Now this is where we can finally make a huge difference in saving money and control. We can control the ingredients in our juice and reduce our nic level if desired. As we use attys and mods that can sustain more power to vaporize more eLiquid then per puff we are also getting more nicotine unless we change our juice. And that is why Open Vaping is so important. If it is not obvious then let us state it clearly. Premanufactured eLiquid uses the very same primary components i.e. VG and PG. The only difference is they do not tell you their flavor ingredients and try to keep them secret so others can’t copy their recipe. And unfortunately their isn't a lot of research being done on flavorings outside of FlavourArt.
And oh BTW, the e-Liquid has to be no more expensive then that carton of boros and last just as long. So lets do some math so you can clearly see the cost advantage of saving money. One carton of cigarettes with 10 packs of 20 cigarettes each smoking a pack a day lasts for ten days and costs on average $35. Each cigarette has between 8 and 20 mg of nicotine total for an average 12mg per cigarette. That is a total of 240mg nicotine in one pack per day. Given an E-liquid at 20mg/ml nicotine strength you would have to vape 12ml per day. For ten days that means you would vape 120ml of 20mg/ml to be equal in total nicotine content to that carton of Boros. So given $35 then your e-Liquid has to cost equal to or less than 30 cents per milliliter. That is why DIY eLiquid is so popular at $0.03 per milliliter. A 1000ml (1 liter) bottle of concentrated base at 100mg/ml goes for $110 or less and 4 liters of USP non-nicotine VG goes for $25. Together that $135 makes 5000 milliliters of 20mg/ml e-Liquid. That is $0.027 per milliliter or 2.7cents/ml. Even with adding flavoring just call it an even 3c/ml. That is 9 times cheaper than smoking and getting the same total nicotine. Unfortunately most e-Liquids are 66c and more per ml. So you are losing money versus smoking. That represents 200% or more costly than smoking.
That right there should be reason enough to get into DIY e-Liquid. You can save thousands of dollars in year over smoking and 2+ times that over typical store bought e-Liquid.
I started with pre made mixes of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin with various so called “real cigarette” flavors. The pre made juices didn't have the nicotine content I was looking for. Coming from chewing tobacco as well as smoking, 18mg was laughable, 36mg/ml was getting good. But then the day quickly came I could only get that strength and had to go DIY. That lead me into cost savings within 6 months of starting vaping. And at that point 50mg/ml was what I was used too versus chewing tobacco so a 36mg/ml was actually a little let down in nicotine. I am now down to 10mg/ml after 3 and half years though 20-30W versus 4-12W. Cost savings weren't my original objective. Satisfaction was. I have been making my own with 100% VG ever since. And the money saved has more than funded this hobby. I started with some pretty restricted draw low power sustaining attys like the Kayfun. Now with the latest breed of high power unrestricted airflow attys I have lowered my nic concentration. More power means more vaporized e-Liquid. So if you were happy with 18mg/ml strength at 8W then you will need 5mg/ml at 25-30W. Now that is talking sustained power. You have to be careful with todays mods, especially TC mods which I highly recommend for risk reduction. Just because the device is rated at 300W, 200W, 150W, 100W, 80W, 75W or 60W doesn't mean you are sustaining that power. In temperature control you are not sustaining device rated power. Every device is different in determining your sustained power. The easiest method is to just vape it and feel what satisfies you. If you have a DNA, you can run ESCRIBE SW on a desktop and tether via USB and know exactly what power you are sustaining.
Now I used to be a swimmer and football player. So that means I have greater lung capacity than most. I have never had any problems instantly maxing out any spirometer and keeping it there for longer than anyone else that has competed with me. And I am used to chewing tobacco which delivers far more nicotine faster than any cigarette, cigar or pipe and I have done all those. Don't believe me? Get yerself some days-o-work and cut off a chunk and chew it. Be ready for a trip to the moon. You will probably turn green and throw up. That's nicotine. Everything else is a joke. And I can only vape 60W sustained at 25mg/ml for a four second draw (thats on a very open draw atomizer like the 30mm VCMT). Now I have made atomizer builds that sustain 100W and I have vaped them at zero nicotine but it is literally so much vapor that I cannot stand it. I have found that 40W sustained is as much vapor as I want and at that power, 10mg/ml strength is more than enough. At 25W sustained, 20 mg/ml is more than enough. So just keep all this in mind when you are thinking DIY. If you were a chewer you are going want a higher nic strength. If you have large lung capacity the most power you can handle sustained is going to be around 60W with 40W being about right. The average smoker is going to be fine at around 8-12W and 12-18mg/ml nic strength and 5mg/ml at 20-30W.
