Like a fine wine or aged spirit, e-juice is something that almost always tastes better after some time has passed. Within the world of vaping we refer to this aging process as steeping and it’s meant to enhance various tasting notes in a given e-liquid. In this article, we’ll explore what exactly steeping, why you should steep your vape juice, how to steep your e-juice, and how to speed up the steeping process.
What is e-juice steeping?
Within the vape world, steeping is the process in which you age your e-juice to achieve a better flavour. While the term steeping is generally used in the vape industry, it is actually fairly misleading as the term is often used to define putting a solid in water to soften it or extract flavour — like steeping tea or marinating meat.
While the idea of steeping your e-liquid may sound like an easy endeavour, there are actually a few ways in which you as a vaper can do this. However, all these methods involve letting e-juice mature over time, allowing the various ingredients (PG/VG, flavourings, and nicotine) to blend and get to know each other a little better. Additionally, certain flavourings do contain trace amounts of alcohol and the steeping process helps alcohol evaporate from the e-liquid.
Steeping has become sort of like a myth in the vaping world, and while it is a viable technique to improve the flavour of an e-juice, there is a fair amount of misinformation spread about the process. Essentially, the entire process can be broken down into three categories; steeping, breathing and “streathing.” The later of which is just a combination of the first two processes.
Why steep your vape juice?
While the steeping process isn’t necessary for all e-juices, the process is almost necessary for DIY vape juice makers. In almost all cases, a steeped e-juice will taste much better, when compared to a freshly made one and will offer vapers a much more pleasant experience. While there are some recipes that may be “shake & vape certified,” meaning they don’t require a steep, most flavours will require more time to blend in with one another.
Just because not all commercially produced e-juices need to be steeped, doesn’t mean they will not benefit from a steeping process. While some e-juices do come pre-steeped — simply because it sits on store shelves and warehouses for weeks — made-to-order e-liquids will need to steeped by you. Again, this process will greatly enhance the flavours within the vape and will help the nicotine better integrate with the various other ingredients in the finished e-liquid.
How to steep an e-juice
While the steeping times for each e-liquid can vary, and will require some trial and error to figure out, you can easily steep multiple e-liquids together if you have the appropriate amount of space. Generally speaking, if you want to steep your e-juice all you need to do is place your closed bottles in a cool and dark place, such as a drawer, cupboard, or cigar box for an extended period of time. During this steeping period it is recommended that you shake your bottles every once in a while to help with the process.
How to breathe an e-juice?
Unlike steeping an e-juice, which can take days to do, breathing takes only a few hours but still works effectively to improve the flavour of an e-liquid. To breath your vape juice, all you need to do is remove the cap off the bottle and leave your e-juice to stand for a few hours. This process helps speed up the alcohol evaporation in an e-liquid, as plenty of vape juice do contain trace amounts of alcohol which can affect the overall flavour of the liquid. We do not recommend breathing your e-juice for longer than 12 hours, as leaving it open for that long introduces the possibility of spills and something unwanted landing in your bottle.
How to streath an e-juice?
As the name suggests, streathing an e-liquid combines elements of steeping and breathing. To streathe your vape juice, start by shaking the bottle, then run it under warm tap water. You then need to take the cap off and place the bottle in a cool, dark place for two hours. Finally, place the cap back on and shake well.
What makes this process different from the other two is the warming process the e-juice faces. This heating helps thin out the vegetable glycerin in the liquid, making it more like propylene glycol. The theory behind the heating process suggests that the flavour molecules will be more miscible in the thinner base.
How long does steeping take?
There is no concrete answer to this question, as steep times can depend on a variety of factors, including personal taste, when the e-liquid was produced, and whatever flavour you’re trying to achieve. That being said, there are some estimated times you can follow generally to achieve improved flavours. Most fruit and beverage e-liquids can be vaped after a day or two of steeping, while tobacco and deserts typically need a longer steeping time for maximum flavour.
When it comes to commercially produced e-liquid, be sure to check the bottle and identify the born-on-date and expiration date before you begin steeping. Generally speaking, e-juice has a shelf life to 2 years, so be sure your e-liquid is within that time frame before even considering a steep. If your e-liquid is old and is tasting off, any amount of steeping time will not save it.
How to speed up the steeping process
While steeping can greatly improve the flavour of your e-juice, most simply don’t have the time for this long process. While speeding up the steeping process is a subject of debate among vapers — some swearing by it and other claiming only patience will do the trick — some of these methods are worth a shot if you want more developed flavours in less time.
Bath – Fill a bowl, sink, or bathtub with warm water. The temperature of the water should not be at the boiling point, nor should it be room temperature, it needs to be just warm enough. Place the e-liquid bottles in a plastic bag and then in the water and let nature do the rest.
Slow cooker – Because slow cookers output a low heat at a consistent temperature over time, they are almost perfect for slow steeping e-liquids. SImply place you e-liquid bottles in a plastic Ziploc bag, fill your slow cooker with water, turn it to the lowest possible heat setting, place the bag inside, and shake occasionally.
Ultrasonic cleaner – This speed steeping process takes advantage of the warmth and agitation generated by an ultrasonic cleaner. Simply fill the cleaner with warm water, place your bottle directly into the device, and run it through a regular cycle. The ultrasonic waves and vibrations should allow the molecules to mix together nicely and in a rapid way.
Magnetic stirrer – Simply transfer your e-liquid to a large container, preferably a glass one, place it on top of the magnetic stirrer, and turn it on. This method works great for DIY e-liquids and works through aggressive agitation.
Seed steeping – Seed steeping involves blending an already steeped e-juice with a fresh one to speed up the steeping process. This is perhaps the fastest and easiest method of steeping, but may not provide a drastic change in flavour.
Whether you’re DIYing your own e-juice or buying it from the store shelves, steeping is often the final touch that any e-liquid needs to become your all-day-vape. While the steeping process does happen at a molecular level, making it much more of a science, it can be accomplished by regular vapers — especially for those not in a hurry.
While the steeping process can add a bit of magic to your e-juice, it is in no way a miracle cure fir bad e-liquids. If your steeped bottle doesn’t quite taste right, it’s likely it never will. Steeping can help bring out nuances in e-liquids, but it won’t save a bad recipe or a bad blend of ingredients.