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Natural vs. Lab created E-liquid

Natural vs. Artificial E-Liquid Flavors

We’ve all heard it: “e-cigarettes just contain PG, VG, nicotine and flavorings – so what is there to worry about?” All available evidence may tell us that e-cigarettes are likely to be vastly safer than cigarettes, but the big problem with claiming just four ingredients is that last one, “flavorings.” This one word actually represents a multitude of different chemicals present in our e-liquid, both artificial and natural, and it also represents a genuine unknown when it comes to the health risks of vaping. So, should we be worried about the flavorings used in best tobacco e-liquids? Is there any difference between the risks associated with artificial and natural flavors? What is best e-juice flavoring made of? We need purpose-built research to really answer these questions, but what can we say based on what we know now?

What Do “Artificial” and “Natural” Mean When it Comes to Flavors?

 First, we need to be clear about what qualifies as a natural flavor. The official definition according to the FDA reads:

“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

The upshot of this definition is that flavors which are derived from plants or animals are classed as natural flavors, and ones which aren’t (that don’t meet the above definition) are artificial flavors.

There’s an inclination to think natural flavors are automatically better for you, or that artificial flavors will contain potentially harmful synthetic chemicals. However, this inherent idea – and the whole concept of drastic distinction between artificial and natural flavors – becomes a little weaker under scrutiny.

The basic reason for this is simple: every flavor you’ve ever tasted was produced by a chemical. Varying arrangements of atomic elements produce the cornucopia of flavors we enjoy on a daily basis – ultimately, they’re all just molecules. To recreate a natural flavor artificially – say, the natural flavor of cinnamon, which comes from cinnamaldehyde – the exact same molecule is made in the lab (and if not, the result tastes different). The only difference is the source of that molecule, whether it’s synthetically produced from inedible ingredients or derived from a plant or animal source.

In practice, most flavored products – including e-liquids – are mixtures of several flavors, and this is true whether the ingredients are sourced artificially or naturally. The complex chemical composition of natural foodstuffs is recreated using similar-sized combinations of the key chemicals recreated artificially. This can be a benefit for artificial flavors – if there’s a nasty chemical in the natural substance, it can be omitted from the recreation – but it can also lead to artificial flavors losing some of the depth and nuance of the genuine article.

Flavors in E-Liquid: The Great Unknown

When you buy e-juice flavorings there are no different from food flavorings: some are naturally-sourced, but most are artificial recreations of the natural flavors. Many mixers offer precious little information about where their flavors come from and which flavorings are present, simply listing “natural and artificial flavors,” and pointing out that the flavorings are FDA-approved. This isn’t ideal for anybody wanting to be an informed consumer, but the truth is that it ultimately wouldn’t really make much of a difference anyway, because we don’t know the risks of many food-safe flavors when inhaled. The FDA says they’re “generally recognized as safe” for eating, but this description doesn’t cross over to inhalation.

This is why they’re often called “the great unknown” when it comes to e-cigarettes. The perfect example is offered by diacetyl, which is safe to eat (imparting a buttery flavor) but has been associated with declines in lung function in workers at a popcorn factory continuously exposed to diacetyl vapor. The resulting condition is called “popcorn lung disease,” and although it’s rare, it’s a clear indication that “safe to eat” doesn’t mean “safe to inhale.” When Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos tested e-liquids for the presence of diacetyl and found it being used by many mixers, it brought the risks to the attention of the community and many mixers have since stopped using it.

This all leaves flavorings as one of the few credible potential risks of vaping. However, there does still need to be some perspective: in the diacetyl study, it was calculated that the median daily exposure to diacetyl from the studied liquids were slightly lower than strictly-defined occupational exposure limits, and was 100 times lower than that from smoking. The same might not be true for other flavorings, but it is encouraging that for one of the few flavorings we do know could be dangerous when inhaled, vaping still represents a dramatic reduction in risk compared to smoking. And of course, if any potentially harmful flavorings (like diacetyl) are identified, e-liquid mixers can simply stop adding them.

How Safe Are E-Liquids and What Do We Know?

 We might know a little about diacetyl’s risks for inhalation and its levels in e-liquid, but there is still a lot we don’t know. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) discusses the risks of diacetyl exposure, alongside other chemicals (which all responsible juice mixers don’t use) like acetoin and acetaldehyde, but hasn’t established “permissible exposure limits” for inhalation for most flavorings in use.

