One of the most annoying aspects of the TPD has been the limit on the size of e-liquid bottles containing nicotine – but thanks to ‘short fills’ and shake ‘n’ vape kits there’s a way round it!
So we thought we’d randomly pick three different short fill and shake n vape e-liquids currently available and put them to the test to see if they really are a good alternative to those annoying little 10ml bottles.
Three Random Short Fill / Shake N Vape E-Liquids Put to the Test – Plus User Guide
So what exactly is a short fill I hear you ask?
OK for those of you not in the know a short fill is basically any sized bottle of e-liquid that’s nicotine free and ‘not quite full’.
In other words there’s space for you to add what’s known as a ‘nic shot – short for nicotine – that comes in a separate 10ml bottle of various nicotine strengths that you add to top up.
Typically they come in 60ml bottles containing 50mls of nicotine free e-liquid with a separate 10ml ‘nic shot’ that once added gives you 60mls of juice mixed to your preferred nic strength.
I did say typically 60mls – a quick hunt around the net shows you can pretty much get any size of nicotine free e-liquid you like.
So we’ll take a look at the three random choices we bought – take you through how each of them are mixed – how they vape – and any pros and cons.
OK, we’re looking at the PicNic range from JAC Vapour – a Bottle Shot from DarkStar and nic shot from the Tropix range of e-juices.
We’ll look at a basic ‘how to’ for each of them looking at how simple they are to mix – how you calculate the correct amount of nicotine you require – what PG and VG ratios are on offer – cost and any issues I find.
So Who’s Buying Short Fill E-Liquids?
Basically pretty much anyone who vapes and looking for bigger bottles of e-liquid is the long and short of it! They have been hugely popular as our best vape juice list shows.
The current law that only 10ml bottles of e-liquid containing nicotine can be sold in the UK and Europe has seen an explosion of vapers making their own juice via the DIY method.
Companies have been quick to spot the potential the growing DIY e-liquid market has opened up and most if not all either supply the basic ingredients – PG – VG – Nicotine and Concentrates or have teamed up with other businesses to supply their flavours.
DIY e-liquid is now a big business but it can also be a little bit daunting to newcomers and that’s where the short fills come in.
Whilst of course it’s possible to create a decent juice at home from one or two flavour concentrates – a lot of people have neither the time nor the inclination to buy in all the stuff such as the liquids and mixing paraphernalia – nor do they have the patience to wait for the e-liquid to steep.
You can read more about steeping e-liquid HERE – but like a fine wine the best taste from a home-made e-liquid comes after a period of time – sometimes up to weeks.
Hey, we live in a fast moving society looking for quick and easy fixes – so the short fills are just that – mix – shake ‘n vape!
We’ll look at how true that is later.
So the majority of short fills out there are supposedly mixed in a way that makes them ready to vape almost immediately – a quick and easy DIY method so to speak.
However I’m not so sure the DIY e-liquid purists out there would agree!
OK so we’ve set the scene now let’s take a look at the short fill e-liquids in action.
Calculating the Exact Amount of Nicotine Required Using a Nic Shot
Sadly the vast majority of short fills out there – certainly some of the more well-known brands – don’t cater for those of you who enjoy higher nicotine levels.
There is of course a few such as JAC Vapour and Decadent Vapours – however the latter is not strictly a short fill as its more of a shake ‘n vape lol.
OK now I’m one of the world’s worst mathematicians so bear with me!
So to keep this as simple as possible I shall only be looking at the common 18mg 10ml ‘nic shots’ you find for sale all over the net and probably in your local vape shop.
On most sites there’s the option to add a nic shot to your cart and the calculations are generally done for you and you normally have a choice of what ratio of PG-VG the nicotine is mixed with.
For instance one of the most popular brands out there is Plus Nic and that comes as a 10ml shot containing 18mgs of nicotine suspended inside a 70% VG 30% PG mix.
Another is Just Nic It which comes in a ‘High VG’ mix – so good for sub ohm vaping and others can be bought with just VG or just PG as a base.
OK – so for instance if you want 3mg nicotine strength:
- 60mls of e-liquid
- 3mg nicotine strength
- 80-20 VG-PG mix
The calculations say you opt for:
- 50mls of zero nic e-liquid – x1
- 10ml 18mg nic shot suspended in an 80-20 VG and PG mix
- Voila – 60mls of 3mg e-liquid.
So to keep things really simple to get a 3mg nicotine e-liquid you’ll need 50mls of zero nic juice and x1 10ml bottle of 18mg nicotine suspended in your chosen ratio of PG and VG.
If you’re favourite flavour isn’t available as a short fill then you can use a syringe to remove 10ml of e-liquid from a 60ml bottle. Of course be sure you have an empty bottle spare to put this in for later use..
The above are general calculations to make things easier based on the bottle size available but when you check out the calculator you will find the exact quantities needed. You can of course buy empty e-liquid bottles in larger sizes to mix more accurately.
So What About Higher Nicotine Levels and Nic Shots?
Some sites such as JAC Vapour do offer higher nicotine level nic shots – but many don’t so it can be a little tricky for those who need more of a nic hit.
