E-Juice Steeping – How to Steep E-Juice and Improve the Flavor Fast!

Adam Winter DIY E-Liquid Mixing 2 Comments

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So you want to know how to steep e-juice do you… Well you’ve come to the right place!

Welcome to Vaping Hardware’s e-juice steeping ‘How To’!

Believe me, I know all to well how confusing the topic of e-juice steeping can be…

Mixing my first bottle of e-liquid was nothing short of amazing. I felt like a mad scientist, filled with awe at unlocking the secrets of the Philosopher’s Stone! Or in my case, a nerdy 30-something with a pair of pink washing up gloves and a recipe for cheap e-juice…

But what am I supposed to do with all this freshly mixed e-juice? Surely I can’t just vape it straight after mixing can I?…

And the worst part?…

Why does it smell like my aunt Ethel’s 45 year old perfume??

How to steep ejuice - searching for answers

Dear Lord, do I REALLY need to steep my vape juice?… Also, thank you for Clapton Coils 🙂 Amen

I scoured the web for answers.

Steeping e-juice, heat steeping e-juice, ultrasonic steeping… My head was spinning! I needed to know how to steep e-juice and whether it was something I even had to do! But it felt like every guide, post or YouTube video about steeping just left me with more questions than answers!

Let’s answer some of those questions now…

What is e-juice steeping?

E-juice steeping is the process of ageing your juice (using one of many methods!) to improve the taste.

Essentially this works by bonding (or mixing) the flavor with your base liquids, such as PG, VG and Nicotine. Oxidation also takes place, which replaces volatile compounds like alcohol with oxygen.

This removes the unpleasant chemical taste and will also often change the color of your e-juice!

Do I need to steep my e-juice?

The short answer is no, steeping e-juice really boils down to personal preference. You can simply ‘shake and vape’ if you’re too impatient to wait!

But if getting the best flavour from your e-juice is your number 1 priority, steeping will almost definitely improve the taste!

How long does it take to steep e-juice?

As a general rule of thumb, the sweet spot is usually two weeks. Although depending on the flavour (much more on this later!) your e-juice can be left to steep for several weeks, even months!

The beauty of steeping e-juice is you can experiment and settle on whatever works best for your taste buds!

How to steep e-juice quickly?

If you want to steep e-juice quickly, remember three things…

Heat, shake and heat again!

From hot baths, to microwave rice, there are several methods for fast steeping e-juice and we’ve detailed the best of these in more detail in this guide.

Keep reading and we’ll get to the good stuff!

Now let’s delve into steeping e-juice in a bit more depth…

For those of you unfamiliar with the term steeping, it’s normally something you’d associate with a great British passion… drinking tea. Specifically the process of soaking the tea leaves in water to improve or ‘bring out’ the flavour.

Have a cuppa while you learn how to steep e-juice

Fancy a cuppa?…

This process (granted in a slightly different manner) also applies to your e-liquid, especially homemade DIY e-liquid.

FYI – Don’t miss our DIY E-Liquid Mixing Guide, the best e-juice mixing tutorial in the observable universe… possibly…

How important is it to steep my e-juice?…

‘To steep e-juice or not to steep, THAT is the question”…

The concept of steeping e-juice is something we’ve spent hours debating here at Vaping Hardware! On the one hand, there are those of us who consider it to be unnecessary, happy to mix – shake – vape.

On the other, a fiercely defensive majority, spearheaded by a master DIY veteran (you know who you are!), who believe a bottle of e-liquid unworthy until it’s had a few weeks alone in a cool dark cupboard to mature or ‘find itself’.

Personal preference aside, it’s clear that steeping e-juice is considered a must by the vast majority of the vaping community.

And let’s be honest, you want to get the best flavor possible from your e-juice…

So keep reading and we’ll take a look at exactly what steeping is, how it works and how you can get started today!

What do we mean by e-juice steeping?

We’ve touched on this briefly already. When we say e-juice steeping, we’re talking about the collective term for one of many methods you can use to improve the flavor of e-juice.

