For vapers battling cold and flu season as January 2018 comes to a close, many can rest assured that their vaping of e-liquids containing propylene glycol may be a secret weapon of protection. Otherwise known as PG, this active ingredient of many vape juices has been proven by scientists as an effective germicide and killer of such illness-inducing bacteria as pneumococci, streptococci, staphylococci, and even the influenza virus.
Pneumococci bacteria can lead to pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections known collectively as sepsis. Streptococci can too, but this bacterium is more commonly associated with sore throats, strep throat, middle ear infections, sinusitis, and even the common cold. Staphylococci, on the other hand, is a bacterium that causes skin irritations and boils, but it is more commonly known for its association with food poisoning. While vaping is definitely not a cure-all, it certainly has several little-known health benefits, according to research by Dr. Theodore Puck.
Vaporized propylene glycol kills airborne bacteria
The vaping community is well-aware of the pro-vaping doctors within its community. From Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos in Greece to Professor Polosa of Italy and Boston’s own Dr. Michael Siegel, vaping boasts some of the most forward-thinking visionaries of our time. However, if you haven’t heard of the remarkable Dr. Theodore Puck, it’s probably for very good reason.
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Dr. Puck was a scientist of the 1940s and 1950s, and his work regarding vaporized propylene glycol is not only legendary, it precedes the wonderful world of vaping by about 70 years. He conducted countless research projects on the subject, and when he died in 2005 at the age of 89, The New York Times ran a national obituary highlighting his many academic and scientific achievements.
One of Puck’s most noteworthy studies is entitled The Bactericidal action of propylene glycol vapor on microorganisms suspended in air and is still published on the NLB-NIH website today. According to the data, when propylene glycol is heated and vaporized to above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it will kill several forms of airborne bacteria and viruses.
“The killing of air-suspended bacteria by means of very small concentrations of vapors of various compounds, particularly propylene glycol and triethylene glycol, was reported. Under the experimental conditions employed, numerous kinds of bacteria, including pneumococci, hemolytic streptococci, staphylococci, influenzae, etc., as well as influenza virus.”
Why would 1940s scientists like Puck be researching propylene glycol decades before its rise in popularity within vaping circles? Puck’s interest in the substance had nothing to do with vaping whatsoever. He was looking for a way to prevent widespread infectious disease.
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According to a printed interview in Time Magazine in the 1940s, Puck’s initial idea that vaporized propylene glycol might be a an effective bacteria killer came from his studies of the London Fires of 1666 as a young man. In a last-ditch effort to end the thousands upon thousands of untimely deaths involving the Black Plague, townsfolk set ablaze several areas of the city hoping to kill off whatever was secretly causing the outbreak. The pyromanic episode seems to have worked, because reports of new infections almost immediately fell into decline.
So, Puck set out to find a simpler solution to germ killing than setting an entire city on fire. He looked at several substances, including something called triethylene glycol. But it was vaporized propylene glycol that proved the healthiest for both people and animals to consume. It would be decades later that the global vaping community would finally build upon Puck’s earlier findings by settling on propylene glycol as a primary ingredient of e-liquids to help millions of smokers kick the habit once and for all.