DIY E-Juice or: How I learned to stop worrying (about juice cost) and love playing with bottles
Why learn how to make DIY e-juice?
Vaping isn’t as cheap as it used to be. Back when Mouth-To-Lung vaping was the norm and “chucking cloudz” meant vaping with two coils, on an Orchid, close to the 1Ohm point. In those ancient times, people went to their local B&M and bought one 10ml bottle of their favorite juice and one of something that sounded interesting. And those (tiny two bottles) were enough for days. For most people, they lasted more than the whole week. Others made it through the month.
Then, sub-ohming became the norm. Aspire’s Atlantis atomizer opened the floodgates, making sub-ohming accessible even to people who weren’t rebuilding their own coils. Soon after, vapers were trying to stay afloat a vast mass of even more demanding, even more expensive pre-made coils. And the “more demanding” here refers to both the power they need from a mod to heat up, but also the juice they evaporate. 6Ml and 8ml tanks get empty in one go. If you do the math you’ll see this roughly translates to “from half to one full 10ml bottle of juice per refill”. Pricier coils and the need for more and more juice, as their power rating kept going up…
And suddenly, vaping became more expensive than smoking. Except if you’re into DIY. Yes, that means “Do It Yourself”, as in “make your own juice for close to the cost of a bag of peanuts”. I hope, for the sake of this example, that a bag of peanuts doesn’t cost the same as a 10ml bottle of e-juice were you live.
As a bonus, by making your own juice you don’t only end up saving money you’d pay for “premium” juices, but also becoming your own chef. You don’t like that cucumber “edge” you feel on your favorite banana bread juice? Well, you’ll be making it. You’ll be making the rules. You’ll be dripping the drops. You won’t have to succumb to Jean Piere’s, the local B&M’s “chef”, adamant belief that one drop of cucumber flavor should be added to each and every juice. So, no cucumber in your banana bread juice. Gone. There. The annoying cucumber problem, fully solved.
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Drop the Base
After all the talk and articles regarding if vaping is safe or not (hint: almost everyone is heavily leaning towards the positive opinion, as in, “yes, it’s waaaay safer”), you’ve probably heard of Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin, or PG and VG for short. As well as Nicotine. Those, together with flavorings, are the main ingredients of most e-juices on the planet. Since this is a Do It Yourself article, though, we’ll have to talk a bit about each one of them for the people that haven’t heard of them and don’t know how each contributes or affects the final vaping experience. If you feel you already know this stuff, feel free to skip to the next part of our guide.
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Propylene Glycol (PG)
C₃H₈O₂, as the more chemically-inclined among us would tell you is the proper way to write about Propylene Glycol , is a colorless, relatively odorless liquid that was used for years as the main component of most e-liquids available.
It’s also, together with Nicotine, responsible for the “harshness at the back of the throat” we refer to as “the hit” when vaping. Nicotine plays the biggest role in that regard, but PG helps a lot. To the point that vapers that managed to fully kick their Nicotine addiction may still vape juices with high PG content to “add a punch” to their liquid, so that it doesn’t feel like inhaling pure air.
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Vegetable Glycerin (VG and also found as “Glycerol”)
Mostly responsible for the “silky feeling” of our vapor and the thick fluffy clouds we exhale, Vegetable Glycerin is odorless, like PG, but has a somewhat sweeter taste.
The current move to higher-Wattage sub-Ohm vaping meant that the juices used would also have to be “toned down” as far as throat hit goes – or most vapers would feel like a furious donkey was kicking repeatedly their throat with each and every hit. And that’s, ladies and gentlemen, the reason PG and VG swapped places, making Vegetable Glycerin the main ingredient of most e-juices found today in the market. Together with a drastic drop in Nicotine levels (from the 18-24mg profile, popular some mere years ago, to the 3-6mg profile popular today).
It’s worth noting two more things regarding VG and PG in our juices:
First, most current tanks are designed for higher-VG juices. Since VG is thicker than PG, that means that if you use higher-PG juices in them, they’ll be more prone to leaking. In exactly the opposite way, if you’re still using a tank from more than one year ago, it may have problems “wicking” higher-VG juices, leading to dry hits and a sub-par experience.
