Voat’s Down & Dirty Beginner’s Guide to DIY e-Juice
by /u/localbum & /u/alrahm
So you’ve stumbled upon our DIY e-juice community, decided to take the reigns yourself, and you want to start mixing up your own juice combinations and concoctions - congratulations are due first and foremost!
With e-juice prices rising, taxation increasing and local shops price-gouging by the bottle, it’s no wonder the DIY community is flourishing with people trying to save cash and make a finished product that they truly enjoy. Who is better suited to make your perfect e-juice other than yourself?
Getting started can appear to be daunting at first, but there’s really only a few essential points to cover, some basic materials needed to make it, and some free time to get mixing. It’s a practiced hobby, and as with all hobbies - practice makes perfect.
Let’s take it one point at a time. First up, we’ll need to look at ingredients.
Propylene Glycol (PG)
This is a very thin liquid. Around the viscosity of water. PG carries flavor very well, but doesn’t produce much vapor. It also provides throat hit that you may or may not like. Some people can be sensitive to it; this is something you will have to find out about yourself and identify how to craft your juices accordingly.
Vegetable Glycerin (VG)
This is a very thick liquid, about the viscosity of maple syrup. VG doesn’t carry flavor as well as PG, but produces a larger amount of vapor. Without any flavorings, VG can still emit a slight sweetness. Be careful of going too heavy on the VG in your final mix if you are using a tank system with small juice channels, as it will not wick fast enough to your coils and increase the risk of a dry hit. An almost nonexistent amount of people are sensitive/allergic to vegetable glycerin.
For most of us, we want our e-Juice to have nicotine. There are varying levels people prefer; most people are accustomed to the standard 0mg, 3mg, 6mg, 12mg scale of potency. Doing it yourself, you can make the nicotine level exactly what you want. This makes “stepping down” (or gradually dropping the amount of ingested nicotine over time) a much easier and customizable experience.
There are many companies you can buy your nicotine from, and we have listed some in the sidebar.
There are a ton of companies who make flavor concentrates. Some companies are better at getting the ‘actual’ taste of a flavor, and some are better at keeping the price down. For the sake of this intro to DIY e-Juice we will be using The Flavor Apprentice, abbreviated to TFA. They are a decent company with decent flavorings at an affordable price.
Other things you’ll need...
Before jumping at a starter kit, price out some of the materials on places like Amazon, eBay, or even local stores.
You’ll need empty, clean bottles to mix your juice in. You can absolutely use old e-Juice bottles, but generously clean them with mild detergent and completely dry them out first!
Luer-lock syringes with blunt-tipped needles for your flavorings, or disposable pipettes. You’ll need to accurately measure out small amounts of your flavorings.
Disposable latex gloves.
Paper towels, rubbing alcohol and the like to help clean up spills and reduce the risk of injuring others, or making yourself sick. (Nicotine does absorb through the skin, make sure you’re washing your hands!)
Okay so we’ve got all our supplies and flavorings and all that, we’re ready to go right?
We need to take a second to remind everyone to not be knuckleheads out there, and to keep this stuff away from children and pets. Nicotine in a highly concentrated form is toxic, can and will make little kids sick, and will kill small animals if they consume it. Clean up your spills and don’t keep or store poisons within reach of children. Be careful, be steady and be clean about it.
There’s a whole slew of ethical, moral and hygienic standards that go into making e-juice for someone else to inhale and put into their bodies. If you’re looking to make a living off of selling your ejuice, stop reading this down n’ dirty guide and start looking into much more advanced, in-depth guides to creating a sterile clean room for mixing.
Our first batch of e-Juice
So let’s make a basic recipe to use in this guide, where we mix it by measuring by volume.
Let’s make Strawberry-Banana; it’s an easy one, and generally accepted as a good flavor.
(Please be aware that an ingredient in this recipe may crack, create cloudy splotches, or damage some plastic tanks. We recommend staying away from plastic and instead, use Pyrex glass. Always do a little digging into your ingredients before using them!)
5% Strawberry (TFA) – 0.5ml
2% Ripe Banana (TFA) – 0.2ml
50mg/ml Nicotine (PG based) – 1.0ml
VG – 5.0ml
PG – 3.3ml
Total volume – 10ml
If we add up all of our measured amounts, it should equal up to 10ml. Everything seems to check out.
How we got the amounts
So let’s explain this a little bit more. It may look confusing at first, as the largest single ingredient we are adding is VG. But I thought we wanted the PG and VG equal? The flavorings that we used are suspended in 100% PG, so they count as PG when we add them to the bottle. We also got our nicotine in a PG base, so that counts as PG as well. If you add up the flavorings, nicotine, and PG it adds up to 5ml, add in 5ml of VG and we get 10ml of 50/50!
Okay, so how do I calculate this? Math? Nuts to this, I just want to make juice, not, like, do Math or whatever.
There are many resources available for calculating your ratios for your recipes. For this instructional, I used http://e-liquid-recipes.com/create
Our recipe will be located here:
Basically, you just put in the information of what you have, and it calculates it for you. So let’s look at what I entered.
Amount to make – We chose 10ml.
Desired strength – We chose 5mg.
Water/Vodka/PGA – Zero, we’re not adding any of this stuff.
Desired PG – 50%
Desired VG – 50%
Nicotine strength – This is asking the strength of our nicotine concentrate. Since we are using 50mg/ml, I entered 50.
PG/VG Content of nicotine – We used a 100% PG nicotine, so I entered 100% PG
Flavors – I added the Strawberry at 5% and the Ripe Banana at 2%.
Now that we have entered all this information it should give us our easy-to-read recipe at the bottom of the page.
So how do I mix all this?
Here’s a good, quick run down of the major steps we’re looking at here:
Put on gloves and eye protection. Safety First!
Prepare your recipe. Use one you found online or make your own and calculate your flavoring ratios.
Measure out your flavorings, and put them into your bottle that is going to hold your final mixture. Accuracy is what you are going for here.
Measure out your nicotine. Be very accurate on this one. Drop directly into the bottle with your flavorings.
Measure out your PG and empty it into your bottle. Give it a good couple swirls to mix it up.
Measure out VG, put your cap/lid on your bottle, and shake it vigorously for 3-5 minutes, or until it looks blended and is full of little air bubbles. (As a general rule, the more bubbles, the better mixed up it is. You’re looking for “ribbons” of semi-transparent liquid still visible in the bottle, if you see streaks, you’re not mixed up enough.)
Label your bottle with the name of the juice, the nicotine strength, and the date of mix.
Clean up and make sure all caps are secure for storage. Keep everything out of reach for children and pets. It’s your job to be responsible with all of this.
Enjoy your awesome first DIY e-Juice! Revel in how cheap it was and that you now have the freedom to create whatever you want! Taste that? You earned that. You made that. Good job!
See, with the use of a calculator and a little preparation, the process goes from ‘daunting’ to slightly more complex than whipping up some Ramen soup in the kitchen. Easy stuff, and it gets easier every time you do it.
To ‘steep’ e-Juice is to let it sit, cure and mature. ‘Steep’ is merely the vocab that has been adopted by the e-cig community for it, despite it being a technically incorrect term. A lot of flavor combinations should taste fine when freshly mixed, but there are quite a few that will taste even better if given time to mature.
There are various methods to speed up this process out there, using things like crock pots, ultrasonic cleaners - even methods as easy as microwaving un-capped bottles for mere seconds at a time. Though they may work and be effective, it’s general consensus that the true master of ‘steeping’ juice is good ol’ fashioned time and patience.