DIY E Liquid Mixing – Beginners Guide
NOTE* I copied the most of this from another website as I personally thought it was a fantastic write up for beginners. However, I have went through it thoroughly and changed several parts, adding some information in, removing some information out, and adding my own links and pictures to suits my own store/website.
The Affordable Art of DIY E Juice Mixing
So, why is vaping so pricey? Other than mods, coils, atomisers, and upgrades, the real catch is the e-liquid, and people who love vaping so so much, it turns into an expensive hobby for them, as they don’t know when to stop buying new hardware lol
Back in the days of the cig-a-like I would take a month to get through a 30ml bottle of e-liquid…my, my, how times have changed!
Sitting here vaping at 85W on a 0.2 Ohm coil in a 5ml tank, I’ll fill this thing more than 5 times today, no lie! That’s 30ml juice in a day: that’s another reason why I don’t use nicotine anymore!
Every flavour junkie knows the impossible allure of the new release: there are too many juice brands to count, too many killer flavours on the market and more arriving every day, all backed up by killer packaging and tempting marketing campaigns. Its one of the biggest and still growing industries in the world!
I had to get out, terminally indecisive me couldn’t be faced with 1000 options every time I needed a new flavour. My pocket simply can’t take the punishment.
If you’re under the impression that you need some kind of degree to make e-liquid…you’re completely mistaken.
Man, was I pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to make your mixes from scratch and can I say: with the same amount of cash it would have taken me to buy two bottles of branded juice, I now have supplies enough to fuel my habit for 6 months!
What’s more, mixing up a brew that’s equal unto some of the best offerings on the market now takes me less than 5 minutes: it’s that simple!
Benefits of DIY e-juicing
- Cost: Can be as much as X cheaper. (This X number depends on how heavy a vaper you are)
- Control: Control what you consume, know what you consume and change your levels at will.
- The Uncertain Future: Well, luckily…the ingredients for DIY juice will still be available, regardless of what regulations, the law and taxing do to the e-liquid market. So, you’ll still be able to vape, no matter what.
Firstly, a note on nicotine
Trust me, when you start making your own mixes and you realize how delicious, easy and cheap it actually is…you’ll be inclined to vape up even more juice than before, much like me.
A word of warning therefore: TAKE IT EASY ON THE NICOTINE. Vaping is about a lot more than just a nicotine addiction: I’m just as into vaping as I was when I had a 18mg habit…now I use 0mg and I vape even more, because I can. I have no lung problems, no headaches, no nausea!
When people talk about DIY mixing being dangerous, what they’re really talking about is the nicotine. Do yourself a favour, friends: if you’re sub-ohm vaping, try and keep your nicotine levels at 6mg and under.
- Info: What is Sub Ohm Vaping?
A tobacco concentrate or a little extra PG will suffice to provide that throat hit you’re looking for and overall, you’ll experience what I can only describe as a cleaner vape. But then again, I’m a bit pedantic when it comes to what I consume, each to his own and maybe the world’s the better for it!
You don’t need to use nicotine in your e-liquid but if you do, remember nicotine is toxic at a certain level (+/-50mg) and is by far the most dangerous (possible) ingredient in e-liquid. It is quickly absorbed through the skin and you need to wear gloves when working with it.
Another factor to consider…nicotine and nicotine containing products need to be kept in a dark and cool place to avoid degradation.
Is Steeping Really Necessary For Higher VG brews?
While I have noticed that my mixes taste better the longer, they stand and the more often they’re shaken, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a high VG mix that was made 5 minutes ago.
I go through my juice so fast anyway that I barely get a chance to steep! Depending on the quality of your VG and your concentrates, you should be able to experience just as much flavour clarity as you did with your shop bought mixes.
I buy an exceptional quality VG and my mixes are always 80% VG, I favour it for both vapour richness and flavour.
