Have you ever bought a bottle of e-liquid that didn’t completely agree with your palate? You might have searched for help on Reddit and on vaping forums – and when you search for advice about what to do with a bottle of e-liquid you don’t like, “steeping” is a term that you’re likely to see frequently.
What is steeping e-liquid? How does steeping work, and will it actually improve the flavour of a vape juice you don’t like? Those are the things you’ll learn from reading this article.
What Is E-Liquid Steeping?
You might find the term “steeping” a little confusing when it’s used in reference to e-liquid because you’re not actually putting anything into your vape juice. Steeping, of course, is what you do with tea; it’s using a liquid to extract the properties of a solid. It would actually be more accurate to call e-liquid steeping “ageing,” but that’s the term that the vaping community uses, nevertheless.
Steeping is allowing a bottle of e-liquid to age in a controlled fashion with the goal of changing the e-liquid’s flavour in a positive way. During steeping, you intentionally expose the e-liquid to a small amount of air with the goal of encouraging chemical changes that will make you enjoy the juice more.
The steeping process:
- Encourages some flavour compounds – particularly compounds that are alcohol based – to evaporate.
- Facilitates the melding and chemical bonding of the flavour-rich compounds in the e-liquid.
- Causes some of the nicotine in the e-liquid to oxidize.
Before You Steep Your E-Liquid: What You Need to Know
Before you start steeping every bottle of e-liquid that you receive, the most important thing to know about vape juice steeping is that it won’t improve the flavour of every juice. If you have an e-liquid that already tastes perfect to you, it probably won’t get better if you steep it.
The reason why steeping isn’t always good for e-liquid is because most bottles of e-liquid have already had time to age by the time you receive them. Today, the distribution model for vape juice has several steps. The manufacturer makes the e-liquid and sends it to distributors. Retailers buy the e-liquid from distributors, and they sell it to you. By the time you receive it, a bottle of e-liquid is usually at least a month or two old.
Because e-liquid has already had time to age by the time you receive it, you shouldn’t steep all e-liquid by default. Steeping will not improve the flavour of most e-liquids. Here’s why.
In the early years of the vaping industry, there were many small vape juice makers who made their e-liquid to order and shipped it directly to consumers. Back then, it was common for consumers to receive bottles of e-liquid that were just a few days old, so steeping was often very useful.
The three most important things to remember about e-liquid steeping are:
- E-liquid that you buy today is generally already steeped and will not benefit from further ageing.
- If an e-liquid is already perfect, steeping it further will harm the flavour rather than improving it.
- E-liquid steeping is something that you should only try if you aren’t happy with the flavour of a vape juice.
When Might Steeping Improve the Flavour of E-Liquid?
The sooner you receive a bottle of e-liquid after it’s made, the more likely it is that steeping will improve it. There are two situations in which you’re likely to be happy with the results that you get from steeping.
Some e-liquids use alcohol-based flavours, and steeping encourages the alcohol to evaporate. If you taste a strong alcohol note when using a vape juice, steeping will probably improve the flavour.
When a new e-liquid hasn’t had time to steep, it might taste a little “young” to you. You may find that the flavour notes don’t quite meld together into a cohesive whole. Since steeping encourages the mixing and molecular bonding of the flavours in an e-liquid, it can help the juice taste more balanced and complete.
How to Steep Vape Juice
So, you’ve got an e-liquid that fits the above qualifications, and you’re ready to try steeping it to see if ageing brings about any improvements. Here’s how you do it.
Open the bottle and expose the e-liquid to air for a moment. Opening the bottle aerates the contents and encourages any alcohol in the e-liquid to escape.
Close the bottle tightly and shake it for several seconds. Shaking the bottle encourages the molecular bonding that we described above.
Store the bottle in a cool, dark place.
During the steeping process, it’s important to protect your e-liquid from light, which can cause the nicotine in the vape juice to oxidize more quickly. Make sure that the bottle is kept away from children and pets. Repeat the process of opening, closing and shaking the bottle each day.
After steeping the bottle for about one week, open the e-liquid and sample it. If you’re happy with the flavour, the steeping process is complete. You can go ahead and start using it as you would any other bottle of e-liquid. If you’re not happy, though, continue steeping the bottle until you like the flavour. Remember to test the e-liquid each week because the flavour won’t continue to get better once it has reached its peak. Once an e-liquid is the best that it will ever be, it can only go downhill from there.
As we mentioned above, remember that nicotine will degrade and oxidize during e-liquid steeping. An e-liquid that was originally clear may turn slightly yellow. A yellow e-liquid may turn brown. That’s nothing to worry about. Remember that the shelf life of any e-liquid product is around one year, and even after that, it’s still safe to vape; that’s just the point at which you might start to notice a change in the e-liquid’s flavour. A few weeks of steeping won’t reduce an e-liquid’s nicotine content so much that you won’t still feel satisfied when vaping it.
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