From the dawn of (recorded) time, alcoholic beverages have been used by nearly all cultures and societies to supplement recreational activities. It plays an important social role in many cultures as it typically unites people together to share a common activity. Alcohol is one of the most widely used recreational drugs in the world. In the United States, 89% of adults have drunk alcohol at some point in time, 70% have drunk it in the last year, and 56% in the last month. Statistically speaking, the global alcoholic beverages industry exceeded $1 trillion in 2014. It’s not until recent times that people have discovered new means of consuming alcohol (alcohol vaporizers), for a better and potentially healthier lifestyle. In this article, we’ll discuss what alcohol is, how inhaling alcohol works, and how it exactly affects your body.
What is Alcohol?
It’s important to note that the term alcohol encompasses multiple derivatives of the compound, including both consumable and non-consumable forms. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focusing on the widely known, consumable form – ethyl alcohol.
Ethyl alcohol, also referred to as ethanol or simply alcohol, is found in alcoholic beverages produced by the fermentation of sugars. Fermentation is a metabolic process that converts sugar to acids, gases, or alcohol. This process occurs in most commonly in yeast and bacteria.
Alcohol is a volatile and flammable, colorless liquid (that can be vaporized via different means) with a slight chemical odor (e.g., rubbing alcohol). It acts as a psychoactive drug when consumed.
How does Inhaling Alcohol Work? – the Science Behind it.
Inhaling any substance, as long as the molecule is small enough, is one of the fastest ways to get it into your bloodstream. When you breath, air is pulled into the lungs and directed into millions of tiny sacs called alveoli. If you’re not familiar; gas exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place in the alveoli. Oxygen from the inhaled air diffuses through the walls of the alveoli into adjacent capillaries (a network of tiny blood vessels) where it is then absorbed by red blood cells for transport. The oxygen is then carried by the blood/blood cells to other cells and organs throughout your body.
When you inhale vaporized alcohol, the same process occurs but instead of only oxygen being diffused into your bloodstream, alcohol molecules are diffused as well. Here’s a video showing you the process in further detail:
Once the alcohol enters your bloodstream, it has an effect on all your bodily organs including your brain. In the brain, alcohol affects its chemistry by altering levels of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit signals throughout the body that control thought processes, behavior and emotion. Neurotransmitters are either excitatory, meaning that they stimulate brain electrical activity, or inhibitory, meaning that they decrease brain electrical activity. Alcohol increases the effects of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. GABA causes the sluggish movements and slurred speech that often occur when you’re very drunk. At the same time, alcohol inhibits the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. Suppressing this stimulant results in a similar type of physiological slowdown. In addition to increasing the GABA and decreasing the glutamate in the brain, alcohol increases the amount of the chemical dopamine in the brain’s reward center, which creates the feeling of pleasure that occurs when someone gets buzzed.
Why People do it – the Benefits
Why are more and more people beginning to vape alcohol rather than drink it? Well, vaping alcohol offers some notable benefits over the traditional method. These include:
- Almost ZERO calories – When you vape alcohol, you bypass your stomach and liver and therefore, the sugars and carbohydrates are left behind. Sugars and carbohydrates from alcohol are normally “empty calories” – calories that offer little to no nutritional value (e.g., chips, sodas). Simply stated, the less calories you consume equals the less fat you may gain.
- NO hangovers (yes, no hangovers – see below)
- You feel the Buzz in 8 to 20 seconds. – As mentioned before, because the alcohol is absorbed directly through your lungs – it enters your bloodstream almost instantly.
- Retains the flavor and aroma of the desired spirit(s). It doesn’t taste like rubbing alcohol, we promise. Nor do you feel the burning sensation you may get from swallowing a shot.
You may be wondering how there can be no hangovers. To explain, you should note th
e issue of hangovers is somewhat controversial as there are several reasons to why they occur, including: the presence of other substances called congeners (usually other alcohols, such as methanol, found especially in brandy and whisky); the effects of ethanol itself on the body (e.g., dehydration); and the action of a fairly toxic substance called acetaldehyde, formed when ethanol is broken down in the liver. With that in mind, because some congeners are left behind during the vaporization process and thus not ultimately inhaled AND because the alcohol bypasses the liver (thus averting the toxic action of acetaldehyde), you will not get a hangover as long as you stay hydrated.
Just like drinking alcohol, there are also risks when vaping alcohol. Here are a few items to consider before you decide to dive into the alcohol vaping world:
- Alcohol Poisoning – Because alcohol is absorbed directly into
your bloodstream (via your lungs), it bypasses both your stomach and liver. By essentially being absorbed almost instantly into your bloodstream, you have the potential to consume a large quantity of alcohol in a very short period of time and thus, putting you at a greater risk for alcohol poisoning. However, you would need to vape large quantities consistently over and over again before this happens.
- Nasal Passageway – You should be aware that with irresponsible usage, vaping alcohol can irritate your nasal passageway and can potentially lead to inflammation of the blood vessels in your nose.
- Identifying the Amount Consumed – Unless you love chemistry and stoichiometry, there’s really no practical method to identify the amount of alcohol you’re consuming. So, it’s a good idea to be self-conscious of your body and how you’re feeling to ensure your buzz is just right.
- Asthma – If you have asthma or lung complications, it’s suggested you defer from inhaling alcohol as it can complicate your condition(s). Listen to your doctor, but also listen to your body.
Now that we got the potential risks out of way, let’s look at some common misconceptions you may not be aware of. For example, you naturally have alcohol in your lungs when you drink. When a person drinks alcohol, it’s not the same as consuming alcohol in vapor form because the liquid does not make direct contact with the lungs. However, when alcohol is consumed in liquid form, it’s processed by the body and where roughly 5% of the alcohol you drink is transferred into the lungs to be exhaled. This is why and how breathalyzers are able to be used as the preferred method of detecting alcohol in a person’s body, because drinking spirits introduces alcohol into the lungs.
Another fact that you may not be aware of is that you are vaporizing alcohol every time you drink. Contrary to belief, every time you enjoy a drink containing spirits, you are in fact inhaling vaporized alcohol as well. When you smell a glass of wine or simply breathe in after sipping your favorite whiskey, alcohol (in vapor form) is being introduced into your lungs naturally. It is in alcohol’s nature to turn into vapor when introduced to heat and/or air, which is exactly what happens in your nasal cavity or mouth. Often times orally ingested spirits remain inside your mouth and throat for extended periods of time, therefore you are in essence inhaling vaporized alcohol for some time. Depending on the amount of alcohol you consume, which being in liquid form (e.g, liquor) has a vastly larger concentration of alcohol and much longer duration of effect, it’s highly possible you are placing more alcohol in vapor form into your lungs than by using an alcohol vaporizer in any given time period.
Simply stated, if you drink alcohol, you’re inhaling alcohol. By using alcohol vaporizers, you’re essentially controlling the amount you inhale and taking advantage of the benefits it has to offer. Just like anything in life, advancements in technology allows our society to utilize such methods in our favor – for bettering ourselves and lifestyles. Because the benefits of vaping alcohol include an almost instant buzz, nearly zero calories, and no hangovers, benefits that you won’t get from drinking alcohol, alcohol vaporizers are the next step in consumption. Be sure to check out our review of the Vape Shot Pump we did as it’s our number one pick for an alcohol vaporizer or jump to purchasing it directly here.