Paddy Gower creates his very own 'PG raspberry lamington' vape juice - but what's really in it?

  • 01/08/2023

Have you ever wondered how vape juice is made and what ingredients are lurking inside that addictive little device?

To answer these questions, Patrick Gower went behind the scenes at Lion Labs, a Levin-based wholesale supplier and manufacturer of e-liquid, to make his very own vape juice for his latest documentary, Paddy Gower On Vaping

Gower was quickly informed by Lion Labs' co-director Max Fudakowski that fruit flavours make up 70 percent of the market, with tobacco flavours the least popular. 

"If you want it to be a hot seller, you need to stick with the fruits," added fellow co-director Cahn McKenzie.

For the purposes of the documentary, Gower designed his own flavour: a raspberry lamington-flavoured vape juice. 

"Just like if we went up to the main road and went to a bakery and we grabbed one of those pink raspberry lamingtons and we got it in a little paper bag. We went outside and we sniffed it - that's the flavour that I want," he declared. 

This was no trouble for Cahn and McKenzie, who decided that combining two standard, legal food flavourings - raspberry and coconut - would create the lamington taste Gower was after. 

But then come the other ingredients: vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol and nicotine are all added to the flavouring. 

Screengrab from documentary of propylene glycol being added to the vape juice in factory
Photo credit: Paddy Gower On Vaping

Vegetable glycerin is a clear, odourless liquid with a sweet taste, regularly used in cosmetics, skincare and pharmaceutical products. It's plant-based and typically comes from soy, palm and coconut oils.

On the other hand, propylene glycol is a thick, colourless liquid, also used in a variety of products. Aside from being used as a food additive, propylene glycol is also an active ingredient in engine coolants, enamels, paints and varnishes.

"Propylene glycol is what you use in a stage smoke machine. That's also what almost all nicotine and flavourings are suspended in," McKenzie added.

Both chemical safety agencies and manufacturers of propylene glycol recommend you avoid inhaling it, yet it makes up around 50 percent of vape juice.

Then, of course, there's nicotine: a stimulant drug and the main psychoactive ingredient in tobacco products and vapes.

In New Zealand, vape liquid doesn't have to be tested before it's commercially sold - manufacturers are simply required to inform the Ministry of Health that they are adhering to current regulations when either making or importing it. 

Screengrab from documentary of Paddy Gower's 'raspberry lamington' vape juice in 'production' at lab
Photo credit: Paddy Gower Has Issues

After combining the ingredients, Gower had his very own "PG Raspberry Lamington Vape Juice" - but had no intention of trying his creation.

"You gonna vape that, Paddy?" Fudakowski asked, to which Gower responded: "I'm not actually gonna let this go to market and this is as far as this is gonna get, actually.

"Except for the ESR [Institute of Environmental Science and Research] for testing, if that's okay with you guys," he added. 

However, new regulations stipulate that Gower would have to rename his e-liquid to the generic 'berry flavour'.

Watch the full documentary Paddy Gower on Vaping on ThreeNow