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Tobacco Absolute (the NET redheaded stepchild)

Discussion in 'General E-Liquid Discussion' started by Mr.Mann, May 12, 2013.

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  1. Mr.Mann

    Mr.Mann ECF Guru Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 30, 2011
    All over the place
    What is tobacco absolute? Do you like it? Hate it? Ever vaped a liquid that had TA in it? How the hell do they make that stuff? Ever wondered what it is? Does your vendor use it? Want to stay away from it?

    This thread is for discussing tobacco absolute (in general), pre-made juices that have TA as an ingredient, the different methods of extracting TA, likes and or dislikes with TA, suggestions of vendors who use it well or names of vendors who use it poorly. Though this thread is about tobacco absolute, it is NOT about DIYing or about finding ways to work with tobacco absolute for preexisting juices. If you do that, it's cool, but there is a DIY section better equipped for those discussions--you can talk about it here if you want, but it won't be incredibly useful for those that don't DIY (like me), but feel free as long as it doesn't turn into a DIY thread--I want this to be in general eliquid discussion.

    In the NT (Natural Tobaccos) thread, there is no real consensus on whether or not to give TA juices a significant place in the line-up of NETs (natural/extracted tobaccos). A few reasons why there is no consensus is because a lot of vendors won't tell you if they use TA; most vendors use the same TA (Perfumer's Apprentice style); TA is cheap and easy to obtain and often times it can be downright nasty when not mixed carefully. That said, handled by the right hand, common TA can impart a dry, authentic (yet generic), taste of tobacco and an ash-like mouth-feel to the juice that may be as close as you'll get to the the taste of combustion with vaping--though ash was not what I remember tasting when I smoked, unless I dropped my cig in an ash tray and continued to smoke it after a quick dusting. Perish the thought!

    Another reason most vendors that only use TA as their "natural tobacco" are out of NET consideration[SUP]1[/SUP] (by some NET vapers) is that while a vendor may sell eliquids called Turkish tobacco, burley, Virginia, flue or fire cured, Latakia, Camel (LOL), etc., the juices will all have that underlying TA taste--no differentiating between different tobaccos; it'll generally be but one tobacco taste which is the taste of TA. A drop of a pre-made Bulgarian tobacco concentrate, that anyone can buy, ought not put you in the ring with vendors working hard to extract quality flavors from a plethora of tobaccos---anyone can DIY with tobacco absolute (or other DIY concentrates), but that won't put you on a guest list with Dr. Vapenstein from Want2Vape, now will it?

    For those that don't know, tobacco absolute, for the purpose of vaping, is a flavoring agent made from tobacco and is used primarily to enhance tobacco eliquids[SUP]2[/SUP]. TA is a dense, dark greenish-brown hydrophobic resin that is super potent--too much in your liquid and it will be nasty and immiscible--it needs to be diluted and used sparingly (like 1 drop per 10 mL--even that may be too much.) And while technically being extracted tobacco, it is an aromatic super concentrate rather than a simple extract or even an essential oil. Just adding TA to PG/VG without a delicate hand will give you a terrible mess.

    While a lot of vendors don't state whether they use tobacco absolute (though many will tell you if asked and some state it on the website), it is generally easy to spot. Here are some things to look for:

    + A vendor may claim a "natural tobacco flavor" but won't state where it's made or they'll say it's obtained from a third party company

    + You may see "Bulgarian Tobacco Extract"--a lot of common TA is made from Bulgarian tobacco

    + You may notice reviews speaking of an ash-like (and sometimes perfume[SUP]3[/SUP]) taste to the juice--though, don't go thinking that all perfume tasting juices are TA

    + A tobacco eliquid may need to shaken up (due to oily separation or sediment), carry an oily residue visible in the liquid or on the inside of the bottle (oil rings)

    (Those are all generalizations, but helpful tips nonetheless, and may not always lead you to the truth. The best thing to do is communicate with the vendor if you want to be sure.)

    Most of that looks pretty unappealing, doesn't it? Yeah, it can be. However, as I stated, TA in the right hands can give eliquid a very special quality. Some of my favorite juices are tobacco absolute juices! Most vendors use it properly and many (maybe even most vapers) have vaped it and been none the wiser.



    [SUP]1[/SUP]One eliquid vendor out of San Francisco, Velvet Cloud Vapor, makes all VG liquids (no PG) with a fantastic tobacco absolute and it should not be confused with common Perfumer's Apprentice TA (though it is still an absolute). VCV makes a TA that carries more bright qualities from the tobacco used and theirs (IMO) does not have that ash like taste; plus, when you make your own extraction like they do (and do it well), it puts you in a different category. I consider VCV a natural/extracted tobacco vendor that happens to make their own TA.