Your juice usually contains a mixture of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, your flavorings of choice and nicotine.

To get the best flavor from your e-liquid, ideally you should allow sufficient time for the flavor(s) to bond on a molecular level with the base liquid(s) used.

Given time, the e-liquid will ‘blend’, allowing it to mature and the flavor to reach its full potential.

And this ladies and gents, although the simplest method used, is essentially how to steep e-juice.

How does e-juice steeping work?How to steep e-juice - How steeping works

Now I’m no chemist, but the science behind the process of steeping e-juice is relatively simple.

For those of you without a PHD (myself included!) steeping e-juice basically works in two ways; mixing and oxidizing the ingredients used.

The mixing of the e-liquid is the process of the flavors bonding on a molecular level to the base liquids (the flavor mixing with the PG, VG etc).

How to steep e-juice - the ingredientsThe oxidation is exactly what it sounds like; allowing the air to get to your e-liquid.

Why is this important?…

Oxidation replaces volatile compounds like alcohol with oxygen. This removes the unpleasant chemical taste and will also often change the colour of the e-juice.

Now, this process WILL happen given sufficient time and little else. From personal experience, most flavors seem to hit a sweet spot at between 2-4 weeks of e-juice steeping.

However, the art of steeping has evolved and several methods (all will be revealed later!) have been devised for speeding up this process.

What e-juice flavors need steeping?

In terms of what e-juice flavors need steeping, this really is down to personal preference. If we’re talking about store bought juice, most people will be happy to vape a new flavor as soon as they receive it.

On the other hand, if you’re mixing your own e-liquid it’s probably worth steeping to improve the taste a bit!

Regardless of whether it’s store bought or homemade e-juice, keep two things in mind when trying to determine if the flavor will improve with steeping:

Color

Most (if not all) DIY e-juice will be begin clear in color.

I know what you’re thinking…

“Why doesn’t it stay that way”?!

In a nutshell, the nicotine in your mix will change the color of your e-liquid as it steeps. Normally after a few days your e-juice will darken in color and, more often than not, this is more noticeable the higher the nicotine content.

As a general rule of thumb, if your pre-mixed e-liquid is clear, it’s not been steeped and it’s likely the flavor will improve using one of the steeping methods we’ll cover soon.

Taste

Freshly mixed DIY e-liquid is often noticeably ‘harsh’ or ‘chemical tasting’.

I can explain…

This is because the ingredients haven’t yet mixed at the molecular level and the small amounts of gas haven’t had time to evaporate.

If this is the case with your e-juice, it would suggest it’s not been steeped and the flavor is likely to improve with time.

With that being said, whether you need to steep e-juice can also be determined by what flavor you’re vaping.

How so?…

Typically complex blends (two or more flavors) and tobacco flavors benefit most from e-juice steeping.

Basic menthol and fruity flavors (my favourite if you need any idea’s for Christmas…) don’t usually require steeping before use, with most just needing a good shake before vaping.

With the exception of course being those complex fruity flavors which require time for each flavor to mix and complement each other.

Finally, desert flavors will almost always require steeping, with an argument to be made for ‘the longer the better’. These flavors seem to really improve the longer you leave them.

TASTE YOUR FRESHLY MIXED E-JUICE! Taste is subjective and, although steeping is likely to improve the flavor of your ejuice, if you don’t want to wait and you’re happy with the flavor, go ahead and get stuck in!

Ok, but I need to know how to steep e-juice?…

Good question my patient reader!! And not just patient! No doubt kind, considerate and incredibly generous! You’re one of a kind really, a true [insert compliment] (ahem… please share this page…)

But shameless begging aside and back to business, THIS is how to steep e-juice:

Steeping e-juice - measuring beakers

#1 Basic or Aged/Breathing E-juice Steeping method…

There are many different methods of steeping e-juice you can use, each with their own benefits.