The Flavor and Extract Manufacturer’s Association (FEMA) is understandably concerned about the risks associated with inhalation of flavorings, and has created a list of “high priority” flavoring chemicals when it comes to inhalation hazards (which includes diacetyl and acetaldehyde), as well as a corresponding “low priority” list. However, FEMA points out that of more than 2,200 individual chemical flavorings and natural flavoring complexes in use, “The vast majority of these materials have chemical and physical characteristics that would make it highly unlikely that they would pose a risk of respiratory injury in the work-place.”

The high and low priority lists contain permissible exposure limits where they’ve been established, and can be used by mixers as a rough guide as to which flavors wouldn’t be wise to add to e-liquid. As we’ve made clear, though, there is a lot of uncertainty in this area, and recommendations are liable to change as we learn more.

Additionally, FEMA has specifically addressed tobacco vape juice flavorings, and argues that occupational exposure limits are not appropriate for determining the likely risks of vaping flavorings. There is a difference between being exposed to something in high concentrations in the air and directly inhaling it, but the key point is that flavorings (particularly individual ones) only make up a small portion of the vaporized e-liquid we inhale. You would assume that if concentrations in vapor are similar to those that somebody could breathe eight hours a day at work, it would basically apply to the flavoring exposure through vaping. There is no clarification on the reasoning behind this from FEMA, sadly. 

There are some reasonably encouraging signs from clinical studies on the short-term effects of vaping. FEMA and OSHA both recommend that workers exposed to potentially harmful concentrations of flavorings have their lung functioning tested, and although the evidence of this nature on vapers is limited, the initial signs are fairly good.

While there have been some signs of irritation detected in studies, the core spirometry measures weren’t impacted by vaping (at least in the short term), whereas in the cases of diacetyl-induced issues with lung functioning, changes in these same measures were seen. Additionally, evidence (with an admittedly small sample size) from asthmatic smokers switching to vaping shows that their lung functioning improved after making the switch. However, we’ll stress again that much more evidence is needed on this, particularly over the long term.

So, what about the relative risks posed by artificial and natural flavors? In general, as the earlier discussion would indicate, there is little reason to expect a difference in risk. However, as FEMA notes in their document on respiratory health and flavorings, “No natural flavoring complexes (e.g. essential oils and extracts) have been associated with the type of respiratory illness seen in microwave popcorn workers.” They point out that some natural flavors (such as onion and garlic) are known to cause irritation when inhaled, but for most, their relatively low volatility makes inhalation risk fairly unlikely.

They also add that “flavor manufacturing activities that involve mixing and/or heating of natural flavoring complexes may result in significant opportunities for exposure and should be treated with appropriate caution.” This is relevant for Black Note, and a good sign, because the extraction process for our tobacco e-liquids doesn’t involve heating (which is why it’s called cold maceration), although the extract is obviously mixed with PG and VG. This may go some way to explaining the lack of toxic chemicals detected in the lab analysis of our e-liquids.

Should I Vape Natural or Artificial Flavors?

 Despite the uncertainty – and the likelihood of similar risks overall – there are some clear advantages to natural tobacco e-juice flavorings, particularly because none have yet been identified as causes of respiratory illness when inhaled. In any case, though, the risk is likely to be much lower than that from smoking, so switching to vaping will represent a reduction in risk regardless of the specific flavors you vape.

One of the few reasonable precautions you can take is to choose e-liquids that don’t add unnecessary flavor and avoid using harmful chemicals in vape juice – we don’t use sweeteners, colors, artificial flavors or other additives for this reason. Every extra flavor is like another roll of the dice, so they should be minimized where possible.

The remaining deciding factor – and an important one – is the taste. As we mentioned earlier, artificial flavors tend to pick out key elements from a complex natural concoction to recreate the taste. This is all well and good for crude, fairly simplistic tastes like vanilla, but when it comes to tobacco, it’s why almost any tobacco e-liquid you care to try doesn’t capture the true taste. There are simply too many nuances and elements to the flavor of tobacco to recreate in the lab – at least without a formidable amount of research and a whole lot of trial and error. Naturally-extracted tobacco e-liquids taste so much better precisely because they’re based on the natural flavor rather than a limp, simplified synthetic replication. E-juice flavoring ingredients may spark controversy but ultimately the decision is yours to make.

