With all of the negativity that clouds vaping, you’re bound to wonder what the hell is in your e-juice that makes everyone so against it. We’ve discussed in previous articles how e-juice is made, the differences between VG and PG, and even how to make your own e-juice using simple ingredients. However, a study conducted at Harvard University focused on one particular ingredient found in nearly 75% of various e-liquids brands that were tested: diacetyl. The media got a hold of this study and blew it so far out of proportion (as the media is prone to do) that it caused an uproar and frenzy amongst vape critics nationwide. In this article, we’ll discuss what diacetyl is and whether or not you should worry about it.
DIACETYL: WHAT IS IT?
Diacetyl, also known as chemical CH3CO2, is actually pretty common. Chances are, you’ve probably already had it numerous times. How? Easy. It’s the yellow liquid you pour on your popcorn at the movie theaters. It helps margarine taste like butter. And it’s found in several alcoholic and dairy products. Shocking right? Not really. When combined with something called acetoin, diacetyl is what makes butter taste so good! It has a yellowish green liquid that has been approved as safe for human consumption...in food products. Inhaling it is a completely different story. You may have heard vape critics and skeptics talk about something called Popcorn Lung and you’ve most likely heard about people getting sick or even dying from their vape. You can check out our article here on how the media gave vaping a bad name, but in short, people were adding THC to their vape juices or vaping black market JUUL pods. This in turn got them extremely sick and some even died as a result, causing the government to step in and condemn vaping as a whole. The majority of vapers are well-informed and have enough common sense to realize that adding anything aftermarket or unregulated to their vape juice is dangerous, but as usual, one bad apple spoils the rest. Let’s take a look at what Popcorn Lung is and how it’s caused.
THE TRUTH ABOUT POPCORN LUNG
Popcorn lung, also known as bronchiolitis obliterans, is a dangerous lung disease that is nothing to sneer at. It’s caused by trapped air within the lungs that restricts breathing and causes severe damage to the tissue within your lungs. The disease was named after employees of a microwave popcorn factory breathed in the fumes of diacetyl in large quantities (approximately 18 parts per million) due to lengthy work shifts. A ruling from the CDC cited diacetyl as the cause of popcorn lung in these workers and deemed spending a long period of time breathing in or being exposed to diacetyl to be a health hazard. Protective equipment was put in place to prevent the exposure and direct inhalation of diacetyl fumes for the workers. However, there was a strange case in Colorado where a man developed popcorn lung disease, but never worked in a factory or had exposure to diacetyl fumes. Instead, he consumed microwave popcorn every single day for over a decade! That’s some intense dedication to microwave popcorn and obviously presents a rare incident, but for the most part, popcorn lung is directly related to inhaling large amounts of diacetyl on a constant basis. We mentioned earlier how Harvard had conducted a study of e-liquids and discovered several brands had trace amounts of diacetyl in 75% of the vape juice they tested. Let’s explore that and ease your growing panic on this tricky chemical in your vape juice.
THE HARVARD STUDY
Harvard published a study (which you can read about here) in which they found diacetyl in several bottles of e-liquid. This set the media off in a wild frenzy about the dangers of vaping and how diacetyl could ruin your lungs. What the media doesn’t tell you is the details of the study. While it’s true that it was found in 39 of the 51 samples (or 75%) of the vape juice they tested...there were only 8 brands. As vapers, we know that many flavors come in different brands (i.e. Naked 100 and Candy King have a huge selection of vape juices, but all are manufactured in the same fashion). We don’t know how many of these samples came from the same brand, which would certainly skew the results to show that yes, diacetyl was found in the vape juice tested, but was it two brands or all eight of the brands? Furthermore, this study only conducted studies on popular vape juices at that time, meaning that future batches may have been crafted differently to lower the amount or eliminate completely the use of diacetyl in the vape juice.
Another interesting fact that the media conveniently forgets to mention is that diacetyl is found in other tobacco products and in vastly larger quantities. When diacetyl was measured in e-liquid vapor, it measured in at 9.0 micrograms. The same studies showed that tobacco smoke measured levels of diacetyl of 335.9 micrograms. While it’s universally agreed that more tests do need to be done on the testing of vape products, we also need to focus on how vaping helps tobacco users shift to a less dangerous method of nicotine delivery.
DIACETYL IN YOUR VAPE JUICE
You’re no doubt wondering how diacetyl gets into your vape juice and which flavors might contain them. We mentioned in one of our previous articles what vape juice is made of (which you can check out here) and even how you can make your own vape juice (check that out here). Vape juice is made using VG, PG, and flavors (and sometimes nicotine). But diacetyl isn’t found in the VG, PG, or even the nicotine...it’s found in the flavorings. Some of the flavorings that are known to contain diacetyl are pastry flavors, some custards, and cherry flavors.
While it’s true you can create your own vape juice, and many of our readers do, blending should be done by a professional chemist. If you see the ingredients labeled as “natural and artificial flavoring,” there’s a good chance diacetyl is found within. Many vape juice companies may not even know they’re using diacetyl, so it’s your job as a vaper to do your due diligence and know exactly what’s in your vape juice. A very simple way to see if diacetyl is in your vape juice is to check with the company before you buy. You can reach out to the manufacturer directly for a list of what their products contain as well as confirm they’re operating out of a professional laboratory. Many of the top vape companies don’t use diacetyl in their e-liquids, but you can easily reach out to the companies to confirm this and ease your mind.
We’ve tried to go over what diacetyl is, why the media blew it up, what the Harvard study actually concluded, and how to avoid diacetyl in your vape juice. As always, vape juice has a long way to go in terms of scientific discoveries and long term effects. But we can safely conclude that there are no known cases of vapers contracting popcorn lung disease from the use of professional e-liquids. If you choose to add extra unregulated substances to your vape juice, do so at your discretion and at your own risk. If you purchase e-juice from an unfamiliar brand or shady location, make sure you do your research before popping that new flavor into your tank. If you have any questions about your vape juice or any of the flavors we carry on our site, we welcome your questions and concerns. Here at eJuice.deals, we strive to offer the highest quality e-liquids at the best prices, both online and in store. Do you know any brands that use diacetyl or are well-known to be diacetyl-free? Drop a comment below! As always, stay safe in your vaping habits and may your clouds forever be flavorful and sweet, and may your tank never be empty!