The most straightforward (and my personal favourite!) is simply to leave your juice in a cool dark place with the lid off, allowing it to breath.

Be sure to thoroughly shake the bottle twice a day, with the lid on of course!

You should notice a significant improvement in flavor after the first week.

Nice and easy with very minimal effort, what more could you ask for?!

#2 Heat Steeping E-Juice method…

Another great method of steeping e-juice, the classic ‘bottle in hot (but not boiling!) water’ technique.

This is effectively a fast e-juice steeping method because, well… it’s pretty fast.

Just give the juice bottle a good shake, pop it in a zip lock plastic bag (optional) and put the bag into a cup or bowl of hot water for 10-15 minutes.

How to steep ejuice - Heat Steeping in a mug

At this point test your e-juice and if necessary, repeat the process.

Just a word of warning, if you’re using plastic bottles be sure the water isn’t too hot! The last thing you want is for the plastic to melt and leach into your e-liquid; bad times!

You don’t have to use hot water either…

I’ve seen several forums dedicated to getting super creative with steeping e-juice.

You could leave your bottle of e-liquid in the glove compartment of your car on a hot sunny day. Or buy a vivarium, UV light and heat mat and have a ‘pet’ e-juice bottle for the day.

Ok, I made that last one up… You get the idea though!

#3 Rice Steeping E-Juice method…

Another fast e-juice steeping method, you just take a bowl of uncooked rice and heat it in the microwave.

And then eat it while you patiently wait for your e-juice to steep…

Just kidding!

Take your e-liquid and place it in the bowl of rice, leave it for 10 minutes and test it. Repeat the process until you’re happy with the flavour.

I’ve used this method once, but to be honest I found it no different to the above, #2 Heat Steeping E-Juice.

#4 Dryer Steeping E-Juice method…

This was one of the more innovative fast e-juice steeping methods I found online and I have to give kudos to whoever thought of this!

Basically, you place your e-liquid bottle in a sock (preferably clean!) and tie it off. Place the sock in the dryer for 15 minutes and voila!

It goes without saying, but obviously the e-juice is exposed to vigorous shaking and high temperatures, which both help speed up the molecular bonding of the flavoring(s) to the base liquid(s) used.

Just a word of warning though:

This steeping method should not be used with glass bottles!

#5 Ultrasonic Cleaner Steeping E-Juice method…

This is another fast steeping e-juice gem which seems to have gained momentum on many of the vaping community forums online at the time of writing, especially for DIY e-liquid.

Just mix your juice, give it a shake, fill up your ultrasonic cleaner with warm water and set the timer for 30 minutes.How to steep e-juice - ultrasonic cleaner

When it’s done, fish out your bottle(s), dry off and leave with the cap(s) off for anything up to 24 hours.

It’s said this method is the equivalent of leaving your e-juice steeping in a cupboard for 2 weeks!

But then it’s also said that ‘all roads lead to Rome’ so you be the judge…

#6 Microwave Steeping E-Juice method…

This method is slightly controversial and I wouldn’t attempt this unless you have some knowledge of chemical composition and reactions.

Nicotine especially can react negatively to higher temperatures and this could result in your e-juice being spoilt.

Or possibly blowing up your kitchen…

This is effectively a more extreme version of the above #2 Heat Steeping E-Juice method and involves placing the uncapped bottle in the microwave for 1-2 seconds. Leave the bottle to cool down for 10 seconds and then repeat step one.

Finally, leave the uncapped bottle in a cool dark place for up to 24 hours. Attempt at your own risk!

#7 Seed Steeping E-Juice method…

This is the process of adding a quantity of a previously mixed recipe to a fresh batch, to help speed up the e-juice steeping process.

I’ll be honest, it’s something I’ve only heard about recently and this method has not yet been tested by the Vaping Hardware team.

The bottom line?…

The claims circulating the many vaping community forums suggest this method will speed up steeping from several weeks to just days!

Essentially, the idea is to leave 10-15% of the old e-liquid mix in the bottle and add 85-90% new mix.