Don't be afraid of DIY juice. It is very easy. Simple math. Yes there are calculators online. And a 100ml graduated cylinder makes it real easy. Use a 100ml graduated cylinder for measuring and wear rubber gloves and keep everything out of the hands of children. Do not get the nicotine eLiquid and especially not the 100mg on your skin, hands, or anywhere else, especially not in your eyes or on your lips. If you do get it on you, wash immediately with water and consult a physician. Do not taste let alone drink liquid nicotine in any concentration at all, ever! And do not even try to vape 100mg. If an accident happens, consult with a physician immediately! Forget flavorings for now. First we want to make our base eLiquid.
VG is thick and somewhat sweet tasting. It creates large amounts of vapor. Propylene glycol is less viscous and tastes even sweeter than VG. PG is used to enhance throat hit and thin the e-Liquid. If you don’t like PG and need to thin your juice then use a few drops of distilled water. The water will change the taste. Too much and the vape gets “steamy”! So only use a few drops. A little bit of water goes a long way. As shown in the table below VG is more viscous than PG, and water is much less than PG. Some people are sensitive to PG. If you are then stop using it. Typical issues with PG are sore throat and dry mouth. Since VG is thick, too much vapor and your lungs may get congested. For myself, I found PG an unnecessary complication and risk.
Dynamic Viscosity (Pa s) @ 300K/80F/26.85C
The tools you will need are shown below.
From left to right are rubber gloves (latex free if you are sensitive), a 30-50ml small snout child proof bottle, a 10-20ml needle tip bottle, a 100ml graduated cylinder and a 120-500ml mixing bottle. Brown is the best color and glass is the best material for the mixing bottles. But since I store my base and mix in the fridge, I use the 120ml blue bottles as I desire 100ml of mix at a time. If you are afraid of breaking glass then get the plastic cylinder and mixing bottle. All are available on Amazon.
Remember that Poly Ethylene Terephthalate (PET) is firm and transparent used in the blue mixing bottle and Low-Density PolyEthylene (LDPE) is soft and translucent/frosted used in the small snout and needle tip bottles. If you have children get child proof cap versions of these or place them out of reach of children at all times. The brown or blue tinting prevents damage to the nicotine from light. Neither plastic material is a barrier to oxygen which also degrades CG and nicotine. Which is why storage for long durations are best with glass. However I personally found the blue plastic bottle stored in a refrigerator did not significantly degrade over three years though most sites will say 1 year. I find the LDPE bottles are the softest and best for squeezing. With the needle tip and small snout LDPE bottles I have been able to fill every atty I have ever tried. Some attys like the KF 3.1 need the use the needle tip and some like the KF V4 can take the small snout. Buy the one appropriate for your atty(s).
When buying ingredients make sure they are USP grade:
You can buy the nicotine in various amounts and concentrations. For example if you know that 18mg is what you will run then buy that. And you can cut it from there by adding straight VG, i.e. no nicotine VG. I buy the 100% VG base with 100mg concentration nicotine and cut it with straight VG.
My first concentrated 1000ml bottle of 100mg/ml nicotine 100VG from vaping zone. It came in a blue PET bottle and lasted me for three years keeping it in the fridge. I also got my straight VG from them but have since found USP grade on Amazon. You can also find everything at WizardLabs.
Use the graduated cylinder to measure the amounts of your ingredients and pour into the mixing bottle.
100VG is simple. For example, to get an 18mg per milliliter 100VG eLiquid, pour 18ml of concentrated 100mg/ml in a 100ml graduated cylinder and pour the rest (82ml) with straight non-nicotine VG. Then pour that into the mixing bottle.
If we want some PG then ratio the amount of straight VG and PG to add based on the total amount. Let’s say we want 70% VG and 30% PG. For 100ml of 25mg per milliliter nicotine strength, we pour 25ml of 100mg/ml concentrated eLiquid into the 100ml graduated cylinder then 30ml of straight PG and 45ml of straight VG.
You get the idea I’m sure. At a certain point of high PG desired, you will need to use a PG based concentrated nicotine. Figure out what you want then do the math before you buy. And remember if the nicotine base you start with is already a mix of PG and VG, those amounts will have to be accounted for.
