Why Juice Should Be Tested

Why Juice Should Be Tested

Being an ECTA member, regardless of membership type, requires that the e-liquid you sell or manufacture is required to be tested. While some may find it pointless or unnecessary, there are reasons to our madness. Read further to discover the rationale, and why testing your juice is important.

It was only a few years ago that many of the e-liquid out there were made in someone’s basement, kitchen, or spare bedroom. Even today, there are those that continue to make juice at home and sell it to those around them, even vape shops. But what’s the problem?

Why Testing is Important

Regardless of how or where ejuice is made, there are certain standards that should be achieved and maintained. How would you feel if you walked into a restaurant and discovered that the kitchen practices were no better than what the majority of people did at home?

Making juice for yourself or for a friend at home is much different than making it for sale to the consumer. This is why there are health inspectors to ensure that certain standards are maintained. While you may feel the risk of liability is low, there is still the possibility that someone may come back with issues of one kind or another.

The juice maker is really the only person who knows what goes into their particular flavors. In the earlier days of juice making, it was more common to add water or alcohol to either dilute it or to get a better ‘throat hit’ without using nicotine. One of the primary reasons why testing is important is to ensure that no extraneous ingredients are added. In short, it provides the consumer with a level of trust and assurance that what’s being produced is produced properly.

What’s Being Tested?

Nicotine Concentration – If the bottle says 3mg, then the juice should be 3mg. Yes, mistakes can be made, and therefore, it’s good to know that there is consistency in the production process.

Other elements that are being tested for include Acetaldehyde, Acetoin, Diacetyl, Formaldehyde, Acetyl Propionyl, pH Level, and percentage of water content.

The MDL (Method Detection Level) is one of the most critically important aspects of E-Liquid Testing. By way of example: Diacetyl (2,3-Butanedione) and Acetyl Propionyl (2,3-Pentanedione) are common compounds in flavoring that contain certain ketones linked, though not conclusively, to a serious disease “Bronchial Obliterans”, commonly called “Popcorn Lung”. As a minor constituent in flavoring, often undeclared by flavorants manufacturers, it is generally found in very small amounts. Therefore, the most sensitive detection limit is required to either find or rule-out Diacetyl in any commercially marketed eliquid.

We position Electronic Cigarettes as a Tobacco Harm Reduction tool, so our goal should be to eliminate as many harmful aspects as possible. Tobacco Cigarettes contain Diacetyl in concentrations of 250+ ppm. Therefore, whatever testing protocol is used should be expected to test to well below that level.

Test Results

Results are returned to the member, with a copy forwarded to a qualified, independent third party for audit and historical purposes. The third party auditor reviews the results, deems pass or fail for each sample and follows-up on actions taken for any issues that may have been identified in the results.

The Test Result Reports are anywhere from 20-40 pages in length and are extremely complex and detailed. Reading and understanding the results does require training and qualifications in this area. ECTA’s Board has engaged in long and detailed conversations with Enthalpy about the results, and we appreciate the skill required to understand and read tests correctly, but do not position ourselves as qualified to do so.

Tests are paid for by the member, the results are the property of that member and they may disclose those results, in whole or part, to the public, at their own discretion. While this policy may change at some point in the future, that is the policy as of now.

While you may be confident in how your juice is made, as a Juice Manufacturer you will gain better confidence from perspective vape shops when you’re able to show them your test results. While stores are able to increase their credibility to their customers when they provide juice and flavors that they can confidently stand behind as being produced with quality assurance.

Build the trust of customers and consumers alike.

ECTA Standards

ECTA recognizes the need for standards and appropriate testing for E-Liquid. We continually investigate different processes for testing to ensure our protocols identify potential risks and issues with E-Liquid ingredients. Our process is continuously revisited, improved and adjusted as needed or dictated by the science and challenges within the industry. Below are the standards we apply to our members. We also encourage any E-Liquid manufacturer, reseller or even private DIY’er to follow the same.

The tolerances allowed the compounds that we have tested for our members are as follows:

Component / Element Protocol
Nicotine Concentration GC/FID Analysis
0.1 mg/ml
± 10%
Diethylene glycol (DG) GC/FID Analysis
< 20 µg/ml (ppm)
< 100 µg/ml (ppm)
Acetaldehyde HPLC/UV Analysis
< 1 µg/ml (ppm)
< 100 µg/ml (ppm)
Acetoin HPLC/UV Analysis
< 1 µg/ml (ppm)
None Set (Informational)
HPLC/UV Analysis
< 1 µg/ml (ppm)
Non-Detection Goal
< 22 µg/ml no disclosure
< 100 µg/ml (ppm) disclosure
> 100 µg/ml (ppm) is Fail
Formaldehyde HPLC/UV Analysis
< 1 µg/ml (ppm)
< 30 µg/mL (ppm)
Acetyl Propionyl
HPLC/UV Analysis
< 1 µg/ml (ppm)
Non-Detection Goal
< 45 µg/ml no disclosure
< 100 µg/ml (ppm) disclosure
> 100 µg/ml (ppm) is Fail
pH Level Karl Fischer Analysis Target Levels (Informational)
5.0 to 8.5
% Water Karl Fischer Analysis None Set (Informational)
% Propylene glycol (PG) ± 10%
% Vegetable glycerin (VG) ± 10%

* MDL – Method Detection Limit or Level of Detection (LOD).

The ECTA goal for members is a non-detection for elements where upper limits have been set. However, there are a couple of threshold levels for both Acetyl Propionyl and Diacetyl into which a result may fall.

  • Non-Detection of Pentanedione and Diacetyl – This is the ECTA standard to which all members must strive to achieve
  • < 22 µg/ml for Diacetyl and < 45 µg/ml for Acetyl Propionyl no disclosure – This is a “caution” threshold, though while recommended, is not required for disclosure. Members are required to work towards removing the cause of the compound. Levels in this range are most often attributed to cross-contamination.
  • < 100 µg/ml disclosure – This “caution” threshold requires disclosure to consumers if the eliquid remains on the market, and a plan to replace the flavorant with an alternative. Disclosure is required on a website (if applicable), in a Retail Location (if applicable), and optionally on the label of the product (pending stock level depletion)
  • > 100 µg/ml (ppm) indicates a “FAIL” – This is above the upper limit and beyond ECTA standards. If an E-Liquid result shows higher than this level the member must immediately stop sale of that product and either discontinue or return the product to their shelves only after the E-Liquid is reformulated and re-tested to show that it has been corrected.

When member test results fall into one of the caution thresholds, they are given a provisional “pass” with prescribed action required to identify the origin and remove or correct the problem.

ECTA recognizes that flavorant manufacturing companies are not connected to, nor specifically formulating for the E-Liquid industry. The occurrence of Diacetyl and other compounds are viewed differently by this industry for use in foods and beverages. Due to the manufacturing practises of the flavorant industry, it may require additional time to identify potentially harmful compounds, find alternatives and suitable flavorings for inhalation. Testing is a critical component to ensuring we support a process of increasing safety and timely responses to current and future issues. That is the backbone of “harm reduction”.

If you have any questions regarding E-Liquid testing, please do not hesitate to Contact Us

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