What Is Steeping?
If you enjoy a nice whisky you’ll understand that longer in the barrel is better and it’s the same with your e-liquid.
Steeping is simply the word for soaking or marinating, and as a rule of thumb the longer something is soaked – the better the end result.
With e-juices the process of steeping begins from the moment the PG, VG and flavouring is added.
It naturally follows that depending on how long your juice has sat in a warehouse or on a shop shelf could make a difference to the taste and quality.
A quick look at the bottles I have in my collection shows not all display when they were bottled so it can be a bit of a hit and miss on working out just how long the liquid has steeped.
However if you mix your own e-liquid, then steeping is even more important as you’ll see below.
How Can Steeping Help?
Let’s stick our mad scientist hat on for a minute and go back into those long forgotten chemistry lessons.
Your e-liquid is made up of a handful of ingredients. The main two being propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine, with most having a level of nicotine. Some e-juices also have distilled water and possibly alcohol added depending on the recipe.
Medical quality nicotine is included in various amounts and down to the individual as to the strength they prefer – 3mg through to 24mg is the average.
The molecules of these ingredients need to be introduced to each other – literally – otherwise they’ll just sit there like strangers at a cheese and wine party.
Sure you could just give the bottle a shake and then vape – the shake and vape approach if you like, but I’m sure you’ll notice immediately the taste might be a little ‘raw’.
So like that gorgeous bottle of scotch your e-liquid can benefit by allowing it to sit and ‘steep’ a while letting the molecules combine.
This allows a process of oxidation to take place in the compounds that are in a state that will react to the introduction of oxygen.
The process of oxidation will produce oxides into the fluid. During the oxidation process, components that are more volatile evaporate out of the liquid. This can change the nature of the flavor of the eJuice.
If you’re a make your own kind of vaper then you will need to steep your e-liquid for at least 2 to 3 days – again the longer the better, some juices can benefit from ‘weeks’, but the ‘experts’ seem agreed that is the minimum steeping time.
The message here is that patience can be your friend.
Different Methods of Steeping
As you might expect with a movement like vaping there are many schools of thought about steeping methods. For many simply leaving the e-liquid in a cupboard for a couple of days is not nearly enough.
At the moment the main types of e-juice steeping are:
- Ultra Sonic
- Water Bath
Probably one of the cheapest and easier methods, the water bath method is pretty much as the title says – experts say dunking your newly created e-liquid into a warm [not hot] water can get the molecules mixing more quickly.
A popular way for some vapers is to place their e juice bottle in a cup of hot water from the tap (not boiling from a kettle), so the bottle is submerged upto it’s neck, with the top off.
When the water has cooled, place the top back on, shake, have a whiff and test the flavour. Preferably on a dripper.
Needs a little more time? Just repeat the process until you’re happy with your juice. This can also be done with the cap on and placing your bottle in a plastic bag then
This can also be done with the cap on and placing your bottle in a plastic bag then submerging in the water.
Steam Monkey on Reddit has a great explanation of how this is done
Ultra Sonic Steeping
If you can’t wait for your e-juice to be vape ready and can afford to invest in an ultrasonic cleaner – then this is for you.
In a nutshell, the energy pulses vibrate through the liquid speeding up the steeping process.
There is a thread on e-cigarette-forum that discusses steeping time and best use
You will be better off with an ultrasonic cleaner with a heater built in. You can pick an ultrasonic cleaner up for a good price and of course use it for a whole host of different things, check out these options.
The ‘shake and vape’ method. Useful with pre-steeped liquids to make sure the molecules haven’t separated – in the same way you’d shake your ketchup.
Also, an important part after any of the steeping methods used.
Let it brew…real slow… when it comes to steeping e-liquids time is the natural way to go.
Informal tests done by a variety of popular vaping sites have categorically shown that the longer an e-juice is steeped – the better it tastes. The Ashtray blog carried out their own test here.
Pop the bottle in a cupboard or draw and let time do it’s thing. You will also want to give the bottle a shake every day to help things a long.
You can also take the extra step of removing the cap briefly and give it a gentle squeeze to allow new air into the bottle.
Try your juice after 1 week, if it’s not quite there pop it back in the draw for another week.
If you still don’t like the flavor after 4-5 weeks it’s more likely that the flavor is just not for you!
So, only for the patient, but is simple enough to carry out.
Steeping E Liquid Video
Here is a great video that tests various e juice steeping methods side by side over a number of weeks. This is mainly aimed at the DIY E Jucie makers but can be applied to any store bought e liquid that you think may benefit from steeping.
Keep your e-liquids in darkened drawers, boxes or cupboards – sunlight is your enemy.
I actually have a lack of cupboard space so just use a couple of shoe boxes to store my e juice.
It all boils down to ‘how steep’ is your love for your e-liquid. If you’re a home brewer then you already know the importance of letting your juice rest awhile.
If like me you buy ready made juices from your vape shop or online vaping store many of them are pre-steeped. However, there’s still things you can do to help your sauce.
Shake before use and also whilst in storage. Let them breath by leaving the top off for an hour or two. This is the same for home brewed e-juices and indeed shop bought.
And most importantly buy your e-juices and liquids from reputable sources, this is even more important when it comes to making your own.
Like many things in the vaping world it’s all about experimenting yourself. If you don’t like your juice try one of the methods above, come back to it and see if things have improved.
Enjoy your vaping whichever way you go.