I find the sweetness and inherent flavour in my VG means I needn’t add artificial sweeteners and I end up with delicious, wholesome flavours that didn’t require any excess of ingredients in order to achieve desired sweetness.
In fact, VG is tasty enough to be vaped on its own if you’re really in a fix and there’s still nothing better for cloud chasing!
Should You Buy A Kit?
Well, a lot of people do…however, I’ve found kit’s to be a little on the expensive side, as opposed to buying your ingredients in bulk (I buy a 2l VG, a 500mlPG and flavours as I spot them).
You may also get a whole bunch of equipment that’s not entirely necessary, which also raises the cost.
On top of that, the flavours and bases you get in the average kit tend not to go nearly as far for your bucks as the things you can pick up independently for the same overall price.
Plus, I’d rather mix and match and choose the flavours I really want, which is not always an option when you buy a DIY e-juice kit.
But. If you have the budget and to start with while you find your e-juice mixing feet, then a kit can be beneficial.
- Measuring Equipment like beakers, measuring jugs, pipettes or measuring cylinders etc.
- Plastic syringe 10ml, 20ml, 50ml, whatever suits you best.
- Scales, if that’s how you learnt how to measure out instead of using a beaker for example.
- VG (Vegetable Glycerine).
- PG (Propylene Glycol).
- Nicotine (By users’ choice).
- Disposable gloves.
- Empty bottles or a small jerrycan to steep in.
- Bottles of Premix Base or Premix Nicotine Base (also by users’ choice)
All the above can be bought here at VapeBunkerUK. We stock everything you’ll need to DIY yourself.
There are plenty of cheap digital scales available on Amazon if that’s how you weigh out your ingredients.
Pipettes (disposable): These are useful for transfer of liquids in between mixing and holding bottles, as well as dripping flavours when you’re still in the tasting phase. They’re cheaper than syringes and can be used in place of them…they don’t have measurement markings on them and therefore if you use them, you’ll need to use a scale.
Click “here” to view.
Syringes: I use these instead of pipettes as I like to do things the fast way and the measurements on the syringes allow that.
Click “here” to view.
BOTTLES & JERRYCANS:
Bottles: While I personally prefer the plastic squeeze bottles just for ease of use during mixing and for final storage, the glass medicine dropper bottles are also popular…I find that the glass bottle caps tend to give in after a while and although the plastic bottles aren’t pretty, they’re just far more economical.
You must note though that it’s important to cover your plastic bottles with stickers or opt for shaded glass, especially if you’re going to be mixing with light sensitive nicotine
Click “here” to view.
Latex Gloves: My favourite part, hehe. Gloves are ESSENTIAL when working with nicotine and also plain useful for keeping your fingers juice free.
While you can use plastic gloves I find control is better with a latex glove in your size and also…latex gloves, if you don’t get them too dirty, can be rinsed and reused to save money (not pharmaceutically correct but then, neither am I).
Click “here” to view.
Measuring Jug: I don’t use this method, I do all my measuring with syringes, but you can use a measuring jug also, or you can weigh out your ingredients on a kitchen/chemist scale
Click “here” to view.
Vegetable Glycerine is a key ingredient for making your own e-liquids. Its very cheap to purchase, and easy to use. It should be stored in a cool dark place when not being used. Always make sure to buy UPS/EU grade product.
Click “here” to view.
Propylene Glycol is another key ingredient for making your own e-liquids. It’s also very cheap to purchase, and easy to use. It should be stored in a cool dark place when not being used. Always make sure to buy UPS/EU grade product.
Click “here” to view.
Nicotine can be purchased in many forms. Nicotine shots come in 1.8mg and 2.0mg strengths. Some companies still sell 7.2mg strength, but its not as popular anymore.
Click “here” to view.
Premix base is where the you can purchase base that’s already mixed to a certain ratio, like 50/50, 60/40, 70/30, or 80/20 and so on. A lot of users find this a lot easier to use, as they don’t have to measure out the VG & PG themselves. They can just purchase it already mixed for them.
