What Do I Need to start?
First off, you need the four components that make up all e-juice:
Propylene Glycol – Otherwise known as PG. The more Propylene Glycol in your e-liquid you have, the more flavour of your concentrates will come through, at the cost of throat hit and clouds.. We recommend 500 mL for starters.
Vegetable Glycerine – Or VG for short. This will likely make up the bulk of your ejuice. The more Vegetable Glycerin in your e-liquid you have, the more vapour production and sweeter tasting your flavour will become.
We recommend a ratio of 70% VG and 30% PG for most scenarios.
Flavour Concentrates – These determine what your juice will ultimately taste like. The Steamery offers hundreds of individual flavour concentrates to choose from (see concentrate range), which can be combined to make countless unique e-liquid flavours.
As well as the concentrates and VP/PG, you’ll need other equipment for the actual mixing process. There are two methods: mixing by volume and mixing by weight. We’ll look at both, but strongly recommend mixing by volume.
Syringes – If you’re mixing by volume, you’ll need a selection of syringes. We advise getting some 10 mL syringes for the PG and VG, and plenty of 3 mL syringes for nicotine and flavour concentrates.
Storage Bottles – Store your PG and VG in individual squeezy/dropper bottles with nozzle tips to make it easy to add to your e-liquid bottles. A couple of 120 mL bottles should be ideal.
E-Juice Bottles – For your early experiments, buy a selection of 30 mL plastic bottles for test recipes and some 60 mL or 120 mL bottles to make larger amounts of your favourite homebrew e-liquid.
Labels – Buy some blank sticky labels to write the details on before sticking to the bottle.
Nicotine (nicotine, where? how?) – It’s important to buy good quality nicotine. It degrades rapidly when exposed to air (or oxygen to be more specific), darkening in colour and taking on a peppery taste, so make sure your sealed nicotine is as clear as possible. It depends on your preferred nicotine level but a 100 mL bottle of 100 mg/ mL nicotine should be enough for beginners. Nicotine is usually suspended in a PG solution, so be aware that this will affect the PG/VG ratio of your juice. Be very careful when handling and storing nicotine. Its efficacy as a poison tends to be overstated but spilling it on your skin can cause sickness if not quickly washed off. Of course, if you prefer nicotine-free vape juice you can leave this out. Please keep your nicotine out of reach from minors and children. We recommend using rubber gloves at all times when handling nicotine.
Make your DIY E-Liquid step-by-step
For beginners, it’s best to start with a simple recipe or a one-shot concentrate. Or if you have a great idea for a flavour combination, you can jump right in. But be sure to make detailed notes so you can tweak future versions as it is very much a trial and error process.
1) Recipe And Ratios
The first step is to find a recipe you like the sound of, and buy the relevant concentrates. For this example, we’ll use the recipe for Mustard Milk, a popular strawberry milkshake flavour, created by reddit user and leading DIY e-juice maker Fizzmustard:
- Strawberry (TFA) 6%
- Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (TFA) 6%
(TFA is the abbreviation for The Flavor Apprentice, a major flavour manufacturer).
Now we need to decide what PG/VG ratio to use. Fizzmustard recommends VG/PG 70/30, which makes it suitable for sub ohm vaping. You could also try out max VG (this is when you don't add any PG beyond what's in your concentrates and nicotine, but opt to just top it up with VG instead), or if you want a version that works in a plus-ohm tank try a higher ratio of PG such as 50/50. If you change the VG/PG ratio you might need to adjust the amount of flavour added to get a similar taste.
Next, choose your nicotine level. Here, we’ll make a 30 mL bottle of Mustard Milk with 0mg nicotine and VG/PG at a 70/30 ratio, but you can adjust to your personal taste.
Now we have our choices we need to work out the amounts to use. This can be complicated to do by hand, but don’t worry, there are various online juice calculators that do it automatically. For best results, set up an account on eLR – it’s easy to use and you can access your recipes from any online device. (Other more-comprehensive juice calculators such as EjuiceMeUp and Steam Engine are also recommended.) Go to the create recipe page, input the relevant details and hit save. This will produce a table showing the volume, weight and percentage of each ingredient. Another good all-in-one calculator is at e-liquid-recipes.com. You’ll be able to save your e-liquid recipes as private or public (so other users can see it).
Time to get your hands dirty (well, perhaps not literally if you're wearing gloves). First, and most importantly, set aside a safe hygienic area in a clean room with no pets or children around. Use rubber gloves and a plastic tray in case of spillage.
By Weight – If you’re using scales, you should focus on the grams. Put your empty 30 mL bottle on the scales and set it to zero. Now add your flavours by dripping in the correct amount in grams. Then, if you choose to, add nicotine using a dropper or syringe and be careful not spill any. Use your squeezy bottles to add the PG and VG. If you prefer to use syringes, make sure you use a fresh one for each ingredient to avoid cross-contamination. The final weight should match that shown on eLR table.
By Volume – Using separate syringes for each component, check the measurements on the syringe to gauge the mL and add these to the empty 30 mL bottle. Nicotine will require an individual syringe.
Note: Another way to use volume, and possibly the simplest is by using drops as your measurements. It works really well with flavorings, and if you make a small investment in empty plastic dropper bottles (ideally with all the same size droppers) it should suit you fine. This is the least precise way of measuring for nicotine, so we caution against using drops to get your nic percentage bang-on.
Congratulation, you now you have your first homemade bottle of DIY e-juice! What now?
Labelling – Label your mixes with the following: VG/PG ratio, nicotine level, flavour percentage and date created. Do this immediately. You’d be surprised how many beginners don’t, only to be stumped when they find a perfect blend but with no way of recreating it. Save your recipes in a notebook, spreadsheet or on eLR.
Steeping – This often confounds newcomers to the DIY e-juice world. Most homemade e-juice containing more than one flavour needs a certain amount of time to let the flavours blend and settle. This varies with every mix but you’ll often find multi-layered dessert or cream-based mixes need over four weeks to reach their best, while simple fruit recipes might not need to steep at all. Most recipes come with a recommended steeping time. As well as this, there are various methods that aim to speed up the steeping process but these are a subject of much controversy in the DIY e-juice community.
Testing – Once your e-juice has steeped, it’s time to test it out. It’s best to use a good quality dripper or rebuildable atomizer rather than a tank. This saves wasting coils on potentially substandard e-juice and easy rewicking makes sampling different juices quicker. Be aware that ohm and temperature can greatly affect the taste – juice that tastes great at 80w on a 0.2ohm RDA vape is likely to taste very different in a 1.8ohm tank at 15w.
Make Notes – After testing, make plenty of notes, either online or in a notebook. Is one flavour too strong? Would it be better at a 50/50 PG/VG blend rather than max VG? Keeping detailed notes will help improve your future e-liquid mixes and vastly help your homebrew/DIY e-juice skills.
Storage – Sunlight, heat and oxygen can have a negative impact on e-juice so keep your homemade juice in a cool dark place. And make sure they’re safely out of reach of pets and children.