It is generally assumed that there are 20 drops per ml, but I have not found that to be the case with my dropper. I recommend testing your dropper in a graduated cylinder for proper measurement, $10 on Amazon for a 100ml graduated cylinder. If you are going to use the drop by drop method, at least one time measure how many drops for your situation are in a ml for each. You may be surprised to find a large difference as I did.
The mg's of nic does take up some volume in ml's. Don't worry about it. The density of pure nicotine liquid is 1.009 g/mL. So 120mg of nicotine is ~0.12g or 0.12ml i.e. a couple of drops. The density of PG is 1.036 g/mL and the density of VG is 1.26 g/ml.
I have found it takes longer for the nicotine to even out than it does flavoring. Flavoring is good enough to go in a minute or less. I let nicotine mixes even out over night.
You can get half a dozen blue or brown for $10-$15 on Amazon. Fill two with base, when one is empty re-make it with more base. You can also leave one out and store the rest you made in the fridge. When that one left out is empty, take one out of the fridge and start the rotation all over again.
The 100mg/ml VG came in a 1000ml blue plastic bottle. I kept it in the fridge and it cost about $110. When I emptied it, it also became a base storage bottle. Straight USP grade VG by the gallon is around $25 or less. Straight PG by the gallon is $30 or less. There are 33.814 ounces in 1000ml and 128 ounces in a gallon. So for 12mg strength there are 833 1.2ml doses in a 1000ml bottle of 100mg/ml VG. If I did the math right, for 70/30 VG/PG considering the 1000ml of 100mg/ml VG, that would be 1.27 gallons of VG and .66 gallons of PG to make 833 10ml bottles of 12mg/ml 70/30 VG/PG base for a total volume of 2.2 gallons.
After you have your base mix then screw the cap on and shake that blue PET mixing bottle for a minute and let sit overnight for the mix to even out. Evening is the process of the constituents dispersing evenly throughout the entire volume so there are no concentrations. A trick is to sit the mixing bottle in a bowl of hot water to promote faster evening. Never microwave it. Then pour from the 250ml blue PET mixing bottle into the 30 ml small snout LDPE bottle and from there into the 10ml needle tip LDPE bottle if necessary (i.e. you have an atty that needs a needle tip to fill).
There is some risk of chemicals from the plastic leaching into your e-Liquid when using plastic bottles. This is primarily polycarbonate which is hard and inflexible. Anything Poly Ethylene (PE) is non-reative. The latest PCTG is NOT Polycarbonate and is also non-reactive. Though rare in use, the food industry may transition to it. To avoid all risk, use glass bottles with eye-dropper lids also available on Amazon. And don't forget to use Child resistant packaging and lids and keep all e-Liquid out of the reach of children and pets.
Now lets talk flavorings. Most of the time I vape straight 100VG eLiquid with no flavorings to reduce my risk until more studies and tests are conducted. But there are times I like a good apple pie, pumpkin pie etc.
What is important with flavorings is the strength. I have found Capellas to be just right at 2.5% and 4% to be too strong for my likes. YMMV.
Flavourart flavors are the lowest risk as they have been conducting studies with the University of Milan as discussed on the "Are e-cigarettes safe?" page.
I don't flavor my base. I fill a tank or dripper bottle then add drops of flavor. 1-2drops in a 3-4ml tank or 2-4 drops in a 10ml bottle.
Now you can add flavoring in any of the bottles but I suggest adding it to the smallest bottle you will use to fill your atty. That way you can experiment with different flavorings. By knowing the size in ml of your bottles and the recommend strength of your flavoring, you determine how much flavoring to add. Lets say you tested your dropper and it is 20 drops per ml. So one drop is 5% per ml. Let’s say the vanilla flavoring you buy is super concentrated and they recommend 2.5%. Fill the 30ml bottle half way with your e-Liquid. 15ml is 300 drops. 2.5% of 300 is 7.5. So add 7 or 8 drops of flavoring. Then shake and let set to even out but by this point I know you’re in a hurry so you’ll probably go ahead and add to your atty and vape away. It is vastly more important that the nicotine mix gets evened out than the flavoring as an uneven nicotine mix is dangerous whereas an uneven flavoring just tastes inconsistent. You can get different size bottles and multiple bottles so one is always sitting evening out.