Click “here” to view.
PREMIX NICOTINE BASE:
Premix nicotine base is where the you can purchase base that’s already mixed to a certain ratio, like 50/50, 60/40, 70/30, or 80/20, but also containing nicotine. A lot of users find this a lot easier to use, as they don’t have to measure out the VG, PG and Nicotine themselves. They can just purchase it already mixed for them to simply add to their concentrate or one-shot.
Click “here” to view.
Okay, so DIY juice consists of 3-5 basic ingredients, all of which can be used in varying degrees to achieve different effects.
Vegetable Glycerin (VG) -Base (Pharmaceutical Grade)
- Produces thick, delicious vapour that creates a smooth draw with no throat hit.
- It’s naturally sweet and for those who find a high VG too sweet, there are bitter drops and sour bombs on the market that can rectify this, so you don’t need to up your PG too much.
- Sub-ohmers and cloud chasers will prefer a higher % of this, it’s harder on coils but totally worth it for flavour, cloud and cloud…oh, and cloud.
Propylene Glycol (PG) – Flavour Binder (Pharmaceutical Grade)
- Binds to flavour and carries it to the throat to produce a stronger throat hit.
- It produces little/no vapour (dependent on % mixed) and it has no taste.
- Smaller device users and plus ohm vapers will prefer a higher concentration of this, it’s easier on coils.
- Some people have an intolerance, if your chest closes or you experience a throat irritation, up on the VG, down on the PG.
Concentrate-Flavour (Food Grade, Oil and Sugar Free)
All your desired flavours, usually in a PG base.
You’ll either buy single flavours or one-shot concentrates which are pre-mixed flavour combos without bases.
They need to be oil free, sugar free and approved for vaping, that’s why it’s best to go through a vaping company like ourselves, instead of using food flavours direct…though there are some popular food brands that vapers trust.
- The Flavor Apprentice ‘TFA’
- Flavor Art
Your Flavor Types:
These are generally either a Fruit (Including Cocktails) or a Desert flavour (Including Cereals).
Many concentrate brands have developed complex concentrates like Blueberry Cheesecake to Choc Mint Crunch or Mojito, many of these are delicious on their own.
I call any flavour that can be enjoyed alone a primary…but when it comes to getting creative, secondaries are very important!
Eg. Strawberry, Mango, Graham Crust Cheesecake, Fruit Loops Cereal.
These are essentials for those who want to get creative with mixing more than one flavor concentrate at a time…not only can these flavors serve to bind two dissimilar flavors into a harmonious mix, but they can take the edge of harsh flavours, spice up bland ones and hell, sometimes they’re even great on their own.
Think of these as your herbs and spices and depending how you use them and what your preferences are, another man’s primary could be a secondary for you.
Eg: Vanilla, Cinnamon, Caramel, Bourbon, Brandy, Tobacco, Honey, Creme De Menth, Custard, Cream, Butter, Mint…the list goes on.
Unfortunately, if you’re running from the unholy number of e-juice brand choices on the market, like me, DIY e-liquid doesn’t completely solve the problem.
There are still a huge number of flavour concentrate producers on the market and whoa, there are even more flavours.
Here are my rules of thumb: I started by trying out a secondary flavour, a common primary fruit and a common primary desert flavour from three top concentrate manufacturers and then I went with the one that delivered on all three or scored the highest overall.
From there on I tried to select flavours that I liked enough (or thought I would) to have on their own, in both the fruit and desert categories, as well as a bunch of handy secondaries, my faves being caramel, creme de menthe and custard as I’ve found that a dash of these can spice up almost any mix…particularly smoky caramel!
Understanding E-juice Recipes:
You may have read an e-juice recipe before and wondered what is meant by the percentage next to your ingredients e.g. Strawberry 5% Custard 2% Cream 2%.
