The idea of steeping vape liquid has been around for a long time. While the concept might be completely alien to some vapers, this tried and tested technique for boosting flavor in an e-liquid mixture is well worth investigating.
Many experienced vapers swear by it and wouldn’t dream of using a new bottle of vape juice that hasn’t been steeped. But what is steeping, how difficult is it, and can it really make that much of a difference to how your e-liquid tastes? Read on to find out.
What is Steeping?
The dictionary definition of steeping is “soaking food or tea in liquid to soften it and extract flavor”. Although it means something different when used in relation to vape liquid, the overall concept of a process for improving flavor remains the same. In truth, the term “aging” makes more sense , but at some point someone called it steeping and the name stuck.
To “steep” e-liquid means allowing time for the ingredients to blend together properly and for any traces of alcohol (found in some flavorings) to dissipate. This process can improve the overall flavor of the e-liquid and make it less harsh on the throat when vaped. It’s really all about giving the individual ingredients enough time to mix together, although there are a few things you can do to speed up the aging process.
Letting vape liquid “breathe” can also help make it taste better and many vapers consider this a part of the steeping process. Just as with a good bottle of red wine, allowing e-liquid to breathe speeds up oxidization and helps flavor to develop. Oxidization, if you’ve ever wondered, is the reason why most e-liquids get darker over time, even if stored in a closed bottle.
When Steeping Works Best
You can steep any vape liquid, including pre-mixed liquids you buy online or from a vape store. But it is generally considered a more important step when you mix your own eliquid at home. When you get store-bought eliquid, it has likely had at least several days to steep before it arrives in your hands. Steeping could still smooth out and improve the flavor slightly, but the difference will likely be more subtle.
When you mix your own e-liquid, either from the individual PG, VG, and flavoring ingredients or by combining several pre-mixed liquids, steeping can make a huge difference to the taste of the final result. Newly mixed ejuice can taste completely different from how it does after being left to steep for a couple of weeks.
How to Steep Vape Juice
As mentioned above, the key to successful steeping is time. Simply leaving the e-juice in the bottle for a week before using it will result in better flavor. But if you want to really step up your steeping game, there are a few other things to consider. Here’s a step-by-step guide to how we steep our vape juice:
- Place the e-liquid bottle(s) in a dark place such as a cupboard or drawer. Keep them upright to avoid the possibility of leaks.
- Agitate the e-liquid occasionally. Shaking the bottles will help with the steeping process.
- After the required period of time (detailed down below), take your eliquid, give it a final shake, and fill your vape tank. Voila, you have steeped your vape juice, which is now hopefully bursting with flavor.
How Long Should E-liquid Steep?
Ask a hundred vapers who regularly steep their liquid what the optimum aging period is, and you’ll likely get a hundred different answers. There are no hard and fast rules for how long e-liquid should be left to steep and it’s really up to you to experiment to find the perfect flavor level in the ejuice that you use.
In our experience, fruit-based flavors often need less steeping time (perhaps as little as 48-72 hours) than tobacco or creamy flavors (as long as two or three weeks.) Some eliquids with flavors like menthol or “ice” can be left for even longer. Once again, experimentation will help you find the optimum steeping time for the e-liquid that you are using.
Be wary of leaving high-strength eliquids steeping for too long, as nicotine can produce a harsh taste if it oxidizes too much. The color change in the liquid, assuming it is clear to begin with, can be a good indicator. As it ages, the color will change from clear to slightly yellow, golden, and finally brown. Very dark brown liquid could be oxidized too much and begin to taste harsh or bitter.
Let Your Ejuice Breathe
Letting your vape juice breathe is almost as easy as letting it steep, and takes far less time. When these two complimentary techniques are combined (often called “streathing”) you should get the most flavor possible from your liquids.
- To breathe your e-liquid, run the bottle under a warm (not hot or cold) faucet for 10-20 seconds.
- Dry the bottle, give it a good shake and remove the cap. If the bottle has a nozzle for filling your vape, you can remove this too.
- Place the open bottle upright in a dark place and leave it for around two hours.
- You can then either replace the nozzle and cap and leave it to continue steeping, or start using the ejuice right away.
Speeding Up the Steeping Process
Waiting days or weeks before you can start using your vape juice might be impractical. If you’ve run out of your favorite mix and need to refill your vape, you probably won’t be up for waiting two days for a nicotine hit. Planning ahead with mixing or ordering your new liquids will help, but let’s face it, we’re all human and prone to forget plans.
Heat, as alluded to in the instructions for breathing vape juice, can help to speed up the release of flavor. As the vape ingredients (PG, VG, and flavoring) warm up, they get thinner. This allows them to blend together more easily and in less time than when steeping at room temperature. And while you certainly shouldn’t leave your vape juice on top of a warm radiator for days, you can warm it for longer than the few seconds mentioned above.
Try sealing the e-liquid bottles in a plastic bag and placing them in a bowl of warm (but not hot) water for an hour or two. Give the bag a shake every so often and top up the bowl with warm water as it cools. You should be more careful when heating vape juice in plastic bottles than ejuice in glass bottles. Plastic bottles could start to degrade with heat, potentially releasing plastic particles into the eliquid.
If heating sounds like too much trouble, you could try seeding newly mixed eliquid with some that has already been steeped for some time. Adding a small amount of steeped eliquid will instantly add the more rounded flavors, and some vapers suggest it will speed up steeping in the rest of the eliquid.
The Bottom Line
Steeping your vape liquid and allowing it to breathe aren’t essential to an enjoyable vaping experience, particularly if you don’t mix your own vape juice. But if you want to achieve the best flavor, smoothness, and enjoyment from each puff, letting your vape mix blend properly can be an easy way to turn a “meh” e-liquid into one that tickles all of your taste buds.