Diacetyl and Acetyl Propionyl: Should E-Juice Aficionados Be Worried?

E-juice makers everywhere have reason to be concerned about these two infamous compounds. Those that DON’T have diacetyl or acetyl propionyl in their products are concerned that e-liquids have been publicly associated with these compounds, and it might be assumed that their products are among them. Those that DO have them in their products should be concerned both about the well-being of their customers and of their businesses.

Both Are Edible

Are diacetyl and acetyl propionyl safe in products used by humans? The answer depends on how they are introduced into the body.

Diacetyl sometimes appears in candies, snack foods, margarine, and pet foods, for example. Clearly, it’s a compound that’s been deemed safe for ingestion by humans and animals alike.

Acetyl propionyl, or 2,3-pentanedione, can be used as a diacetyl substitute. In addition to foods, it can be found in pesticides, dyes, drugs, lacquers, and inks. If it seems strange to you that a compound used in those products could also be eaten, keep in mind that acetyl propionyl, like diacetyl, is an organic compound that’s known for its butter-like taste.

That Doesn’t Mean They’re Entirely Safe

So, where’s the problem?

When a number of workers from microwave popcorn plants and well as some microwave popcorn devotees developed respiratory troubles, diacetyl was identified as the culprit. Since then there have been high-profile legal cases during which the term “popcorn lung” — known to physicians as bronchiolitis obliterans — was introduced into the public vocabulary.

It wasn’t that these plant employees and snacking enthusiasts ate too much popcorn, but that they inhaled a high amount of the buttery fumes that the product’s flavorings gave off.

What Does Popcorn Lung Have to Do With Vaping?

This is where vaping comes into the picture: Inhaling a tasty vapor is unquestionably one of the big draws — no pun intended — of vaping. Vape juices are available in a variety of flavors, from traditional tobacco, to fruits, to coffees, to dessert dishes, and more.

Which brings us back to e-liquid brands that may contain diacetyl or acetyl propionyl. The harmful effects, the associated legal and health issues, and the general bad reputation these compounds have garnered can make them toxic, in a word, to any e-juice manufacturer’s business.

On the other hand, makers like Halo, a longstanding leader in the e-liquid industry, have made a point to show that their products do not contain either diacetyl or acetyl propionyl, sending their e-liquids out for independent lab testing and even going as far as sharing the detailed testing analysis reports on their website.

Labs determine the contents of e-liquids by performing complex-sounding assessments with names like “gas chromatography” and “mass spectrometry” on them. The entire process can exceed 12 months in duration, but Halo, for example, won’t introduce a new e-liquid flavor publicly until it has been certified as being free of both diacetyl and acetyl propionyl.

What’s the Solution?

If you’re a vaper who’s concerned about the potential effects of diacetyl and acetyl propionyl, you should first find out if the brand of e-liquid you’re using has any traces of these compounds. Check the packaging and the manufacturer’s website, and if you don’t find a definitive answer in either place, contact the company directly.

If you are unable to get the answer you need, you may want to consider switching to a new brand that expressly does not use those questionable compounds. As mentioned previously, there are some e-liquid companies that make sure their products are diacetyl- and acetyl propionyl-free.

Also, if you’re a person who likes to snack, avoid inhaling the vapor that comes out when you open a hot bag of butter-flavored microwave popcorn. Vape (and snack) well!

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