Aside from vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol and nicotine, sucralose might be the most common ingredient in e-liquid these days. Sucralose – sold in markets under the brand name Splenda – is one of the most potent and most popular artificial sweeteners in the world. Increasingly, it’s also an incredibly popular e-liquid additive. People love to taste sweet flavors when they vape, so companies around the world are adding sucralose to their e-liquids to give vapers the sweetness they crave. Sweetened e-liquid may be tasty, but it also comes with a major downside that can heavily impact your vaping experience. Let’s learn more.
What Is Sucralose?
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that’s incredibly sweet. It’s up to about 1,000 times stronger than plain sugar, and its very sugar-like flavor – along with the fact that it doesn’t have the bitter aftertaste of most other artificial sweeteners – makes it the most popular artificial sweetener in the United States. Sucralose is also available as a concentrated liquid, and that makes it easy to add sucralose to e-liquids. Beginning around the mid-2010s, a few e-liquid makers began adding sucralose to their products for sweetness. Those e-liquids became very successful and received wide distribution. Before long, most new e-liquids that appeared on the market were sweetened, and it became increasingly difficult to find unsweetened e-liquid at any vape shop.
Obviously, there is plenty of consumer demand for sweetened e-liquid. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be crowding the shelves at every vape shop. If you’re new to vaping, though, you should know that e-liquid with sucralose isn’t the only option available to you – and there is a very good reason to choose the alternative.
What Is the Benefit of Sweetened E-Liquid?
Have you ever tried the flavored unsweetened soda water sold at your local supermarket? Those flavored soda waters are popular because they contain nothing but carbonated water and flavors. People consider them very clean options for everyday refreshment. If you’ve ever tried one of those soda waters, though, you know that the flavors aren’t particularly strong. Compare an unsweetened soda to a sweetened one, though, and you’ll find that the flavor of the sweetened soda is much more vivid and lifelike.
That phenomenon carries over to sweetened e-liquids. E-liquid makers have access to the same natural and artificial flavors that makers of candies, sodas, snacks and desserts use. It’s possible to make an e-liquid, for example, that tastes virtually the same as a famous candy. Without an added sweetener, though, an e-liquid that should have a sweet flavor profile may taste like something is missing.
In short, then, adding sweetener to an e-liquid gives that e-liquid a much bolder flavor – almost like a real candy or dessert.
What Is the Drawback of Sweetened E-Liquid?
As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, sucralose-sweetened e-liquid comes with one major drawback. The drawback is that sucralose, when heated, doesn’t behave the same as other e-liquid ingredients. Vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, nicotine and most flavors vaporize cleanly and leave little to no residue behind. Sucralose, however, doesn’t vaporize cleanly. You’ll taste some of the sucralose in the vapor when you inhale, but some of the sucralose will also stay behind and collect on your device’s atomizer coil. The sucralose residue thickens, and under repeated heating, it begins to caramelize and eventually burn.
The vaping community has invented the term “coil gunk” to describe residue from sucralose. If you’ve ever removed a coil from your vape tank and found that the heating wire and wick were completely black, you’ve experienced the effects of coil gunk. When sucralose begins to caramelize, you’ll taste a flavor like burned sugar every time you vape. Eventually, the sucralose residue becomes so thick that it begins to burn. At that point, you’ll start to feel irritation in the back of your throat when you vape. The only fix for coil gunk is to replace the coil.
Coil gunk is an extremely common problem these days because the speed at which it forms depends on the sweetness of your e-liquid and the amount of e-liquid you consume. Today’s e-liquids are sweeter than ever – and today’s sub-ohm tanks use more e-liquid than ever – so coil gunk can begin to affect your vaping experience very quickly. Some people replace their atomizer coils every day, and if you use a sub-ohm tank with pre-built coils, replacement coils can become extremely expensive.
In handling coil gunk, you have three choices.
- You can deal with the expensive coil replacements.
- You can start building your own coils, which costs less but is a lot of work.
- You can use unsweetened e-liquid.
How Can I Find Unsweetened E-Liquid?
If you’ve never tried unsweetened e-liquid, the first thing you should know is that an unsweetened e-liquid can still taste somewhat sweet because vegetable glycerin – and many flavoring compounds – have subtle sweetness of their own. The next thing you should know is that switching to unsweetened e-liquid can dramatically increase the life of your vaping coils. Have you ever gone weeks without replacing an atomizer coil – with no noticeable detriment to your vaping experience? Switching to unsweetened e-liquid can dramatically cut your cost to vape.
Finding unsweetened e-liquid isn’t always easy these days, though, and it may be necessary for you to start buying your e-liquid online. Your best bet is to look for an e-liquid vendor that was already around before the sweetener craze began. UK e-liquid vendors like V2 Cigs UK, for example, primarily sell unsweetened e-liquids. The companies that were already around before sweetened e-liquid became popular largely haven’t begun sweetening their e-liquids. That’s partially because their existing customers don’t want sweetened e-liquid and partially because most former smokers who have just switched to vaping aren’t looking for sweet flavors – they’re looking for more complex and nuanced flavors that can replace tobacco.
Final Thoughts on Sweetened E-Liquid
There’s no denying that sweetened e-liquid can be very tasty. Vaping is supposed to save you money compared to smoking, though, and you won’t enjoy those savings if you’re putting a new coil into your tank every day. Try unsweetened e-liquid. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it, and the switch will also save you a bundle of money.