A new study was just released that discusses Sucralose and some of the dangers that could be associated with it in e-liquid. Now one of the first things I want to state is that this article has been peer reviewed, and was published in a journal with high respect. I also want to state that the study makes it known that much more science needs to be complete. Later in the article I will state which type of study needs to be done, but I want to make it known there is nothing 100% concrete here in terms of harm reduction. So with that said, let me break down in this interesting news.
What is Sucralose?
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener, that’s 1000x sweeter than sucrose, and 3x as sweet as aspartame. In terms of its chemical composition, Sucralose is made by replacing the hydrogen-oxygen atoms of sucrose with chlorine atoms to produce a chemical sugar alcohol. Sucralose is one of the most used additives in e-liquid, with its sole purpose to heavily sweeten e-liquid. Most of what we “taste” in e-liquid is actually taken in from our noses, or our olfactory glands, and therefore not exactly tasted. Well, Sucralose is one of the only compounds in e-liquid that acts upon the tongue, activating the sweetness receptors, and thus creating its sweet sensation. It’s extremely effective, and creates much sweeter and more vibrant e-liquid flavors.
How Was This Study Done?
The chemists took 50VG/50PG Unflavored base, added different levels of Sucralose (with 0.5%/wt being the top end, that was purchased from EcigExpress.com) and then filled up a Kanger Subtank with the liquid. Then it was “vaped” through a machine where its aerosols were collected and samples were then taken. Those samples were put through multiple different types of systems like GCMS, Ion Chromatography, and a process known as 1h NMR. From there, measurements were taken.
What Was Found?
Because the chemists knew that Sucralose was unstable, especially once heated, they decided to measure what was produced after it was vaped. They took the samples that were measured through 1h NMR, and found that hemiacetals were present. Hemiacetals are essentially formaldehyde releasing agents, and not formaldehyde itself. They then took another sample, and looked for free floating chloride ions, which would mean that the Sucralose was broken down. They did find the chloride, and thus affirmed that the mixture had turned into an acidic environment which propagated those hemiacetal/aldehydes. The levels found were also quite high and can be seen below.
What Does This Mean?
Well, it only means that Sucralose based sweeteners, at up to 0.5%, can produce formaldehyde-releasing agents. That’s it. We know it doesn’t produce straight formaldehyde, and we also know that if there is no Sucralose present, then those compounds don’t exist. What we don’t know is if these hemiacetals are as damaging as formaldehyde, or if they’re damaging at all, since there is no science supporting that argument. This means there still needs to be a lot more information on humans and their lung tissue, in terms of damage and in terms of harm reduction. So there’s no need to freak out just yet. But it is concerning, and something EVERYONE should be informed about.
Will You Cease Using Sucralose?
Personally, I’m definitely considering it. If these hemiacetals are as damaging as straight formaldehyde, then these levels would almost be comparable to cigarettes. And in e-liquids with more than 1-2%, they could be even higher. That’s at a point where it’s no longer “harm reduction” in my eyes. Though cigarettes contain many more chemicals, especially tar, I still think vaping would be far safer, we should never strive to be only-just less than safe, and always strive to be “completely safe”. My job is to just inform you what this information is, and allow you to make your own decisions. If you’re reading this and you do not make your own e-liquid, not only do I highly recommend it, I also think you are essentially putting yourself at risk if e-liquid manufacturers don’t disclose their ingredients.