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Eliquid Lab Report

Understanding E-Liquid Lab Reports

With the continuing concern regarding diacetyl in e-liquids, lab reports on the contents of best tobacco e-liquids are becoming increasingly common. Here at Black Note, we’ve opted to have all of our flavors tested for diacetyl, acetyl propionyl, acetoin, acrolein, acetone and ethylene glycol (as well as the expected PG and VG), but you might be a little confused about what you’re reading if you open the lab report. And if you see another manufacturer’s lab report, how do actually interpret the results to determine whether or not it’s a juice you should stay away from? Here’s a plain-language guide so you know what you’re reading, so you can make an informed decision about which juices you’re happy to vape.

The Units: Micrograms per Milliliter, ppm and ppb

The most basic and crucial element of the reports is the way the quantities are represented. In practice, this is almost always in micrograms per milliliter or parts per million, so it’s important to know what this means.

A microgram (μg) is a millionth of a gram, or a thousandth of a milligram (mg). Metric units tend to work in this relatively simple way: 1 kilogram (kg) is 1,000 grams (g), 1 gram is 1,000 mg and 1 mg is 1,000 μg (and indeed, 1 μg is 1,000 nanograms). In the same way, one milliliter (mL) is a thousandth of a liter (L).

One crucial point that’s pretty useful in interpreting lab reports is that 1 L of water weighs 1 kg, and therefore 1 mL weighs 1 g. Although the densities of PG and VG are slightly different from that of water, it simplifies matters to consider them as being the same, without making too much of a difference.

Generally, the units you’ll see in lab reports are μg/mL (micrograms per milliliter). This is fairly simple to understand: in one milliliter of juice, it will contain the specified amount of the substance (in μg), and in 10 mL of juice it will contain 10 times the specified amount.

Sometimes, though, the results from lab reports are specified as parts per million (ppm) values, which can be interpreted quite literally: if a collection of 1 million balls contains 1 single red ball, the concentration of red balls in the collection is 1 ppm. Remembering the simple rule for the mass of a given amount of water (1 mL = 1 g) and the definition of a μg, it’s pretty easy to see that 1 μg/mL is actually equivalent to 1 ppm (in terms of mass, it’s like saying 1 μg/g). Parts per billion (ppb) isn’t really used in e-liquid reports, but it’s equivalent to 1 μg/L.

If you want to visualize how much 1 ppm actually is, there are a few good examples in a document from Virginia West University: it’s like a single car sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic stretching from Cleveland to San Francisco, or a single second in 11 and a half days. We really are dealing with tiny amounts here, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to worry about.

Limits of Detection

When you read a lab report, there’s an inherent temptation to take a “not detected” (ND) result as meaning that “it’s not there,” but this isn’t necessarily the case. Imagine if there was just one part per trillion of a specific substance in a sample: you’d need some very sensitive equipment to even tell it’s there. The “limit of detection” (or “minimum detection limit”) of a measuring apparatus is central to the interpretation of results. If you were looking for the presence of nicotine in e-liquid, but your limit of detection was 1 g per mL, any e-liquid would return a ND result, even though we know there’s nicotine in there.

Both the American E-Liquid Manufacturing Standards Association (AEMSA) and the Electronic Cigarette Trade Association of Canada (ECTA) stress this point as being crucial: if the detection limit is too high, a ND result becomes considerably less informative. The ECTA points out that some gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) tests have a limit of detection of 0.1 %, which is equivalent to 1,000 μg/mL or ppm, which is blatantly not good enough for many chemicals of concern like diacetyl. Getting an ND result on such a test could mean that diacetyl is present in up to 999 ppm concentrations or that it’s completely absent: there is no way to tell.

The AEMSA recommends aiming for detection limits (for diacetyl in particular) of as low as 1 μg/mL or even lower. This is crucially dependent on the amount of the specific chemical that poses a risk: obviously, your limit of detection needs to be capable of spotting the presence of a chemical in dangerous quantities. Determining what classes as risky is a different matter, of course, but the general rule is that the lower the limit of detection, the better. For example, Black Note’s testing – conducted by Enthalpy Analytical – has a limit of detection of 0.279 μg/mL for diacetyl, so an ND result means that there is less than this present, if any at all.

