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Sweetened vs. Unsweetened E-Liquid: What Are the Pros and Cons?

Sucralose is probably one of the most divisive ingredients in the entire e-liquid industry. It’s also one of the most common ingredients. If you examine the inventory at any vape shop that mainly carries mainstream e-liquid brands obtained through major distributors, you’ll probably find almost nothing but sweetened e-liquids, so you’d be correct in assuming that sweetened vape juice is very popular.

With that being said, though, the love for sweetened e-liquid is hardly universal. There is also a sizable contingent of vapers who avoid sucralose at all costs and use only unsweetened vape juice. Instead of getting e-liquid from their local vape shops, those people often buy their vape juice from niche vendors who were already around before the sweetener craze began.

As you can probably imagine with opinions being as divided as they are, sucralose has quite a few benefits and drawbacks as an e-liquid ingredient. If you’re not sure which side of the fence you fall on and generally just buy your vape juice based on the flavor profiles that sound tasty, sucralose is something that’s worth thinking about. The more you’re able to solidify your e-liquid preferences, the better chance you’ll have of ensuring that you always have the best possible vaping experience – and that’s what everyone wants.

These are the pros and cons of sweetened vs. unsweetened e-liquid.

Sweet Flavors Help Some People Stay Away From Tobacco

You probably didn’t need us to tell you this, but people love things that taste sweet. Sweet flavors are so well-loved, in fact, that some people are able to use sweetened e-liquids to completely shift their cravings away from tobacco. Think about it – if you can switch from smoking to vaping using a “tobacco” e-liquid that doesn’t taste at all like the real thing or a mango e-liquid that tastes exactly like a piece of mango hard candy, which one are you going to choose?

Many of those who vape don’t want to use e-liquids that taste anything like tobacco in any shape or form. Instead, they’d rather use e-liquids that completely take their attention away from their old cravings because they don’t resemble tobacco in the slightest. For many people, sweetened e-liquids do a better job of accomplishing that than anything else ever could.

Sucralose Makes Sweet Flavors Taste More Realistic

Sweet e-liquid flavor profiles have been around as long as vaping has existed. People were vaping e-liquids with flavors like cherry, vanilla, and caramel from the beginning. Before long, e-liquid makers began to release vape juices with more complex flavor profiles like cereal, cheesecake, and custard. So, sweet e-liquid flavor profiles are nothing new.

If you’ve never tried an unsweetened e-liquid before, you may not realize that a vape juice can actually taste quite sweet even if it doesn’t have an added sweetener. Sweeteners like sucralose, however, are potent flavor enhancers. They stimulate flavor receptors on your tongue that no other flavors can touch.

An e-liquid with a flavor profile like cheesecake can actually taste incredibly delicious – if it’s made well – even without the addition of a sweetener. With a sweetener, though, an e-liquid with a sweet flavor profile can taste much more like the real thing. E-liquids meant to taste like candies, beverages, cereals, and desserts really “pop” on the palate and taste much truer to life when they’re sweetened.

Sucralose Causes Coil Gunk and Shortens Coil Life

Sucralose tastes great and helps an e-liquid capture the sweet flavor profiles that everybody craves – and yet, there are some people who won’t touch an e-liquid with sucralose. Therefore, you’re probably assuming that sweetened e-liquid comes with some pretty significant downsides – and you’re correct.

The reason why so many people avoid sweetened e-liquid is that heating it doesn’t cause it to convert fully to vapor. It’s a bit like boiling a solution of sugar and water. The steam might smell sweet, but most of the sugar will stay in the pan. If you boil all of the water away, you’ll be left with a pile of sugar that will eventually caramelize and burn.

The same thing happens with sweetened e-liquid. As you use the e-liquid, the vapor carries some of the sucralose to your mouth. The sucralose that doesn’t vaporize, however, sticks to the coil. The layer of stuck-on sucralose becomes thicker and darker. As that happens, your e-liquid begins to taste like burned sugar. Eventually, the layer of coil gunk becomes so thick that it burns, irritating your throat.

Coil gunk completely ruins a coil’s flavor, and unless you’re fortunate enough to own the ROBO2020 automatic vape coil cleaner, your only recourse at that point is to throw the coil away. ROBO2020 breaks up the gunk and returns your coils to like-new condition, making it possible for you to use those coils repeatedly.

If you’re not cleaning your coils, though, coil gunk shortens the life of a coil from a couple of weeks to a couple of days. That makes vaping much more expensive than it needs to be, so with that in mind, some people simply don’t want to deal with sweetened e-liquid.

Sucralose Doesn’t Work Well With Complex Flavor Profiles

Coil gunk is by far the biggest reason why most people who avoid sweetened e-liquids have made that decision. There is also another reason why some people prefer unsweetened e-liquids, though, and it’s that sucralose isn’t very compatible with complex flavor profiles.

Let’s suppose, for instance, that an e-liquid maker wants to create a really rich and complex tobacco e-liquid with notes of vanilla, dried fruit, and aromatic spices. If you add sucralose to an e-liquid with that type of flavor profile, the sweetness is going to overwhelm all but the boldest of those flavor notes. You’re going to end up with an e-liquid that tastes like sweetened tobacco.

E-liquid makers know that, so they’re not likely to put forth the effort to develop complex profiles for products that will be sweetened. Most sweetened e-liquids – though they may be very tasty – have relatively simple flavor profiles.

Jason Artman

Jason Artman is the owner and author of eCig One. A full-time freelance writer for more than a decade, Jason’s clients have included corporations such as Intel and eBay. Jason’s online articles have been viewed hundreds of millions of times. After quitting smoking and switching to vaping in 2010, Jason turned his professional attention to the vaping industry and now works with some of the world’s largest vaping and CBD brands.

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