E juice steeping might sound like a daunting task, but as a matter of fact, it’s extremely simple and easy, although needs patience and takes quite a while. But vapers are curious and adventurous souls, and several methods have been discovered that can speed up the process to steep e-juice and e-liquids. While the traditional method can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, the advanced approaches can help you steep your e-juice in just a few hours.
What is Steeping Anyway?
Steeping is a process that mixes and oxidizes the ingredients (VG/PG base, nicotine, flavorings) of the e-juice. Just like good, aged wine, steeped e-juices taste much better and smoother. The oxidation of the ingredients replaces volatile compounds like alcohol with oxygen. The process removes the harsh perfume-like taste and also changes the color of the e-juice. So, you’ll know that your e-juice is properly steeping when you see that it has become considerably darker from the original color.
Unless you’re making DIY e-juice, you may or may not steep. E-juices sold commercially are actually pre-steeped e-juice as the steeping process begins as soon as it’s mixed. From that point onwards when it sits in the manufacturing facility, travels to the store, sits on the shelf and until you actually vape it, it’s steeping pretty much all the time. If you still get a harsh taste, steeping might be in order otherwise, you can skip it and enjoy your vape right away. For the homemade e-juices, however, steeping is almost always mandatory. Also, to steep or not is also a matter of personal preferences. If you like a harsh and intense taste, you can start vaping right away, but if you prefer a smoother yet richer taste, steep the heck out of your e-liquid until it achieves the desired taste.
To sum it all up, steeping isn’t obligatory, but it does enhance and improve the overall vaping experience. If you have the time, we suggest you go ahead and do it. Otherwise, all you will be missing out is some of your e liquid's flavor potential.
How to Steep E-Juice?
There are two different ways of steeping e-juices:
This is the simplest method that arguably brings out the best taste of any e-liquid, however, it takes very long. If you can afford, by all means use this approach as the end result will be well worth the wait.
All you need to do is store your closed e-juice bottles in a dark, cool place, such as a shoebox, for a few days or a couple weeks. To speed up the process and mix the contents, you may shake the bottles every now and then. Just make sure harsh light doesn’t reach the bottles or it can ruin the fluid inside. Also, carefully choose a place where children and pets can’t reach.
This is a subtle variation of the traditional method, where you take off the cap and remove the nozzles from the bottles and let them sit for a certain amount of time before putting the cap on again. Although oxidation can occur even when the bottle is closed, however, breathing speeds it up.
According to my personal experience, letting the e-juice breathe for more than 12 hours can result in over steeping, and the nicotine, as well as flavors, start to diminish.
There are several modified approaches to speed up e-juice steeping, all of which involved heating the liquid in one way or another. We recommend using plastic bottles for traditional method, but rushed techniques can involve too much heat for plastic to handle, so better consider glass bottles.
Letting your glass bottles sit in a bowl filled with warm (not hot or boiling) water is the most commonly used technique. What it basically does is set the molecules of the e-juice into a frenzy of moving around. This not only helps the contents blend together but also speeds up oxidization. Some people put the bottles in a Ziplock before dropping them in water, I personally think that’s unnecessary, provided you’re using good quality bottles. When the water reaches room temperature, remove the caps to let any vaporized volatile ingredients get out of the bottle. Shake the bottles really well and put them back to their usual place. Repeating this process a few times will steep even the most stubborn juices in a few days.
Some of my friends remove the cap and put the bottles in a container half filled with warm so the bottles only immerse a little more than half their height. They swear by this method and claim it is more hassle-free and yields better results, but since I’ve never done this myself, I won’t make any comment.
A crock-pot is quite popular among vaping enthusiasts who like to make DIY e-liquids. You can either fill up the crock-pot with water or place a bowl full of water inside the slow cooker. Throw your e-juice bottles in a Ziplock or doggie pick up bag, try to take as much air as you can out of the bag, and then throw it in the water. Set your crock-pot to the lowest settings, and wait until your e-juice is ready.
I personally don’t like to do slow cooker steeping in one go, but rather split it over two days, shaking and letting the bottles sit at room temperate overnight. Try both the options and see what floats your boat.
This is my favorite method, unfortunately like a lot of other fun things like beaches and bikinis, this is possible during the summer only unless you live in the South. Packing your e-juices in a Ziplock and leaving it in your car’s glove box for a couple of days can exponentially speed up steeping. Even in summers, this approach works the best on a warm, sunny day. And if you’re a lucky one who owns a convertible, don’t take the top down.
If you own a space heater, leave the uncapped bottles at about 14 inches in front of it. Ideally, the heater should be running at a medium to low setting. Either stay close to your e juice at all the times or leave the room locked. Removing the cap works better, but be careful, I’ve spilled e-juice on my carpet more than once.
If you have a baseboard heating system installed in your house, that also works but you’ll need to put the bottles right next to it.
If you work a lot on your laptop like I do, you will know how hot the air coming from the exhaust fan can be. Don’t let it go to waste, place your e-juice bottles right on or next to the fan, depending on the model and design of your laptop. However, this method is limited to how long you use your computer and you can steep only a few bottles at a time. Remember, you can also get an external exhaust fan for a few bucks. Never uncap the bottles, or you risk spilling fluid on your laptop.
This is a method that I have not tried, but one of my friends says it’s her favorite because it’s quick, safe and easy. She puts the bottles in a self-sealing bag, then puts the bag on a pair of old socks and tosses them in a dryer. Just make sure caps are screwed tightly, and run the dryer at low for about 15-20 minutes. In case you’re using plastic bottles, which isn’t recommended unless you can’t get glass bottles, you’ll need to keep an eye on the dryer as plastic can melt and mess up your dryer.
Another method that I yet to try is to microwave your e-juice for short bursts i.e. under 10 seconds, then shake the bottles, cool them down and repeat. Again, it’s ideal to use glass bottles when using a microwave. However, I’m not sure how exposing e-liquids to microwaves can impact the overall quality and flavor, so be cautious when using this technique.
Again, it’s totally up to you if you want to steep your e-juices or not. If you think the flavor of a new e-juice isn’t up to snuff, steeping can help. Likewise, steeping can come in really handy for homemade e-juices. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a big fan of old-fashioned steeping i.e. leaving your e-juice for a few days in a cool, dark place and shaking the bottles every now and then. But when I’m out of e-juices and need to quickly steep some, I prefer hot bathing or leaving it in my car’s glove box. At the end of the day, steeping can take the flavor of your e-liquids to a whole new level but there is no right or wrong way to do it. Everyone has his own way of steeping, and different flavors come out better when steeped in certain ways.
Do you use any of the methods that we have highlighted above? Or do you use any unique approach to steep your e-juices? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.