    A couple vendors who don't make their own TA in-house, but do a helluva job with it (IMO) are and Mom and Pop Vapor Shop. Both of those vendors are completely upfront about using TA and they know that it doesn't matter who knows because at the heart of it all is some crafty juice mixing. Sometimes an ingredient is just an ingredient. But an eliquid mixer is never just a liquid mixer.

    [SUP]2[/SUP]Supposedly, Tobacco Absolute has also been used as a flavor agent in the cigarette industry in cigarette tobacco.

    [SUP]3[/SUP]Tobacco Absolute is primarily used in the perfume industry for fragrances, especially men's fragrances. From what I've read, it is also used by some as a smoking cessation aid where they simply smell the aroma of the concentrate when feeling the need to smoke (don't know how well that works?! LOL. I think I'll vape instead.)

    Special notes

    (A): There is another concentrate called Tobacco Extract (TE) that is a sister to TA but it is water soluble, though essentially the same thing, it's just easier to work with. Don't be confused if a vendor says, "we don't use tobacco absolute, we use tobacco extract." Ask them if they make it in-house, if it's American made, or if it's a solvent extraction-- if they don't, can't or won't answer those questions in a way that tells you that it's not TA's sister, it's probably a DIY concentrate like this.

    (B): I recently spoke with the people at Darth Vapers and while they didn't say to me that the house extraction they make is TA, they do say that it is steam distilled and "like an essential oil." Their tobaccos (the ones I have had, Cocobacco--I am vaping Cocobacco right now--and Vanilla Tobacco) do have a dry, ash-like (maybe more powdery than ash) taste, but they told me that they use 5 tobaccos in various combinations and not all of their tobacco eliquids use the same base--11 out of their 23 tobacco liquids have the house extract (the two I have, I think, do have the same base, but I really like 'em). The point is that steam distilled extracts made in-house and used by Darth Vapers and Vermillion River (though VR gets their steam distilled extracts third party) may at times taste and act like absolutes, but they are not technically absolutes (absolutes require the usage of solvents).

    (C): TA is made through solvent extractions like hexane, pure grain alcohol or super critical CO[SUB]2[/SUB] into a tobacco concrete (essential oils, resins and essence in a dense matter, i.e, concrete) and a subsequent extraction using ethanol or ethyl alcohol from the concrete into an absolute. That said, just because a vendor uses a similar technique (though you'll never hear of a NET vendor using hexane extraction) it doesn't necessarily mean they are extracting into an absolute--confused yet? haha. The biggest tell of an absolute will always be the look and the taste of your juice, but the vendor's word should be the final say.

    VERY IMPORTANT: Never assume anything! If you don't know or suspect a vendor is using TA, ask the vendor for clarification. There's NOTHING, as far as I am concerned, wrong with TA (hell, I seek it out), but sometimes you just want to know. If a vendor will not respond or answer your questions, I wouldn't support them anyway--damn whether or not they use TA.

    I have been scouring the internet for quite some time for any info on TA, so much of what I learned has been accumulated over the months. However, some of the info I have stated can be found through various sites from aromatherapy vendors, perfume makers, eliquid DIY supplies and, of course, Wikipedia (LOL). These are just a few of the sites I've used (and communicated with via email, except for, obviously, Wikipedia :p).

    Fragrance extraction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Difference between absolutes and essential oils.

    Perfumers Apprentice - Tobacco Blends, Absolutes, & Extracts

    TOBACCO ABSOLUTE: Samara Botane Aromatic Apothecary

    Hexane - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Tobacco Essential Oil | Gritman Essential Oils

    (Disclaimer: From all the reports--not the actual tests, but "reports"-- I've seen on GC-MS tests of different tobacco absolutes, no TSNAs have been detected as well as no detectable amounts of the solvents used for the extraction were found in the final product. Obviously there will always be exceptions though, so who really knows? I am almost positive tobacco absolute has been used in eliquid since the inception of ecigs, so its definitely embedded in vaping. That is not to say it is safe for human consumption because all I've read indicates it was never intended for that. Use you own judgement and vape on!)
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  2. Tezcatlipoca

    Tezcatlipoca Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    May 12, 2012
    Riverside, CA
    Wow, a ton of information here -- thanks Mr.Mann! Very useful.
  3. Mr.Mann

    Mr.Mann ECF Guru Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 30, 2011
    All over the place
    TA has always intrigued me and it has seemed to be always shrouded in mystery. I just wanted to reveal what I could find and explain why some of us feel it is basically a sub-category for NETs. Heck, I am always a little excited to try a new juice when I know there is TA in it, but I am also quite afraid. :laugh:
  4. Tezcatlipoca

