Published On: 2022-11-10
a person with a safety uniform, half-mask, googles, and gloves, holding a clipboard, and a text: Hard to handle easy to vape, a thing about safe work with nicotine

Nicotine is omnipresent. E-liquids, e-cigarettes, nicotine pouches, nicotine patches, nicotine toothpicks, cigarettes, tobacco plants, and even some vegetables – are its carriers or sources. The substance is also present in medical products, which allows providing controlled levels of it to the human organism to help give up smoking. However, one should learn by heart pure nicotine handling demands special safety measures.

Nicotine – introduction to the substance

The substance in pure form is highly perilous, and toxic, and may bring fatal consequences. Due to that, now we are going to take a look at nicotine handling, nicotine storage, health care, and dangers associated with working with nicotine in an industrial environment. 

If you wonder how the substance is produced, beginning from sourcing tobacco, and ending up in pure liquid form, make sure to check the story of nicotine and its production.

Keep in mind, however, that even in less purified form nicotine may be poisonous. An example of such a situation is the green tobacco sickness described later in this article. Also remember, that nicotine should not be worked with in a private environment, without specialized education, and professional equipment! Even one 500 ml bottle may kill hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the nearby area if handled improperly.

3 bottles: nicbase nicotine base, nic&salt hybrid base, nicotine free base, a text: haven't you tried our e-liquid bases yet? and a button: try now!

Nicotine sources

Before detailing safety measures, let us say that nicotine is a substance found in various plants and vegetables: eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, and more. In these examples, its concentration is negligible compared to the most known source – Nicotiana tabacum – the most common species of tobacco. The substance is present in the plant’s leaves and, when farming or sourcing, may cause a disease called “green tobacco sickness” because of direct contact with farmers’ skin.

Smoking and vaping comparison

Nicotine is highly associated with smoking, and as stimulating as this process may be, it is also unhealthy. Fumes of combusted tobacco contain around 250 toxic substances that are officially acknowledged as harmful. On the other hand, vaping is estimated to be 95% less harmful, and contributes to the tobacco harm reduction concept, and allows controlled nicotine intake, which may help with cigarette withdrawal symptoms.

Note, however, that if one does not vape, we do not recommend starting it, and now let’s focus on the dangers that stem from the substance in an industrial environment.

The dangers of working with nicotine

How to act when nicotine is set on fire?

Firstly, let us state that nicotine set on fire is a situation that should never happen! Under no circumstances! Unless it is for training purposes of firefighters’. However, if such a situation takes place, it means that somebody made a critical mistake by not developing crucial safety procedures, forming them incorrectly, or neglecting them.

When it comes to nicotine one of the safety measures is preventing it from ignition sources. However, if that happens and the fire starts, there are methods to extinguish it. Among the suitable media, there are:

  • CO2
  • Sand
  • Dry chemical (powder)
  • Water spray
4 plates presenting extinguishing measures to use when nicotine is set on fire: sand, CO2, dry chemicals, water spray

If you struggle with burning nicotine, remember to adapt these media to materials in the surroundings. Additionally, under no circumstances use a water jet. It may cause a risk of propagation of the flame.

Specialist firefighter equipment

Moreover, firefighters should wear protection typical in case of fires and not stay in fire-endangered areas without special, resistant clothingself-contained breathing apparatus, and suitable respiratory gear. Additionally, containers with water are to be cooled down from a distance to prevent them from breaking and spreading the liquid.

Nicotine, when burning, may produce toxic fumes of carbon and nitrogen oxides, so one must not inhale it. Additionally, the substance is toxic for aquatic organisms and may cause long-term effects in such an environment.

How to act when nicotine meets the eye

Nicotine is a highly toxic substance that can have even fatal consequences. When one comes in contact with it, they should take definitive measures to minimize the dangerous outcomes and preserve health and lifeWhat’s essential is the canal through which nicotine is absorbed:

  • If nicotine is poured on one’s skin, immediately take off contaminated clothing and wash the skin with plenty of water with soap.
  • In case nicotine meets the eyes, wash them with plenty of water with the eyelid held open, and keep up the process for up to 10-15 minutes.
  • When nicotine ingestion happens, do not force vomiting. One shall rinse their mouth with water. If they are unconscious, do not give them anything to drink.
  • If one inhales nicotine fumes, cut off the source by removing it to fresh air and keep warm and calm.

The acute toxicity estimate and the nicotine poisoning symptoms

The acute toxicity estimate doses for nicotine intake are:

  • Oral: 5 mg/kg
  • Skin: 70 mg/kg
  • Inhalation/mist: 0,19 mg/l

When one comes in direct contact with the substance, the following symptoms may occur: burning in the oral cavity, throat, and stomach, exhaustion, seizure, worsening of respiration, irregular heartbeat, impaired motor coordination, and coma. Additionally, chronic nicotine poisoning may lead to cardiovascular disorders.

Remember that in every case you come in dangerous contact with nicotine, you should consult a medical doctor!

Working with nicotine

If you are interested in how nicotine is sourced, extracted, and produced, read more about the process of manufacturing nicotine. It, however, concerns production. Now, let’s take a look at handling the substance in an industrial or laboratory environment.


Various safety measures are required when working with chemical substances.

The first group is collective protection measures, which means an employer has to equip the room where one works with nicotine with ventilation or fume hoods. Additionally, there must be a sink and an eye washer. Moreover, working alone is forbidden, and there always has to be assistance. There is also one more guideline that concerns the highest allowed concentration of a chemical substance in a workplace. On a daily and weekly scale, national law regulates it. It must not be exceeded due to the short- and long-term health consequences.

Now, let’s move on to the second group of safety equipment which is protective gear for working with nicotine. Keep in mind, however, that the norms mentioned below concern countries in the European Union. For different regions of the world, various administrative bodies and documents regulate these standards.