Introduction

There are two compounds that have drawn a lot of controversy in the vaping industry. The first one, diacetyl, is a common compound used in many e-liquids. However, there are many e-liquids that are diacetyl free as well.

Some vapers don’t want diacetyl in their e-liquids and EU legislation limits the use of diacetyl in e-juices. Consequently, there are many vape juices without diacetyl.

Diacetyl is used in many products and it not considered a risk for human consumption.

The other compound, vitamin E acetate, isn’t a compound used in the production of e-juices. However, apparently black-market THC e-liquids contained vitamin E acetate, and some sources linked it with VAPI the respiratory illness reported in the US. This was quite controversial for over a year ago but until now the health authorities could not prove that vitamin E acetate caused any respiratory disease.

What is Diacetyl?

Chemical structure of diacetyl
Chemical structure of diacetyl

Approximately a year ago, a media frenzy started after a study in Harvard University concluded that more than 70% of the e-liquids contained diacetyl. Diacetyl is an organic compound that is widely used in the food industry. It has a buttery flavor and it is very appreciated in the food industry. Its color varies between yellow and green and its chemical formula is (CH3CO)2.

It is widely used in the food and beverage industry and as a flavoring for many food products to add that buttery flavor. For instance, microwave popcorns use diacetyl to give them that characteristic buttery flavor.

What’s Diacetyl used for?

Many products contain diacetyl and it is considered safe for human consumption by the FDA as it classifies diacetyl as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) for consumption.  

The controversy over diacetyl is based on a respiratory illness developed by workers in the popcorn manufacturing industry. However, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) could not determine if the respiratory illness was caused by diacetyl or by other compounds.

In addition, diacetyl is used in many e-liquids, but there are also many juices that are diacetyl-free. Furthermore, if you live in Europe (European Union countries), diacetyl is not available in e-liquids under the Tobacco Products Directive.

Is Diacetyl Dangerous?

Firstly, it’s important to emphasize that e-liquids contain very low quantities of diacetyl compared with normal tobacco cigarettes. In addition, there is not a single report of e-cigarettes causing bronchiolitis obliterans (popcorn lungs). Moreover, let’s remind that popcorn lungs is a very rare pulmonary disease with very few cases. In short, there are no reported cases and the scientific community has not found a link between bronchiolitis obliterans and diacetyl.

Diacetyl isn’t classified as a dangerous substance. It’s classified as GRAS, “Generally Recognized as Safe” and it is naturally present in wine, balsamic vinegar, roasted coffee, honey and many other fermented foods.

Research have concluded that exposures to flavoring chemicals in the workplace, including diacetyl, did not produce an increased risk of abnormal spirometric findings.

About vaping diacetyl, let’s emphasize that no respiratory issues have been linked to diacetyl. However, if you are worried about diacetyl, there are many vape juices without diacetyl.

What’s Vitamin E Acetate?

Chemical structure of  tocopheryl acetate
Chemical structure of tocopheryl acetate.

Vitamin E acetate is perhaps more controversial than diacetyl. However, there are a many misconception about vitamin E acetate. For instance, vitamin E acetate is often used in dermatological products and dietary supplements.

Vitamin E acetate or tocopheryl acetate is found in many skin cares and foods such as broccoli, spinach, whole grains, sunflower seeds, etc. Moreover, it is considered an antioxidant.

The standard limits for vitamin E acetate is 15 milligrams/day. This is considered the recommended daily dose. However, higher doses of vitamin E acetate can cause dizziness, nausea, weakness, abdominal pain and headaches.

Vitamin E acetate is food graded and it has been classified as GRAS by the FDA.

What’s Vitamin E Acetate used for?

There are many products with tocopheryl acetate such as lipsticks, facial moisturizers, eye liners, body oils, toothpaste or tanning oils. In other words, many products contain tocopheryl acetate and it’s generally safe for human consumption.  In addition, there are no reports of serious health issues associated with vitamin E acetate. Furthermore, it’s not common in vaping and it’s mainly associated with black-market THC e-liquids. Vitamin E acetate was used in black-market juices to cheaply thin cannabis e-juices (cannabis e-liquids are more viscous than normal nicotine e-liquids or nicotine-free vape juices).

Is vitamin E Acetate Dangerous?

Vitamin E acetate or tocopheryl acetate is safe for human consumption in food supplements or topical. However, it’s not recommended to inhale vitamin E acetate. Black-market e-juices used vitamin E acetate to thin the THC oils. It is possible that they didn’t know that vitamin E acetate isn’t safe for inhalation or just simply black-market sellers didn’t care about health issues at all. Therefore, we do not recommend you vape any e-liquids bought in the black market. .

Any vaping juices containing vitamin E acetate should be avoided . It’s safe for food supplements or topical use, but it negatively impacts our lungs if we inhale vitamin E acetate.

Conclusion

We know that many vapers are worried about these two compounds. However, diacetyl is safe for human consumption and there are no reports linking vaping to bronchiolitis obliterans aka “popcorn lungs”. As matter of fact, it’s not clear that diacetyl was the cause of lung damage in the popcorn manufacturing workers. Nonetheless, if you want to vape diacetyl-free there are many vape juices without diacetyl.

Vitamin E acetate is more controversial. It’s widely used in many food supplements and cosmetics. However, it’s not safe to inhale vitamin E acetate. Therefore, you should stay away from black-market products or any vaping products that contain vitamin E acetate.