Steeping has become one of the most popular ways to get the best flavor out of your e-juice. Now we don’t mean steeping like tea: Steeping for your vape is a whole other world. If you’re chasing the best taste possible for your vaping experience, steeping is the way to go. There’s a lot of info out there about how to get the best-steeped e-liquid possible, with claims of quick results, strong flavor, and unique techniques. We’ve combed the internet and put together this guide to steeping that will get you the flavors and depth you want without sacrificing nicotine levels or quality.
Image via Flickr by Sarah-Johnson
To start with, what even is steeping? Steeping in any other world means something totally different. We have already mentioned tea, so we will keep that thread going. For the most part, steeping means taking a solid and introducing it to a liquid to diffuse a flavor. Putting a tea bag or loose leaves in hot water means that water will end up tasting like the tea, right?
Steeping for vape juice is more along the lines of aging wine or whisky. You aren’t adding anything to it but rather letting it age, so you can get a better flavor out of it. E-juice comprises multiple ingredients, including vegetable glycerine, nicotine, propylene glycol, and flavorings. These are mixed together, sealed in a dropper or tank, and then smoked.
If you add a little extra time and effort to this process, you will be amazed at the change in flavor. Most smokers have a particular blend or flavor they already like, whether they go for classic or more unique flavors. Steeping just allows those flavors to mix in more, adding extra strength to the e-juice and giving you a more satisfying vaping experience. If you ever notice that your chosen flavor is a little too sweet or too harsh, steeping is the best way to tone those effects down.
You can steep both premade and DIY vape juice. If you’re going the DIY route, make sure you do it right. It’s easy to mess up, and that can have long-term consequences. Steeping premade juice allows for the expertly made blend to congeal slightly. This means the mix gets thicker. Because it’s more concentrated, you will end up with a richer taste and a smoother hit. If you buy your e-juice in stores, chances are that it has already been steeped slightly because of its time on the shelf!
If you’re interested in trying this out or want to get serious about steeping all your e-juice, here is a quick breakdown of how you actually steep e-juice and the best way to get the ultimate flavor and smoothness.
So here’s the good stuff: Essentially, steeping e-juice is the process of letting it sit. Seems easy, right? And you’re not wrong! Steeping e-juice isn’t all that complicated on the surface, and you can get OK results even from approaching steeping as nothing more than letting the e-juice do its own thing. However, we’re always looking for the best vaping experience, so why not put in that little extra effort and see what all the talk is about?
One of the most important parts of steeping is finding a good location. Keeping your bottles in a bright, hot place may just lead them to rot or weaken. Since that’s pretty much the opposite of what we’re going for, it makes sense that a dark, cool spot is a way better choice.
We recommend places such as closets you don’t use often, the back of drawers, or even in a just small box of its own stashed somewhere without direct sunlight. A shoe box works just as well as a specially bought storage container. You’ll want to be able to access the bottle at least once a day, so don’t put it somewhere super hard to reach or difficult to get to.
Overall, when steeping your e-juice, always use glass bottles. While plastic may be cheaper, glass won’t melt if you’re using a heated method. In addition, if left for too long, plastic can start to break down and get into the e-juice. Not only is this not great for you, but it can compromise the flavor as well.
For a truly excellent steeping outcome, steep your e-juice for over a week. For cycles this long, it’s important not to just let the juice be. Make sure it’s well aerated (you can do this by shaking the bottle quickly for a minute or two), and then tuck it away in your designated spot. Once a day, pull it out and shake it again. This keeps the juice from solidifying, and it also reintroduces air into the liquid.
There are some contingencies to this plan. Do you enjoy sweet, fruit-flavored juices? You can actually get away with under a week, and some places recommend only a day or two. They need less steeping because of the more intense flavoring. “Richer” fruit flavors like mango can go longer than “sharper” flavors like raspberry. Steeping can really cut down on the edge of flavors, so if you like mixes that have some tartness to them, steeping too long can affect that and ruin what you enjoy about the flavor.
If you like creamier flavors like dessert-inspired e-liquid or more traditional tobacco flavorings, you’ll need a bit longer and can go a few months if you want. If your preferred flavor is just straight tobacco, you may actually be happy without steeping. These tend to be more mellow and smooth anyway, thanks to the way they’re flavored.
Ultimately, it really comes down to what you like. Some people only like a few hours to a few days, while others love the unique flavor of a long-steeped e-juice. No matter how long, be sure to check the date on your bottle of any store-bought e-juice before aging, and don’t try to age it beyond that date.