An Example: E-Liquid Diacetyl and Acetyl Propionyl Testing

So now we’re in a pretty good position to understand what the results of vape liquid tests actually mean for you as a consumer. The best example is diacetyl (and the similar chemical acetyl propionyl, also known as 2,3-pentanedione), because this is what much of the recent controversies center on.

The first thing we need to do is find out how much of the chemical is too much. For diacetyl (DA) and acetyl propionyl (AP), this is much easier because Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos and colleagues made a reasonable estimate as part of his study into the presence of these chemicals in ecig juice. Based on the National Institute on Occupational Safety and Hazards’ occupational exposure limits for DA and AP – which provide average concentrations which can be inhaled for 8 hours a day, five days a week with minimal risk – and the resting breathing rate for an adult, the researchers calculated a guideline maximum daily intake of 65 μg for DA and 137 μg for AP.

It’s important to note some limitations to this approach – primarily that exposure for 40 hours a week in a workplace setting is different from continuous exposure from recreational vaping – but overall it can be used as a reasonable guide.

VaporShark has recently commissioned Enthalpy Analytical to conduct testing on their own e-liquids and others that they sell, looking at DA and AP, which gives us plenty of evidence to look at to see the likely levels of risk from each juice. If you click the link above, you’ll see that many juices return ND results for both chemicals, and following the link to a specific juice gives the full details including the limits of detection, which in these cases are 1.86 μg/mL for DA and 1.57 μg/mL for AP.

This means that any juice listed as ND could only contain less than these limits. If you were to consume 5 mL of any one of these juices over the course of a day, this means you would be taking in less than 9.3 μg of DA and 7.85 μg of AP. This is simply worked out by multiplying the amount of DA and AP (or the limits of detection, in these cases) by the amount of liquid consumed, working under the assumption that DA and AP are delivered to the vapor in similar amounts to their levels in the liquid (this was determined to be largely true, based on Dr. Farsalinos’ study). For Black Note’s tests – with a lower limit of detection at 0.279 μg/mL for DA and 0.281 μg/mL for AP – vaping 5 mL would lead to less than 1.4 μg of DA or AP consumed, well below the recommended maximum intake.

Now let’s look at a juice with reasonably high quantities of DA and AP, Vanilla Sky Tobacco by Hurricane Vapor. The testing found 25.2 μg/mL of DA and 147 μg/mL of AP in the e-liquid, which for a consumption of 5 mL of e-liquid per day would lead to 126 μg of DA and 735 μg of AP consumed per day: 94 percent more than and over 5 times more than the recommended intakes, respectively. 5 mL per day is a fairly extreme assumption, but these would both exceed recommendations for even just 3 mL of e-liquid consumed per day.

Suicide Bunny and VaporShark – Controversy and Uncertainty

Since Suicide Bunny’s Mother’s Milk was a big source of DA and AP controversy, the results of testing on this juice are also worth considering. One test was conducted by Enthalpy on behalf of Russ from Click, Bang!, and found levels of DA at 5.46 μg/mL and AP at 400 μg/mL in the juice, working out to 27.3 μg and 2,000 μg consumed if you vaped 5 mL of it. This was disputed, and the manufacturer released other results (from a different lab) suggesting that Mother’s Milk contained less than 5 ppm (remember that this is equivalent to μg/mL) of DA and 9.87 ppm of AP, putting them well within recommended exposure limits. Other tests have also been conducted, but overall we’re left with a confusing situation in which different labs give different results.

VaporShark’s testing has resulted in similar issues, with one manufacturer noting a huge discrepancy between testing it commissioned and those conducted by Enthalpy. There’s a whole rabbit hole to try to get to the bottom of here, with some claims of identical e-liquids sent to Enthalpy receiving different results, but we’re well into the realm of speculation here, and other labs haven’t yet received the same type of scrutiny.


Hopefully this post has given you some confidence in looking over and understanding results of lab testing of e-liquids, but it’s important to remember (as the Suicide Bunny saga and the recent VaporShark controversy shows) that any test is not the gospel truth. Ultimately, humans conduct every test and humans are fallible, and e-liquid testing doesn’t necessarily have the same rigor as peer-reviewed science. We’re sure that test results can be trusted, on the whole, but you should exercise some caution in taking the results of any one lab test as fact.

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.