E cigarettes aka Vaping and DIY Ejuice made easy!

*Note- The E-juice section was originally written for the ECF forums, so there are references in there that will not be specific to this blog site.

I started smoking at the age of 11.  Yes.  It sounds crazy, but when you come from two smoking parents, a father who smoked with the windows up in the car, and are the 5th child where all of the siblings also smoked, well.. chances are you are going to be in the head start program, and I was no exception.

Long story short, all the patches, gum, and drugs in the world couldn’t get me to quit, until I discovered vaping.  First tried a disposable (you get at the drug store), they were expensive, a little crappy, didn’t hit well, but I could see the potential.  I went to the local tobacco shop, surely they had better stuff..  and I found the “Blu” brand.  Comes with rechargeable batteries.. great.  Sucked on a few of those, bought a flavor variety pack, not bad!  Much better than disposables.  Didn’t take me long to realize it would be twice the cost of smoking at the rate I puffed, so I went online and did some research.  Found that “Vaping” is the art of smoking e-cigarettes using all rechargeable and refillable/replaceable components.  I bought a starter kit, found a juice site and ordered a variety pack.

The flavors were great, but the juice was harsh, hurt my throat.. Also it was expensive, as many suppliers charge anywhere from $10 to $25 for a 30ml bottle of juice.  To put it into perspective, I would equate my 5ml per day usage to about a pack of smokes.  Still it’s much cheaper than regular cigarettes.  I found a few juice blends I liked, but none that I loved.  I did some more research and found that by using variable voltage batteries, making my own juice blends, etc.. I could totally customize my vape.  And I did.  After much trial and error, I’ve put together this blog entry for everyone to learn just how easy it is to make your own juice.

I hope this helps.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!
E-juice 101
You will need these basic components:

*Nicotine (NIC) (really, NIC is optional, but assumed this is your smoking replacement, not nicotine-free recreation)
*Propylene Glycol (PG)
*Vegetable Glycerin (VG)
*Flavor concentrates
*Mixing kit (bottles, syringes, gloves, etc..)

Optional but strongly recommended components:
Liquid or Crystal Sucralose -OR- Ethyl Maltol (sweetner) – I strongly recommend liquid sucralose.
E-juice calculator software
Pen and notepad
Small avery-type labels (sticky)

5-pack standard CE3 or CE4 clearomizers (assuming you are using 510 gear)

Quick Start:

Mix your base.

Add your flavor(s).

Add sweetner (if needed).
Vape away.

Walk through:
First let’s start with the PG/VG/NIC:

Basic:
I have found it easiest to order NIC base already mixed in PG (PG NIC BASE).  I buy 36mg PG NIC base (from WL) and then equal amounts of VG to make a good 50/50 18mg base.  You can buy NIC in concentrated form, but you have to take much more care, precaution, and wear protective gear.  Some vendors also offer premixed 50/50, 60/40, and 70/30 base with whatever NIC mg you want (6,12,18,24,36).

I have found 18mg base to be a good happy medium for the 10-15 cig per day smoker.

Measure out 5ml or 10ml of base into a bottle.  I do not recommend creating smaller batches.  Smaller batches will yield less consistent results, resulting in more loss in the end.. This is a fact you will need to accept.
The beauty of this is that compared to pre-mixed juices, the base is DIRT CHEAP.

Advanced:
Many flavor concentrates are PG based, and when you are using 15-20% flavoring, this will offset your 50/50 base to 60/40 or greater.  Why should you care?  Because PG equals Throat Hit (TH), and VG makes fluffy clouds of vapor.. offset it too much and you will end up with a harsh hit that produces low vapor and ultimately can take away from your vaping experience.  The eJuiceMeUp calculator (and others) has the functionality to compensate for that and measure out what amount of extra VG you need to balance the mix.  You will want to keep extra VG on hand if you plan to compensate.

Flavor Concentrates:
There are several good brands out there.  There are also many passionate endorsements of this brand or that brand.  I strongly suggest you start with sample packs from each of the main vendors.  There’s TPF/TPA, Lor-ann, Hangsen (tobacco), and a few others.  Each brand and flavor has its own unique attributes, and you will need to understand that those attributes will absolutely make or break a good juice.

