DIY E Liquid Tutorial
DIY E Liquid How To
A DIY E Liquid instructional is an article I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. It’s quite common to see vapers asking questions about e liquid such as “who has the cheapest prices”, “how can I save money on e liquid”, “how do I DIY e liquid” and many others. It seems that many vapers don’t really know what goes into the e liquid they are vaping. Many would likely choose to make their own if they completely understood how to do it.
Not only do I recommend making your own e liquid because it’s much easier on the wallet but there’s also a matter of safety. Much of the pre-mixed e-liquid on the market is manufactured in China, this fact is something that always made me uneasy when purchasing pre-made juice. I have no particular animosity or disdain for the Chinese people or companies. However, being a father for over 20 years now, I’ve bought a fair share of Chinese products while raising 4 kids. I’ve also tossed out more than a fair share of China-made Ecstasy Dots, lead-filled crayons and other toxic toys to support this uneasy feeling I get when buying e-liquid from that country. Another point to consider is that if an American were to suffer damages from using Chinese e liquid, it’s doubtful there would be much of any recourse available to cover your medical costs (or funeral). Again, I just feel safer advising DIY e-liquid made with Nicotine purchased from a reputable American vendor/manufacturer.
What Supplies Will I Need?
If or when you decide to begin making your own juice there are a few things to consider:
- Where to get supplies
- Decide which supplies are needed
- What strength Nicotine concentrate to work with
There are many vendors who offer DIY supplies online, not all of them can be trusted. Just because a vendor lists their Nicotine concentrate as 100mg/ml (10%/volume) doesn’t mean it’s correct. In fact, some vendors have been found to carry Nicotine liquid in strengths up to 3 times the amount advertised. This means that when you go to mix up a batch of 1.8% Nicotine e liquid you might actually be getting a mixture of 5.4% or more. A mistake like this could result in a trip to the hospital or in an extreme circumstance, a trip to the morgue. Don’t take chances with your safety and health! It’s just not worth it to save a buck. Be sure that you buy from respectable vendors. When it comes to the supplies you will need to make your own liquid it has much to do with your personal preference. The chemicals used in e-liquid are Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Nicotine and flavoring.
Propylene Glycol is a chemical that’s approved by the FDA for human consumption. This is the chemical people refer to when saying things like “you know e-cigarettes have antifreeze in them?”. It’s true that it is an approved refrigerant/antifreeze in systems that are in close contact with food items. The reason for this is because if there should be an accident that causes leakage, food items would still be safe for consumption. Several ice cream manufacturers use Propylene Glycol in their products to evidence it’s safety. Propylene Glycol (aka. PG in the e-cig world) is used in many products we use every day, things like soap, shampoo, candles, shaving cream, food flavorings, etc. It’s also the main ingredient in many e-liquids because it helps provide the ‘throat hit’ common with smoking. It helps to make vaping feel more like smoking and also helps provide the visible vapor. When purchasing PG be sure that you only buy it in containers labeled USP. Only products labeled as USP are safe for human consumption, any other quality certification should be avoided.
Glycerin is a natural chemical that’s derived either from plants and animals. It is used in many of our food items and is safe for human consumption. Again, only containers with the USP label should be used in e-liquid making. Glycerin is often used in foods as a sweetener light. It is also used in many of the same items as PG such as soap, shampoo, hand lotions and lubricants. It’s a thick, gelatinous liquid that is sometimes difficult to work with when making e-liquid. Many vapers use the term Vegetable Glycerin (aka. VG) in reference to Glycerin derives from plants. This leads many to believe that VG is the only type of Glycerin that’s safe for or works well for e-liquid. This however is a myth, it makes no difference whether the Glycerin is derived from plants or animals, both work fine for making e-liquid. If it’s 99.5% pure (most USP Glycerin is) or better than it’s really exactly the same chemical regardless of from what it’s derived.
The only necessary reason for choosing plant derived glycerin would be personal preference, possibly for religious reasons or lifestyle choices such as vegans. Again, both animal derived and plant derived Glycerin are safe for use in e-liquid, the only really important factor is that it’s labeled USP. The rest of this instructional will be using the abbreviation VG to refer to Glycerin, even though it’s not specifically referring to plant Glycerin.
Nicotine is a highly toxic chemical. In fact, it’s one of the most highly toxic chemicals known to man, milligram for milligram it’s more toxic than Arsenic. When pure Nicotine is mentioned in this tutorial it’s referring to 90% Nicotine concentrate or higher. In order to handle pure Nicotine it’s necessary to take extreme precautions and use hazardous material safety procedures. Simply opening a container of pure Nicotine could potentially poison everyone in the room by inhalation. It’s definitely not a substance you want to be careless with!
Nicotine also happens to be the addictive ingredient in tobacco and the reason it’s so difficult to quit smoking. In small, controlled doses it’s mostly harmless to humans and actually may have some beneficial qualities. Much research is being done around the world to try and find more ways that Nicotine can be used to help humans.
The Nicotine you will buy for DIY is not pure, it’s diluted in a base of either PG, VG. When making a purchase the buyer is usually offered the choice between PG, VG or a mixture of both for the Nicotine base solution. Choices are also offered for the strength of Nicotine in the solution. Usually the buyer can choose strengths ranging from 24mg/ml through 100mg/ml depending on preference.
Word Of Advice: I personally recommend always buying 100mg/ml and then diluting it even further, until you reach your desired preference. This is the best way to get the most Nicotine for your dollar. The e-liquid calculator will help figure the amount to use, it doesn’t matter if you use 24mg/ml or 100mg/ml, the calculator does all the work of figuring how much to use to reach your desired result.
