The amount of e-liquid you swallow makes a big difference to the reaction you should expect
Nicotine is the biggest issue and can cause a wide range of reactions depending on strength
Flavouring can contain allergens which even without nicotine you should be careful to observe on the product label
Always keep vapes away form children and whether you or your child swallow e-liquid, be sure to seek proper medical advice
No matter the circumstances which led to it, swallowing e-liquid is never a pleasant experience. Even if there happens to be no nicotine in the mix, the intense flavours alone can make the experience quite nasty!
It is important to remember however that, unless you somehow consume a large quantity the risks are relatively small, so you shouldn’t panic if your device spits a small drop of e-liquid into your mouth while you are puffing on it.
Despite this, there are some things to expect should this unfortunate accident happen to you, which we will explain below. In an ideal world, we should never allow e-liquid to come into contact with our skin, however accidents do happen.
Remember above all else – if you have experienced any negative side effects at all, either from swallowing vape juice or just by vaping a particular liquid, you should speak to your GP immediately as they are qualified to help you, the information in this blog is intended to serve as a guide only, not as medical advice.
If you have swallowed an amount of nicotine containing e-liquid, then the first thing to expect is a very bitter taste. This can dominate your tongue and linger for a long time even after rinsing your mouth.
Nausea can also occur when consuming nicotine in this way. This is a typical sign of nicotine overdose** – which can have a mild to more severe impact. The impact will often be influenced by the strength of your e-liquid. Swallowing some 18mg e-liquid is more likely to make you feel nauseous than a 3mg.
Prolonged or repeated exposure to nicotine can lead to other issues, however the occasional drop spat from a device is not likely to cause anything more than an unpleasant taste. Should you experience a reactions that is more serious or you are concerned the bad taste is persisting speak to your GP immediately, or visit A&E.
“All patients who have taken a deliberate overdose or who have ingested 0.2mg/kg or more nicotine, or those who are symptomatic, should be referred for medical assessment.”
The 0.2mg/kg here refers to your actual bodyweight. If you weighed 75kg for example, and swallowed a full 10ml bottle of 20mg e-liquid, which is the maximum legal limit for nicotine e-liquid in the UK, you would have ingested 0.27mg/kg which is over the 0.2mg/kg limit advised above.
According to the guidance form the NHS in this case, if you have swallowed a product of this strength, in such a high volume, then you should seek medical advice.
If under the limit, they advise the following:
“People aged 13 and over or adults who have accidentally ingested less than 0.2mg/kg nicotine and who have no new symptoms since the time of ingestion do not need to be referred for medical assessment. Patients should be advised to seek medical attention if symptoms develop.”
They also tell us about some of the things to look out for that might suggest you have ingested too much nicotine:
“Early features of ingestion include burning in the mouth and throat, nausea, vomiting, confusion, dizziness, weakness, hypersalivation, sweating and increased bronchial secretions.”
“Skin contact may lead to irritation with a level of absorption dependent on the length of exposure and concentration. Systemic features may follow”
While less aggressive than nicotine itself, even swallowing a nicotine freee-liquid can be a nasty experience, particularly because of potential allergens in the flavouring.
While typically we avoid allergens, in order to create some of the flavour profiles you enjoy, certain ingredients cannot be left out and some of these are sensitisers. They will only ever be present at low levels; however, the severity of an allergy will determine how much of a reaction you may experience.*
If you are not allergic to any of the components, the worst part about swallowing flavouring is that it will almost certainly be the only thing you taste for a short while, as the concentrates we use are designed to be atomised in a vape, not consumed directly which means they are very strong – imagine drinking undiluted cordial or squash.
Given time though, this will pass with a few rinses of your mouth and some patience.
Check The Label
Before you use any e-liquid, always check the label. This is where you can see any allergens present, as well as the nicotine strength and other important information about what to do if you swallow any.
If you think you are having a bad reaction or feel unwell after vaping, bringing the bottle and label with you to the doctor or hospital could be very useful for your practitioner, as it may help them identify any offending ingredients sooner, meaning you can get the proper help all the quicker.
Keep Out of Reach of Children
You must always ensure your vaping products are well away from children, and stored somewhere they cannot reach. One of the main reasons nicotine containing e-liquids are limited to 10ml bottles, is because of the risk of a child consuming the bottle.
Lawmakers established that even in the worst case, a child faces less risk form consuming 10ml than if larger bottles were available. This is why the restriction was made an official part of TPD and TRPR regulations (the rules that ensure quality and safety in the vaping industry in the UK and EU)
The reaction of a child is likely to be far more severe than for an adult, so it is always best practice to seek immediate medical attention if your child has come into contact with, or consumed any amount of e-liquid, be it 0mg or 18mg – never leave it to chance.
“Hospitals are reporting growing numbers of children accidentally swallowing liquid nicotine from e-cigarette refills. There is a risk of poisoning from swallowing e-cigarette liquid.”
“Symptoms are usually mild and include nausea and vomiting. But serious poisoning can happen after swallowing larger amounts, especially by small children.”
“So, as with medicines and cleaning products, keep e-cigarettes and e-liquid refills well out of reach and sight of babies, toddlers and small children.”
“While no deaths have yet been reported in the UK, a two-year-old girl from Israel was fatally poisoned after she swallowed an e-cigarette refill. The bulletin recommends that health practitioners warn people using e-cigarettes to: “keep nicotine-containing products away from children, especially very young children and toddlers, who are more susceptible to nicotine poisoning.”’
The chief executive of the CAPT, Katrina Phillips offered this advice to vaping parents:
“Babies put everything in their mouths – it’s how they explore the world around them. Toddlers are intensely curious – if you leave your bag on the floor, they’ll be in there like a shot. So remember to keep harmful things like e-cigarette refills where small children can’t find them.”
Our resident vaping expert with nearly a decade of industry experience. From working on the shop floor, bottling, picking and packing vaping products for customers, to designing and formulating e-liquids in the lab, there isn't much about vaping that Ollie doesn't know. His expertise, knowledge and insight into the industry make Ollie the go-to for reliable and trustworthy industry info.