Basic:
Measure out the recommended percentage for that flavor.  If you don’t know it, you should start at 5, 10, 15, or 20% respectively.  You will find that there are no good “generic” recommendations.  There are charts you can find here on ECF that have recommended percentages for each flavor based on brand.  Some concentrates are much stronger than others, so take this next part with a level of caution.  Many sites suggest starting at 5% for any flavor and working your way up from there until something tastes good to you.  Here’s my general rules with LA (Lorann) flavors:

Floral flavors: 7-10%
Subtle Dessert or fruit flavors: 18-22%
Strong Dessert or fruit flavors: 12-15%
Tobacco flavors: 5-8% (LA does not make tobacco flavors, but this is a good starting point for most brands)
Especially potent flavors such as menthol, spearmint, clove, cinnamon, or anything else with a “kick”: 3-5%

I strongly suggest you do not attempt to mix flavors until you get a feel for mixing basic flavors.

** Note: Many fruit and dessert flavors are unsweetened.  Just like the vanilla extract in your cupboard, it will taste nasty and sharp without additional sweetener.  I generally stick to 2 drops per ml of liquid sucralose as the starting point for sweetening flavors.

Additionally, some flavors will be naturally sweet.  For instance, licorice is already super-super-sweet without any additional sweetener.

Advanced:
I always dab my fingertip on the lid of the sweetener, rub it in and then taste my fingertip to get an idea on the strength and sweetness of the concentrate!  This will destroy your palette, so have some diet coke or pepsi handy so you can rinse (hey, it’s what works for me!).

Steeping:

Steeping flavors is the art of letting the flavor concentrate “marinate” over time with the base (and anything else in the mix) after mixing.

Many tobacco flavors become infinitely better after steeping.  As mentioned in countless other threads:  A good batch will taste good before steeping.  No amount of steeping will make a bad batch any better.  Steeping can make a good batch into a great batch.

Most dessert and fruit flavors are perfectly vapeable after mixing and do not need steeping.  Some of them can actually sour over time.  I’ve had licorice start to sour after about 3 weeks, for instance.

Samples / Examples / Resources:

You can purchase everything you need from either a single-source vendor, or from several online.

If you are close to a vape shop, you can sometimes find DIY supplies, but most of them sell finished products.  It’s good to be able to buy your clearomizers, batteries, and accessories locally when possible.  Here’s a site that will help you find if there’s a store near you (in the USA):

http://www.vaporsearchusa.com/

Most of us tend to buy from 2 or 3 different vendors because we prefer different lines of different products from various vendors.  Vendor suggestions are:

LorAnn Oils

Wizard Labs

High Desert Vapes

Ecig Express

Hangsen

…Or ask around the e-cigarette forums.

 

Sweet Licorice

50/50/18 base – 10ml

(LA) Licorice – 20% (2ml)

Mix and vape.

Pina Coloda

50/50/18 base – 10ml

(LA) Coconut – 12%

(LA) Pineapple – 4%

(LA) Butter Rum – 8%

Liquid Sucralose – 4 drops

Philly deciding another cigarette tax…

When will they figure it out?  Cigarette taxes are widely accepted because it’s really easy- Easy to collect money, and easy to gain public support, because most people view smoking as  bad, dangerous, and are likely to scowl when passing a smoker and their terrible second hand smoke.

Cigarettes are taxed in the USA by about 45% on average, which varies by state, of course.

The good news is that cigarette taxes are proven to reduce smoking.  Every time they raise the taxes, more smokers quit.  Unfortunately, the good news stops there.

We seem to be overlooking the bigger picture.  Where do those taxes go?  Why do they keep raising them?

Well, for starters, those taxes were supposed to go towards cessation programs and education for children warning of the dangers of smoking.  Where they actually go is almost shocking.  In New York, the taxes pay for dump trucks, golf carts, and a public jail.  In Virginia, they go towards building a broadband cable infrastructure.  That’s right, a for-profit company is using your tax money to enhance their future bottom line, further at your expense.

