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1 in 4 teens have tried dripping.
October 19, 2017

What Is “Dripping” –The Dangerous New Trend Among Teens Who Vape

1 in 4 teens have tried dripping. It’s the latest dangerous new drug trend among today’s teens, with as many as one in four having tried it. Learn what every parent should know about dripping and its dangers and what you can do if your teen is at risk:

You want the best for your teenage son or daughter. You want them to learn, discover their strengths, use their talents and grow into strong, healthy, self-confident, independent adults. The last thing you want is for them to experiment with alcohol or drugs, and you’ve likely talked with your teens about the dangers of drug and alcohol use. Now, there’s more to contend with due to a dangerous new vaping trend called dripping.


What is dripping? Vapor Cloud Reviews describes dripping as still “vaping regular E-Juice,” but instead of using a traditional device (“cart, carto or clearo”) users “drip” a few drops of the E-Juice or liquid directly onto the coils or the bridge of an atomizer, then puff to their heart’s content. The site extols the benefits of dripping to intensify throat “hit” and deliver a denser cloud of vapor with accompanying “cleaner, bolder flavors.” In addition, the site’s authors remark that users won’t have to resort to switching to different tanks to partake in smoking different flavors.

Although the warning listed at the end of the article on dripping mentions that nicotine is a poison in the right amount and that the amount is smaller than most people think, that disclaimer is somewhat buried. The fact is that it doesn’t take much of the E-Liquid, which is measured in milligrams (mg) per milliliter (ml), to be poisonous.

Various design considerations, including references to products that promote dripping are mentioned in a review of such products in Tobacco Control by Brown and Cheng of the Center for Tobacco Products, U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


Researchers at Yale Cancer Center found that 1 in 4 high school teens who vape have tried dripping. The problem with this dangerous new trend is that vaping teens are perhaps unwittingly subjecting themselves to increased exposure to toxins as well as nicotine.

Other reports highlight the fact that being male, Caucasian, having tried more tobacco products, and using e-cigarettes more days during the previous month are traits most likely associated with dripping.


So, why would teens engage in such behavior, possibly knowing the risks, potentially knowing them and going ahead with dripping regardless? Teen peer pressure may be somewhat to blame, as youth, especially high school teens, are vulnerable to succumbing to pressure from their friends to participate in the latest trends. Vaping certainly qualifies as a trend that teens are gravitating towards in greater numbers, as the Yale Cancer Center study demonstrates.

CNN reports the results of a study published in the journal Pediatrics that found teens use the dripping method to achieve thicker vapor clouds, better tasting vapor flavors to achieve the taste they want and a stronger sensation or “hit” to the back of the throat.

The chemicals vaping teens are ingesting aren’t anything to dismiss out of hand, even though research on the long-term effects of such chemicals on still-growing teens (and adults who vape, for that matter) is still scant. Included in the vapors are the harmful chemicals formaldehyde, acrolein, and acetaldehyde.

Researchers reporting in the American Chemical Society’s journal Environmental Science & Technology found that heavy vaping by users exposes not only the vapers, but also those around them, to inhaling “levels of toxins that exceed set exposure limits.” The researchers highlighted the toxin acrolein, which causes irritation to the nasal passages, skin and eyes, the recognized human carcinogen formaldehyde, and a substance called diacetyl, which may result in respiratory problems. Further troubling is the estimation of exposure in a model of indoor exposure to formaldehyde and acrolein toxins in bars where vaping is allowed that would often exceed the referenced California exposure limits. The trail of potential damage from such exposure is the computation from researchers that, compared to secondhand and thirdhand tobacco smoke, “disability-adjusted life years” lost due to secondhand vapor exposure is “only one to two orders of magnitude lower under typical use.”

Researchers studying the sources and effects of acrolein on the human body point out that the main source of acrolein exposure is the atmosphere, although concentrations in smoky indoor air can be much higher. And a large portion of human exposure to acrolein comes through exposure to cigarette smoke. With the findings that dripping emits acrolein toxins, plus the previously found negative effects on the human body, including the fact that as a direct irritant, acrolein may be an increasing risk to those suffering from respiratory diseases such as asthma, the full extent of the dangers of dripping appear to be just unfolding.

High-voltage vaping (using a 5.0 V device) ups the danger of inhaling formaldehyde even further, say researchers from Portland State University, reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine that cancer risk magnifies using such devices.

The toxic chemicals and exposure of lungs to oxidative stress was explored by researchers from the University of Rochester, reporting in the journal PLOS ONE, who found that the dripping trend likely generates larger doses of toxins to the lungs of dripping users than when using a traditional vaping method.

“Direct dripping” using direct drip atomizers (DDAs), say other researchers, produces higher toxicant emissions from volatile aldehydes due to the higher temperatures attained.

As if all this isn’t dangerous enough, yet another study reports that vaping in any form doubles the risk of smoking for teens.


Without resorting to iron-clad dictates about what teens can and cannot do, how can parents help protect their teens from the dangers of such fads as dripping? The first and perhaps best defense is becoming as knowledgeable about the topic as possible so that you can provide your teen son or daughter with accurate information. They must be given the facts, along with your continued emphasis on family rules and appropriate behavior. Be sure that the dialogue between parents and teens remains positive and is frequently revisited, reinforced and fair.

Teens may balk at hearing about some of the dangers of dripping, or other teen trends, for that matter. Yet it is vitally important that constant communication continues between the generations so that you discuss all aspects of family life, not just risks and dangers. Instead of seeming to harp on potential dangers with peers and pressure to engage in certain risky behaviors, parents will be supportive allies in the maturation process of their children.

You can’t be everywhere to safeguard your teens, yet you can help prepare them to make wise decisions when faced with potentially harmful behavior choices. 


American Chemical Society, “Exposure to toxins in e-cig vapor varies depending on scenario.” Science Daily, retrieved September 25, 2017

CNN, “Teens use e-cigarettes for ‘dripping,’ study says.” Retrieved September 25, 2017

MedPage Today, “Survey: ‘Dripping’ Common Among Teen E-Cig Users.” Retrieved September 19, 2017

New England Journal of Medicine, “Hidden Formaldehyde in E-Cigarette Aerosols.” Retrieved September 25, 2017

Nicotine & Tobacco Research, “’Direct Dripping’: A High-Temperature, High-Formaldehyde Emission Electronic Cigarette Use Method.” Oxford Academic, retrieved September 25, 2017

Pediatrics, “E-Cigarettes and ‘Dripping’ Among High School Youth.” AAP News & Journals Gateway, retrieved September 25, 2017

University of Rochester Medical Center, “Vapors Produced By Electronic Cigarettes and E-Juices with Flavorings, Induce Toxicity, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammatory Response in Lung Epithelial Cells and in Mouse Lungs.” PLOS ONE, retrieved September 25, 2017

University of Waterloo, “Vaping doubles risk of smoking cigarettes for teens.” Science Daily, retrieved September 25, 2017

Yale Cancer Center, “One in four teen e-cigarette users have tried ‘dripping’.” Science Daily, retrieved September 25, 2017