If you do give this a go I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

#8 Crock Pot Steeping E-Juice method…

Another variation on the #2 Heat Steeping E-Juice method presented earlier, you’ll want to use a hot plate, slow cooker or crock pot with temperature control set at a constant 150F.

Just fill the device with water, set to the correct temperature and pop your bottle(s) in.

Generally you want to leave your e-liquid for approximately 1 hour, supposedly the equivalent of 1 week basic steeping.

Test your e-juice and repeat the steep if necessary.

Another word of warning though…

DO NOT use this method with plastic e-liquid bottles! They will melt!

A quick Google search throws up dozens of other e-juice steeping methods used by the vaping community, but generally all of these will be some variation of those listed above.

As a rule, each method involves one of the following principles:

Breathing e-juice;

… is when you take the cap off the bottle to allow air to mix with the e-liquid within.

Shaking e-juice;

…is exactly what you’d expect; give the bottle a damn good shake to thoroughly mix the ingredients and allow the molecules to ‘bond’.

It goes without saying but we recommend testing your e-liquid at different stages during whatever method you use.

Known as ‘streathing’, this helps you decide if your e-juice has reached its full potential or if you need to do another steep!

Are there any negative effects of steeping?…

Aside from the obvious issue of having to be patient before enjoying your e-liquid, the only other potential side effect of steeping e-juice is nicotine degradation.

Research indicates that even well aged e-juice is safe to vape, however it’s possible that accelerated steeping (especially heat steeping e-juice) may cause the nicotine to degrade.

Do you need to worry?

Don't panic - e-juice steeping is safe

No.

Considering this is a very slim possibility, I really don’t think you can go wrong using either the basic time/breathing or heat steeping e-juice methods.

Before you go rushing off to steep your e-juice, let’s finish off with a couple of Q&A’s…

Do i need to steep e-juice if it has no nicotine?

Regardless of whether you’re vaping nicotine free e-juice or 18mg (or anything in between!) steeping will improve the taste of your vape juice.

Steeping is the process of the flavor(s) in your e-liquid bonding and mixing with the PG/VG blend, regardless of the nicotine content.

In fact, some vapers don’t even add their nicotine until after they’ve finished steeping their juice!

Does steeping e-juice make it taste better?

Yes absolutely, your taste buds will thank for you learning how to steep e-juice!

Not only will steeping improve the taste and smell of your juice, the often times harsh or chemical tasting element of your e-liquid will be a thing of the past!

But to be blunt, if you’re still asking me this now maybe you should return to the top of the page and have another read through…

Why is my e-juice turning brown?

It’s normally (although not always!) the nicotine in your e-juice that causes this change in colour after exposure to the oxygen in the air.

Not just air either; light and/or heat can also accelerate this chemical reaction and cause your e-juice to darken in colour.

Don’t panic though! This process is harmless and doesn’t spoil your e-juice one little bit!

How long does e-juice last?

E-juice doesn’t last forever.

If it did, I would mix a mammoth batch of Mt Baker Vapor’s Thug Juice in the bathtub!

Typically e-juice has a shelf life of between 1-2 years before it’s no longer ideal for vaping.

Steeping e-juice - how long does e-juice last?The bottom line?…

The ingredients in your e-juice (PG, VG, Nicotine etc) all slowly degrade. In fact, the nicotine level in your e-juice will actually begin to slowly drop over time and this is a big giveaway that your e-juice is past its best!

How can i share this awesome content and help others learn how to steep e-juice?…

I’m glad you asked… 😉 Please use the share buttons at the top or bottom of this page and help a fellow vaper!

So there you have it folks, hopefully by now you know all about fast steeping e-juice, how to steep e-juice and why you’d want to!

I hope you found this helpful and I would really appreciate any comments or feedback.

Happy vaping from us here at Vaping Hardware!

Featured image source: http://ecigarettereviewed.com/
Additional images courtesy of:
Jason Corey via Flickr
Usehung via Flickr

 

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