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What is E-liquid? - The Complete Guide

August 11, 2021 10 min read

E-liquid is a flavoured mixture that is added to an electronic cigarette for vaping. This article is all about e-liquids - and guess what? There’s a lot more to it than you might think!

 

What is E-liquid

What is an E-Liquid?

An e-liquid, often referred to as vape juice or e-juice is what vapers use to top up the tank of their e-cigarette. It’s the juice that produces the vapour and this is usually what you see being inhaled and exhaled. The nature of e-liquid changes when you heat it up, a bit like when you boil water and it produces steam. When vape juice is heated, it is heated to anything from around 90 degrees to 200 degrees, depending on the vape kit you have and your personal preference.

A 10ml bottle of vape juice will usually last the ‘average vaper’ around three to four days - that is someone who vapes 10 - 15 times during the day. This should help you to gauge how much you need.

How are e-liquids made?

It may be no surprise for you to hear that e-liquids are developed in a lab. It can take months to make a good e-liquid due to all of the scientifically accurate measuring and correct quantities of ingredients at the correct temperatures. They take a great deal of mixing, shaking and checking! People who make the e-liquid in labs have to have to abide by certain regulations. But that’s a good thing here in the UK - the regulated e-liquid industry means you are getting high quality juice that has been through a series of rigorous tests.

UK Restrictions on E-Liquids

In the UK, the industry is regulated, which is a good thing because it is there to protect you as the consumer and keep you safe. In the UK….

  •  All nicotine products must be labelled as such and contain a nicotine warning.
  • Tanks and pods must not have a capacity of more than 2ml.
  • An e-liquid that contains nicotine must not be larger than 10ml.
  • The current nicotine strength allowed in vape juice is 20%.
  • Vaping juice in not to be sold to under 18s and adults must not buy vape juice for under 18s.

 

E-liquids give your Vaping the Flavour

One of the best things about e-liquid is that it can give you a hint of flavour too. There are so many flavoured e-liquids on the market and you can choose what you prefer based on your likes and dislikes. For example, some people like to go for a tobacco flavour while others prefer something fruity. Here’s a summary of the most popular e-liquid flavours:

Tobacco - People who have just changed to vaping from smoking may like to keep the tobacco flavours that mimic a cigarette. We recommend New York 60 which combines the buttery biscuit of New York Cheesecake with smooth dark tobacco.

Menthol - Menthol is a strong and acquired taste - fresh and minty. We recommend Menthol Special Blend (MSB).

Fruity - Fruity flavours are packed with sugars and are often the most popular flavour vape juices. Some of our favourite flavours include Froot Bomb and Strawberino.

Drinks Flavours - What’s your favourite drink? Coffee? Cherry Coke? Absinthe? You can probably get your favourite drink as an e-liquid flavour! The Absinthe e-liquid from Decadent Vapours is one of our best sellers.

Dessert Flavours - You can even get speciality e-liquid flavours such as dessert flavours like banoffee and creme angles!

E-liquid Flavours

Popular Brands of E-Liquids

Since the UK vaping boom over the last 10 years, there has been a high demand for more variety of e-liquids on the market. Some of the most popular brands of e-liquid include Decadent Vapours, Tidy Juice, Dinner Lady and Vampire Vape. There are many different types of e-liquids or e-juices, and so we are going to take a look at that in this article today. But first, let’s take a look at the ingredients of an e-liquid.

What are the ingredients of an e-liquid?

Vape juice or e-liquid usually contains Propylene Glycol (PG) or Vegetable Glycerine (VG) (or a mix pf both) plus food grade flavouring and nicotine (although not always). Whether or not you add nicotine to your vape depends on personal preference and also where you are in your smoking journey. For many people, the idea is to slowly adjust down the nicotine level until you can finally go without. Let’s take a look at these ingredients individually, shall we?