When the buyer receives the Nicotine it will then be diluted even further to match the preferred strength for vaping. The final e-liquid solution usually contains between 12mg/ml and 24mg/ml of Nicotine by the time it’s ready to be put into the e-cigarette. Of course this amount varies depending on the user’s preference and some vapers prefer less than 12mg/ml. E-liquid containing more than 24mg/ml is not recommended by eCignificant, although it’s not unheard of for some vapers to prefer using even higher strengths than 24mg/ml.
The final chemical needed for DIY is the flavoring. As it is with all things, what one person finds delectable could be nauseating to another. If you are new to e-cigarettes and aren’t sure what flavors you will like then I suggest purchasing flavor concentrates in small bottles until you figure out what works for you. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of different flavors to choose from and many different flavor manufacturers available. Be aware that not all flavors will be exactly alike from all manufacturers, this is especially true when it comes to tobacco flavors. With so many different choices combined with the fact that you are able to mix different flavors to create something new, there’s really no end to the possibilities. Try everything you can and make lots of what you like, it goes quicker than you think!
That sums up the chemicals you will be working with now let’s get to the hardware. You could get by with much of the DIY process by simply using things you already have around the house however it’s highly recommended that you buy supplies to use just for making e-liquid and nothing else. This keeps accidents from happening and it’s not really expensive to build a decent amount of DIY supplies and tools. As you progress you might choose to get more items than suggested here in order to help make DIY more efficient. We will just cover the simple necessities here and let you know of some things that might help but aren’t necessary. Here’s a simple list of recommended items, we’ll explain them later:
- Gloves (Latex, Nitrile or Vinyl)
- Graduated Cylinders
- Erlenmeyer Flask
- Dropper Bottles
Other items that aren’t necessary but are helpful:
As you spend more time with DIY you will discover which items you use most and which ones you might want to improve efficiency. This is a starting point and a good place to begin. If you get the items on the recommended list (and the chemicals), you will have all you need to make your first batch of e-liquid. Always be sure to wear gloves when working with any chemicals, this is especially so for the Nicotine liquid. Even though you will be working with a diluted solution, it’s still good practice to stay protected. Nicotine can absorb through skin and an accidental spill could land you in the hospital. Also, always be sure to make and store your chemicals (including the finished e-liquid) out of the reach of children. If you have children or pets in the home make certain they are well away from your mixing area while you’re working.
Let’s Get Started
The very first thing to do when beginning to make e-liquid is to open the e-liquid calculator. This is a great tool for simplifying correct measurements and it helps to prevent mistakes in calculations. There are many different e-liquid calculators on the web but I recommend the best one I’ve found available. This is the only one I’ve found that calculates every ingredient in the mix including the flavoring concentrate base and the Nicotine concentrate base solution. This calculator also offers the recipe in drops/chemical rather than only by milliliter, this can be quite handy if your Graduated Cylinder breaks or you have no syringes. Not only does it offer the recipe in drops/chemical, it allows you to adjust the drop count/milliliter to match the item you are using as a dropper. With the calculator open, input all of your ingredients. Be sure to input the Nicotine base solution for the most accurate recipe. If you aren’t certain how much flavoring to add, it’s always safe to start with 1% and then adjust it in your next mix or add a few drops later. If this is your first time mixing e-liquid it’s a good idea to start with a small batch of 10ml or less, this way you don’t waste a lot of your supplies if the recipe needs adjusting.
Once you’ve input all the ingredients hit the calculate button and scroll down to the recipe. Get out your mixing hardware and chemicals. Make sure to have a cup, bottle or bowl of water close by for rinsing utensils between chemicals to avoid contamination. Erlenmeyer Flasks and Beakers both work well as the mixing container. If you plan to use heat to steep the solution an Erlenmeyer Flask will work best to help avoid water splashing in or your e-liquid splashing out. Once you have a recipe and all of your supplies ready it’s a fairly straightforward process:
Warning: Always wear eye protection, gloves and any other protective clothing you may feel necessary to reduce/eliminate any chance of skin, mouth and eye exposure to Nicotine liquid. It’s impossible to take too many safety precautions!
- Start with measuring out and dropping in the Nicotine solution. Always mix in the Nicotine solution first so you can cap the bottle and get it out of the way immediately. Since it’s the most dangerous chemical you work with it’s best to get it done and out of the way first.
- Rinse off the syringe, Graduated Cylinder, Pipettes and/or any other tools you used to transfer the Nicotine solution.
- Measure out and drop in the VG and PG called for in the recipe.
- Rinse off all tools used for the PG and VG
- Measure out and drop in the flavoring concentrate
- Rinse all hardware and wipe off all of your chemical bottles in case any dripped on the side
- Pour the finished solution into the bottle you chose for storage and put the cap on
- Shake the bottle vigorously to be sure everything gets mixed well.
- Clean up
- Fill a new clearomizer with the fresh juice and vape away!
With some flavors (especially tobacco flavors) it might be necessary to let the mix steep a couple of days in order to get the best flavor from it. Some flavors are perfect immediately after mixing but others need time to reach the peak of perfection. You can speed up the steeping process slightly by putting the e-liquid in some boiling water and letting it sit in the water while it cools to room temperature. This would be done before step 7, while the e-liquid is still in the mixing container. Be sure you are using a mixing container made of heat resistant glass if you intend to use the hot water steeping method. The glass used in laboratory equipment such as Beakers, Flasks and Cylinders is normally heat resistant, so is the glass used to make measuring cups for cooking.
That’s pretty much all there is to DIY e-liquid. With practice you will discover which amounts of each chemical you prefer for the perfect vape. It’s not really a difficult process to follow, it does take some experience and expertise to create incredible concoctions. With a little time, patience and practice you will discover what recipes work best for you. Who knows…you might even create something that others can’t get enough of and are willing to pay a hefty price to get! If you do create a profitable flavor, try to remember where you learned it first….please!
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