Why do you care, right?  You aren’t likely a smoker.  Well you should care, because you still pay for it anyways.  Those programs that are supposed to be funded by smokers- well those programs still exist, and are being funded by you.  Not only that, but across the country so many other programs are also funded by smokers.  Everything from medicaid, to transit, to museums.  And guess what else?  Those programs require more money to run as inflation climbs from year to year.  It’s also worth noting that the childhood education programs against smoking are among the most severely under-funded in nearly all states- More on that later…

Not only do existing costs rise, but the fundamental flaw exists in cigarette taxes, and they literally flaunt it in our faces:  That every time they raise the taxes, more people quit.  They praise it as a good thing, yet, necessary public programs now depend on that tax money.  The state now finds themselves in the contradictory position of needing people to smoke.

This creates quite the dilemma, doesn’t it?  It becomes a revolving door of consistent tax raising on top of rising costs.  Guess who supplements the lost tax revenue?  Yep, thank your critical thinking process for leading you to the conclusion:  you pay.  I pay.  We all pay.

Of course, there’s always an initial surge of cash when the tax is first implemented.  That’s what they are counting on.  And what will they do with that stockpile of cash?  Will they sit on it to fund the downswing later?  Nope.  They will use that cash to fund all new programs and political pet projects, creating an ever-more siphon on the taxpayers and smokers alike.

Now.. Back to that problem with the states needing people to smoke.  Guess who else needs people to smoke?  All those large corporations who make cessation products.  Nic Patches, Chantix, nic gum.. you name it, they are all now large companies, including the powerhouse big pharma now with a horse in the race.  Guess who has lobbyists now in both state and federal congresses?  What do they accomplish, if not stopping tax increases?

Again, the deeper we look, the stranger it gets.  But don’t be discouraged.  I’ve found in this world that truth is exposed by following the money (and bypassing the lies and propaganda that moneyed interests spout).  Those lobbyists and other interests sure have managed to make sure that children are not properly educated on the dangers, for starters.  They make sure cigarettes aren’t completely banned, which they absolutely would be if the democratic process played it’s role.  Like I said in my first paragraph- most people despise smokers and smoking.. popular consensus would certainly mandate abolishing smoking if given the chance.

Now personally- I’m a reformed smoker, and active “vaper”.  I’ve discovered electronic cigarettes and actually prefer them to smoking.  They are safe, economic, and currently taxed at merchandise rates (not for long!).  The state of electronic cigarettes will be a new post on it’s own, but safe to say, I’m not adverse to smokers- I’m more of a live and let live guy.

But here’s the part of the page where things get real.

What happens when everyone quits.  They’ve proven that raising taxes makes people quit. The will continue to slowly raise the taxes, and slowly, more and more people will quit.  It’s simple mathematics.  Not everyone will quit, but the current “success” in tax-raising has shown us that most will.  Nearly all will, especially if the economy doesn’t return with a vengeance enough to restore the middle class and lift 90% of poor into the middle classes- and that’s probably not going to happen in my lifetime, or yours.

So, what happens you wonder?  Well, their primary reason for raising cigarette taxes was simple:  They are bad for you.  Well, when they are no longer sustainable as a tax pool, they will go to the next thing in line.  What is that, I wonder?  Potato chips?  Red meat?  Fast food?  The list of possibilities is endless.

And that’s how politicians and corporations see your wallet / pocketbook- an endless supply of money.  They pay you wages and social security, then conspire on how to take it all back.

What’s the solution?  I don’t know.  I just know what I see- that we’re all paying for it.  Today we pay, and tomorrow we will pay even more.  All of us, except that 1% of course.  When you can afford to hide your money offshore and dodge taxes with loopholes, this becomes everyone else’s problem.

We need Change, for real

Well this is my initial post. I’m pretty much here to vent. Vent about our corrupt system, corrupt business culture, corrupt environment. Let’s face it- Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by corruption. We are beaten down by it, we try to function without it, only to be punished for not playing along with it. We need real change. We need it now. It starts with dissent. Welcome aboard.

As I can find the time, I will be addressing topics that range from politics, environment, civil rights, and world issues; putting my opinions on what’s currently wrong and how things should be fixed.

I’m not a democrat or republican anymore, as I believe they are both wings of the same bird, belonging to the “money party” or at least being owned and controlled by the 1% ‘ers. And yes, I’m a firm OWS endorser. That was the beginning of something great and the first time in my life that I’ve felt it was possible to have a new civil movement. Things have obviously changed since the breakup of the OWS camps, but I don’t believe it’s over- as I said, I think that was the beginning.

Thanks for reading, and keep a lookout for new posts!