It’s simple, those percentages are percentages of your bottle as a whole, so if your whole bottle of e-juice is 100% and the bottle is 30ml then 5% Strawberry means 1.5ml Strawberry!
The reason we use percentages is so that it’s easier for you to adjust your recipe to suit your desired batch size if the measurement is given this way.
Depending on your favoured concentrate brand, you might find a happy median when it comes to mixing with different flavour types, a sweet desert may require a smaller percentage in general, while a tart fruit may require a higher percentage, especially in your sweet VG.
So where do you start?
Don’t get carried away!
There are a lot of outstanding flavour concentrate manufacturers on the market… The Flavor Apprentice ‘TFA’ is one (I tend to use their flavours only), Capella, Lorann, Inawera, Flavor Art and Hangsen are also popular brands…
Decide on your ratios…
If you’re going to be using nicotine, my advice is that you buy it pure and not in a VG/PG solution as the nicotine won’t necessarily be in perfect solution but will be concentrated at the bottom.
You don’t want to end up with an inaccurate measurement of the nicotine in your product because one time you shook the VG/Nicotine bottle for a little longer than the other time and I don’t enjoy anything that requires extra shaking.
For a a great blend of throat hit and cloud production, opt for 70VG/30PG…cloud chasers or people with PG intolerance like me will opt for 80%VG or more.
Those who’re using a smaller device like a cig-a-like or a mouth to lung vape tank above 1.0Ohm …you’ll need to opt for a 50/50 ratio (60VG/40PG on some tanks), because of the thicker consistency of the VG, which can be hard on your coils.
Download An E-liquid/E-juice Calculator:
As one who seldom uses nicotine, I don’t really have need of a calculator. I just dive in with my flavours, guns blazing. We do have a mixing calculator on our website, click “here” to view it. Tho if you don’t understand it, google mixing calculators until you find one you fully understand.
However, calculating nicotine strength can be a tricky business where you need to factor in desired strength, the strength of your nicotine solution and the intended batch size.
A good e-juice calculator is going to take care of this for you!
Some Vape Calculators that are used for calculating build ratios on RDA’s etc, also have DIY juice functions, brows Google Play and iStore and try out your options if these aren’t to your liking.
If you’re ready for it, I’d advise you get creative with your own unique mixes based on flavours you know and love…I started by trying to replicate readymade mixes when it came time to get creative.
The thing to realise is that a lot of these flavour concentrate manufacturers make concentrates that are spectacular alone…take toasted marshmallow or banoffee pie for example: start out by trying them alone with your PG/VG/Nic blend and thereafter you add and mix when you’re not 100% happy with the flavour concentrate on it’s lonesome.
I still enjoy my cheesecake with graham crust and my marshmallow without even bothering to add a second flavour!
Some of my favourite mixes involve just two flavours. Fruit creams and caramel anything (eg. caramel mint) do it for me too, you’d be surprised!
Mixing too many can confuse the senses and leave you feeling kinda gnarly so slow down and don’t get carried away!
Step By Step instructions On Making Your Own E-Liquid
Don your latex gloves and lay out all your paraphernalia on a decent sized work surface where you’ve easy access to everything. When working with larger bottles, make it a habit to close bottles directly after use. I like to decant my bases into smaller squeeze bottles.
Measure out your VG and either pipe it or pour it through a funnel into your mixing bottle.
Combine your (optional) nicotine and your PG, dissolving your nicotine in PG first will make it easier to combine with the thicker VG later. Plus, you need to have your desired nicotine in solution when you’re going to start adding flavour because flavour is hugely impacted by nicotine.
Adding flavour first or testing flavours before adding nicotine is going to throw you right off.
Combine your Nicotine/PG solution or just your PG (if you’re nicotine free) and your first desired flavour.
Shake this solution well, until it looks completely consistent…don’t taste this as it will be incredibly harsh without VG.
