*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!
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)
*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)
Mix your base.
Add your flavor(s).
Add sweetner (if needed).
First let’s start with the PG/VG/NIC:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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):
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:
High Desert Vapes
…Or ask around the e-cigarette forums.
50/50/18 base – 10ml
(LA) Licorice – 20% (2ml)
Mix and vape.
50/50/18 base – 10ml
(LA) Coconut – 12%
(LA) Pineapple – 4%
(LA) Butter Rum – 8%
Liquid Sucralose – 4 drops