Propylene Glycol (PG)

This is a clear odourless and tasteless liquid that has a syrupy consistency. It’s a chemical that is scientifically classed as an alcohol. It basically carries the flavour and also the source of throat hit. If you want to read more about different types of throat hit such as mouth to lung or direct to lung then you can read about it here on our article about choosing your first Vape Kit. (LINK)

If you want to get scientific, Propylene Glycol is an organic compound with the chemical formulaCHCHCHOH. It is a thinner liquid than VG and is also used in solvents and humectants (things like body lotion). The advantages of using PG as an e-liquid is that it is thinner. This means easier to use and less gunk build up on the coil of your vape kit!

Vegetable Glycerin (VG)

VG is another syrupy liquid that is also an alcohol. It is colourless and odourless but sweet tasting. It’s more viscous and thicker than Propylene Glycol (PG) which is probably why it is responsible for the amount of vapour. VG can be found in common household items such as toothpaste, food-colourings and cough syrups.

The chemical formula of VG is C3H8O3. It is a natural liquid extracted from plant oil and is thicker than PG juice.

Flavourings

The flavouring that you get with an e-liquid, whether strawberry or menthol, is a pretty simple and straight forward synthetic flavour whacked onto the PG or VG juice mix. Different synthetic compounds are used to create different flavours. For example, Vanillin is used for Vanilla, Ethyl 2-methyl butyrate is used for strawberry flavour and limonene is for citrus.

Nicotine

This fourth vape juice ingredient is optional - that’s because some people add it because they are transitioning from being a smoker to a non-smoker. Some people just want the nicotine hit, others want nicotine to be kept out completely and just want to vape the e-liquid. You essentially have three options:

  • 0% nicotine vaping.
  • Buy nicotine free e-liquid and add nicotine shots (get the exact right amount for you).
  • Buy vape juice already pre-mixed with nicotine in it.

TPDs laws (Tobacco Products Directive) mean that it is a requirement for UK products to contain nicotine warnings - the have to let you know that it’s there because it is an addictive substance. Remember to always read the labels and know what you are buying.

Nicotine Chemical Formula

What is PV/VG Ratio?

In most e-liquids, there will be a mix of PG and VG so that you get the benefits of both. It’s usual for vape juices to have a 50/50 combination, but you can choose a vape juice with a different ratio depending on whether you want more cloud or more flavour. A 70% VG based liquid would give you less flavour but more cloud. In summary:

  •  Higher PG Ratio - Popular with transitioning smokers due to the stronger ‘throat hit’
  • Higher VG Ratio - Gives a thicker and denser vapour - great for cloud chasers!

If you are using a box mod vape then you can mix your ratios easily. As a general rule, mouth to lung kits tend to steer your to a higher PG volume where as sub-ohm tanks give you more freedom and tend to steer you towards a higher VG volume to intensify flavour and cloud.

Different types of e-Liquid

If you’re not already confused, prepare yourself! The thing is that there are just so many different types of e-liquids to choose from. This short summary should help you to distinguish between the main types.

Freebase Nicotine

‘Freebase nicotine’ is the traditional form of nicotine - nicotine in its chemically purest form. It’s more potent when heated. Phillip Morris Tobacco figured this out in the 1950s and realised that you could change the PH to get more of a kick. The term ‘freebase nicotine’ only really started to be used following the arrival of nicotine salts.

Nicotine Salts

Nicotine salts, or nic salts for short, are the crystal salts that are naturally found in the tobacco plant. Instead of being slowly absorbed into the blood stream, they enter the blood stream much faster than freebase nicotine - within 6 or 7 seconds just like with a cigarette.

Nic salts are not recommended for Sub Ohm high powered devices because they are so strong - if you do use nic salts you will need to use a low wattage device. If you compare the strength of nic salts to high vg e-juices, you may find that salts have a nicotine level of around 20mg whereas you may only find 3-6mg in high vg e-liquids.

If you would like to know more, you can read our guide to nic salts

CBD Liquids

CBD vape juices contain cannabidoil and can be added to or mixed with regular juices. CBD vape juice does not contain the active substance THC which is the chemical that gets you high. For CBD products to be legal in the UK they need to contain less than 0.2% THC. Some people feel that CBD oil helps them with sleep or chronic illness. For example, it could help to reduce anxiety or inflammation.

