“E-juice,” also called e liquid or vape juice, is the substance used in electronic cigarettes and vaporizer systems to make vapors for inhaling by using those devices. It is fairly easy to make your own vape juice as long as you have the correct ingredients and the right equipment. Many like to make their own e-juice, because in that way, after a bit of experimentation, trial and error, they are able to make the exact formulation that they really like.
How to Make E-Juice *
Do-it-yourself (DIY) steps for making e-juice include 1) Acquiring the e juice ingredients, 2) Mixing them properly in the right amounts, and then 3) Bottling them as DIY e-juice to use later.
Select the Foundation Base *
The first ingredients to consider are the foundation or base ingredients that make up the largest part (up to 95%) of the vape juice ingredients. The base is usually either propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, or a combination of the two. When making your own e juice it is a matter of personal taste, for the choice of base ingredient(s) you use. Be sure to buy pharmaceutical/food grade qualities of these ingredients, which are pure and do not contain any other ingredients or contaminants.
Some people like to use propylene glycol because the vapors give a stronger “throat hit,” that is similar to the feeling a person has when smoking a tobacco cigarette. Others like to use vegetable glycerin, because the vapors are thicker. The fun thing about learning how to make your own e-juice is not only do you save money, but also you get to experiment with different formulations until you find some you like the best.
Choose the Flavoring(s) and Nicotine (optional) *
Beside the base chosen for the e-juice, an important part of the vape juice ingredients are the flavoring(s). There are literally thousands of choices for flavors. Some purists like to use just one flavor, others like a mixture of flavors. Learning how to make e-juice allows creating new recipes using different flavorings.
The flavorings used to make e juice are those approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for use in foods. These chemicals are on the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list that the FDA maintains for items that have approval as food additives. Flavorings for e juice are available as pre-mixed blends or you can make your own.
A word of caution is appropriate here, due to health concerns about the dangers of “vaping” with e-juice containing certain flavorings. Just because an ingredient is FDA-approved for use in foods, it does not necessarily mean the ingredient is safe for vaping. Vaping puts a much higher concentration of the chemical into the lungs than one would consume by eating something with the same flavoring.
A Harvard study found health risk associated with the vaping of e-liquid containing the flavorings diacetyl, acetoin, and 2,3-pentanedione (also known as acetyl propionyl). Diacetyl is the flavor of artificially-flavored buttered popcorn. It is a common ingredient in many commercially sold e-liquids. Diacetyl is dangerous to inhale, so is acetyl propionyl.
Another study, reported in Science News, cautions against using the flavoring called cinnamaldehyde, which tastes like cinnamon, because of its known ability to suppress the immune system in unhealthy ways.
At this point due to the health risks, it is better to avoid using these flavorings in the e liquid formulations:
- acetyl propionyl (2,3-pentanedione)
Ongoing scientific research is continuing to investigate the health dangers of vaping. A prudent person needs to be aware of the health risks.
One benefit about learning how to make vape juice is the ability for the person making the e-juice to control the exact formula of what they are vaping.
Some people like nicotine in the vaping liquid and others do not like it. For those who are vaping as an aide to quitting smoking tobacco cigarettes, it is helpful to add nicotine to the e-liquid formulation. This helps reduce the cravings that come from nicotine withdrawal, when stopping the use of tobacco cigarettes. Making your own vaping liquid also allows the gradual reduction of the nicotine used in the formulation, which is a smart thing to do, in order to escape the nicotine addiction by slowing tapering off the use of nicotine.
If you decide to use nicotine in the formula, handle it with care, because it easily absorbs through the skin and, in concentration, can cause a toxic exposure. Always wear gloves when handling nicotine solutions. For e-liquid there is diluted nicotine available that is pharmaceutical grade. There are different dilutions available, so it is important to know the concentration of the nicotine dilution used.
A person can make their own nicotine dilutions if they want. A typical concentration is 100 milligrams of active nicotine per single milliliter. These bottles have the markings of 100 mg/ml for the nicotine concentration. The concentrations range from the low of 25mg/ml to the high of 400mg/ml.
Be sure to follow the recommendations and know the information provided by the Nicotine Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). The MSDS gives information about handling nicotine safely, and what to do in the case of accidental exposure or poisoning.
Mixing and Bottling *
Making the correct mixture requires having accurate measuring devices and containers. Think of this process as similar to what happens in a typical high school chemistry lab. It is not complicated, but handling with care is necessary to avoid accidents, and having the proper equipment for measuring and mixing the formula is important. The mixing area needs to be clean and at a modest room temperature. Wash the equipment properly to avoid contamination.
Storage bottles can be of various sizes to suit a particular need. Plastic bottles with a drip tip are popular because they are inexpensive.
Here is typical step-by-step recipe for how to make e-juice, assuming nicotine is used:
1. Calculate the amount of diluted nicotine to use for the formula. This calculation is done by deciding the concentration of nicotine desired in the formula, then calculating how much of the diluted nicotine, depending on its nicotine concentration, needs adding to the base of the formula in order to end up with the desired concentration of nicotine in the final product.
For example, if wanting to make 100 milliliters of vaping liquid that has a concentration of eight milligrams of nicotine per milliliter, we would need to use 800 milligrams of nicotine.
Then we use the following formula:
Amount of nicotine in total, divided by the concentration of the diluted nicotine, equals amount of diluted nicotine to use. For example, if our diluted nicotine were 100 mg/ml we would need to use the following amount:
800/10 = 8 ml
2. Wear gloves. Using a clean or a washed syringe, draw up the exact amount of diluted nicotine needed into the syringe and then add it to your e-liquid storage bottle.
3. Add flavoring(s). Use a clean syringe for each different flavor. This avoids cross-contamination, which might wreck the remaining amount of flavoring. Depending on the strength of the flavoring(s) used, the total amount of flavoring(s) should end up being between five to 20 percent of the final storage bottle capacity. For a 100 ml bottle that would mean five to twenty ml of flavoring(s).
The manipulation of the amount of flavoring in the recipes is the fun part. It is also quite surprising. Some flavors taste great in certain combinations. Others taste terrible. The nicotine concentration may also change the flavor slightly.
Certain flavors, such as menthol, are more potent than others are. Use them sparingly when used in combination with other flavors. Make small batches at first to find a mixture you like the best. Some people have a taste for e liquid that is “neat,” meaning it has no added flavoring and is simply a mixture of diluted nicotine, propylene glycol, and/or glycerin.
4. Fill up the rest of the e liquid storage bottle with the desired base of propylene glycol, glycerin, or a combination of the two.
5. Make sure the cap is securely on the bottle and then shake it vigorously for a few minutes to make sure the contents are well mixed. Some separation may occur when the vaping liquid sits on the shelf between uses. It is a good idea to shake the bottle each time before using it to refill the tank of an e-cigarette/vaporizer.
The flavor of the e-liquid may change over time. Some prefer to allow a new batch of e-liquid to have a bit of time to “mellow” before using it for vaping.
Be sure to store the e-liquid in a safe way, at room temperature, and out of the reach of children because it can poison them if they ingest sufficient amounts. The attraction to the flavor makes this an added danger around children.
It is really easy to make e-liquid. The tricky part is getting a tasty combination of flavors. Adding more flavors does not necessarily make the vaping liquid taste better. The advantage of making your own e-liquid is the added control of what goes in the formula and the ability to fine-tune the mixture for personal taste.