Like I said I’m no mathematician – but thankfully there’s a ton of calculators out there to help get your perfect mix.
So based on one I found and if you want a 60ml short fill that is say 12mg nicotine then you’ll need:
- 50mls zero nicotine e-liquid
- 5.55 X 10ml 18mg nic shots
So that’s five and half 10ml, 18mg strength nic shots added to your 50mls of e-liquid which equals a little over 100mls at 12mg nicotine strength!
NOTE: Too Many Shots Could Mean Loss of Flavour
Now some of you might spot an issue with this calculation.
Adding all that unflavoured PG-VG and nic is going to considerably water down the overall flavour somewhat.
And that’s where many nic shots can be a little tricky for those of you looking for more of a nicotine hit.
However help is at hand on some sites such as DarkStar that has one shot flavour concentrates that you can add to your final mix- please see the site for calculations!
So it looks as though those of you looking for a short fill with a nicotine strength of over 12mgs are going to have to do a bit more research – or stick with the very acceptable JAC Vapour PicNic range.
However here’s a simple quick table of nic shot mixes – but remember generally most sites will do the calculations for you before you purchase 😉
- 50ml zero e-liquid – x1 10ml of 18mg = 60ml 3mg
- 100ml zero e-liquid – x2 10ml of 18mg = 120ml 3mg
- 40ml zero e-liquid – x2 10ml 18mg = 60ml 6mg
- 80ml zero e-liquid – x4 10ml 18mg nic = 120ml 6mg
REMEMBER: adding more unflavoured nicotine shots to your zero e-liquid can and will dilute the flavour.
So if you’re looking for higher nicotine levels either buy additional flavour shots OR find a site that offers higher nic strength short fills!
And as mentioned you’re gonna need a bigger bottle!
I hope that’s as clear as I can make it especially given my blindness to anything numerical lol.
OK that’s the numbers out of the way – sort of lol – we’ll get to the fun part – mixing those short fills in a moment!
Jac Vapour PicNic Short Fill Range
OK now before we get into this one strictly speaking I guess this isn’t a short fill!
Let me explain.
In most cases a short fill is just that – 50mls inside a 60ml bottle – and ready mixed with your chosen ratio of PG and VG and you just add the nicotine.
The PicNic range is slightly different but the end result is the same as you can see from my full Jacvapour PicNic review here.
In this instance the PG and VG – the flavouring and the nicotine come in separate bottles that you mix in an empty bottle as part of the kit – kind of a longer short fill if you like!
You have a choice of different nicotine strengths from zero right up to 18mg and a variety of PG and VG ratios.
You’re looking at 60mls of your chosen e-liquid with prices beginning at £12.99 – which in the scheme of things is extremely competitive.
- x1 10ml Flavour concentrate
- x4 10ml bottles of liquid base [nicotine optional and choose your PG/VG ratio etc]
- x1 Empty 50ml mixing bottle
How to Mix it Up
- Empty the contents of the base liquid into the 50ml bottle.
- Add the 10ml flavour concentrate
- Pop on the nozzle
- Secure child-proof bottle top
- Shake the bottle until fully mixed
As I said in my review on the PicNic range compared to the two bottle method this takes a little longer and does involve a lot of waste with all that packaging and empty bottles.
It’s also fair to say that whilst it was a decent flavour straight off the bat – a week later and the flavour improved significantly.
- Good price
- 45 flavours
- Huge selection of PG and VG ratios
- Good choice of nicotine strengths
- Simple to mix
- Not as quick to mix as most short fills
- Far too much packaging
You can buy Jacvapour PicNic here – Use code ECC for 15% off
Tropix Short Fills
This is more like the typical short fill e-liquids you’ll find out there.
It comes in a 60ml unicorn style bottle filled with 50mls of zero nicotine e-liquid.
We paid £14.99 for the 50mls of zero nicotine e-liquid and £2 for the 10ml 18mg nic shot – not a bad price all things considered.
- X1 50ml bottle zero nicotine flavour of your choice e-liquid
- As many 10ml 18mg nic shots you require [sold separately]
OK we’ll keep it simple lol.
In this case I wanted a 3mg e-liquid – for the record it was Passion Fruit.
So I knew to get that I needed just one 10ml 18mg nic shot from off the site.
It was then a simple matter of popping off both tops and adding the nic shot – sealing the unicorn bottle back up and shake away.
To be honest the first vape was just OK flavour wise but with good clouds.
However after 3 or 4 days the flavour began to pop and now almost a week in the flavour is very good.
Once again shake ‘n vape it might be – but steeping has brought out the flavour considerably!
- Just two bottles for a 3mg vape so not much packaging
- Very simple to mix
- 50ml to 150ml bottles
- Choice of branded nic shots
- Mix ratio info when found on the site is good
- Decent price
- Calculations not done automatically [info on ratios on separate page]
Where To Buy Short-fill E Liquid & Nicotine Shots
DarkStar Bottle Shots
I think DarkStar were one of the first companies to embrace the short fill e-liquid system and they seem to be one of the most popular out there.