Don’t confuse letting set to even out with steeping or aging. Steeping is soaking a solid in liquid to extract flavors. Aging denotes maturation. So let’s talk about creating our own flavoring. I have used vanilla beans. I take 2 beans, split them up then stuff them in the bottom of a cup with enough VG to cover the beans. Place in a pan of bowling water. Then swirl it and let it sit overnight with a dish over the cup. Then pour it out through a fine mesh strainer into a bottle. I add it to my juice a drop at a time until I like the flavor. You can try lots of variations of this. More beans, crushed or ground, let steep for 8 weeks, etc. You can also try tobacco, coffee, and cocoa beans. It’s fun to experiment but remember, we still don't have enough data on flavorings so they are still a risk even if you make your own.
***PLEASE NOTE. PG extracts flavors and "carries" flavors far, far better than VG. I have nothing against PG and for the last few weeks (I am writing this add on paragraph on 9.22.2019) I have been vaping 75PG/25VG with flavorings. Very unusual for me. But all this latest news on MY President being brainwashed and going to ban flavored e-Liquid has "brought it to the surface" so to speak. So I am preparing myself by buying the tobacco flavors I like. I can always get the desert flavors as they are used for milkshakes...etc. And also remember, simpler e-liquid flavors are better for taste and reducing risk while keeping in mind that vaping the most complex flavor on the worst e-cigarette is still 97% safer than smoking the best cigarette.***
Here are some of the tobacco flavorings I have tried; Cigar, Black Cigar, Old Captain, Cubana, Seven Star, Yuco, Canat, Max Blend, Tobacco Light, Cohiba, French Pipe, Carolina, Virginia Flue Cured, Dunhill, Klondike, Real Cig, Parliament, Gourmet Tobacco, Blended Tobacco, Desert Ship, 555, Burley, Tabakum, RY4, Max Blend, American, Wensten, and Red. NONE of them taste like a boro or a camel. But several of them have hints of chocolate, caramel and vanilla. A few have jalapeño for throat hit. And a few are distinctively clove or anise. The closest to an analog for me is Virginia Flue Cured. Though I greatly prefer Dunhill, Klondike, Black Cigar, Old Captain, Cubana and Cigar in that order. But I have transitioned away from tobacco flavors in favor of bakery and candy flavors. Which is a typical path that people take switching from smoking to vaping. At first they want it to taste like a cigarette, which it never will, then after they give up on that, they discover the wonderful world of tasteful delights that await them. And I can also say that unflavored 100VG is often preferred for many reasons. And if you like tobacco flavors I suggest transitioning to no flavoring as soon as possible.
With that said, I have used pure extracts from the baking isle as well. I cannot recommend it but I will divulge that I have. I just read the ingredients and make sure it doesn’t have stuff in it I don’t want. For example a lot of vanilla extracts have corn syrup or some other form of sugar in them, I avoid those. I only use flavoring whose ingredients are only natural. But ethanol can decompose at temperatures around 440F and it is dangerous to vape in any amount so I do not recommend using alcohol based baking extracts. But I have used extracts with alcohol by letting them sit in VG for a couple weeks in an open container covered with cheese cloth. The theory being the alcohol evaporates and the flavoring was left suspended in the VG. It also gave time for the flavoring to even out. This can be accelerated by putting the open container in a bowl of hot water. But I do not think all the alcohol evaporates. So I do not recommend it.
I also like the Capella flavorings. Though they are not advertised for vaping and like all flavorings, don’t advertise the ingredients. But I have tried apple pie, pumpkin pie, glazed doughnut, chocolate glazed doughnut, watermelon, apple, strawberry, chocolate, bubble gum, cotton candy, banana, pina colada and more from Capellas and they all taste good when vaped.
Because of the lack of data on the decomposition by-product temperatures of all flavorings including health affects, it may be wise to lower the risk. This can be accomplished in two ways. First by using temperature protect on a DNA set as low as possible. Second by not using any flavorings at all until the research is done. I can find nothing wrong with 100% VG and prefer it to any of the tobacco flavorings for tasting like tobacco which I know nothing about. With that said, my favorite flavorings by far for both flavor and safety are FlavourArt flavorings and you can find them here in the states, just google for them, even at WizardLabs where you can get your base, bottles, cylinder, gloves, and USP straight VG or PG.
I will also admit to really liking VZ flavors of Dunhill, Cubana, Old Captain, Klondike and Black Cigar. YMMV
All the information contained in these pages are only the opinions of the author and the author is not an expert at anything.