Why Do Some E-liquids Crack Plastic Tanks? If you use clearomisers made from plastic, which is usually polycarbonate, you might not be aware that there are some flavours you should avoid using in your tanks.
Some e-liquids have a tendency to crack, cloud, “melt” or otherwise damage plastics with which they come into contact.
Learn more about this phenomenon and whether your favourite flavour is a known offender with this guide.
What is polycarbonate, and why do e-liquids damage it?
Polycarbonate is a type of plastic used to make clearomisers and tanks. If you’ve seen or used a plastic tank that is as clear as glass, it’s likely made from polycarbonate.
Some tanks are made from polypropylene, but this plastic is used less often because it has a frosted appearance.
The flavourings used in e-liquids are made up of all sorts of chemicals. While the chemicals in food-grade flavourings are generally recognised as safe for consumption, many of them are not chemically compatible with polycarbonate.
If you place these chemicals in a polycarbonate tank, they will react with the plastic, sometimes instantly and sometimes after a few days.
What flavours are known to react with polycarbonate?
One example of such a chemical is amyl acetate, which is used to create banana and apple flavours. Some flavourings also contain ketones or essential oils, both of which can corrode polycarbonate. Here is a partial list of known offenders:
- Citrus flavours (orange, lemon, lime, etc.)
- Acids used as flavour-enhancers (malic acid, citric acid, etc.)
- Anise/licorice flavours (including absinthe)
- Banana flavours
- Flavours that contain essential oils (lavender, clove, mint, etc.)
- Cinnamon flavours, especially “candy” types
- Soda flavours (such as root beer and cola)
- Almond/amaretto flavours
How can you tell if a liquid will crack or fog your tank?
Because many e-liquid vendors create their liquids using a variety of flavours, it can be hard to predict whether your new liquid contains one or more of these flavours.
One way to test a liquid’s compatibility with polycarbonate without sacrificing your favourite clearomiser is to drip a bit of the liquid on an old CD and leave it for 12-24 hours. Check for clouding, cracking or other signs of damage before placing the liquid in a tank.
Are there any tanks that are safe for these liquids?
Glass and stainless steel are nonreactive, so tanks made from these substances are safe for almost all flavours. Polypropylene is less likely to react to corrosive e-liquids, although some have reported damage when these tanks are exposed to certain liquids.
If a liquid damages my tank, is it safe for my lungs?
As with many other aspects of vaping, no one is certain about the long-term effects of inhaling vapourised chemicals, but this is also true of chemicals that do not damage plastic tanks.
The fact that some chemicals interact with certain types of plastic does not necessarily mean they are corrosive to your body’s tissues, however. After all, your body produces hydrochloric acid, a chemical strong enough to eat through wood and etch concrete.
If you choose to use polycarbonate tanks, be on the lookout for signs that your e-liquid is incompatible with the plastic, and dispose of any tanks that have been compromised. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy the wide variety of e-liquid flavours available in a clearomiser made from a non-reactive material.