How to avoid getting a sore throat from vaping

Published Mar 26, 2023 09:00 a.m. ET
Unsplash / William Priess

Vaping has become a popular choice among cannabis enthusiasts who wish to avoid the adverse effects of smoking, but it too has the potential to leave users with some unwanted sensations, and the majority tend to impact the mouth and airways.

It is not uncommon for vapers to report having a sore throat or a combination of other symptoms including but not limited to irritation in the mouth, throat, and lungs.

Why does vaping cause a sore throat?

If you’re experiencing throat irritation from vaping cannabis, it helps to know that you’re not alone. Many who use these devices complain of symptoms ranging from pain in the throat and mouth to headaches, and even upset stomach.

There are many reasons these uncomfortable feelings could be occurring, and it may be as simple as inhaling the vapor too deeply or holding it in for too long. This is a common truth for those who smoke cigarettes, as tobacco is generally inhaled with more force, and long-term smokers will often keep the smoke in their lungs for longer, to enhance the effects with an added headrush.

In some cases, it may even be that the concentrates you’re vaping are just too harsh, resulting in a sore throat that persists and gets worse without continued use.

Another potential throat irritant could be the ingredients that are used in the mixture that is made to fill vape carts and disposable vapes, like propylene glycol and glycerol or humectant which are often added as a solvent carrier. Unnatural flavorings may also be the culprit, as there is still very little scientific evidence to show how safe these additions may be when inhaled.

It may come as a surprise, particularly to those who decide to vape assuming that it’s the healthier option when compared to smoking and the risks of combustion but many vaporizer fillers may contain harmful or potentially irritating constituents that could cause a sore throat.

Why your throat might hurt after vaping if you quit smoking cigarettes

Though anyone can find themselves struggling with throat pain after vaping, those who have just quit smoking cigarettes are the most likely to experience this side effect, and much of it comes down to nicotine withdrawal which can cause things like sneezing or coughing.

Quitting smoking tobacco is no easy feat and even though some users may notice a sore throat that seems to coincide with vaping, it’s an excellent first step toward living a healthier lifestyle. It’s also important to note that if no prior throat issues occurred then this side effect is likely to fade over time, as the body adjusts to functioning without nicotine.

Humectants in disposable vaporizers and carts


Some of the dryness and throat irritation experienced by vape users may be caused by solvents like glycol and glycerol also known as vegetable glycerin. Certain companies use these ingredients to carry flavors, improve contact with coils, and deliver a smoother hit, but the adverse effects of these clear odorless additions aren’t yet completely understood.

Propylene glycol has been designated as generally recognized as safe by The Food and Drug Administration. However, this is only because it has been researched as an additive for foods and other ingredients that are ingested. Unfortunately, we do not have the same level of research into the potential risks it may pose through other routes of administration including aerosolization for inhalation.

At times the dry mouth and sore throat caused by vaping may be the result of propylene glycol and glycerol which boast water-absorbing properties. Either of these compounds can also result in the formulation of aldehydes (carbonyl compounds) which may also contribute to mouth and throat irritation.

It is also important to note that some people are allergic or sensitive to propylene glycol when it is eaten, and some vape users have reported asthma attacks from inhaling it. So it’s important to listen to your body and act on the cues it gives you.

Flavorings in disposable vaporizers and carts

There are so many different flavors that can be added to disposable vaporizers and carts, and most manufacturers of these products avoid adding the ingredients they use to accomplish this feature to their ingredient lists, so it’s almost impossible to know which ones you’re exposed to or the potential side effects they may impose.

One example of  commonly used additives that are known to cause irritation is pulegone and eucalyptol which are in menthol cigarettes. Even though they deliver a cooling and numbing sensation on contact, they can respiratory issues, bronchodilation, and a sore throat.

How to avoid a sore throat from vaping

One of the best recommendations to protect yourself from experiencing throat irritation is to avoid all disposable vaporizers and carts that contain anything other than pure cannabis concentrate. However, that’s not always an easy thing to do, and sometimes, even vaping pure herb or extracts through a regular vape can leave your throat feeling sore.

Here are a few other things you can try to avoid it:

  • Ensure your vaporizer is working properly with a fully functioning coil and clear intake.
  • Stay hydrated, and sip on water before during, and after a sesh.
  • Avoid deep inhalations.
  • Do not hold the vapor in your lungs.
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