Naturally Extracted Tobacco, the NETs. What is it about?
NETs are e-liquids based on natural tobacco and/or fruit flavors and/or other condiments.
What does that mean? This means that the aromas are 100% natural, obtained by various techniques for extracting tobacco molecules or other elements that make up the final aroma of the e-liquid.
But then, and the other e-liquids? The classic e-liquids found in stores and most online stores are made with food flavorings. We will later call these e-liquids “synthetics”.
Is that why I can't find a tobacco e-liquid in the shop that really tastes like tobacco? In fact, that's why. It is very difficult to reproduce the taste of tobacco with food flavorings, which explains why most manufacturers create “tobacco-gourmands” to drown out the taste a little; and that synthetics advertised as “neutral tobaccos” never really taste like tobacco or are often sweet.
With NETs, problem solved! Looking for the taste of American blonde? From the roll? Pipe tobacco? Cigar? Italian cigarillo? No problem, you will inevitably find what you are looking for in the multitude of 100% organic recipes that the various NET manufacturers have concocted for us in recent years!
What are the main methods to create these organic flavors?
The best known is of course maceration. As you will have understood, it is a question here of macerating the tobacco leaves in propylene glycol to obtain a concentrate of aromas which will have the exact taste of the tobacco used. It also works with a fruit/condiment added during maceration. This process is long and tedious, but allows to obtain an aroma faithful to macerated tobacco. The macerated aromas will require a steep time (resting of your e-liquid once mixed) long enough to develop 100% of their flavors. Some manufacturers recommend up to 9 months steep before being able to taste their products.
Second method, extraction. This is a process well known to chemists. This is how, for example, sunflower oil or any other vegetable oil that you use in your cooking is made.
How does it work? We will first mix the solvent (CO2 in general for NETs) and the raw material from which we want to extract the aromas (our tobaccos). In phase 2, we separate the waste from the solution (mainly our aroma and a little more solvent). Finally in the last step, we proceed to the desolventization phase, that is to say that we separate the remains of solvent from our final aroma. Okay, that's a bit simplified, but you get the idea, we're not all chemists at heart!
And finally, the third method often used is distillation or hydrodistillation. We are here again on an extraction process as seen previously, but our solvent in this case is water vapor. This is an extraction technique that has been used for a long time in particular for essential oils.
From these 3 “families” of NETs, we can create two main categories:
- The classics (also known by the common name of “sales”). These are the aromas created by classic maceration or extraction, macerates or extracts. These aromas will give e-liquids with extremely high cotton and coil deterioration power, almost requiring a change of cotton, or even coil, after each tank vaped (and we are talking here about mtl atomizers with 2-4 ml tanks !). But in return, it is these e-liquids that will bring you with the most subtlety the notes specific to each tobacco! The perfection of flavors has a price!
- Transparencies (also commonly known as “clean”). These are the distillates or hydrosols, which, by their method of extraction, can be vaped on any type of material whether it is reconstructable or not. The manufacturers even announce the possibility of vaping most of these e-liquids on one and the same resistance for more than 80ml! Better than a synthetic! Of course, the other side of the coin is an e-liquid less subtle than a classic (although manufacturers have made great progress lately, such as the Extra Dry range from La Tabaccheria), but we cannot have it all!