We chose to try the Bottle Shot and bought 500mls of [Open Recipe] Lemon Tart with an 85VG / 15 PG base mix and a pack of nic shots.
Bottle Shots come in 250ml – 500ml right up to 1000ml whilst nic shots can be bought in boxes of 18 10ml bottles at 18mg nicotine strength and either 50-50 VG/PG – 70-30 VG/PG or 100% VG or PG.
However you are only getting the flavouring when buying a Bottle Shot so need to also purchase your base mix – unless of course you have your own ready to go!
The base mixes come in 500ml and 1000ml bottles and a choice of 85/15 or 70/30 VG/PG ratios.
The bottles are perfectly measured meaning all you have to do is calculate the amount of nicotine shots you’ll need to add – see the tables below:
Simple Nic Shot Calculator on DarkStar Site
- 3mg/ml: 164.58ml (207.54g) VG, 25ml (25.9g) PG, 10.42ml of 7.2% Nic (VG Base)
- 6mg/ml: 154.17ml (194.41g) VG, 25ml (25.9g) PG, 20.83ml of 7.2% Nic (VG Base)
- 3mg/ml: 329.17ml (415.09g) VG, 50ml (51.8g) PG, 20.83ml of 7.2% Nic (VG Base)
- 6mg/ml: 308.33ml (388.81g) VG, 50ml (51.8g) PG, 41.67ml of 7.2% Nic (VG Base)
- 3mg/ml: 658.33ml (830.16g) VG, 100ml (103.6g) PG, 41.67ml of 7.2% Nic (VG Base)
- 6mg/ml: 616.67ml (777.63g) VG, 100ml (103.6g) PG, 83.33ml of 7.2% Nic (VG Base)
- X1 Bottle Shot
- X1 Base Mix of your choice – cost extra
- Only pack of 18 nic shots available
How to Mix it Up
- After calculating your required nic strength add the shots to your flavour – then add the base mix.
- Shake well
- Leave to steep for a week at least
Whilst DarkStar say this is an OK shake ‘n Vape they do recommend leaving it to steep for at least seven days.
I tried it as soon as it was mixed up and agree – sure there was a taste of sorts but it felt a little watery.
I left it in a dark place and took it out for half an hour a day with the top off before shaking and replacing.
6 days in and the flavour is definitely starting to come out but I have a feeling it may need a few more days to get the full benefit.
- Simple to mix
- Choice of flavours
- Good price
- Reasonably simple to read calculations
- You need to buy base mix separately
- Nic shots only available in packs of 18
- One week steeping [technically]
OK given you technically need to purchase x3 separate items – the flavour – base mix and nicotine – this can seem a little pricey.
There is of course nothing stopping you using your own base mix and nicotine.
However as I explained we bought the 500ml flavouring at £13.99 – the base mix at £4.99 and the pack of nic shots at £15.99 totalling a layout of £34.97.
Now that is for 500mls of 3mg e-liquid for less than thirty five quid which it has to be said is not a bad price at all.
It tastes good too 😉
You can buy Darkstar Bottle Shots Here
Short Fills – Are They Worth It?
When Jonny and myself were discussing this article he was telling me the trouble he had when he tried a short fill e-liquid for the first time.
Now don’t laugh but his main issue was getting the tops off the bottles hehe.
He had to resort to pliers to get the tops off and managed to spill half his juice lol – I know I shouldn’t laugh! (Jonny – I must have had a dodgy bottle! haha)
I have to admit I use one from my local vape shop on a weekly basis and yes they can be a little on the shall we say tight side to remove – but hand on heart I can say with this trio I’ve tried I had no such issues 😉
So enough of that – are short fills worth it?
Price wise I have to say yes they are – especially those Bottle Shots where you get a lot of juice for a good price.
I have used many more than the ones we’ve tried here and as yet haven’t found one that doesn’t taste good.
However whilst many of them claim to be ready as soon as they’ve been mixed every single one I’ve tried including the three here have benefited from at least a week to really get the flavour through.
So whilst they’re a good way to get a decent amount of e-liquid at a good price – many of them out there are maybe not yet 100% shake ‘n vape – as in ready to go straight out of the bottle – but hey if you can wait a few days what’s not to like!
Short Fill Vape Juice – the Long and Short of It
Hands up how many of you really dislike those bloody 10ml bottles – I know I do!
Not only the size either – the sheer amount of waste involved is a disgrace and one the EU should be bloody ashamed of.
However short fills do fill the gap and shows that no matter how hard ‘they’ try to close down our choices the vaping industry is usually one step ahead – long may that last.
With more and more of the premium and popular e-liquid brands out there going down the short fill route – the more choices for us the vapers and that has to be a good thing.
However speaking of choices the lack of higher strength nicotine short fills is without doubt a bit of an issue – but maybe that will change when the e-liquid companies recognise the need and popularity of this ingenious way around those ridiculous laws.
So for me the long and short of it is the short fills are bloody brilliant and I highly recommend then.
Right I’m off to buy Jonny one of those hand strengthener exercise things 😉