With such a wide range of flavors and juices available to buy, you’ll find each producer has their own preferred flavoring ingredients. To take Halo as an example, they use a combination of both. Artificial flavorings used in e-liquid are the same ingredients used in food processing and production.
Artificial flavors are manufactured using synthetic chemical compounds. To replicate natural flavor scientists use nature as their base model to first determine the natural chemical compound that occurs. From there they use synthetic and sometimes natural chemicals to replicate the flavor compound synthetically. The process was developed essentially to save time and money. Replicating natural chemical compounds can be costly, time consuming and sometimes unfeasible due to limited access to essential natural chemicals.
As far as e-liquid is concerned, some artificial flavors in e-liquid taste great and exactly like the real thing. In other cases they can taste like a chemical compound gone wrong. Technically artificial flavors can be a perfect molecular match. Theoretically it should smell and taste exactly the same. I suspect some companies flavorists are guilty of implementing cost cutting measures to come as close as possible to the natural molecular structure.
All chemicals used in artificial flavoring are FDA approved and tested. In many ways artificial flavors are considered safer to ingest, as each chemical used has been extensively tried and tested. Whereas natural flavoring can be prone to impurities and unknown or untested elements.
This is when flavor extraction occurs from raw natural ingredients. Personally speaking, I don’t think artificial flavoring in most standard eliquid, has a patch on the real thing. It’s like the difference between freshly squeezed orange juice and juice made from concentrate, you often taste a noticeable difference. In some cases it can be more expensive to synthesize a flavor than to extract it from raw natural ingredients. Some companies will come as a close to the real thing but not a perfect match. This is where I suspect the disparity in taste comes from. Artificial and natural flavor can and should taste the exact same.
Sometimes producers have no choice but to use some artificial ingredients. Some natural flavors are simply not suitable for vaping as they can potentially pose adverse health risks and atomizer issues. When an artificial flavor doesn’t live up to its name I prefer to stick to natural flavorings because the taste is often superior. Both sets of e-liquids can produce great results. However, from a health perspective it’s worth noting, artificial and natural ingredients can both potentially have adverse health effects when inhaled. If you notice any adverse effects from vaping specific flavors (coughing, tightness, irritation, ulcers), it’s generally a good idea to stop using them. Various flavors can be irritants or allergens for some persons.
The truth is we don’t have enough long term data on the inhalation effects for all the chemicals found in artificial and natural flavors, but we are slowly learning which chemicals shouldn’t be used in e-liquids. It’s wise to keep yourself informed in this respect. For example we now know that it’s strongly advisable to avoid flavors containing diacetyl. Since the warning sticky was posted on reddit there has been a concerted effort from the industry to ensure that products are diacetyl free, but the problem is some companies can’t give a clear cut answer because they simply don’t know themselves what’s in their e-liquids. It’s debatable whether or not you can compare the risk with an e-cig to the levels in an industrial setting, but regardless it still remains a valid and considerable concern for any vaper.
Some juices are naturally darker or lighter in color. It would be a mistake to assume your juice contains a dye simply because it’s dark or bright colored. To ascertain if dyes are used in your e-juice it’s best to contact the producer for this information. Personally speaking, I prefer vaping juices that don’t contain them. The truth is I just don’t see the sense in adding more unnecessary chemicals in the name of aesthetics.