When you mix e-liquid, it might need some time before being ready to use.
Steeping is the process that blends the different elements of the vape juice (PG, VG and flavour concentrates) into the flavour you’ve chosen and gives you the best vaping experience.
It refers to a range of techniques to speed up this process, either by warming the VG slightly (which makes it more runny, and more able to mix quickly), or by providing the right time and conditions for the mixing process to complete.
With this easy-to-use guide, you can learn everything you need to know about steeping: what is it, how to do it and even how to speed up the process.
If you’re new to steeping – or you want to try out some different methods to get a better result – then read on.
Why should I steep?
Some vapers simply shake their e-juice and vape. However, because VG is very thick and viscous, it takes a long time to mix fully. Shaking and mixing alone will not entirely combine the elements of the liquid.
While it is a matter of personal taste, it is generally agreed within the vaping community that steeping a liquid – even for a few days – changes the flavour to make it smoother and more potent. Sometimes, leaving an e-liquid to steep can be the difference between a fairly good flavour and your all-day vape.
How long an e-liquid should be left to steep is a subjective judgement. While some people are happy with the taste of their vape liquid after a very short period, others perceive an improvement in the flavour profile of some e-liquids over a far longer period (in some cases several weeks).
There are two sets of methods for doing this:
- Steeping your e-liquid
- Breathing your e-liquid
What is steeping?
Steeping is the process by which the flavours in your e-liquid combine to create a better, stronger flavour. It’s a little like ageing a fine wine.
Usually, this means leaving the vape juice to rest for a period of time but there are a few ‘cheat’ methods to speed up the steeping process. They’re listed below.
It is part of the DIY e-liquid process, as ready-made shortfills are blended and steeped so they’re ready to vape; if you want the experience of creating your own blend of flavours, you’re going to have to learn some steeping methods.
The science behind steeping vape juice is frankly very murky but experienced vapers agree that the flavour of e-liquid improves drastically in the weeks after it’s first mixed. If you’ve been mixing your own e-liquids already, you might have discovered this for yourself.
What are the best methods of steeping?
There is no one best method for steeping. There is only the best method for you.
How you do it depends on a couple of things:
- What flavours you are mixing
- How many flavours you are mixing
This guide contains some of the easiest methods.Try some of them out and see how different the results are. You can take the ones you like best and develop your own steeping style.
The natural steeping method: give it time
Once you’ve mixed your e-liquid, seal the bottle and put it in a dark cupboard.
Vapers use dark places to store and steep their e-liquids because direct sunlight can cause the nicotine and flavour concentrates to lose potency.
Some vapers recommend this method as the chemical reactions are given time to fully take place.
We recommend steeping for at least 2 days. For the greatest results, though, leave it 7 days so you can taste the full, potent flavour you were after.
Speed up the process a bit: give the bottle a shake
As with the natural steeping method, seal your e-juice bottle and put it in a dark cupboard.
Once a day (or every few hours, if you can), open the cupboard and shake the bottle of e-juice. This disturbs the liquid and speeds up the steeping process a little.
Top tip: if you have a ‘steeping box’ (any old box will do) to keep all of your future vape juices in, you can shake all of them at once and it guarantees they will be kept in the dark. They’re less likely to fall off crowded shelves, as well (not that you’d let that happen).
Warm it up: the bath method
One of the most common methods to speed up the steeping process is the bath method. Simply fill up a cup with warm water and then put your bottle of e-liquid in the water and let it sit and bathe until the water turns cold. The water should be warm to the touch but not hot – hot water will degrade the nicotine and flavour concentrates and potentially melt the bottle, as well as being unnecessary (the VG only needs to warm slightly to lose viscosity).
As the water cools, you can top it up and do the whole thing again as often as you like, according to your taste.
If you want to protect your bottle and the e-liquid a little bit more, you can put it in a sealed bag. Some vapers prefer to use a glass bottle for heating methods of steeping as glass retains heat better than plastic but it does take longer to warm up in the first place.
Vibrations: use an ultrasonic cleaner
This is a good method to use if you happen to own an ultrasonic cleaner for vape gear or jewellery (not quite as unlikely as it may sound to a novice).
Simply fill the ultrasonic cleaner with warm water, put the bottle of e-juice in and let the vibrations do the rest. It agitates your e-liquid the same way that shaking does, but in a more controlled and consistent way.
Alternative steeping methods
You can find a lot of ‘crazy’ ways to steep your e-liquid if you search the internet but not all of them are safe. It’s important to use your common sense.
Remember that high temperatures (as you’d get from a microwave or boiling water) will degrade your e-liquid and possibly melt the bottle. It’s also unnecessary to heat the liquid very much.
Seed steepingSome vaping blogs claim you can speed up the process by ‘planting the seed’ of it in your e-juice. They say that, when you blend an already-steeped e-liquid with a fresh batch, it encourages the steeping process. This is highly unlikely. It’s much more likely that the fresh batch simply tastes better more quickly because a portion of it had been steeped well enough to get the full flavour profile.
How do I know how long to steep my e-liquid?
You will come to learn how long you need to steep your e-juice in order to suit your taste.
Keep a record. One way to ensure you steep your e-liquid for the right time is to keep track of how long each individual or combination of flavours was steeping before it matured into the ideal vape for you. Whether you want to make a quick note on the bottle or have a fully-developed spreadsheet system is up to you. Keeping track of this, though, will help you plan your mixing schedule so you can make sure you never run out of your favourite vape juice.
To help you get an idea, there are a few rules of thumb.
Complex flavours take longer to steep than standalone or simple mixes. That’s because there are more flavours to combine and they need time to do this. If you’ve gone to the effort of adding subtle hints of a flavour to your mixture, you want to get the benefit from them. Give them at least 2 weeks to steep.
Standalone flavours can take less time to steep but it largely depends upon the type of flavour.
Menthol flavours don’t require much steeping time. They are potent flavours and don’t need the lengthy steeping time of a subtle blend. Often, a few days is all that you need. For a real icy flavour, try Menthol Arctic (Arctic Winter) FA.
Fresh fruit flavours can often be watery and take less time to steep. They only need a moderate steeping time of about 1 week before they’re ready to vape. Try refreshing Watermelon if you like fresh fruit flavours.
Sweet and rich fruit flavours can have a thicker, creamier body which requires more steeping time in order to let that body develop. Leave them to steep for between 1 and 2 weeks. Mango is a perfect example of this sweet fruit flavour that is worth waiting for.
Tobacco flavours have subtle variations which emerge over time as they are steeped. Leave them to steep for 1 to 2 weeks to get the most from them. Tobacco flavours with creamy or caramel-overtones will probably need the latter end of that time-scale.
Dessert flavours, particularly cream or custard-based flavours, take a little longer to steep. A lot of them benefit from being left to steep for 2 to 4 weeks. A perfect example of this creamy base-flavour is Nonna’s Cake FA and you can see that it’s steeped to perfection after 2 week in the delicious Perfect Creamcake recipe.
What is breathing e-liquid?
Breathing e-liquid is when you allow oxygen to come into contact with your e-juice for an extended period of time. Basically, taking the cap off the bottle to let the air in.
To breathe your vape juice, take the cap off the bottle and allow it to stand for two or more hours.
This is a matter of personal taste. Some vapers think that allowing liquid to breathe is the best way to quickly eliminate any ‘chemical’ or perfume-like taste and smell. However, exposing the liquid to oxygen over a long period of time will lead to oxidation, which could lead to a deterioration, both in flavour and the potency of the nicotine.
Your vape liquid should always be kept in a safe place, away from children and pets, but this is particularly important if you’re leaving the lid off the bottle.