Diacetyl in Vape Juice: The Facts We Know

Diacetyl in Vape Juice: The Facts We Know

Worried About Diacetyl in Your Vape Juice?

29 August 2023 | Hannah Rubery

Diacetyl in Vape Juice: The Facts We Know (Image)

Diving into the modern health debates, vaping has become a hot and controversial topic. Electronic cigarettes and vape devices claim to be a safer option than traditional cigarettes, but the debate continues to rage on. Amidst all the noise, one ingredient stands out - diacetyl.

This chemical compound has caused a media frenzy due to its potential link to a condition called 'popcorn lung'. Even though diacetyl is found in small amounts in E-Liquids, the vaping community is under intense scrutiny, sparking heated debates and prompting regulatory changes worldwide, including in the UK.

What is diacetyl?

Have you ever wondered what diacetyl really is? Scientifically known as 2,3-butanedione, this organic compound is a must-know for all food enthusiasts. With its vibrant yellow or green colour and distinct buttery flavour, diacetyl is a popular choice in the food industry. From creamy dairy products to mouth-watering candies and baked goods, it's the secret ingredient that adds that extra scrumptiousness.

But diacetyl isn't just man-made; it's also a natural by-product of fermentation processes like brewing beer and making cultured butter. So, nature has been brewing up its own share of diacetyl goodness too!

While diacetyl is generally safe for consumption, there are concerns about its inhalation in large amounts, particularly in certain work environments. The discussion about its safety in vaping, even though it's present in much smaller quantities than in cigarettes, has sparked an ongoing debate. You may have heard of something called 'popcorn lung', which is related to this intriguing compound.

What caused the 'popcorn lung' panic?

In the early 2000s, an outbreak of severe and irreversible lung disease caused a stir in the news. Known as ‘popcorn lung’, or bronchiolitis obliterans, it was characterised by the narrowing of the bronchioles, the tiny airways in your lungs. Workers in a popcorn factory were hospitalised after developing serious lung conditions, believed to have been due to prolonged exposure to a certain chemical, diacetyl. Diacetyl is commonly used in popcorn manufacture for its buttery flavour; hence the name ‘popcorn lung’ came from.

This incident led to the association of inhaling diacetyl as a potential risk for causing ‘popcorn lung’. So, when it was noticed that some E-Liquids contained diacetyl as a flavouring, some red flags were raised.

Is diacetyl dangerous?

One of the important things to know about these E-Liquids that contained diacetyl is that they contained levels significantly lower than that found in cigarettes. Studies looking at the link between the popcorn factory workers even noted that there were considerable smoking histories with those who fell ill that could potentially have been the cause of the ‘popcorn lung’ incident. It has been noted that the diacetyl content in E-Liquids is hundreds of times lower than that in cigarette smoke.

Even though E-Liquids contain much lower levels, in an effort to avoid any potential risks, some countries including the UK, banned diacetyl from use in E-Liquids.

Diacetyl Banned in the UK

In response to concerns over diacetyl in E-Liquid, the UK banned the use of diacetyl in vaping products. Despite research suggesting that it may not have been the cause of the ‘popcorn lung’ incident and that the amounts found in vaping is much less than cigarettes, the UK regulatory authorities decided not to risk public health. However, there are still countries where diacetyl can be found in E-Liquids.

It's one of the ways that sets UK E-Liquids apart from others. UK-legal products must not contain diacetyl so if you are concerned about potential issues with the chemical, you can shop British-made E-Liquids like Pod Salt to ensure your vape is diacetyl-free. Though this does mean that vapers should be cautious when buying potentially illegal/illicit vapes - check out our previous article on spotting fake vapes for more information.


To wrap things up, whether diacetyl was the cause of ‘popcorn lung’ remains to be seen clearly but what we do know E-Liquids contain much less diacetyl than cigarettes – and British-made E-Liquids contain none as it’s illegal for use in vape products! When using products like Pod Salt E-Liquids you can rest assured that they do not contain diacetyl.

So, as long as UK vapers are using legal vaping products, they can confidently enjoy their experience without the worry of diacetyl exposure. This highlights the importance of buying only legal vaping products from reputable sources, ensuring not only a safer vaping experience but also peace of mind.