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Flavoring in E-liquid

How to Safely Use Flavorings in E-Liquids

When it comes to the risks of vaping, flavorings are the big unknown. We may know that the flavors used in e-liquids are generally recognized as safe for ingesting as part of food, but we can’t say the same when it comes to inhalation. If diacetyl and acetyl propionyl have taught us anything, it’s that “safe to eat” doesn’t mean “safe to inhale.” The problem is that such evidence on the potential risks of inhaling flavorings is not available for most food flavorings used in e-liquid. So how can e-liquid mixers go about making sure that they use flavorings in a safe way? A recently-published guide from British American Tobacco’s Nicoventures aims to offer the solution.

The Recommendations – Keeping Vapers Safe By Doing Your Research

The advice from the report can be summarized most simply by saying “find out exactly what flavoring chemicals you’re using and do your research on them,” but of course, there are a lot of complexities to consider. The main issue with flavorings is that the evidence often just isn’t there on the risks for inhalation, so how can you stay safe?

1. Only Use Food-Grade Flavorings

This should be obvious to any e-liquid company, but it’s worth repetition, regardless. To provide some re-assurance that there are no contaminants in your flavorings (or at very least, that any present are only in very low levels), only food-grade flavors should be used in e-liquids. The reasoning behind this is that although food flavorings haven’t been tested to make sure they’re safe to inhale, they have been looked at more generally to ensure they aren’t particularly toxic. Finding out about each of the individual chemicals in a flavor can be difficult, but the Perfumer’s Apprentice provides spec sheets for each of its flavorings with full listing of components.

2. Avoid Any Flavorings With Known Risks

Although using food-grade flavorings should ensure that the included flavors aren’t carcinogenic, mutagenic (mutation-causing) or a reproduction toxin, it’s worth checking the chemicals out specifically for this purpose. The problem is that some chemicals are classified as food-safe in some places and not others, and some are riding on the coat-tails of their historic use “without known issues” despite not being specifically subjected to the same criteria. The authors recommend excluding chemicals classed in group 1 or 2 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer or included on various other lists of chemicals of concern, such as the FDA’s harmful and potentially harmful constituents list. Additionally, if any ingredients are classed as respiratory sensitizers – like known allergens – these also flavorings shouldn’t be used.

3. Look for Existing Evidence on Toxicity

After weeding out any potentially risky ingredients through the above two steps, mixers should then look for specific evidence relating to the toxicity of the chemicals, ideally for exposure through inhalation. As an example of some flavorings that shouldn’t be used and would be ruled out at this stage, the authors point to diacetyl and acetyl propionyl, two chemicals commonly used in food without problems but which have been shown to cause lung damage when inhaled.

However, there is a problem because many flavors have been tested for ingestion but not for inhalation. The authors point out, though, that many flavorings have been tested for inhalation, because a large amount of flavor chemicals are added to cigarettes (some tests reported here and here).

These investigations are somewhat limited because they were examined as part of smoke, but if the flavors made the effects substantially worse they can be identified from this data. The authors use spearmint oil as an example: when this was added in substantial amounts (about 10 percent of the total) to a cigarette, the mice used in the experiments developed problems in their airways, so this ingredient should be avoided in e-liquids (although all oils should really be avoided due to the risk of lipoid pneumonia). 

When there is no inhalation-specific information available, the authors advise using available information on the toxicity of the chemical in question through other routes of exposure. This isn’t a definitive assessment, but it’s reasonable to expect that if something is an irritant to the skin or eyes, for example, it will probably have a similar effect on the lungs.

4. Use Toxicological Thresholds of Concern

Already-established toxicological thresholds of concern (shortened to TTC) can also be used as a guide in the absence of other information. These have been developed for many specific applications, including inhalation of many different types of products (including cigarettes and consumer aerosol products), and provide a guideline daily amount, above which there would likely be health concerns. This is useful when, for example, you can’t find reliable information about the risks of inhaling something. The specific guidelines the authors suggest are those designed for consumer aerosol products (because of a very close similarity with vaping), which are based on the Cramer Classification Scheme (which basically grades chemicals from 1 to 3 according to their likely toxicity).

The authors’ conservative estimate suggests that vapers shouldn’t be exposed to class 1 compounds at levels over 0.98 mg per day, and for class 2 and 3 compounds, no more than 0.17 mg per day. This may be difficult to work out, but it can be done based on the amount of a chemical present in the e-liquid and assuming a consumption of 5 ml of e-liquid per day, as has been done in other studies.

5. Test for Thermal Breakdown Products

The main thing left out so far is the fact that e-liquid is heated prior to being inhaled, and this can lead to changes in the chemical composition of the vapor in comparison to the liquid. In short, the heating will lead some of the constituent chemicals to break down, so what you put in the e-liquid will be slightly different from what ends up in the vapor (which is why e-liquids taste slightly different in different devices and with different settings).

The authors suggest that this should be tested using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and mixers should use the same TTC approach as above to determine that vapers should be exposed to no more than 1.8 mg per day of class 1 compounds and no more than 0.09 mg per day of class 2 and 3 compounds.

Based on general guidelines and the assumption of 300 puffs per day for vapers, they suggest that such breakdown products should be tested using GC-MS with a minimum detection limit of 5 ng per puff.

They suggest that these unavoidable breakdown products could also be compared to levels in cigarettes, since almost all vapers are using e-cigs to replace smoking. However, they crucially point out that intentionally added ingredients shouldn’t be held to this (relatively low) standard, because any flavor ingredient can be replaced altogether if it’s potentially risky.

With Some Work, All Mixers Can Keep Vapers Safe

The guidelines laid down by this paper aren’t the last word on how to safely use flavorings in e-liquid, but they offer a general set of rules that health-conscious mixers can follow to ensure that they keep their customers as safe as possible. It might take a little research and a bit of expense to conduct testing, but in an industry on the verge of regulation and where we value the health of our customers, it’s the least we can do.

Here at Black Note, we had our juices independently tested to ensure freedom from ingredients like diacetyl, acetyl propionyl, diethylene glycol, acrolein and acetoin, and we don’t add any artificial colors or flavors, but the information contained within this paper could be absolutely invaluable for mixers who do.


  1. Costigan, S. and Meredith, C. (2015) An approach to ingredient screening and toxicological risk assessment of flavours in e-liquids


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 Naturally Extracted Tobacco E-Liquid?

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.

WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.