Your choice of what to vape comes down to personal preference, but we’re firm believers that for many flavors – not just limited to tobacco– natural complexes are superior when it comes to taste. With all else being (reasonably) equal, that’s why we always choose natural over artificial. 

Michael Grey
Find Me Here

Michael Grey

With a passion to educate through my writings and a passion to help others, I found my place here at Black Note. Being that I am a former smoker who quit smoking because of vaping, I knew I could help others do the same. Working for Black Note is a true blessing. Not only do I help educate vapers on a daily basis through my writings, but I am also enjoying the benefits of working with an amazing team and sharing an authentic tobacco solution with the vaping community.
Michael Grey
Find Me Here

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What is E-Juice?

E-juice, also known as e-liquid or vaping liquid, is the liquid that’s placed in the vaping device and subsequently atomized into vapor. When you go to buy e-juice, you’ll notice it contains a mix of several ingredients. These typically include vegetable glycerin (VG), propylene glycol (PG), some type of flavoring, and nicotine.

VG and PG form the base of the e-liquid. VG is a component used in food and personal care products; its role in e-liquid is to create a thick, dense vapor. PG is another popular solvent used in a variety of everyday items. It carries the e-liquid flavor, provides the “throat hit,” and enhances the vaping liquid’s ability to soak into wicks or cartomizer materials.

Nicotine is an optional ingredient, often available in different levels. E-juice also contains some type of flavoring.

Black Note leads the pack of tobacco vaping liquid by using only natural flavoring – extract from real tobacco leaves to produce real tobacco taste. When you go to buy e-juice from other companies, you may find any number of chemicals used to create synthetic flavors that include fake strawberry, manufactured vanilla, and even man-made tobacco flavors.

If your aim when you buy e-liquid is to experience the subtle nuances, genuine flair and authentic taste of real tobacco, then you’ll be on the mark if you buy e-juice from the Black Note lineup.

Best E-Juice

When you’re going to buy e-liquid, it’s only natural you’ll want the best e-liquid. But what, exactly, does it “best e-juice” mean? We’ll tell you.

For starters, you’ll want an e-juice that doesn’t contain all kinds of strange chemicals and concoctions that you can’t even pronounce. True, even the best e-liquid will contain vegetable glycerin (VG) and proplene glycol (PG), which serve as the base of e-juice, but you don’t necessarily need a host of other chemical compounds.

The best e-juice will stick to natural ingredients, like real tobacco extract, rather than rely on synthetic flavorings, colorings and other additives. Diacetyl is one of those synthetic ingredients that has gotten a pretty bad rap, although its use is not all that uncommon for producing sweet e juice flavors.

Definitely read the ingredient list before you buy e-juice to ensure you recognize what’s on it. Better yet, see if the e-juice company offers a lab report to confirm what’s actually inside the e-liquid.

In addition to having as few chemical ingredients as possible, the best e-juice will have an amazing taste. For those who enjoy authenticity over imitation, the most amazing taste is the most natural taste, especially when it comes to tobacco. Since Black Note uses real extract from tobacco leaves, we not only avoid all those weird chemical flavorings, but we also produce the most authentic experience: tobacco vaping liquid that actually tastes like tobacco.

Best E-Liquid on the Market

Anyone looking for the best e-liquid on the market need look no further than Black Note. Black Note tobacco vaping liquid ranks as the best e-juice across the board in every category, starting with the taste.

Black Note’s main claim to fame is producing a tobacco vaping liquid that actually tastes like real tobacco. That because we use real tobacco extract, not chemicals, to create the best e-juice tobacco flavor. Using extract from real tobacco leaves retains tobacco’s nuances and flavor notes, giving you the most authentic and multi-faceted tobacco experience.

In addition to being the best e-juice for tobacco taste, Black Note also has the best e-liquid manufacturing process. We spent years researching and testing various production methods, and finally landed on one that we believe is absolutely perfect.

It starts with growing carefully selected tobacco seeds, followed by an equally precise of steps that include an extensive natural extraction process. Even our bottling and packaging is done with the utmost care, using recycled and recyclable packaging materials to ensure our products are as earth-friendly as they are vapor-friendly.