Prefilled Pod E-Liquids

Pods are hassle free vaping devices that are portable and disposable. They are also your best bet for nic salts. Pod Kits usually come with their own pre-filled or refillable e-liquids. If you want to use a pod then this is one type of e-liquid that you could consider.

Shortfills

Shortfills are excellent value for money and great if you want to mix with your chosen amount of nicotine. Shortfills are essentially vape juices with space in the bottle for you to add your own nicotine shot(s), which tends to work out as excellent value. For example, you may get a 60ml of e-liquid with 50ml of e-liquid and 10ml of space for adding your nicotine shot.

 

Choosing the right e-Liquid for you

There are lots of variables to consider when you are choosing your e-liquid including flavour, brand and whether or not you include nicotine.

Flavour - Possibly the most important thing to consider - get your flavour right! Consider whether or not you are a smoker because if you are then you may want to keep some of that nicotine taste. You might also like to consider what foods you like and your favourite smells.

Brand - There are some fantastic brands out there to try. One of our most popular is Decadent Vapours. Other popular choices include Dinner Lady, Vampire Vape and Zeus Juice. Most people tend to find a brand that they really love and then stick to it. But you don’t have to, you can have a selection!

PG/VG ratio - As we have mentioned previously, this really is a personal preference. Want bigger clouds? Go for the higher VG ratio. 50/50 is a popular mix.

Nicotine - Do you add it? How much? Whether or not you add nicotine to your vape juice often depends on whether you are an ex-smoker. People who start vaping without smoking first often don’t need to add nicotine at all (and should avoid it if possible as it is addictive and harmful). However, some people who are weaning themselves off cigarettes will choose to add nicotine to their vape. You can buy ready made e-juice with nicotine content, or you can buy nicotine shots to get the amount exactly right for you.

Choosing E-liquid

Where to buy e-liquid

The most popular options for buying are online and in store in a speciality Vape Shop like the Vape House. Of course, we’re biased - we will always tell you to come to us! Here are the advantages of the 3 main different shopping options.

In Store - If you are a brand new vape then it may be an idea to go into a specialist vape shop like ours. The advantage of this is you can ask questions about the different e-liquids and we can help you to decide on the best for you.

Online - Online with a specialist vape store is a great way to shop. You can sign up to newsletters to give you the most up to date special offers and new e-liquids on the market. Online shopping means delivery direct to your front door without you having to leave the house. You might also have already found the perfect e-juice for you and want to buy in bulk or in different flavours at the best possible prices. If you would like to shop online with us then visit our online store here.

Supermarkets - Many supermarkets these days stock vape juices from the most popular brands such as Dinner Lady and Decadent Vape. The advantage of supermarket shopping for vape juices is that it is so convenient, but the downside is that they can be more expensive and you don’t have that specialist knowledge if you need help to choose.

Remember to always buy from a reputable retailer and read the label thoroughly.

How to mix your own e-liquid

Did you know that you can actually mix your own vape juice in the comfort of your own home? In fact, it often works out much cheaper. You will need some special equipment to do this including storage bottles, labels and syringes.

How to keep Vape Juice

An important thing to remember is that if vape juice is exposed to heat, air or light it can decay faster than usual. It can start to taste and smell a little sour or ‘off’. That’s why you should always store your vape juice in a cool dark place. A cupboard or drawer is fine, but some vapers do opt to store them in the fridge or freezer. Storing your e-liquid in the freezer protects it from coming into contact with air and light and will preserve it for much longer.

 E-Liquids at the Vape House

Here are the Vape House, we have an extensive choice of e-liquids from some of the best brands in the industry. From Decadent Vapours Froot Bomb to Vampire Vape’s Black Jack, we stock it all! We can also advise you on the best vape kits and e-liquids for your needs, so if you are not sure what to order then get in touch as we can help you!

 

Get your Vape on!

 

Alun Havard
Alun Havard


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