Secondly, more people are allergic to PG than VG. After consulting with your doctor, it’s worth experimenting with different concentrations of those liquids in your juice. Most people find that using a higher-VG juice in a relatively current tank, while avoiding other factors known to trigger some allergies (Nickel found in wires and / or some atomizers themselves, some specific flavorings) lead to problem-free vaping.
One of the most addictive drugs on the planet, according to what most fanatic non-smoking advocates would tell you, isn’t, actually, that addictive, or dangerous, if you look at what proper research tells us about it. Nicotine, on its own, is a relatively harmless stimulant. Like caffeine. The main reason it’s got such a bad wrap is its main delivery system: “analog” cigarettes.
Make no mistake about it, as has been proven by countless studies, cigarette-smoking is dangerous and does play a significant toll in our health. Statistics paint a grim picture of one out of two smokers ending up dying due to this nicotine addiction. But, as current studies and harm reduction advocates remind us, it’s the delivery system that causes the problem – not Nicotine on its own, as a substance. It’s the other chemicals, found in cigarettes and released through the burning of paper and tobacco, that are harmful for us.
And vaping doesn’t “burn tobacco and papers”. So… Problem solved!
Nicotine, on its own, is dangerous, though, since in its pure, undiluted form it’s poisonous to humans. That’s why when we buy a Nicotine Base, a whole 100ml bottle can actually contain only 1ml of Nicotine. The rest of “the liquid in there” is usually a combination of PG, VG and, in some cases, distilled water, where the Nicotine is diluted.
Theoretically, you can pick up a Nicotine Base and, if it’s at a Nicotine level you’re comfortable with, vape it as it is, without adding any flavor. Practically, since most people get into DIY not only to create exactly the juices they like, but also to save money, it’s worth buying bases with a higher Nicotine concentration and then diluting them yourself with “pure” VG and PG.
Unfortunately for all of us, the new laws implemented in most countries ban the sales of any liquid with a higher concentration than 22mg, in bottles larger than 20ml, to “end users” (the numbers, up to a point, may be different from country to country). That means that the cost of DIY has significantly increased compared to just one year ago, when you could buy a 100ml 50mg bottle of Nicotine Base and turn it to liters of juice for the whole year. For you, your close friends and your extended family.
Flavorings – concentrates
Flavorings are, obviously, the most important part of each juice’s flavor. Nicotine, Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin are relatively flavorless – they have “hints” of being sweet, or bitter, but their mix is called a “base” for a reason. They’re the “bland”, as far as flavor goes, part of the juice, on which you “build” the final experience, by using different mixes of additional, individual flavors.
Some of the most prominent creators of flavors in the world of vaping, like Flavor Art or The Flavor/Perfumer’s Apprentice, had years of experience in the world of flavor before offering products for vapers, creating flavor additives for food or perfumes. That’s probably the reason why there’s such a diverse variety in available flavors from multiple manufacturers around the globe – with,among them, dozens of examples you’d never even think about vaping. Like Crab Legs. No, we’re not kidding. Crab Legs.
Almost all flavor manufacturers carry some typical, up to a point expected flavors in their collection: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors are considered “a must” and you can find them almost everywhere. Not all flavors are equal, though: The Flavor’s Apprentice “Strawberry Ripe” is considered one of the best strawberry flavors in the world of vaping, with many people believing it’s not just “better” but leagues ahead of similar offerings by others. At the same time, don’t expect to find an “Ouzo” flavor in most flavor companies collections, except if you look towards the Greek Atmos Labs.
Theoretically, it’s good to try everything yourself to find what you really like. Do you like Chocolate? You should buy each and every chocolate flavoring in the world, try them in different mixes (more PG or VG, different Nic strengths), in different atomizers. You should also let them “steep” (we’ll talk about that some time later) for different amounts of time and re-try them to see how their flavor profile has changed and if, now, they’re (even( better.
But all that is too much fuss.
