How To Make E-Juice
Welcome to your DIY adventure:
The vaping community is as much about individuality and personalization, as it is about great taste and choices. Whether you are new to vaping or have been vaping for a while, you’ll eventually think to yourself “I wish I could get a flavor that tastes like…” or maybe even “I wonder if I could make something myself that is just as good as…” Finding a vape that you enjoy is hard enough, finding that vape that is exactly what you want can be nearly impossible. So, you’ve googled “DIY e-juice” or something similar and you find yourself here, and we are glad to help you get started.
It helps to think of DIY eLiquid as very similar to making your favorite cookies. You will need a list of ingredients, some basic equipment, and some instructions for how to put it all together. From there you can experiment with what you’ve got until you have made it your own. With your personal flavor formula dialed in, you’ll have a vape you know you love, can save a little money by making it yourself, and maybe even get some bragging rights in your local vaping community.
Know your Ingredients:
You’ll need some Diluted Nicotine. You will have to import this as it is currently illegal to sell in Australia. It is important to note that nicotine has a flavor all its own, so your recipe may taste different at higher strengths of nicotine than lower. If you intend to create MaxVG formulas, you should consider buying nicotine diluted with VG. Generally, 100mg/mL diluted nicotine is used in the industry because it makes the math to get specific strength per volume a little easier. Also, a relatively small amount of 100mg/mL can go a long way, and allow for more flexibility in your diluent ratio. However, nicotine is a dangerous substance at high concentrations both through inhalation and skin contact, and if you have any questions about your mathematics or ability to handle it safely 25mg/mL might be a better option for you. Please make sure you are using all precautionary measures when handling and storing diluted nicotine.
PG or VG
You’ll need some propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin, usually referred to as PG or VG. This is called the “diluent”. Nicotine and flavorings are highly concentrated and need to be diluted for a pleasurable vaping experience, so you’ll use PG and VG as “the base” or “carrier fluid” making up most of the volume of your formula.
- There are nuanced differences between PG and VG. They have slightly different tastes, viscosities, and throat feel when vaped. Most e-Liquids have a mix of both presented as a ratio of PG to VG. Common ratios are 70/30, 50/50, or 30/70. Flavor concentrates are generally diluted with PG, which is why you will commonly see MaxVG as the description rather than 100% VG. Both PG and VG are perfectly fine for vaping, but you’ll probably want a little of both to experiment with different ratios if you are just getting started.
- PG is an organic chemical compound that is widely used in food, tobacco, and personal care products. It is also used in topical, oral, injectable, and inhaled pharmaceutical products. PG doesn’t alter the true flavor of the flavor concentrates as much as VG can. Also, PG delivers a stronger throat hit, which can result in slight irritation after extended use. It is rare, but some people have or develop an allergy to PG.
- VG is slightly sweeter and slightly more viscous (thicker) than PG. Higher VG ratio eLiquids may take slightly longer to soak into a cotton wick, for example. VG can slightly alter the way a flavor tastes, but that can be good or bad depending on your individual taste. High VG is usually preferred by “drippers” using cotton and coil atomizers, because it has a smoother throat feel and generates a more visible “cloud.”
The last thing you’ll need is some flavor, of course! Flavors are available from a wide variety of sources. Our flavors offer a taste experience you won’t find anywhere else because our flavors have been specifically designed for inhalation rather than the food flavoring used throughout the industry. They are tested rigorously for diacetyl and acetyl propionyl, to provide the safest vape possible. Also, our recommended dilution ratio is 10% flavor rather than the 20+% you’ll find with other flavors. That means a bottle will go twice as far for you, and allows for a higher VG mix. We are adding new flavors as fast as we can make them, so check back regularly if we don’t currently have a flavor you are looking for.
- You can make e-Liquid without flavor, this is commonly referred to as “neat” e-Liquid. This is of course not a common vape choice. However, DIY e-liquid is probably the only way you’ll get “neat” e-Liquid if you want to try it.
At a minimum, you’ll want some bottles. Plastic drip tip bottles tend to be the most cost-effective option for experimentation because getting bottles clean enough to re-use for a different flavor tends to be more work than it is worth. While you’ll use less raw material for each variation batch, the trade-off for using smaller bottles for your experimentation is that your math and measurements will need to be more precise. The already small quantities you are working with may be harder to measure accurately when working with a 10mL total volume than a 50mL.
If you are making larger quantities you’ll certainly want some graduated cylinders or beakers. They aren’t needed for your basic kitchen counter DIYing, but can be handy to prevent
Syringes and pipettes are an essential tool for helping you negotiate the small openings on containers and getting the right amount of liquid from your supply into your e-liquid creation. They let you extract exactly the amount of nicotine, PG/VG, or flavor you need and transfer it to your mixing container. This will help ensure that you can consistently replicate your new creation once your formula is the way you want it.
Since nicotine can be absorbed through the skin, and even the best of us spills what we are working with occasionally, gloves will be important to have while you are working. Aim for gloves that are powder free to prevent contamination of your liquid, and chemical resistant to keep you safe.
Below are instructions for making an eLiquid from scratch. Before we get started we wanted to point out that if you purchase an eliquid that you like, but needs a little something, you can certainly just add a few drops of another flavor to give it that kick it needs.
The most important element of the recipe is that it is reproducible. If you make a concoction you love, you’ll want to be sure you can make it again! Unless you are lucky or very experienced, you aren’t likely to get that perfect flavor with your first attempt. It may take several variations to get it right. The keys to making your formula reproducible are careful notes and precise measurements. Notes will also help you go back to previous versions as you try new things. A note on measuring… Counting “drops” may suffice, but lots of environmental factors can change the true volume of a drop. The smaller your total volume is the more these minor variations can make noticeable changes to a “flavor profile” between batches when you try to recreate your recipe. Using consistently calibrated measuring devices like syringes, and writing everything down about each variation will be important as you try new variations out.