    Tezcatlipoca Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    May 12, 2012
    Riverside, CA
    Yeah, it's a double-edged sword, and you're right -- used judiciously, it can really add a lot to a juice, but if used indiscriminately, the results are horrible. I think we can clearly consider it an extract though, and therefore a juice that has it could technically be considered an NET. I guess the real debate hinges on whether vendors can extract in-house (allowing them to produce a much wider range of tobaccos) or are confined to using a third-party concentrate like TA. Perhaps we need to develop more precise lingo for NETs.
  5. Mr.Mann

    Mr.Mann ECF Guru Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 30, 2011
    All over the place
    It's a real conundrum for me.

    When you think about it, and no disrespect to PV, but if you had to vape a tobacco liquid and you were choosing between a NET vendor like Prime Vaping vs. a TAJ (tobacco absolute juice) vendor like M&P, who would you choose? Which one would taste of tobacco more?
  6. shatner

    shatner Resting In Peace ECF Veteran

    Jan 12, 2010
    Houston, Tx.
    Great post, Mr.Mann. I had recently asked a question about TA and this answers it perfectly. Thanks!

    Oh VCV does TA the best, imo.
  7. Tezcatlipoca

    Tezcatlipoca Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    May 12, 2012
    Riverside, CA
    Yeah, Mom and Pop Vapor Shop is the one I always have in mind when I think of TA done well. They manage to pull out a lot of variety and they know when to say when. I can think of other vendors who use proper NET extractions and either go way too heavy or way too light with the flavor. I'd put High Brow on one end of the scale and Prime Vaping on the other. Crafting a quality tobacco juice seems to require a delicate hand regardless of what method is used.
  8. jfango

    jfango Super Member ECF Veteran

    Mar 18, 2013
    Salisbury MO
    I saw a post from Vapenstien and he mentions that he knows of vendors that use TA well, but he doesn't mention which ones. I would like to know the names of any vendors who use it, since I've been interested in TA too. Thanks for the post above, very good info there.
  9. Mr.Mann

    Mr.Mann ECF Guru Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 30, 2011
    All over the place
    I mentioned and linked to a couple in the post. being at the top of my list followed by

    Moondrop is a little heavy handed, but I think their Smith Barn Sticks and even Straight-Up liquids, after a long steep, are quite good. M&P have a really good RYO and a crazy unique flavor called Tobacco Haze that I keep on hand.
  10. Jerms

    Jerms Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Jan 1, 2011
    Thanks for the great post on TA Mann, very impressive!

    Even though there isn't a total consensus on whether TA makes a juice a NET, it seems the majority say no.

    To me, it's just another flavoring. Added to a juice with synthetic tobacco flavoring; it's an arti-bacco. Added to a NET; it's a NET. By itself with no other added tobacco flavors; it's a TA juice.

    VelvetCloudVapors in-house tobacco absolute get's a pass for me as a NET with no asterik needed. They make it themselves for the use of e-liquid, instead of TA which is commercially made for the use of perfume. Looking at how and why it's made isn't a perfect solution to the definition, but it works for me on all currently available juices until another vendor throws a wrench into that.

    Sent from my LGL55C using Tapatalk 2
  11. Randy C

    Randy C Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Feb 17, 2012
    SW Florida
    Subscribed. Thanks for this post Mann! You bring up some very interesting thoughts and questions. I agree with M&P's; I love quite a few of their offerings, although I too would like to learn more about T/A.

    "+ A tobacco eliquid may need to shaken up (due to oily separation or sediment), carry an oily residue visible in the liquid or on the inside of the bottle (oil rings)"

    Funny you brought this up. I left a few M&P bottles untouched in my cabinet for a few months, when I noticed little round brown/grey stains on the bottles- just above the level of the juice. I called M&P and told Tami it looked like I had mold growing in my bottles. She said not to worry, that it was just indeed oily T/A just separating; that a good shake would correct.
  12. mecocina

    mecocina Super Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Feb 19, 2011
    Thanks for the great post Mann. As I'm starting to do my own NET extractions, I'm learning the difference between them all.
  13. Jingles

    Jingles Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jul 18, 2011
    I found a new-to-me company this past week-Nude Nicotine. When I mentioned on their sub-forum that I would order again when their tobaccos were available, they replied that they were waiting for their TA juices to be ready. It sounds to me like they are making them in house. The owner is a chemist or biochemist? The other juices I tried from them were quite good. Anyone else try them or know anything about them?
  14. shatner

    shatner Resting In Peace ECF Veteran

    Jan 12, 2010
    Houston, Tx.
    I have some Tom Ford cologne that I suspect has TA in it. Tobacco Vanille. Freaking panty dropper in the winter time. Way to cloying and heavy for spring or summer. It's a cold weather scent.