One more category where Black Note ranks as the best e-liquid is with the value. Every order comes with free domestic shipping, one-to-three day domestic shipping guarantee, and a 90-day, money-back satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy for any reason, or don’t agree we’re the best e-juice on the market, send it back on us and we’ll refund your money.

Vape Juice Ingredients

Vape juice ingredients can be pretty straightforward – or not. At the very least, most vape juice contains propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), and some type of flavoring. Nicotine has largely become an optional ingredient that can be included at varying levels or left out altogether.

Vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG) are usually the two main ingredients that make up the base of most vape juice.

VG is a plant-based substance with the ability to produce a dense, thick vapor. PG is an additive found in many food items and certain medicines. It carries the flavoring, provides the “throat hit” and enhances the vape juice’s ability to soak into the wicking materials.

Nicotine levels can vary, as can ingredients that make up the flavorings. The components that make up vape juice flavoring are where ingredients can get rather complicated.

Vape juice that relies on artificial flavorings can contain any number of extraneous chemicals and other additives, whatever it takes to recreate the flavor the ecig juice is going for.

Black Note uses only natural flavorings: extract from real tobacco leaves. That keeps our ingredient list incredibly simple, backed by a lab report to prove it. You won’t find any strange chemical concoctions used to produce our tobacco flavor, just real tobacco extract that delivers a real tobacco experience.

What is the Best Flavor for Ecig Juice?

From strawberry shortcake to banana rum, ecig juice comes in tons of flavors. While folks can debate and discuss all the fruity, sweet or food-like flavors all day long, the best flavor for e-cig liquid is straight-up tobacco.

Why? Vaping was originally created as an alternative for traditional cigarettes, mainly for those who enjoy the taste of tobacco. And when you can find an e-cig liquid that is able to recreate tobacco’s full-bodied yet delicate flavor notes and nuances, but without the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, then you’ve found the best ecig juice.

Recreating tobacco’s complex flavor isn’t easy, especially when it’s attempted with artificial ingredients. That’s why Black Note sticks to the real thing, extracting the essence of real tobacco leaves to flavor our vaping liquid. Not only does this avoid the harmful chemicals in cigarettes, but it also eliminates the flavoring chemicals found in many ecig juices. The end result is real tobacco taste, an authentic tobacco experience and the best flavor for ecig juice you can find.

Notice also we said the best e-cig flavor was straight-up tobacco, not plain old tobacco. Black Note’s real tobacco vaping liquid happens to come in a variety of different blends, from the light and airy to the peppery and robust. Not all tobacco is created equal, and different blends capture the specialized subtleties that make each tobacco unique.

Best Sweet Tobacco E-Juice

When it comes to sweet tobacco e-juice, your options can be broken down into two categories.

The first category contains tobacco e-juice that overlays the tobacco flavor with artificial chocolate, caramel, vanilla, fruity or other dessert-like flavorings. We wouldn’t classify any such flavors as the best tobacco e liquid, simply because they typically use chemicals and other artificial ingredients to create the tobacco taste, the sweet taste, or both.

The second category of sweet tobacco e-juice is where you’ll find the best tobacco e-liquid, sweet or otherwise. This category contains vaping liquid created using only natural flavorings, which is exactly where Black Note fits in. Instead of concocting flavors using synthetic ingredients, Black Note uses an extensive extraction process that slowly and deliberately extracts the tobacco essence from real tobacco leaves.

The result is the best tobacco e-juice: tobacco vaping liquid that actually tastes like real tobacco. And if you’re going for the best sweet tobacco e liquid, we have a few tobacco blends that offer varying levels of sweetness.

Prelude is our sweetest tobacco e-liquid, containing golden Virginia tobacco. Made from fire-cured dark Virginia tobacco, Sonata is our Cavendish blend with a mildly sweet and nutty flavor. Solo is our menthol blend, giving you a semi-sweet minty taste created from natural menthol crystals extract from dried mint leaves.

For the best tobacco e-liquid that’s naturally sweet and remarkably delicious, Black Note is at your service.

WARNING: Black Note products are not smoking cessation products and have not been tested as such. Black Note products are intended for use by adults of legal smoking age (21 or older in California), and not by children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Black Note products contain nicotine, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. Ingestion of the non-vaporized concentrated ingredients can be poisonous. Keep out of reach of children and pets. For immediate advice, contact poison control center: (800) 222-1222