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Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Analytical Methods in Chemistry



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Funded in part by the VCU Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.

Date of Submission

August 2020


In electronic cigarette users, nicotine delivery to lungs depends on various factors. One of the important factors is e-liquid nicotine concentration. Nicotine concentration in e-liquids ranges from 0 to >50 mg/mL. Furthermore, nicotine exists in protonated and unprotonated (“free base”) forms. The two forms are believed to affect the nicotine absorption in body. Therefore, in addition to total nicotine concentration, e-liquids should be characterized for their free base nicotine yield. Two approaches are being used for the determination of free base nicotine in e-liquids. The first is applying a dilution to e-liquids followed by two methods: Henderson–Hasselbalch theory application or a Liquid-Liquid Extraction. The second is the without-dilution approach followed by 1H NMR method. Here, we carried out controlled experiments using five e-liquids of different flavors using these two approaches. In the dilution approach, the Henderson–Hasselbalch method was tested using potentiometric titration. The accuracy was found to be >98% for all five e-liquid samples (n = 3). A Liquid-Liquid Extraction was carried out using toluene or hexane as extraction solvent. The Liquid-Liquid Extraction technique was found to be limited by solvent interactions with flavors. Solvent extractions resulted in flavor dependent inaccuracies in free base nicotine determination (5 to 277% of calculated values). The without-dilution approach was carried out using 1H NMR as described by Duell et al. This approach is proposed to offer an independent and alternative scale. None of the methods have established a strong correlation between pre- and postvaporization free base nicotine yield. Here we present comparative results of two approaches using analytical techniques. Such a comparison would be helpful in establishing a standardized method for free base nicotine determination of e-liquids.


Copyright © 2020 Vinit V. Gholap et al. -is is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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VCU Pharmaceutics Publications