The Idiot’s Guide to Mixing E-Liquid Part 1: The Basics
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The Idiot’s Guide to Mixing E-Liquid – Table of Contents
Part 1: The Basics of E-Liquid Mixing – Ingredients and Equipment
Your E-Liquid is an essential part of the vaping experience. When the vaping industry started, there was a limited selection in terms of juicelines and flavors. As a matter of fact, when I first bought an e-cigarette, which is basically that artifact that looks like an analog, the only flavor available was tobacco. After a few months of vaping, the first vape pens and APV’s were released, and there were more flavor selections. Today, there are possibly thousands of juicelines all over the globe.
Companies that were selling fragrances jumped into the bandwagon and sold e-juice concentrates too. Today, there are thousands of e-liquid flavor concentrates that you can mix and match to craft the perfect e-juice that suits your taste buds.
DIY E-Liquid mixing is for every cheap vaper. Mixing your own e-liquid allows you to spend around 60% of what you would normally spend on a commercial e-liquid of the same volume. If you are curious on how e-liquids are made and would like to try it out yourself, then you have landed to the correct page.
What’s In Your E-Liquid
The first step into entering the mixing world is by knowing what’s in your e-liquid. These are the most common compounds that are inside that e-liquid bottle:
- Vegetable Glycerin – is an odorless liquid that is extracted from plant oils such as palm and soy, and is responsible for all that clouds that your atomizer produces. A higher ratio of VG equates to more vapor produced, though it is not a good flavor carrier so high-VG mixes tend to taste a bit bland than mixes with lower VG percentages.
- Propylene Glycol – is a liquid that is viscuous and is commonly used for perfumes and some medicines. While some people are spreading black propaganda that this is used as an ingredient for anti-freeze, it requires a large dosage of PG to have even a little effect on the human health. Propylene Glycol is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs liquid molecules faster than VG. Your e-juice will have a better flavor profile with more PG in your mix.
- Nicotine – is a substance extracted from tobaccos and other plants (tomatoes have nicotine too). This is what makes cigarettes addictive and what gives your e-liquid that throat hit. More nicotine means your juice would be harsh to your throat. The best way to quit smoking is to have an alternative that feels like it, so you’ll most likely need this when crafting your own liquid. On small doses, nicotine is safe and has the same side-effects as caffeine. It could be fatal though, when a large amount accidentally spills to your skin, so you have to be careful in handling this ingredient.
- Flavor Concentrates – usually composes of a propylene glycol base mixed with natural and artificial flavorings plus a minute amount of alcohol and water. The flavor concentrates give taste to your e-liquid mix. While there are VG-based flavors to create max VG or 100% VG mixes, PG is a much more preferred base since it carries more flavor.
- Enhancers – are somewhat the same as flavor concentrates. Unlike them though, these ingredients usually have no taste on their own, but is used widely to make flavors on your mix pop. The most common enhancers are stevia, menthol, ethyl maltol, and sucralose.
These are what’s commonly found on your bottle of e-juice. However, there are some ingredients that you may want to avoid, like diacethyl, which is a potentially harmful chemical and is said to cause popcorn lungs. While as we know, no case has been reported as of this writing, prevention is better than cure so it’s best to avoid it. To find out if your e-liquid concentrate has diacethyl and other chemicals that may be harmful to the body, you may check it’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for reference.
E-Liquid Mixing Equipment
The next part of this tutorial will involve introducing you to the equipment that you need to mix e-liquids. Take extreme safety measures when mixing though, it would be a requirement that you have a lab gown, sanitary gloves, a face mask, and a hair net especially if you have long hair.
The things that you need to secure differ depending on how much e-liquid you are making, so we separated the required equipment for mixing small and large quantities.
- E-liquid PET or Glass Bottle – While a clean e-liquid PET bottle works just fine, we highly recommend using glass bottles when mixing. Plastic tends to have a strong aftertaste when it comes in contact with concentrated flavors or enhancers (menthol for example) and produces a less favorable taste. Perfectly mixed and steeped e-liquid though, is less potent so it doesn’t do that much damage compared to a fresh batch.
- Syringes – it is ideal to have 1 syringe for every flavor since using only 1 and putting it on all your flavor bottles could cause your flavors to mix altogether. Take note that concentrates are so potent that even a few drops mixed with a bottle of another flavor will potentially change its flavor profile, causing an inconsistency in your mixes. For small batches, it would be better to use smaller syringes like 1 or 2 cc/ml.
- Paint Shaker or Milk Frother (Optional) – if you are looking to make the mixing process faster, you may opt to use a paint shaker. Just strap that bottle in there and let it enjoy the ride. Alternatively, you can use a milk frother to mix the liquid. If you have none of these equipment, your hands and arms work perfectly too, albeit a bit more tiring; shaking up and down and left to right until every piece of that mix comes together.
- Graduated Cylinders – this basic lab equipment is your best friend when mixing large batches, especially if you are mixing by volume.
- Kitchen Scale – a kitchen scale is an important part of your arsenal if you are mixing e-liquids by weight. (mixing by volume and by weight will be discussed on a latter part of this guide)
- Beakers – this is where the fun happens; the “Witches Cauldron” of your mix. I usually don’t suggest mixing in a container larger than a 4L beaker since there is a slim chance that your mix can go bad. It would be better to throw away 4 liters of a shitty batch of e-liquid than one large drum of it.
- Stirring Rods – stirring rods are used for no other purpose but stirring (you had high school chemistry so you probably know that). Before using a mixer or transferring the liquid from the beaker to another container, I would suggest that you stir it first so everything is half-blended before it moves out of the beaker.
- E-Liquid Container – a glass, steel, a wood barrell, a plastic bottle (at your own risk) is a good container for your fresh mixes. Make sure that your container is air tight and doesn’t spill, it would be a waste to have some parts of your e-liquid mix ending up on the floor.
- Mixer (Optional) – while shaking may also do the job, larger containers mean more effort on your part, so it’s better if you have a mixer in hand. I wouldn’t suggest a shaker though, a kitchen hand mixer may do the job if it’s less than 4L.
The 2nd part of this post would cover the Mathematics of mixing your e-liquid, which you will find here.