Is Liquid Smoke Vegan: Is It Suitable For Vegans?

Have a barbecue party coming up? And you don’t know if liquid smoke is vegan or not? Don’t worry, as we will tell you everything you need to know about it. 

For starters, liquid smoke is usually vegan. The actual vapor is condensed from burning timber to produce the smoke flavor. Worried about animal-derived products? You can have a sigh of relief as liquid smoke rarely has them.

Before we dive deep into the discussion of whether liquid smoke is vegan or not, let us look at how it is made.

Production Process of Liquid Smoke

Most vegan people believe that the production of liquid smoke somewhere involves meat. To be precise, it is just a by-product that rises from burning wood.

Ernest H. Wright gave birth to this tool in 1985 to impart a smoky flavor while cooking. While experimenting, he saw that as soon as the hot vapor of fire comes in contact with a cold surface or air, it condenses to form a fluid that could be purified from various impurities. The yellowish-brown fluid formed is what we call the “liquid smoke.” This newly-born fluid contains an intense essence of the smoke from the fire.

Many people love to use this fluid in their barbecues to grant a remarkable smoky essence and aroma to their food. It doesn’t matter if you use a stove or an oven, you will get the same smoky flavor every time!

The Perplexity of Animal By-products

Many people often get confused whenever it comes to animal by-products. They believe that liquid vapor has these by-products in them. But is it true? We haven’t really seen any liquid smoke brands that have animal by-products. However, it is clearly stated on the ingredients list of that brand that uses an animal-derived substance.

If you wonder, liquid smoke is produced from vapor and other plant-based ingredients like caramel and vinegar. 

Liquid Smoke Is Not Raw Vegan!

Before we know if this product is raw vegan or not, we should understand what raw vegan is. Being a subset of veganism, it still doesn’t allow you to eat any food item coming from the animals. 

However, it imposes another restriction on its followers. The concept of raw foodism dictates that a raw vegan diet disciple should not eat food heated at temperatures above 104–118°F (40–48°C).

As we all know, the temperature to put wood on fire is pretty high. To be more specific, the minimum temperature to ignite wood is 365-degrees-Fahrenheit. When we equate it to the maximum limit of heat allowed by raw veganism, liquid smoke cannot be considered raw vegan.

How Safe Is It?

Smoke does not maintain a good relationship with physical health. For instance, smoking cigarettes can cause lung cancer, while taking too much vapor inside the body from a fire can result in the same outcome. So, what if you consume liquid smoke?

Due to its bad reputation, people believe that natural vapor can result in cancer. They support this statement by saying that it contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). If consumed, PAHs can prove harmful to a person’s health.

The truth is that during the production process, it gets filtered twice to remove this potentially dangerous carcinogenic chemical. Furthermore, it even includes low sodium levels with microbe-killing properties. 

Liquid Smoke and “P53 Activation”

When the researchers studied liquid smoke in 2013, they found that it affected the P53 protein activity. 

But, what exactly is P53? 

Well, this compound is a protein that helps in repairing DNA. However, if used in excess, it can lead to DNA damage.

You will be surprised to know that this fluid of some brands stimulates P53 nearly equal to the amount stimulated by chemotherapy drugs. These drugs are specifically made to cause damage to the DNA.

However, we shouldn’t yet conclude that this liquid causes harm of any kind. In fact, many types of tea and coffee stimulate the P53 response, but the overall influence is thought to be positive.

Vegan Liquid Smoke Brands

The most popular liquid smoke brands you can find are Colgin, Durkee, Figaro, Stubb’s, and Wright’s. Are they suitable for vegans? Let’s find out.


Its official website clearly states that it doesn’t contain any animal by-products. It is typically made by igniting the wood and then condensing the vapor.

In case you are interested in purchasing from this brand, you have four natural flavors to choose from: Natural Apple, Mesquite, Pecan, and Hickory.


This brand offers gluten-free, vegan, and MSG-free products. No animal by-products are incorporated in the ingredient list.

Ingredients: Water, hickory vapor flavor, molasses, white distilled vinegar, caramel color, and sulfites.


This brand prides itself in providing vegan products. In fact, if you check the ingredients list, you will not find any animal by-products.

Ingredients: Water, hydrolyzed soy protein, hickory vapor flavor, sugar, caramel color, vinegar, and spices.


Just like other brands mentioned above, Stubb’s also provides vegan products. When we checked the list, we did not find any animal-derived ingredients.

Stubbs Liquid Smoke ingredients: Cane sugar, hickory vapor flavor, water, distilled vinegar, organic tamari sauce, garlic powder, caramel color, and dried onion.


Even the company confirms that it only uses water and hickory vapor concentrate to make their products. Therefore, you can conclude that it is vegan.

The brand produces it in three flavors: Applewood, Mesquite, and Hickory.

Final Words

The amount of PAHs is low in this product. Hence, it will not harm your body. However, people who have or had cancer should avoid using liquid smoke. You may also feel that it spikes the P53 protein activity, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot balance it out.

There’s no reason why vegans should not use liquid smoke. It will take your cooking one step ahead and make it even better. In fact, many vegans claim that it was the only thing that helped them remain vegan.

Hence, go out and buy liquid smoke for yourself. It does not matter if you are a vegan or not; you will love it!

Brett White
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