That is the question, just like Shakespeare’s famous to be or not to be soliloquy new vapers will hear a lot of foreign sounding terms thrown around.
One of those terms is steeping. So, what exactly is steeping and is it really necessary? This is a fiercely debated question and will have differing answers depending who you ask, as well as external factors such as adding nicotine to nicotine free e-juice. Me being The President of Vape Nation with the help of our mixologist are here to help you.
Many e-liquid manufacturers pre-steep their e-liquids prior to the bottling process. Think of it, like brewing a beer or ageing a wine in a barrel prior to bottling for consumption, this allows the ingredients to homogenise into a delicious and consistent mix of flavours. Depending on the concentrates used, the process of steeping will assist to evaporate any alcohol, yep alcohol, remove harshness, and assist flavours to be well balanced which is a lot easier than it sounds!
So, you might be wondering what the main ingredients are that are in most e-liquids. Well, as the President, I am here to break it down for you.
As a general guide, most e-liquids have the following (however there can be additional ingredients) Propylene Glycol, commonly called PG for short, Vegetable Glycerine, known as VG for short, and concentrates which can be natural or artificial. One thing a lot of people don’t realise is the concentrates can be made up of 10+ different flavours or chemicals. PG is a water soluble(doesn’t mix well with oil), by VG isn’t so it takes time for the steeping and mixing process to occur. If you have a higher content of VG it will give you bigger clouds, which in my opinion looks pretty cool. Depending on the concentrates, desired flavour profile and the potency will all alter the recommended steeping time. VG has a thicker viscosity than PG (Think of the consistency of honey compared to water) This is what helps to get those cool looking massive clouds. As an example, fruits and e-liquids that’s 50/50 PG/VG are normally super-fast and is fit for immediate use or just need a few days to steep, while custards and tobacco normally need a minimum of 3 weeks. As a rule of thumb, the higher percentage of concentrates used or the higher the VG content, the longer it needs to be steeped.
This whole steeping process will change the flavour profile, usually for the better but this a double-edged sword and can sometimes produce something distasteful. As an example, I made a blend of refreshing melons, it was pretty delicious after 3 days of steeping. Fast-forward three weeks and it was lacking the same sweetness it previously had. To some this would be the end of an e-juice, but for me, the President who is an experienced vaper and DIY’er, the act of adding some sweetener resolved this. I was back to my normal vaping shenanigans vaping sweet melon nectar from the Greek goodness Dionysus.
So, not only does steeping change the flavour profile but it can also change the colour of the e-liquids from a light and transparent colour to a light yellow or orange or even a dark brown for some tobacco and chocolate profiles. Let’s not forget to mention the adding of nicotine, this too can and normally will change the colour and an e-liquid may need to re-steep again if it was intended to be 0mg as everything will need to homogenise again.
It should be pretty clear there is a decent amount of work, and time in flavour production, for current and new flavours of any e-liquid line. This can often result in a higher price being asked for any e-liquids that are pre-steeped but will also depend on the countries expectation around this. For example, most of the USA e-liquids from well known brands like Jam Monster, BLVK, Charlies Chalk Dust, Vaptasia, just to name a few are all pre-steeped and ready to go upon being purchased. In Australia there is a different expectation and we like our e-liquids to be steeped, but customers are understanding of a need to steep at time if something is not to their liking. Whilst this attitude is good for Aussie e-juice makers, I am not a fan of this mentality and feels everything should come ready to be vaped. Let’s be honest, if you need to steep your e-liquids then you might as well save some extra cash and try mixing basic flavours yourself.
There are a few different methods to steeping your e-liquids, and again, different people have different preferred methods and opinions about how this should be done.
The two most common are breathing & resting.
Breathing: This is like resting, however the lid is removed to allow additional air and oxidising (combine with oxygen) of the flavour. However, one thing a lot of new DIY’er and some experienced DIY’ers don’t realise or forget is that breathing can mute or dull the flavours if left for too long. You will need to monitor and set that alarm or timer to replace the lid and then remove again for additional breathing if desired. Breathing enables the flavour concentrates to successfully go through both the evaporation and degasification (removing dissolved gas from the liquid) – which we will not be speaking about in this article.
Resting: Essentially this is the easiest method and sees the flavour concentrates kept in a cool and dark place (yes, something like a dingy prison) to rest with the lid on. It’s recommended to stir the flavour concentrates from time to time. By far, the easiest method, and normally the longer something rests the better it will taste.
There are other methods used to speed up the process that involve heating the e-liquids to get the flavours to homogenise faster, however this is not discussed in this article as it is not consistent and can cause quality issues with the overall flavour. If you are interested, google is your best friend or me. Feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions regarding steeping. (PS: I need friends too). Some terms I recommend looking into are streathing which is the process of speeding the steeping with a warm water bath.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more from the President of Vape Nation!
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