For smokers just switching to vaping, one of the most common questions is: “which e-liquid will taste like my favorite brand of cigarettes?” The reasoning makes inherent sense – you have a feeling that to make the switch, you need to make the experience as like smoking as possible, and that includes the flavor of combusted tobacco. However, you quickly learn that finding an e-liquid that tastes like Marlboro cigarettes, for example, is not an easy task. So what’s the solution? Do you keep searching for the e-liquid that will manage to perfectly replicate your chosen brand of cigarettes, or is there another way?
Why Tobacco E-Liquids Never Taste Like Combusted Cigarettes
As most people know, tobacco smoke is an unholy mixture of thousands of chemicals (including about 70 carcinogens), largely produced through the process of combustion. E-liquid, on the other hand, is made from propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), nicotine and food flavorings, and there is no combustion to kick chemical reactions into overdrive in the same way as with cigarettes. The complexity of the taste of cigarette smoke is extremely difficult – if not impossible – to replicate through careful balancing of food flavorings and things like “tobacco absolute” or “tobacco extract” (which add smoky, cigarette-like elements to the e-liquid). The best mixers can come very close, but part of what really gives cigarettes their flavor is the toxic ingredients and the combustion process, so pretty much any tobacco e-liquid you try will fail. The best tobacco e-liquids taste more like the smell of fresh, un-combusted tobacco than the smoke produced from it.
NET E-Liquid: The Closest You Can Get to a Cigarette-Like Flavor?
For those looking for the authentic taste of tobacco, naturally-extracted tobacco (NET) e-liquids are among the closest you can get. These use actual tobacco leaf in the flavoring process, through a prolonged “steep” (in the same way you steep tea leaves in hot water to draw out the flavor) to extract the genuine flavor from the leaf. The result varies depending on the method used (heat-assisted steeping tends to produce a more powerful flavor, whereas cold maceration maintains much more nuance in the flavor), but if you’re looking for something truly like tobacco, this is arguably the best option.
If there’s a downside to NET e-liquid it’s the element of increased risk in comparison to other e-liquids. While NET e-liquid is still much safer than tobacco, the reality is that along with the authentic flavor, you also get more of the “authentic” tobacco-derived toxins in a bottle of NET e-liquid than you would from a tobacco absolute or extract-based e-liquid. If a NET e-liquid is the only thing that will keep you off cigarettes, then it’s definitely the best option, but if you’re really concerned about keeping your habit as low-risk as possible, then they’re probably better avoided.
Do You Even Need a Cigarette-Like Flavor?
However, the whole quest for a cigarette-like taste is usually a little misguided. While cigar smokers and pipe aficionados are often in it for the flavor – and some cigars and pipes do have a pleasant (if acquired) taste – for most smokers, the taste of cigarettes is something to be tolerated rather than an end in itself. In short: cigarettes taste pretty disgusting, from an objective point of view.
There is obviously something to be said for a familiar taste making it easier to make the transition to vaping, but the appeal of that wears out pretty darn quickly. This is why most vapers opt for fruity or sweet flavors: if you can make your nicotine-laden vapor taste however you like, why opt for cigarettes at all? Even the most popular tobacco flavors tend to be sweetened, RY4-style options, making the elements of cigarette-like flavor go down easier with the addition of vanilla and caramel-sweetness.
With these points in mind, the best advice for smokers looking to make the switch is to find some good tobacco e-liquid to start out with, but to branch out a little and try other flavors too. Once you’ve gotten accustomed to vaping, you’ll be glad you have the option of chocolate-flavored vapor, say, alongside some reasonably close replications of combusted tobacco.
The Added Benefit of Non-Tobacco Flavors – Differentiating Vaping from Smoking
There is another reason that shooting for a cigarette-like e-liquid flavor is potentially a little misguided. Most vapers get into the habit as a way to cut down on their cigarette consumption or stop altogether, and so looking for the most true-to-smoking experience might not be the best strategy. Vaping is similar to smoking, but it’s inherently and unavoidably different, and that’s a good thing for helping you quit smoking.
Using non-cigarette flavors helps to further differentiate vaping from smoking, and to establish it as a new, distinct habit. As myself and many vapers will attest, after becoming accustomed to getting your nicotine from delicious, flavored vapor, going back to cigarettes is a much less appealing prospect. Your sense of taste comes back when you switch, and soon, even the most hardened of smokers start to find the taste of combusted tobacco unbearably unpleasant. Although you’ll likely still have a similar experience if you completely switch to vaping tobacco flavored e-liquid, branching out in your flavor selection helps bring you further away from imperfect attempts to replicate the taste of smoking and towards something new.
Conclusion – Vape How You Like, But Give Other Flavors a Chance
The core point is that the quest to find a tobacco e-juice that tastes like cigarettes isn’t important as it might seem when you’re first making the switch. Not only do most tobacco e-liquids fail the test, exploring the wonderful variety of tastes available to you as a vaper brings its own benefits. If you’re a lover of the taste of tobacco, NET e-liquids are a fantastic option for getting a “clean,” tobacco-like flavor, but if you’re like most smokers, you’ll soon find that you really don’t need a cigarette-like flavor at all. Ultimately, vape however works best for you, but don’t confine yourself to tobacco flavors, because the ability to explore other flavors is one of the most important benefits of e-cigs for many vapers.