    /off topic
  15. Spike64

    Spike64 Super Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Feb 18, 2013
    A great knowledge base and vaping IQ goes up every time I read one of your reviews or informational posts...that you very much Mr. Mann...:thumbs:
  16. billherbst

    billherbst Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Oct 21, 2010
    Florence, Oregon
    Hey MrM,

    I wanted to top up one of the cartos that sit with many others on my desk---Ahlusion Gold Rising, which purports to be an RY4 but got kicked off The Big RY4 List by consensus because it doesn't taste like any RY4 we know. Maybe it's more an homage to/replica of the ancient Ruyan 4 liquid from 2005 that some people hold to have been the model for the 2007 original Janty RY4 (although the jury's still out on that one). Anyway, I like Gold Rising a lot---I just don't think of it as an RY4. But that's neither here nor there.

    I retrieved my 10ml bottle of Gold Rising---now down to 7ml---from one of the many drawers in my juice stash, and suddenly noticed something that had escaped me earlier. I must have missed this when the bottle was full. Upon shaking, the inner surfaces of the bottle above the liquid revealed an oily residue. The juice itself is a transparent amber-gold, but this residue was yellow-green colored. I was shocked and surprised, because---in my experience---that yellow-green oiliness is a dead giveaway for Tobacco Absolute.

    I seem to recall reading in one of your posts on the NET thread that Ahlusion uses various extraction methods for their NETs, including steam distillation. Is the Gold Rising extract an example?

    Flavor-wise, Gold Rising doesn't remind me of commercial TA/TE at all, but the physical evidence sure points in that direction. Perhaps the extract used in Gold Rising is closer to the Velvet Cloud Vapor in-house-extracted proprietary TA, which is slightly closer to commercial TA to my palate, but remains different enough to be perceptibly its own thing.

    Since you have a direct line to Wlad, I figured you might know what's up with the Gold Rising extract.
  17. Rictic

    Rictic Super Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Sep 10, 2012
    Miami, FL
    Awww, so that means I threw away a perfectly good bottle of M&P honey tobacco back in the day.

    The more you know.... Great thread.
  18. shatner

    shatner Resting In Peace ECF Veteran

    Jan 12, 2010
    Houston, Tx.
    Strange. I just grabbed my bottle of GR out of the juice cupboard. Gave it a shake, but nothing any different than shaking other juices; it just coated the whole inside of the bottle and slowly ran back down in to the liquid. 15ml bottle ~1/2 full, fwiw.
  19. billherbst

    billherbst Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Oct 21, 2010
    Florence, Oregon

    As with so many experiences that vary from one vaper to another, I have no idea what that implies. I believe you, and I believe me, too. It's yet another mystery.
  20. VaporMizer

    VaporMizer Super Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 19, 2012
    One thing I've noticed about Tobacco Absolute is that when used with moderation (it needs to be greatly diluted before even adding drops to a mix) it is way more about aroma than flavor.

    If I just inhale and exhaled the vapor of my DIY primarily TA juice through my mouth like a cig it has very little flavor, but if I draw the vapor into my mouth and exhale slowly through my nose, more like smoking a pipe or cigar, then it really has a great tobacco aroma...not really like the burning smoke part, but like the sweet smelling "tobacco essence" that is also part of tobacco smoke....the good part - the aroma of the vaporized essential oils.

    That's why it gets used in commercial cigarettes and why I think some type of tobacco essential oil should be in every tobacco e-liquid, whether it's very moderately added commercial TA or an in-house steam distillation. Need that tobacco volatile oil aroma.

    There are even very simple DIY methods of extracting essential oils from a water maceration. In fact, I'm pretty sure you could do two different water based extractions on the same batch of tobacco and get a good part of the alkaloids and the essential oils out of it without having a lots of tobacco particles in it.

    Another cigarette additive that I think could be learned from for e-juice is Roasted Tobacco Volatiles. I'm not sure it's available for sale anywhere, but the idea seems like it would work great for NETs. The idea, as far as I can gather so far, is to roast the cured tobacco before extracting the essential oils and I think that would get us a lot closer to the flavor of actual smoking tobacco. I imagine it would be just like roasting tea or other herbs to developed a more robust flavor. You could even do light, medium, and dark roasts and blend them. I bet there's a lot more flavor and variations that could be wrung out of tobacco by roasting and then extracting.
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