Yes, some people do it – they’re the true DIY hobbyists. Some of them end up turning their hobby to a business. Others, and those are the ones we have to thank for making DIY mixing as easy as it is today, take their knowledge and experimentation with different flavors to sites like http://e-liquid-recipes.com, a massive database of juices, where you can find “recipes” that recreate hundreds of popular “premium juices” or are brand new, fresh and original mixes, perfected after lots of trial and error. You might not like all of them, or even most of them, but it’s certain you can find recipes that seem tailor-made specifically for you.
After this introduction to DIY e-juice and the world of vaping, in the second part of our guide we’ll see how you can mix stuff by yourself (“from scratch”). How you can “multiply” your Nicotine Base, by buying higher-concentration Base and down-mixing it. By the end of this guide, you’ll be finding recipes you know you’ll end up liking, re-creating them and tweaking them to your preference.
In the first part of this guide, we saw what our e-liquids are made from and what part each of those “ingredients” plays in the final experience, when actually vaping the mixed liquid. Like mixing itself, the first part of our guide was “The Base”. Now comes the more interesting part – the flavors, the mixing, the transmogrification of a “banal” and mostly tasteless liquid to the stuff fluffy dreams are made of.
Your actual journey, young adventurer, starts right now, by choosing one of the two roads ahead of you: volume or weight mixing? But first, let’s begin with the simplest possible way to create your first mix.
The simplest “DIY mix”
You don’t have to be a chemist to get into DIY, nor buy special equipment. DIY, “the act of making your own juice by mixing different ingredients”, can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Here, to prove it, let’s see the simplest way to create your first juice.
Step 1: Buy 100mls of Nicotine Base. Just months ago we’d suggest you pick up an 100ml bottle but the latest laws force stores to sell smaller bottles, so you’ll probably have to buy more than one. Make sure they’re at the same Nicotine Concentration level as the store bought juices you’re usually vaping.
Step 2: Buy one or two flavor concentrates you think you’d like. I’d personally pick something like Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry. But that’s just me.
Step 3: Buy two or three small glass or PET 30ml, 50ml or 100ml bottles. They’ll probably have some at the store where you bought your Nic Base from or, maybe, at a local Pharmacy – if you explain to them “what you want them for” (the answer is “for mixing your own Nicotine – Propylene Glycol – Vegetable Glycerine – containing liquids”, of course).
Step 4: Wash the empty bottles you bought. Use dish soap and hot-ish water. You want hot enough water to properly clean them, but not so hot that it will deform them (if you bought PET ones). Make sure they’re dry before proceeding to the next step.
Step 5: Drop some of your Nicotine base in one of the empty bottles. Eyeball it and use around one fourth of what’s in the Base’s – it should be around 25mls.
Step 6: Drop one drop of one of the flavorings you bought in there. Close it and shake it. Let it rest for one or two minutes. Re-shake it. Repeat one or two more times.
Step 7: Moisten your wick (or coil, if using a tank that takes pre-made coils) with your juice. Don’t fill a whole tank with it – we don’t know if it’s as good as it can be, yet, for actual use.
Step 8: Try vaping it. If you think the flavor is too weak, just repeat from Step 6 until you think your juice is perfect.
There. Your first juice is ready – and if you think about it, the whole “procedure” we explained in detail could actually be summarized as “you dropped some flavor in a bottle of Nicotine Base, shaked it and your juice was ready”. And if you picked up more than one flavor, you have more plastic bottles freshly washed and enough Nic Base to make two or three extra mixes.
By the way, you just “mixed by volume”.
Volume VS Weight
When “mixing by volume”, you take into account the volume, the “mass” of every ingredient. You only need empty vials and some syringes to mix by volume, since you’ll be basically working with mililiters – or “mls” for short. When working with larger volumes of liquid you’ll find yourself adding graduated glass beakers to your gear collection, buying PG and VG in liters. It’s then that mixing by weight might seem like a better choice.