Finally, you can tell when vape juice has begun steeping because it will darken in color. If you plan on storing the e-juice in a dark-colored bottle, that can make it a little trickier. You may want to steep a few days longer than your original plan just to ensure the process is actually happening.
For your first time steeping, consider staggering out several amounts of e-juice for different steeping times. You can either start them all at once and test each as it comes time, or start them at different times and try all on the same day. If you’re starting all at the same time, it may help to take notes on how each e-juice changes over time, including how the color changes.
If that seems to be too long for you, check out some of the fast methods for steeping. Many people don’t have weeks or months that they want to spend steeping their liquid, which really makes sense. If you don’t already have a batch going, that means continuing to buy e-juice while waiting for the batch to steep, and that just isn’t practical for many people. Combining breathing and steeping can help you
Fast-steeping methods vary greatly. A bath is one of the most popular because of its simplicity and lack of required equipment. Simply fill a bowl or other large container with water that’s warm enough and comfortable to rest your hand in it. Simply place the e-juice in a bag and leave it in the bath for a bit. This helps to speed along the concentration process. Again, it helps to be able to see the color of the e-juice.
The next common method is a slow cooker. Similar to the bath, just fill a slow cooker with water and set it to the lowest temperature. Place your e-juice in a watertight container into the hot water and you’re good to go! Try periodically to see how you like it for both methods, and you’ll be able to figure out the length of time you prefer, easy peasy.
Other options include a magnetic stirrer and ultrasonic cleaner. These work fine, and some say it can give you better aeration compared to shaking. Ultimately, it depends on whether you want to buy the necessary equipment. Magnetic stirrers offer speed, but the results aren’t much different than just leaving it be. Ultrasonic cleaners use cycles of hot and cold water.
Breathing your e-juice is super important for getting the delicious flavor you’re looking for. Letting the liquid get some air can help enhance the process and keep your e-juice tasting delicious while steeping, as well as improve aeration. Exposing it to the air also causes oxidation, which is a great thing for e-juice. Oxidation leads to reduction, meaning your flavors are going to get more concentrated while some of the components that cause harsh hits are removed.
If your e-liquid has a lot of alcohol in it, oxidation can help get rid of some of that. Alcohol can not only weaken the flavor of your e-juice, but it also hits your throat hard and can create a level of bitterness. Alcohol should reduce pretty rapidly when you let your e-juice breathe and leave behind a smoother, more concentrated liquid.
You don’t need to let your e-juice breathe for super long. We recommend up to around 12 hours, which should be plenty. Not that any more than that can cause serious problems, but you don’t want debris such as dust or even bugs getting inside the bottle. Plus, if you leave it overnight and forget about it, you could end up knocking it over later and creating a mess. Ultimately, 12 hours or less should really do it.
Streathing is the combination of steeping and letting your e-juice breathe. While just letting it sit and shaking occasionally is a perfectly fine way of getting that enhanced flavor you’re looking for, streathing can improve your results significantly. We’ve already mentioned aeration and oxidation; these two processes are super important for smooth, rich flavors.
When you breathe your e-juice during the steeping process, it just further compounds the benefits of oxidation and aeration. New air introduced can help get rid of that alcohol, while aeration keeps the vaping liquid from getting too congealed. For longer steeping timelines, a cycle of steeping and breathing can reduce the time needed to get the results you’re looking for and also improve smoothness.
Just because you’re breathing and steeping doesn’t mean you can forget about stirring up that bottle, though. Particles will settle during the process, even if you’re just going for a few days. Be sure to shake or stir your e-juice at least once every 12 hours to prevent settling. By getting the particles back up into the solution, you’ll end up with better flavors, and it’ll make the steeping process more effective. There’s nothing like going through this whole process and not getting good results because you forgot to shake! The settling is another reason we recommend glass bottles. Plastic breaks down really easily, and while you want to get the flavor up inside the vape juice, you don’t want to also shake in plastic debris, which can ruin the e-juice.
Finding the right cycle that works for you will take some trial and error, just like the rest of this process. We’d love to give you a cut-and-dry “breathe for this long, steep for this long, shake this many times” formula, but it really is all about preference. Using this as a loose guideline can help you start on the path to getting the best e-juice. The best rule of thumb is to try a shorter time, and then expand from there until you find the best timing cycle for you and your preferences.
Whether you’re looking for new layers of flavor or to improve smoothness and texture, steeping your e-juice can make a huge difference in how you enjoy vaping.
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