Lately diacetyl in e-juice has come back under fire. So I wanted to take a few minutes and share some interesting facts.
What is Diacetyl? The short answer is, it is a flavor additive that tastes like butter. The longer answer can be found on-line here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diacetyl
Diacetyl (IUPAC systematic name: butanedione or butane-2,3-dione) is an organic compound with the chemical formula (CH3CO)2. It is a volatile, yellow/green liquid with an intensely buttery flavor. It is avicinal diketone (two C=O groups, side-by-side) with the molecular formula C4H6O2. Diacetyl occurs naturally in alcoholic beverages and is added to some foods to impart its buttery flavor.
It has been known to cause what is referred to as popcorn lung (bronchiolitis obliterans (BO) ) in workers in microwave popcorn plants. While this is troubling it should be noted that so far only one consumer has ever gotten BO.
Is it really that bad? While I want vendors to test their juices for diacetyl and other diketones, the question we should look at is: “Is this really that bad?” I find it curious that for something as bad as this is, to not have caused many of us to get BO from smoking, as diacetyl is one of over 500 chemicals added to cigarette tobacco under the name 2,3-Butanedione. http://www.tricountycessation.org/tobaccofacts/Cigarette-Ingredients.html#list
If 2 bags of microwave popcorn a day for 10 years can cause a man to get BO, then surly those of us who smoked 2+ packs a day for 10+ years should have also been at risk, but to my knowledge none of us have developed BO.
Now all of that said, I personally don’t want needless risks for such things as BO in my e-juices and I do applaud vendors like Mike at Roar Vapor who do test their juices and reformulate any that come back with it.
Just using flavorings said to be free of diacetyl isn’t enough. As while it is an organic compound it does have a chemical formula, one that can be a by product of chemical reactions in mixing different flavorings. Also it should be noted that higher amounts of some flavors can also show diacetyl when lower amounts of the same flavor does not.
A prime example of this is 2 juices that Mike had tested. Roar Vanilla and Roar Vanilla Rootbeer.
From the email between Mike at Roar Vapor and myself:
what you are referring to is Roar Vanilla and Roar Vanilla Rootbeer. Both juices, while having different amounts of flavoring, had the same flavorings in them except one. Roar Vanilla came back very positive with Diacytel while Roar Vanilla Rootbeer, which had the same flavors as Roar Vanilla but with the addition of a rootbeer flavoring, came back clean. They were both made and tested at the same times.
Mike being the responsible vendor he is, pulled both flavors and reformulated them.
So what about those of us who DIY? As most of the juice I vape is DIY it is important to understand the risks of what I am doing. As many of us can’t afford to spend $300 per juice to get it tested, we need to rely on facts and common sense.
We know not all flavor manufacturers test their flavorings, in reality very very few do, but that doesn’t need to stop us from being on the safe side of things. Using high quality, highly concentrated flavorings helps. As the less of a favoring needed the less chance it has to naturally create chemicals reactions leading to unwanted things in e-juice.
At the end of the day it comes down to what we already knew, vaping is safer than smoking. Even with diacetyl in a juice it has been shown to be 100 times lower than that found in cigarettes. http://www.ecigarette-research.com/web/index.php/research/2014/178-da-ap