Just like mixing by volume, when mixing by weight you just follow the ratio of a recipe. You don’t use syringes or count drops, though: you use a relatively high precision electronic scale and you mix in a vial you place on it. Then, you check how many miligrams – or “mgs” for short – “away” you are from your target, while adding each ingredient, or, to keep it even simpler, you reset the scale’s counter after adding each ingredient. We’ll see how this is done later on. It ends up being simpler, especially when mixing larger volumes of juice, but you do have to buy a good high precision electronic scale. In the short term, that’s a higher cost than buying syringes. You might change your mind about this, as well, after some months of mixing, well past your 100th syringe.
Before we proceed, buy three extra bottles of Nicotine Base at the Nic level of your choice. But, this time, don’t buy a PG/VG mix: buy one Nic Base that is pure PG and two that are pure VG. You’ll see later on “why”.
Let’s see how you’d go on recreating a typical recipe that demands a 5 flavor / 25 PG /70 VG mix when mixing by volume or weight.
Volume Mixing In Action
We’ll start by noting that when using syringes to mix different liquids, it’s best to use a different syringe for each. You don’t want some of your vanilla flavor finding its way into your strawberry one or throwing your Nic level off because of some rogue drops. So, in the case of our test recipe, we’ll use three syringes: one for each of our PG and VG Bases and one for our flavor.
We use one syringe to pick up 5mls of flavor and drop it in an empty bottle.
We then use our second syringe to pick up 25mls of PG from its bottle and add it to our mix.
Finally, we add 70mls of VG from its bottle and, hey presto, our juice is ready!
And that’s it, basically: you pick up “mls” of one or the other liquid from each of your bottles, based on what the recipe you’re following demands, until you reach the end. You then close the lid of your bottle, shake it, leave it for some time to “steep” and your juice is ready to vape.
Weight Mixing In Action
In almost exactly the same way, when mixing by weight, you add your different liquids to your target bottle. The main difference is that since you’re doing it on an electronic scale, you don’t have to pick up a specific amount of juice with a syringe: you can just add it directly to your “target bottle”, while looking at your scale’s screen. Let’s see how our test recipe is recreated in this way.
We place our “target bottle”, the one our final e-liquid will call home, on our scale.
We turn on and, if necessary, zero the scale, so that it doesn’t include the weight of the bottle itself in our next step.
We start adding VG base in our bottle. We keep our eyes on the scale’s screen. When it shows us 70mgs, we’ve reached out destination. We stop adding VG and turn our attention to the next element of our ultra-simple “recipe”.
We zero the scale and look back at our recipe. “25” is the number we want for PG, right? So, we start adding PG to our bottle until our scale shows us 25mgs. Done! Yeah, it’s as easy as that. Now, on to our flavor.
We zero the scale, again, and this time repeat the procedure adding “the number of mgs for flavor suggested by our recipe”. Which, if you don’t recall, is “5”. So, another 5mgs of liquid, this time from our main flavoring, in our bottle, and our recipe recreation is complete!
As you probably noticed, the two procedures are almost the same while recreating a recipe – you keep “the numbers” and add each ingredient based on them. What changes is the way you measure the amount of each liquid (mls VS mgs) and the way you add it to the whole mix (measuring each with a syringe or adding directly to a vial on a scale).
Screw back the cap of your target bottle and give it a good shaking. It’s better if you don’t go vaping the juice you just mixed immediately, because its ingredients need some time to properly “bond”. This giving some time to a liquid to properly bond, and/or using other means to accelerate the procedure, is called “steeping”.
We know that you’ll be eager to try out your first mix but we really suggest you give it at least half an hour and five or ten good shakes before that. The different viscosity of the liquids we use means that they don’t mix easily, so if you rush to try your creation you might end up vaping pure PG, coughing your lungs out, while your VG and flavoring – usually somewhat heavier liquids than PG – will have stayed at the bottom of your bottle while filling your atomizer.
Now you know how to create a single-flavor e-liquid by using PG and VG bases at the Nic level of your choice. You also know the basics about how to follow a recipe. In the next part of our guide we’ll delve a bit deeper to see how most people really mix their own liquids – by diluting higher Nicotine base to lower concentrations, leading to even lower costs.