1. The first step is to determine the strength of nicotine we want in our eliquid, then figure out how much nicotine we’ll need. The math here isn’t too hard, but if we get it wrong we could end up with an unpleasant experience.
Determine how many milligrams of nicotine we need.
(Strength in mg/mL)(Volume in mL) = Amount of nicotine in mg.
Example: We want to make 50mL of 8mg/mL eliquid. So I need 50 x 8 = 400mgs of nicotine for my 50mL formula.
(Amount needed)/(Strength of diluted nicotine) = Volume to use.
Continuing our example
If I have 100mg/mL Diluted Nicotine, I’ll need 400mg/(100mg/mL) = 4mLIf I have 25mg/mL Diluted Nicotine, I’ll need 400mg/(25mg/mL) = 16mL
2. We’ll put on gloves, and transfer the nicotine to our bottle. We have a 50mL bottle LDPE drip tip bottle. We want to make 8mg/mL, and we have 25mg/mL PG nicotine, so we’ll use a clean syringe to extract 16mL from our container of nicotine.
Drawing up just the right amount can be tricky, so the easiest way to make sure we get the right amount is to pull the plunger until we have a little more than is needed then carefully depress the plunger to the 16mL mark (or do this 4 times to the 4mL mark). By keeping the syringe pointed into the container of nicotine when depressing the plunger we can prevent wasting any of our diluted nicotine.
Air bubbles in the syringe can really throw off your true measurements. If you notice any air in the syringe point the needle up, tap the syringe to get the air to the top, then carefully depress the plunger until the liquid just starts to appear at the tip of the needle. Then you can point the needle back in the container and depress the plunger to the right measurement.
3. Once the amount needed is in the syringe, we can just squirt it into the 50mL plastic drip tip bottle we will use for our first trial batch.
4. Now we need to add flavor. You can use any flavor combination you can imagine.
5. The recommended dilution for most flavors is approximately 10%, so if we are making 50mLs I’ll need 5mL. Using a different (clean) syringe we will measure and transfer the flavor concentrate to the bottle just as we did the nicotine.
Be aware that flavor concentrates are very complicated artificial flavors. Adding more flavor isn’t necessarily going to make it better. Over flavoring your e-juice can “wash out” the flavor making it taste more like the chemical constituents of the artificial flavor rather the intended flavor, or worse lead to a very bad experience. (Ask anyone who has been foolish enough to vape undiluted flavoring; it isn’t pleasant.) If you are using strong concentrates, you probably want to keep the total volume of all the flavors you are using at 10%-15% of the total volume of eliquid. Maybe slightly more or less depending on which flavors you are using. If you are using other flavor concentrates, the recommended dilution tends to be 20-30% throughout the industry. You’ll want to check the recommended dilution from each manufacturer though.
You should also know that when you mix multiple flavors, they may come out tasting much different than you’d expect. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. Sometimes you just need a little hint of something to bring out or balance the other flavors you are using. As you experiment, you’ll begin to see this effect. It only takes a tiny bit of Menthol concentrate to make a big difference in your formula, for example.
Sometimes it is a good idea to try a flavor all by itself with just PG/VG base to get a sense of the individual flavor on its own before you add it to a recipe.
6. We need to add the diluent/base to complete our liquid. Because our eliquid already has a lot of PG from the nicotine and flavoring, we’ll just use VG.
We’ve added 16mLs of diluted nicotine, and 5mLs of flavoring, so we have a total of 21mLs. So we still need 29mLs to match my calculations for 50mLs total so far. We can use a clean syringe to transfer 29mLs of VG to the bottle.
Please note that bottles are not graduated (don’t have measuring marks) and tend to hold slightly more than the volume they are labeled with. Bottles also vary slightly in shape and total volume between manufacturers. If you have a bunch of bottles that you know to be the same, you can fill one bottle with 50mLs of water to see about how full it should be. Then you can judge by eye how full that specific type of bottle should be when adding your base. This tends to result in imprecise total volumes however, which can slightly alter the strength of nicotine and flavor profile slightly. Also, you won’t want the bottle to be totally full to allow for better mixing.
If you were looking for a specific blend ratio of PG/VG, you can do some quick math to figure that out. You’d need 4mLs more PG and 25mLs of VG to make 50/50. To make a higher VG blend than the 42/58 we created you could use a higher strength of diluted nicotine to reduce the total amount of PG, or simply buy nicotine diluted with VG instead.
7. It’s all in there! Now we put the drip tip on the bottle and screw on our child-resistant cap.
8. Shake the heck out of the bottle. You’ll want to shake the bottle for several minutes to make sure the nicotine and flavor are evenly dispersed and well mixed, and you may want to give it a good shake before each vape as the components may separate over time. If your shaking arm gets tired easily, there are many types of mixing devices you can use.
9. Your e-liquid is now ready for vaping, but you may notice that the flavor changes over time. This is called steeping. Steeping is the process over time where chemical reactions take place between the ingredients and the oxygen in the air. This lets the flavors blend together, and a little time may make a big difference depending on the flavors and flavor combinations you use. Many eliquids will start to taste much better if they are allowed to steep for days or even weeks. Once you shake it, leaving the cap off and letting the formula sit and “breath” for a few days is a good idea for most flavor combinations. Particularly if you are using creams, vanillas, or custards, you may notice that steeping helps those flavors stand out quite a bit, or “mellow” the fruits you might be mixing them with.
Well, now you’ve got the basics. The only other things you’ll need to master DIY vaping are imagination, experimentation, and experience.
If you’re looking to pick up some supplies head on over the DIY Supplies section and grab some mixing tools today!