil Recipes to chat with thousands of enthusiasts about the aromatherapy topics in a fun, friendly environment.

Sources:

[1] Dworniczak, M. (2016). Glycerine in e-liquid. Retrieved from https://nicotinepolicy.net/blogs/guest-blogs/23-miroslaw-dworniczak/144-glycerine

2] Public Health Statement Acrolein. (2007). Retrieved from the Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=554&tid=102

65 thoughts on “Can You Vape Essential Oils? No. Here’s Why:”

  1. I so appreciate Plant Therapy’s continuing mission on safe essential oil use. Thank you for the discussion on this topic.

  2. Great topic of information. With vaping becoming increasingly popular, this is something that needed to be addressed. I think you have the people out there that hear “oil” and automatically assume that it is safe to use EO for anything because it is an “oil”. Until more studies have been done, it’s best to use the oils by other means… diffusers, inhalers, balms and butters.

  3. I am so glad you are doing articles like this to educate and promote safety! There is such a huge information gap and honestly, I am really horrified that major companies would promote this without concern for safety. I am also familiar with the Monq devices and know some people who use these type of inhalers on a regular basis. I don’t think it seems safe, but I wonder if it has similar dangers as the vape devices. Any thoughts?

    1. This goes back to just the lack of overall research and no way to currently gauge long-term consequences…I know there are lots of great comments out there from users of those devices, but still a lack of studies. Really, it’s all up to the individual and how comfortable they are with using a product like that 🙂

  4. Great read! I definitely did not know this and I am happy that Plant Therapy does the researchthey need to do in order to put their customers safety FIRST!

  5. Wow!! The things people come up with!! I would think vaping EO’s would be the same as ingesting them, right? Which isn’t safe. Not to mention the heat with change the oil and it’s properties, therefore reducing or eliminating its abilities. I’m definitely going to follow this and see what comes out of it. Thank you for taking the time to click on those articles!

  6. Very informative. I didn’t know that vapes heated to that high of a temperature! Great info to share & so glad to be educated so I can educate others.

  7. I’ve read plenty of contradicting articles online… this one is the most concise presentation of information! thank you for outlining this so clearly!

  8. Very informative post, thank you PT! I saw EO vape pens on amazon a few days ago. The first thing that crossed my mind was the flash points of EO’s and how hot the temperature is in the vape pen. I have one myself (not EO vape pen), and I can adjust the temperature from 400-790 degrees…very very scary!

  9. Thank you Katrina! When I heard about this a little while back, I thought it didn’t sound good. I want to enjoy the smell of my oils, not inhale them orally. Thank you for doing some research!

  10. Thank you so much for addressing this. I have never smoked but I do like the salt inhaler. I have read lots about ingesting oils and vaping them. There are more negatives than positives. I have heard it can get into your lungs and cause problems. I really like plant therapy products and am growing to really respect this company. Thank you so much for posting your opinion on this controversial topic. I will definitely stand by plant therapy’s advice and never try vaping essential oils.

  11. I am very thankful to have found Plant Therapy. Your dedication to safe practices shows great integrity. Thank you for putting safely first!

  12. Gosh i never even imagined that some people might consider vaping essential oils. But i always assumed that essential oils are so concentrated that vaping them could potentially damage the lung tissues. Thanks for addressing this topic.

  13. I have seen a few questions about this. I agree with the article’s statement that vape pens have not been around very long and therefore do not have a lot of studies or backing to their effectiveness, usage, and safety. They are an alternative for many habits and it will be interesting to see what we learn in the future.

  14. Wow!!! I didn’t even know this was a thing, The thought never even crossed my mind it just instinctively seems harmful!

  15. I have a friend who sells and uses huge MLM’s oils. She currently vapes different blends of their oils. I’m not gonna argue with her about it bc she believes in using oils neatly. I just don’t get the crap they teach their distributors. Stuff doesn’t make sense to me.
    But thank you for the informative article and showing there’s no real research yet.

    1. Oh boy, Carol, reading this comment made me cringe! Unfortunately, there are places that encourage their customers to use their oils very aggressively and it can honestly be pretty startling, and upsetting. We’re thankful for all of our customers who not only appreciate but *expect* us to provide them with safe and up to date info on how to use essential oils. We can only hope that if enough people set a good example, more will follow! 🙂

  16. Oof. Vaping essential oils?!? I can see how that might be suggested in certain circles. Thanks for putting this warning out there!

  17. Thanks for posting this information…I am sure we are going to see more of this subject all over, ads,etc….I know that heating EO’s is not a good thing, so I would never consider vaping!

  18. I know terpines are being added to medical cannabis concentrates. An interesting topic to follow for sure

  19. Thanks for posting this! I have been vaping for several years now and even make my own e-liquid but would never consider vaping EOs. The oils would be heated up by the atomizer coil and to me, would inefective and possibly harmful. And like another poster stated, it would be another thing for the regulators to try and find wrong with vaping which has safely saved me from smoking. 🙂

  20. Thank you for even tackling such a controversial topic! It shows you actually care enough not to skirt around the subject and to remind us to look at what we know instead of arguing about what we ‘don’t know’. Vaping itself has become a huge concern and with it dancing with the thought of EO’s being a good way to get your oils in and a healthy way just makes caring for and educating your loved ones a bit more difficult. Sometimes while reading these blogs ya’ll step on my toes a bit and I love that! It drives me to being a lot less passive and researching a bit more myself! So again. Thank you!!