We saw what the ingredients of our liquids and DIY is, in the first part of this journey of ours, before seeing how to recreate a simple recipe by both weight and volume mixing, in the second part. Our journey continues, finding us adept enough to mix down higher concentration Nic Bases to save money on unflavored e-liquid.
The basics of Base
You know by now that the biggest chunk of any juice is made up from Nicotine Base. Have you noticed, though, how cheaper buying higher-concentration Nicotine Base and diluting it yourself is, compared to buying it at your preferred concentration level? Yes, if you do the math you’ll see it ends up being really cheaper – and it was even cheaper back when the laws allowed the sales of Nicotine Base of up to 100mg concentration with no restriction in bottle size. As it is today, the savings aren’t as significant, but they do add up in the long run, so it’s still worth it “making your own base”.
Doing so is as easy as answering three questions:
- What is the Nicotine concentration of the base you already have?
- What is the Nicotine concentration level you like for vaping?
- How much “ready to mix” Nicotine Base would you like to make?
Easy-peasy, right? To answer the first question, visit your favorite B&M or online vendor and buy the largest vial of Nic Base they’ve got at the highest concentration they’re offering. We’re not mentioning specific numbers because they might change from country to country (and implementation of the vape-restricting laws) or even store to store. You’ll probably be able to find 15mg to 20mg Nic Base in bottles ranging from 5ml to 20ml in size. When buying, please keep in mind that some countries or states ban the import or export of nicotine products, so check before buying online from vendors outside your state / country. If unsure, prefer your local B&M.
For ease of mixing, either buy at least two Nic Bases at the same high concentration, one containing only PG and Nicotine and the other VG and Nicotine, or, if buying only one Base, pick up a 50/50 mix.
This time, since we want to dilute the base to a lower level, you will also have to buy some Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin. Ask specifically that they’re “suitable for human consumption” and “over 99.5% clean” – and, in the case of Glycerin, stress the point that you want Vegetable Glycerin.
Since they won’t have Nicotine, when we mix our existing Base with them, the Nicotine in it will “spread” over a larger amount of PG and VG – and we’ll have practically multiplied the total amount of Nic Base we have available, at a lower Nic level, with which we’re comfortable.
The answer to the second question is right on the bottles you’re already vaping: the level of Nicotine you like in your juice.
Finally, the answer to the third and last question is not up to us to answer: how much Nicotine Base would you like to make, to later turn it into flavored juice? It all depends on how much you, yourself, vape, and if you want to create a batch of liquid that will last you one week, one month or the whole year.
With the answers to those three questions available, mixing is, like before, a matter of adding the correct amount of each ingredient in a bottle. And lots of shaking and waiting. To make easier the needed calculations for “how much to mix from this and that” there are lots of calculators available. The most popular multi-tool in vaping is the Steam Engine site, so we’ll use its E-liquid subsection to help in this step.
Visit it at http://www.steam-engine.org/juice.html . Start by selecting you’re mixing by Volume (“with syringes”) or Weight (“with a scale”). Continue by entering the Nicotine Level of the high-concentration base you bought in the “Nicotine strength” field of the “Nicotine base liquid” group.
Note the decimal: you might be mixing by Volume or Weight, but your Nic Base maker might have preferred the other way around. If you can read something like “18mg” on your Nic Base bottle, you can enter this number as it is if mixing by Weight. When mixing by Volume, it changes to “1.8%”. Similarly, a “1.2%” Nic Base would be “12mg” when mixing by Weight. It’s easy, but if you’re too bored to add the decimal yourself, Steam Engine will “translate” the number from one method to another if you swap between them manually. So, if you’re mixing by Weight, but your Nic Base mentions its concentration by Volume, switch to “Volume mode” for one second, enter the Nic concentration in the “Nicotine strength” field and switch back to the correct mode.
Notice that exactly under the “Nicotine strength” field there are two additional VG/PG ratio fields. It’s there where you enter “the PG/VG ratio of your existing Nic Base”. Remember how we said it will be easier, for mixing, if you buy purely VG, purely PG or 50/50 PG/VG Nic Base? This, here, is the reason why. If you bought base with nothing but PG and Nic, enter 100% PG and 0% VG here – since your existing base is all PG. If you bought a base with nothing but VG and Nic, do the opposite – 100% for VG and 0% for PG. And for a 50/50 Base, just enter 50 in one of the fields and the other will automagically populate itself with another “50”.