You may choose to follow this step or alternatively, for more add hoc mixing, you’ll combine your Nic/PG solution with your VG and then add flavor drop for drop.
Pipe/funnel your flavour solution into your VG base in a mixing bottle (I use a large, 100 ml plastic squeezy bottle for this, the same kind that you buy some vape juices in, only bigger). Shake like hell.
If you intend on steeping or keeping the liquid a while, keep in mind that any taste now will likely mature, smooth out and become a little richer over time.
If budget allows there are also magnetic e-liquid mixers available that gently heat and mix. Not used one of these yet but they look interesting!
Now’s time to taste, drip a little on your dripper (I like to use a dripper when mixing, it’s the only way to test unfinished flavours without wastage) and taste, now you’ll add extra concentrate, drop at a time to your taste.
The longer you leave your juice to steep the better. We recommend minimum 2-3 weeks for maximum taste results. But the longer you can leave it the better. Some flavours will take longer to steep than others, especially desert flavours. Store in a cool dark place away from heat and direct sunlight to steep, giving it a dam good shake every few days.
Whether mixing something complex or simple…don’t be afraid to experiment but remember, YOU CAN ALWAYS ADD, YOU CAN NEVER TAKE AWAY!
A Harsh Throat Hit?
- There are two possible causes, your Nicotine or your PG…anything above 30% PG is going to start being harsh in the throat.
- Too much nicotine will make you slightly nauseous also and too much PG will give you a low vapour production.
- If you’ve added too much PG, add more VG to taste.
- If you’ve added too much nicotine, you’ll need to make a batch with the same specs and no nicotine to add into the solution.
An Unsavory Taste.
- Well, this is a serious one… You need to mix up a batch of your PG/VG/Nic solution without any flavouring first, to make sure that your planned ratio will produce at least a base that’s to your liking.
- If you continue to struggle with the base flavours, there’s a chance your bases aren’t up to standard…be careful where you buy these!
- Once you know that the base ratios are to your taste, the only remaining problem can be your flavour mix.
- When I first purchase a flavour concentrate I make a point of starting with the smallest dose in my favoured solution, without any added flavours, so that I can get a feel for that concentrate on its own: how does it taste in when I add a 5% solution? Is it too much when I add a 15% solution?
- If you get no joy out of a concentrate alone…set it aside, it may be of use later, when your tastes change, or you may need to look to a different brand if this is a common problem for you. This will give you an idea of what flavours can be used as primaries and which ones are only suitable as secondaries.
- If you’re not happy with your mixes, try testing out other people’s recipes…learn from those who’ve mastered it.
You’re probably thinking, WTF? Nope, believe it, it’s that simple!
Sure, there are flavours on the market that I most definitely cannot match and still get the urge to buy (and more coming every day) but since I started DIY I kinda feel bad for folk who don’t realise how easy and affordable it is or who’re scared to take the plunge…it’s changed my outlook, my tastes and it’s saved me an absolute fortune.
THE EASIEST WAY FOR ANYONE TO LEARN FIRST
I recommend to anyone who has never tried DIY mixing before to start off with one-shot concentrates, instead of diving in and possibly getting badly confused or messing the end product up. Yes, either way is very simple, but if this is your first time, I would recommend starting off adding base to a one-shot, and nicotine (by users’ choice).
We sell one-shots on our website, both in shot form, and in bottles of concentrate just. A flavour shot is a 250ml bottle which contains only 50ml/or 20% concentrate. All the user must do is add their choice of Base to it, and nicotine if they use it, and let it steep. Its that simple. We have a very detailed guide on our website for these flavour shots for the end user to follow. It tells you exactly what measurements to add. Also giving you several options to follow. 3mg, 6mg, 9mg, 12mg or nicotine free.
Click “here” to view.
Once you’ve got the hang of things, I would suggest moving onto buying bottles of one-shots to mix yourself. Once you’ve got the hang of that, then dig in and start to get creative!