  21. I love that this post covers the fact that someone saying they have had great results with a product is NOT the same as a scientific study on the benefit/harm of the product. I also love that this covers the fact that vapes and vaping essential oils haven’t been around long enough to have had the necessary studies done to determine safety. I love that not only does Plant Therapy make using essential oils easy, they also promote ethical use instead of seizing an opportunity to profit off a new fad.

  22. I am so glad to read Plant Therapy’s stance on this topic. I learned so much about vaping in general from this post. I am deeply concerned about a looming health crisis developing around unsafe essential oil usage that will result in FDA intervention, leading to restrictions and heavy regulations. Unfortunately vaping essential oils will expedite this crisis. Thanks for staying current on the issues!

  23. Saw some commercials about this recently and I found it rather strange. Like you’re ‘smoking’ essential oils.. No thanks

  24. I have wondered about this. I use CDB orally and sometimes vape it. I have seen CBD with EO’s added It sort of seems like a good idea perhaps to increase relaxation or alertness. But to just vape EO’s alone didn’t really make sense to me. Thanks for the info!

  25. Thanks for that info. I do actually vape and had wondered about it. Glad to know you guys cover all thing oily! LOL

  26. It makes me sad that some companies focus on sell rather than safety. New trends in the World capitalized on instead of studied.

    Thank you for looking deeper into this! No valid third-party research, no go!

  27. Im grateful for this article! Vaping essential oils has been something I’ve seen a lot of in advertising and I had wondered whether I should give it a try. Thanks PT for giving me great info to decide not to! You all are the best!

  28. I would have never thought of vaping EOs. Glad this information is here for those who need it. Thanks for looking out for everyone!

  29. Thank you for this! Some people actually think it’s okay and will not harm you. Now for them to do some research and see how dangerous it is.

  30. True to form, Plant Therapy is saying do not do this activity (fill in the blank) because there is not enough research to support this type of usage. Thank you for declaring your stance on vaping eo’s! Super helpful as it does look like an excellent way to enjoy oils…on the surface. I had held off because it seemed like a good way to irritate your lungs but it’s really nice to see that supported by professionals that I know and trust.

  31. Thank you, really, for making a post about this topic. I hadn’t heard anything about this, nor would I even consider trying this from my knowledge of EOs, but I can *completely* see this as a thing being marketed to consumers and misleading even more unaware people. Great job, PT!

  32. I did not know that the chemical makeup of essential oils changes when they’re heated. I don’t vape, so it’s not relevant for me in that sense, but it’s interesting to know.

  33. This is an important post I am sure I will be passing on to others! Thanks for staying so current with your safety information!

    1. Thank you for this article! I am a vaper and i NEVER would have even remotely thought to try vaping essential oils. That’s just silly to me personally.

  34. Thank you for posting this. I am going to share this with my daughter who thinks it is safe. Now I have someone to back me up. Thank you PT.

  35. THANKS YOU for this. I’ve seen a lot of marketing in my browser for vape pens with EOs in them and it’s made me uneasy. Mostly because my brain is telling me the issues you’ve addressed but the marketing is telling me “wow. That looks kinda cool” ugh. Thanks for being the vigilant angel on my shoulder

  36. I’m so happy to see you’ve done this post. It is difficult to understand why this may seem like a good idea! I was pretty disturbed when seeing a few posts of people doing this. To me it is going far beyond the purpose and point if essential oils.

  37. It’s going to be interesting to see how the research ends up, when/if it occurs. In the meantime, I’m staying away from it for sure! Thanks for bringing it up because I had never thought of it.

  38. I have been using the monq vaping pens. I can’t confirm or deny if it’s hurting my lungs but it does seem to help my mental fatigue and my energy but that could be all in my head. Not sure. Your only suppose to take one puff 1-2 X’s A day. I will definitely research some more. Thank you

  39. Thank you so much for such amazing information!!
    I Have actually had a couple people ask me if they are able to inhale/ smoke the oils & I now can share this link with them!

  40. Great information and grateful to have a cited source to direct people to when they ask about this subject. It seemed common sense to me to not vape EO’s but I’ve been shocked both at products and recommendations I’ve heard. I am curious if you’ll find different info on vaping CBD… there are so many variables, I could see researching the topic being difficult! Thanks for all y’all do!

  41. I’m still fairly a newbie but this was the first time I’d heard of anyone considering vaping oils!! Thank you for the explanation!!

  42. I ALMOST jumped on this bandwagon, but the company couldn’t answer any of my questions about the product! If they don’t know or can’t answer with assurance , I’m sure not going to inhale burnt oils! I’ll continue with my diffuser and personal inhalers..and at least I know where my oils come from!

  43. This is interesting! I wonder how the chemical make up might change when using essential oils in the washing machine with hot water. Maybe the hot water isn’t hot enough for the chemical make up to change? I wonder at what temperature the chemical make up changes?

    1. That’s a great question. Washing machine water can be hot for sure, but usually is around 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Not nearly as hot as a vape pen! Hopefully, more research will be done on how exactly heat changes each essential oil 🙂 We will keep everyone posted when new information becomes available.

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