Of course, if you couldn’t find any such base and you got something like a 70/30 VG/PG mix, that doesn’t mean you can’t proceed. Just input the ratio of your Nic Base.
The answer to the second question is needed in the identical “Nicotine strength” field of the “Target” group. It’s there where you enter “how strong you want your final juice to be”. Look at the juice you’re already vaping and use the same Nic concentration here – most people vaping nowadays, in the sub-Ohm era, would probably enter something from 1.5mg to 6mg.
Similarly, you have to enter the ratio of PG/VG you like in your juice when vaping. Again, it’s best if you copy-paste the ratio of your existing juices here. Note that most people today vape with “high VG” juices, where “high VG” translates to “anything with over 60% VG in it”.
Finally, enter the amount of Nic Base you want to make in the very first field in the first panel of the page, “Batch”.
Finally, look at the “Recipe” panel. That’s your mix. That’s “what you have to do to get your final base”. To actually make it, look back to how we did a test mix by Volume or Weight and do the same adding to a “target bottle”, where your final, vapeable, almost-ready-to-use Nic Base will be, the amount of each liquid Steam Engine suggests.
Yes, it’s as easy as adding X mls of Nicotine Base, Y mls of VG and Z mls of PG in a bottle, with the X-Y-Z numbers Steam Engine suggests. And that’s it. You close the bottle, shake it and your Nicotine Base is ready to vape!
It is a bit tasteless, though. That’s why we’ll conclude our guide with the most interesting part of all – the flavors. We’ll see how you can re-create recipes and create your own concentrates for easier mixing in the future. Until then, create some more Nic Base. We’ll need it!
This is the end of our journey together into the world of DIY. And, at the same time, the beginning of your own journey into a world of flavor. Up to now we’ve been talking about how DIY can save you money. Well, this, the final part of our guide, can make some people go broke. If they decide to try out each and every flavor under the sun. Before we even begin, keep in mind that there’s always time to try another recipe in the future and there’s only so much juice you can vape today. Don’t go crazy buying hundreds of flavors when first getting into mixing.
By the way, now that you’re really getting into the gist of mixing, maybe it’s time you bought some more empty bottles. Nope, one or two wouldn’t be enough. Make it one or two dozen! Unfortunately, flavors tend to linger, so it would be best not trying to reuse the same bottles for different recipes with different flavors. That Crab Legs flavor you ended up hating might not go so well as a lingering apparition over your new Strawberry Custard mix. At the very least, use the same bottles only for very similar flavors – for example, one bottle for all mixes with emphasis on chocolate, one for all custards, one for citrus-like fruits (orange, mandarin…) and so on.
And since, by now, you know the basics of mixing, you’ve made some one-flavor “mixes” with pre-made Base, you’ve downmixed your own Nicotine Base, you know the difference between Volume and Weight mixing (and which one is better for you). Thus, we won’t have to delve into the same details. Just mix some juice. It all starts by finding a recipe.
Awesome recipes, by vapers for vapers
You can find great recipes for awesome tasting juices if you know where to look online. Two sites, though, feel like they have so large collections of recipes, nullifying the need to look elsewhere to find something you’ll end up liking. It’s almost sure you’ll find at least ten recipes there that seem interesting to you, out of which two or three could very well become your all day vapes.
We’re talking about e-Liquid Recipes and All The Flavors. Yes, those are the sites names. Let’s try to find an interesting recipe in each of them.
Visit http://e-liquid-recipes.com and click on “Hide single flavor recipes”, right next to the search field. Since you know, by now, how to “mix” a single flavor – it’s what we did in the “hardcore mixing” part of this guide in the beginning – and how to mix by volume or weight, there’s no point in following someone elses advice on how much to add from a singular flavor in your Nic Base to turn it into a single-flavor vapeable juice: you’ve already done it yourself! And why rely on someone else to tell you how much to add from a singular flavor to your Base? Tastes differ – add the amount of flavor you like in your single flavor “recipes”.
