For some years, sweeteners appeared on the vaping market in order to answer the demand of customers always wanting more novelties and especially sweet flavours. In order to check their interest and compatibility with inhalation via a personnel vaporiser, the ingésciences laboratory tested several types of sweeteners liable to be used by the manufacturers of e-liquids and flavours.  

Study of the case of stevia in vaporisation

La stévia est une plante originaire d’Amérique du Sud possédant un goût Stevia is a plant originally from South America having a sweet taste. Used by French companies since 2010, it is considered a high intensity sweetener. Actually, the molecules that give stevia this taste are present in its leaves. They are steviol glycosides. Among them, two molecules appear more precisely in the composition of the stevia-based additives: stevioside and rebaudioside A. 

Figure 1: Chemical structure of stevioside 
Figure 2: Chemical structure of rebaudioside A

Both these molecules provide sugary notes that are quite subtle to taste and popular in the food industry for replacing controversial sweeteners. However, their main disadvantage lies in a slight bitter taste that remains in the mouth. This finding has also been verified in blind taste tests carried out in our laboratory.  

In order to understand how stevioside and rebaudioside A react when they are vaporised, our team studied the degradation of several e-liquids containing these compounds using U-SAV, our robot vaper. 

By comparing several vaporisation devices but also different concentrations of these molecules, our experts found that little stevioside and rebaudioside A was recovered in the vapours emitted coming from the experiment (somewhat less than 5%). This low presence of steviol glycosides in the vapour raises the question of their proper vaporisation. Indeed, as these molecules are quite “heavy”, it may be supposed that it is difficult for them to vaporise.  

Our team also found the presence of two other compounds in the vapour, steviolbioside and rebaudioside B, both respectively coming from the degradation of stevioside and rebaudioside A. 

Already much used by the agro-food industry, these molecules are known for their sweetness but also for their bitter aftertaste. Finally, it should be noted that for this study, our scientists carried out, on the tested e-liquids, an analysis in order to detect the potential presence of aldehydes in the vapour emissions. This did not find abnormal levels, the results being similar to e-liquids without stevia. 

A new sweetener for vaping?

In general, stevia glycosides have only little taste interest when they are consumed via a personnel vaporiser. On the contrary, parasitic bitter notes can degrade the initial flavour of an e-liquid. It would not be relevant then to attempt to replace a sweetener with stevia. Moreover, the tests carried out to date in the ingésciences laboratory highlight the difficulty for them to vaporise. Additional studies are required to follow up the question. 

To date, no scientific data enables us to assess the toxicity of these compounds in inhalation reliably. As concentrated e-liquids and flavours based on stevia are now available on the French market, we can only stress care in the use of these additives.