Genuine vs. Counterfeit E-liquids – effects and how to identify them (10 simple aspects to look at)

By December 21, 2017E-liquids, Safety
Genuine vs. Counterfeit E-liquids - effects and how to identify them

Counterfeit products as a general rule are products manufactured clandestinely as an exact imitation of an original product in order to deceive or defraud for profit. Counterfeit products are not made with the same diligence as the original manufacturers do, the quality of materials or substances is lower and so is the outcome.

What are counterfeit e-liquids

There are numerous luxury items that are being constantly replicated such as Rolex watches, sport clothing brands like Nike or Adidas or other brands that are well known for their innovation, quality and investment in new technology and products. It is the same with e-liquids. Apollo for example only produces its E-Liquids in USA, California and all ingredients are Food-Grade FDA approved. This means that the ingredients are coming from traceable sources and are fit for human consumption. The flavors Apollo uses can be found in any other cake, cookie, beverage or soda depending on the required outcome.

When it comes to counterfeit liquids however, the components can be sourced from untrusty sources. You will never know what that liquid contains for sure, how it was produced, how it was stored and what were the conditions of manufacturing. At Apollo we take measures to limit contaminants and keep the lab in clean condition (even though it is not a legal industrial requirement). We have a presentation of our ISO-8 certified facility and the manufacturing process here.

Another important aspect of the manufacturing is the knowledge. Our recipes are prepared and tested prior to being marketed by chemists with PhD degrees who are prepared and really know about what chemical reactions are happening while the e-juice is prepared, bottled, stored and finally heated in your vape tank.

Due to recent developments in the legislation of nicotine containing products (also known as TPD or TRPR) all manufacturers who produce e-liquids are required to conduct tests and submit those to the authorities responsible for this. In UK the authority is MHRA. This implies additional costs, that are not necessarily cheap when extensive testing is required and obviously this is not a measure or an investment a clandestine factory would take. It is not necessary to mention that the effects of counterfeit products on human health is not known and obviously exposes the consumer to a great risk.

How to identify counterfeit e-juice

Depending on the manufacturer there are a few aspects you can look at when buying e-liquids. The general look-and-feel of the product, especially when it is expensive, should be of great quality. Even if you cannot spot directly a problem if your instinct says it is not ok then you should avoid it. It is not only the money that you might loose but since you inhale this product it poses a risk to your health that is not documented, tested and the effects are completely unknown.

Here are a few aspects you can look at:

  1. How well known is the brand? Did you ever hear about it or read reviews?
  2. Do they have a company / manufacturer website?
  3. Is this usually an expensive product and now you can get it at a fraction of the price? (Pay attention on “too good to be true” deals)
  4. How does their bottle and label look? Do they look cheap, bulky, do they have dents or the ink is fading if you slide your finger over it?
  5. How does the liquid looks like? Is it homogeneous? Is it clear if it is nicotine free (0mg) and darker if the nicotine is high (18mg)?
  6. Do they have easy to identify manufacturing information on the label?
  7. Are all the legal requirements for labeling met? (nicotine concentration, warnings or other legal hazard markings)
  8. Can you identify or trace back the source of the liquid if you ask your re-seller? (If they are legal they will not try to hide the source)
  9. Was your product manufactured in Europe? If so your product should contain a code called EC-ID that has the following format  01503-17-00004 (This is actually Apollo’s Classic Tobacco Menthol 18mg) or your provider should be able to communicate this information to you
  10. Does the bottle have a UPC code (barcode)?
    The main holder of barcode allocation is GS1. On their website you can simply enter the barcode from your product and they will return the result of the comapany that bought the specific bar code or class of bar codes.

For a bottle of Triple Nickel for example we have searched for our barcode and this is the result.

Result of a barcode search on the gs1 website

Remember! Transparency should be a key value of any company that respects its customers.

How to identify original Apollo E-Liquid

Here at Apollo we have a set of easy to identify tools that will instantly get you the confidence of the quality of the products:

  1. All Apollo bottles have a laser engraved batch number on the bottom of the bottle, on the carton or on the plastic seal of the cap.
  2. They are high-quality bottles with tamper proof caps (you have to press on the cap to open it like you do for medicines).
  3. All the bottles are sealed with a plastic film that cannot be taken out without ripping it apart.
  4. All Apollo products have UPC bar codes that can be traced back to us by searching the GS1 database
  5. All our bottles indicate exactly the nicotine concentration
  6. The recipe is a company commercial secret and it is treated as such. Any claim such as “an original recipe of Apollo” are completely untrue.

If you are unsure about any of the information presented here, on the label or by your supplier feel free to contact us. We will be more than happy to assist you.

Below you will find some images of counterfeit details on a forged Apollo product. The customer was kind enough to share these with us and allow us to present them to you:

Effects on the health

We cannot stress enough on this one. If your e-liquid is not from a verified manufacturer that takes solid measures in his production workflow the risks to your health could be high. First of all the sourcing of the base chemicals that go into the liquid should be solid. Any replacements that are not tested or provided by serious companies can have adverse effects that cannot be anticipated.

Also the manufacturing and mixing process should be a thorough one because the facility can have various contaminants, debris or other substances that were not intended to land in your liquid. On the long run these particles can interact with other chemicals and a reaction could trigger new components that you might not want to burn and inhale. As mentioned before we consider this in our process by certifying our production process.

Vaping is done pretty much the same as smoking, so you will heat the e-liquid and inhale the vapors directly into your mouth and / or lungs. This is one of the fastest ways for chemicals to get into your blood stream and produce effects. If what you inhale is not tested or fir for consumption that might get you in serious trouble.

Please note to keep the bottles or recipients for a longer time if you have a problem. Show them to your physician as the labels can contain information that is very important to your health.

It is also worth to mention here the effects of allergies to various components. This could happen if a chemical is switched for something cheaper and you will not know that.

Effects on your hardware

We left this on a secondary plan as we consider that your health is priority. Counterfeit e-liquids however can and will damage your hardware as well. The coil can burn faster, get clogged or heat intensely without any reason. This is easy to sort if you have a spare coil, yet not all bad quality liquids have these symptoms. Always make sure you adjust your hardware for the liquid you have (50/50 pr Max VG) so that you do not mistake the symptoms.

If the liquid is corrosive it will damage your clearomiser if this is made out of plastic and not pyrex glass or other kind of glass. Since the liquid is interacting with the plastic you will inhale results of the plastic being burnt on the coil and this is something you really want to avoid.

The counterfeit eliquids can also be hard to inhale. Good quality ones let you get a smooth long drag without any gurgling or any interruption, whereas those that are bad will have a different behavior.

What to do if you find counterfeit items?

There is a series of things you want to do if you find a counterfeit product or have suspicions about it:

  1. Contact the original manufacturer. They have means to identify the genuine products and also they will guide you into finding the details that makes the product genuine.
  2. Contact your original seller and ask them provenience papers.
  3. Contact local authorities. Procedures about this can differ from one country to another, yet it is always a good idea to report clandestine factories as in this case they pose a real threat on consumer health and ultimately your health.

Nonetheless it is always a good idea to buy from a trusted source, such as the manufacturer website or your local vape shop if you know them.

Let us know below if you want to add any advice or if you have any questions about it.

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