Every single flavor is good, up to a point, on its own. You can’t destroy a single-flavor Vanilla “mix” by adding one or two more drops of Vanilla to it. It’s the same flavor, it will only get a bit stronger. Worst case scenario, you’ll have to add back some Nic Base to tone down the flavor if it gets too strong. In multi-flavor recipes, though, if you add some Crab Legs flavor to a Vanilla-Custard-Strawberry mix… There’s no fix, no undo. You’ll have to throw it away and start from scratch.
That’s why it’s good relying on others for multi-flavor recipes: they’ve done most of the legwork of checking “what goes with what”. There might be the occasional fluke, but you can weed these out thanks to user votes, reviews and comments. But, even better, you can sort the recipes based on their User Rating. Just click on the title of the column (“Rating”) and make sure the arrow points down and the recipes with most stars are at the top. Then, pick and choose one that you think would sound interesting. We chose Mother’s Unicorn Milk for our next steps, for the quite obvious reason of 791 people adding up to a 4.5 out of 5 stars rating.
How to re-create an online recipe (e-Liquid Recipes Edition)
Since the ingredients of our Nicotine Base don’t have such a strong flavor as to really affect the taste of the e-liquids we create with it, mixing it with flavors, we suggest you don’t pay so much attention to the Nicotine Level or PG-VG ratio used by each recipe’s creator. You should, if you want to fully replicate each recipe and be absolutely sure that if you don’t like it, it’s not because you tweaked the Nic-PG-VG ratios… but, from our experience, that will rarely happen. So, you can concentrate on the flavorings of the recipe.
Look at the “Totals”, under the recipe, to see the final amount of vapeable e-liquid it’s supposed to produce. In the case of the Mother’s Unicorn Milk we’re recreating, it’s 30 mls. Or 34.18 grams, if you’re mixing by Weight and not Volume.
Now, look closer under the top ingredients, the Nicotine juice, PG dilutant and VG dilutant. Notice how, with an almost invisible light grey, there’s a different “final amount of juice” mentioned here. It’s because those ingredients above are the recipe creator’s Nic Base mix. That’s why you’ll read “Total Base” and, next to it, the number in mls, grams and percentage. Instead of using those ratios, just add that amount of *your own* Nic Base in your “target bottle”. For the recipe we’re using, it’s 22.2mls.
Having added the proper amount of Nic Base, continue to the flavorings. Just add in your target bottle the amount of each flavoring mentioned in the recipe. For Mother’s Unicorn Milk that means 1.2mls of Bavarian Cream, 1.5mls of Cheesecake (Graham Crust), 3mls of Strawberry (Ripe), 1.2mls of Sweet Cream and 0.9 mls of Vanilla Custard. All from The Perfurmer’s Apprentice.
And that’s it. Just like with the one-flavor-recipes you mixed, close your target bottle, shake, give it some time, re-shake, repeat some times and that was it.
Personally, I find most recipes use too much flavor for my taste. That’s why it’s time we talked Concentrates.
Concentrates? What? But… we already mixed our juice!
If you hadn’t added the flavorings to your Nic Base, but in an empty bottle instead, letting them “rest” a bit there, to bond better, giving them the occasional shake every once in a while, what you’d have created would be a Concentrate. A “concentrate” like the typical “just add water” stuff you may know about. In this case, though, The Concentrate turns to vape-able juice not by “adding water”, since we don’t vape water (although some people keep thinking that’s the case) but a PG-VG-Nic mix. So, you add Nic Base. And hey presto, instant juice.
Creating a Concentrate and then using that to create vape-able juices, instead of “live” mixing the flavorings with your Nicotine Base, has some advantages. The obvious is that instead of creating liters of your favorite recipe, buying some crates and a new fridge to store them, you can create a bottle of Concentrate and then use that to create smaller batches of juice, that will last you one or two weeks. It’s easier adding some liquid from one bottle to another compared to having to mix stuff from close to 10 different bottles in an 11th.
