As vaping laws in Australia changed on 1 October 2021, if you live in Australia and want to purchase nicotine vaping products (whether acquired from overseas websites or an Australian supplier), you now need to fill a vaping script issued by a doctor who is a TGA Authorised Nicotine Prescriber.
For many smokers wanting to make the switch who are eligible for a prescription, it can be a little daunting to get started with many questions to be answered, such as "How do I order Liquid Nicotine?" "How do I safely mix it?" "How can I make sure I'm safe with what I'm doing?" or "How do I know if it has gone off?".
This article aims to answer some of these questions and provide information about the safe handling of your nicotine.
Before you get started
First, a quick overview of all the essential information you need to know when getting started with prescription nicotine.
In Australia, liquid nicotine for DIY mixing is classified as a schedule 7 poison. This is because liquid nicotine can be highly toxic in its concentrated form and needs to be handled with due care.
You should treat nicotine as you would any other dangerous chemical, including:
- Wearing gloves
- Eye protection
- Working in a well-ventilated area
- Make sure that your work area is tidy and distraction-free.
To prevent spills on your clothing or skin, a good idea is to operate standing up instead of seated when mixing nicotine. As with any other dangerous chemical, it's essential to store it safely and correctly in the conditions best suited to that specific substance.
Nicotine can be absorbed through the skin therefore, gloves should always be worn when handling. Cloth/material or perforated gloves are not advised as they will not stop liquid from absorbing into your skin. As nicotine can corrode certain compounds, gloves made of Nitrile are ideal as they are chemical resistant.
Ideally, the eye protection worn should seal against the face (think safety glasses/goggles) to prevent a drop from running down into your eyes. Chemicals can absorb exceptionally quickly if they meet your eyes, not to mention the pain involved.
It helps to make sure you are working in a distraction-free tidy environment. Ensure your nicotine and mixing equipment are placed on flat, stable surfaces in a clean working area.
Don't use standard household equipment, especially equipment or containers used for food preparation or storage. To prevent cross-contamination, it is good to organise a DIY mixing kit specifying which syringes, containers, and bottles are dedicated solely for the use and mix of your nicotine.
When mixing liquid nicotine, accuracy and safety are the two most important aspects of being aware. When mixing, make sure you fully understand what ratio you should be mixing before selecting a final mg ratio.
Using the above chart as a reference, if you have a 30ml bottle of e-juice and want to make It 6mg, you will add 1.8ml of 100mg/ml to the bottle and shake until thoroughly mixed.
When you are mixing your bottle of juice, you need to make sure that it is evenly dispersed, and it is also good practice to shake the bottle well before each use.
As mentioned above in the mixing section, don't use standard household equipment, especially equipment or containers used for food preparation.
Nicotine needs to be stored in the appropriate conditions to extend its life and avoid quality degradation. Nicotine will keep longer when kept in the refrigerator and better still in the freezer. Over time, you may experience your liquid nicotine turning a variety of colours (including but not limited to yellow, pink, brown, and even green) and developing a distinctive smell and peppery taste. Some factors may include 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. So when it comes to preservation, PG is the better of the two as a diluent, and it won't freeze to an unusable state when kept in the freezer.
Here are some ways to protect the quality of your nicotine:
- Keep away from direct sunlight or other bright light sources.
- Store your nicotine in a refrigerator or freezer. Please note when stored in the freezer, nicotine suspended in PG or VG will remain in a liquid form, however, it will be much thicker than it presents at room temperature.
- 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, out of reach of the wrong hands. Keep it well 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 generally 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 the bottle is leaking, wear gloves, transfer nicotine to a safe, closed container, wipe up residual nicotine with a warm wet cloth, and make sure no residue is left behind.
This same degree of cleaning should be used when cleaning all items, you use in the mixing process. Thoroughly clean all articles to prevent any risk of contamination. For example, if you have used a syringe or container to mix, they should be thoroughly rinsed and cleaned so that no residue can leak over a surface where you may accidentally contact it later.
If there is a spill and nicotine comes into contact with your skin, wash immediately. If you feel sick or notice symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, slow, fast and/or irregular heartbeat, nausea, or stomach pain, go to the nearest emergency room immediately. Remember, nicotine is a dangerous chemical, and it can be fatal in high doses.
Nicotine is a highly toxic chemical, and safety advice on the product data sheet indicates the lethal dose for adults is between 30 and 60mg/person. Despite its high toxicity, a person cannot easily overdose on nicotine just by smoking/vaping the substance. However, 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 high toxicity levels.
When it comes to nicotine safety, it's essential to be mindful when handling and mixing nicotine safely. If in doubt, it's important to speak to a health practitioner or pharmacy and direct any questions that will help you use liquid nicotine safely and correctly.