Sour is something we’ve all been looking for in vaping for quite some time now. It’s the million dollar formula. If an e-liquid would come out tomorrow and it were warhead sour like, it would be one of the best selling e-liquids on the planet almost immediately. But we’ve not reached that point in mixing yet. Because of the medium, vapor, producing a sour like sensation is extremely difficult. Sourness is one of the six tastes our tongue can interpret. Unfortunately, with vaping, it’s all about the nose. And because of this, those six specific tastes can’t quite be produced through vapor. But that doesn’t mean its impossible. Finding the right compound to work in a vapor form and make contact with our tastebuds in a sufficient manner, is all that’s really needed. And we thought we had the answer with TFA Sour, but unfortunately, it causes more problems than it answers.
One of the most used chemicals in candy making is Malic Acid. Malic Acid is an organic compound that was first synthesized from an apple by Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1785. It’s goal is to be used in fruit/candy food products to impart a sour-like taste. Now a days pure malic acid is what creates that sourness in almost all candies. As a matter of fact, if you look at certain sour candies, you’ll noticed that there is a powdery substance all over them. A lot of the time, its just malic acid (sometimes its other compounds like citric or tartaric and sugar). If you’re into candy making, you can pick up a bottle of malic acid for pretty cheap. Anyways, with this knowledge it would make sense to just use this compound in our recipes, very much like how we use Sucralose. And luckily for us, TFA Sour is just malic acid diluted in PG.
So we know what Malic Acid is, we know how it works, and we now have an ingredient that we can use in our recipes that contains it. But with my testing over the past few months, I’ve noticed that TFA Sour, or Malic Acid for that matter, just doesn’t produce the results we’re looking for. See, for some reason, Sucralose is so much more efficient at being carried through the vapor, that it can coat the tastebuds in its sugary substance. This leaves a super sweet sensation that many enjoy, and its flavor is undeniable. Unfortunately, with Malic Acid, the same does not apply. Using it in my recipes, I’ve not had any sort of sour sensations. There’s a very slight tartness that comes with it, but it in no way can be considered sour. Why doesn’t it work the same way as Sucralose? That I’m not sure of. My theory is that Malic Acid just works much better when its consistently in contact with the taste buds. Where as in vapor, whatever does reach the tongue, doesn’t quite bring the same type of impact it does when its coated on a candy. Or maybe its because of its dilution in PG that seems to lessen the blow. I’ve tested this in a variety of recipes all at different concentrations. That 0.5 - 2% range seems to have barely any effect.
In fact, it seems to hinder my recipes more than it benefits them. One of the main reasons I’m writing this article is to dissuade you from using TFA Sour because its muting issues. TFA Sour isn’t completely useless. There are situations where adding a touch of Malic Acid can help bring a bit more “tartness” to your candy recipes. Keeping a light touch is often best, where anything too high becomes a harsh chemical mess. Though, if you’re making a sour candy recipe, and you’re using flavorings that inherently have a sourness to them, chances are Malic Acid is already within them. So the same thing occurs with Ethyl Maltol. It’s very easy to over flavor your recipe and run into muting. And because the Malic Acid barely works in vapor already, there’s no point in adding any extra. Save your money and save your time. Skip TFA Sour.
Sadly, I think with the ingredients we know of right now, getting a “warhead” like sourness, or something even remotely close to it, is still far from our grasps. That said, tartness is something we can surely attain. I know for many, this might not do, but I wanted to recommend a few anyway for those looking for a touch of tartness to help make their sour candies a bit more authentic.
1. Citric Acid - This is the best thing we got to mimic a “sourness” we got. Many lemon, lemonade, and citrus flavorings already contain a touch of this stuff, and usually, that’s all you need. But if you wanted that citrus taste to your recipes without any citrus flavor, you can use 0.25-0.5% of this stuff. I recommend you try first with lemon/lemonade flavorings first, and only use this as a last resort, as it can also mute your recipes if you’re aren’t cautious. Here are a couple flavorings that will help.
- LA Lemonade
- CAP Pink Lemonade
- FA Lemon Sicily
- TFA Lemon
2. Green Apple - Green Apple is another flavoring that can impart some type of tartness to your sour candy recipes. These flavorings usually contain some type of Butanoic Acid that does provide a slight sourness to your recipes which can help with authenticity. And its apple flavor does lend a hand in portraying a candy like profile, no matter the flavor profile.
- FW Green Apple
- TFA Green Apple
- FLV Green Apple
And I’m sure there are a few more profiles out there that can produce a tart-like sensation. These are just my first go-to’s that haven’t really failed me when making sour candy profiles. I’m still on the hunt for sour. Real sour. It’s a profile I think that can be very profitable, as well as just super tasty. There are a few other compounds I want to test around with to hopefully see if they can provide an answer, and a few of the team members are also helping out. I would love to know what you’ve found regarding sour, down in the comments below. Maybe together we can figure this thing out! For now, some light tartness is all we got and to be honest, I’m fine with that for now.