What’s even better, though, is that you can make your final mix as strong or as ”lite” as you like, without having to tweak each and every flavor, calculating the differences in how much you should add or subtract. You just add more or less of your Concentrate to some of your Nic Base in a bottle, doing the shaking and waiting ritual and then vaping.
What’s all this shaking and waiting? Why not vape immediately?
It’s called “steeping”, and this is the easiest (and, actually, not the best) of all the methods you could use. Because the final liquid we’re vaping is created by mixing different liquids, this whole “mixing” thing isn’t as effective if your liquids don’t actually mix. And they don’t fully mix just by putting them together in the same bottle. Some might not really like some others and prefer to sit in their corner, pondering how they ended up in a bottle. That’s why you give them a nudge to “socialize and mix” with the rest of the stuff in the bottle. By shaking them. And re-shaking them.
The “time” part of the equation is so that they have some time to chitchat, learn about each other and really bond. Shaking and waiting. That’s the easiest – and cheap – way to do it.
Heat and Oxygen can also play a part in the steeping process, but it’s also somewhat more risky going that route if you don’t know the ingredients of your recipe really need it. And you must be Spartan in that approach, clear, simple and precise. Because overdoing it can and will destroy your juice.
If you decide to implement Oxygen, aka “air” into the mix, that means that you want your juice to “oxidize” a bit. You’ll find this help turn some very sweet flavors more mild. To do it, you just have to take the caps of your bottles for some time each day, from ten minutes to one hour. Keep at it for one to two weeks. If you have an RDA, we suggest you try two or three drops of your juice daily, to avoid overdoing it.
Yes, “steeping” can be as simple as just leaving your juice bottles open for half an hour a day. The whole “advanced” aspect of it is in managing to avoid overdoing it and destroying your juice.
Heat, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated. You have to find a way to heat, but not boil, your juice, to speed up the time each ingredient needs to bond with each other. Ever noticed how coffee and milk mix better and faster when they’re hot? Same thing. Adding difficulty to the process, the fact that most of the bottles we use to store our e-juices are usually made from some kind of not-so-heat-tolerant plastic-y material (like PET). That would melt if you overheated it.
One simple way to do it is by heating some water in a pot and giving your juice a bath there for one to five minutes. Note that the water should just be lukewarm, enough to bring your bottles over room temperature but not so hot as to deform or melt them.
An even easier way is probably running your bottles under hot-ish tap water. As for the temperature, your own hands, holding the bottles, will tell you when you’re overdoing it.
You could also try steeping by using an ultrasonic cleaner, placing your bottles there for two or three five-minute sessions, opening them between each session for some breathing, but most people don’t own an ultrasonic cleaner and prefer the “We’ll Shake Them Manually” approach.
Go forth and mix
We’ll end our journey into DIY E-Juice with some final tips:
- Purchase only the flavorings needed for the recipes you picked, not anything “you think you might also like”. They might seem cheap, but the costs do add up and you’ll simply won’t have time to try them all before they go bad and need replacing. Yes, flavorings, like Nicotine Base, also have an expiration date.
- Search for similar recipes that share elements. That way you can, say, buy ten flavorings and make at least five different recipes. Better than buying seven flavorings to make just one recipe.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. Yeah, sometimes the end result will end being unvapeable, but it’s not an out of this world thought creating a Frankenstein of a Cherry recipe by replacing the Cherry flavor you forgot to order with some Strawberry that you’ve got handy. In some cases – but not all – swapping one fruity flavor for another works just fine.
- Don’t be afraid to try out your own mixes. Start by basic stuff, making a simple two-flavor mix by using two flavors that you know for sure can compliment each other. Like strawberries and chocolate. Waffle and Caramel. Think of the most prominent taste mixes in your favorite desserts and try to replicate them with your flavorings. If you can find yogurt with nuts and berries in your local convenience store, they’ll probably get along fine as flavors in an e-liquid as well.
Did this guide help you get started with making your own DIY juice? Let us know which flavor you created in the comments section below!
If all this seems like too much work, check out our list of the best cheap e-juice brands so you can save money without the hassle of making your own.