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If you have been hanging out your local vape shop for a while, you probably have heard about steeping vape juice. It's a commonly used technique in the vaping community to enhance your e-juice flavor.
You might have asked yourself why there are expiration dates on e-juices or have noticed that sometimes e-juice tastes better or worse after an extended amount of time. These are signs of you being on the verge of accelerating your vaping knowledge to the next level.
This article will help you understand….
By the end of this article, you will be more informed about the steeping process, making the vaping community a better place!
Before we really get into it, we will go through the basics so you can make the right decisions for your steeping adventures!
According to Wikipedia, this is the definition of steeping:
“soak (food or tea) in water or other liquid so as to extract its flavor or to soften it.”
When you think about steeping, you might think of steeping tea, a process for extracting flavor by infusing a solid substance (tea leaves) in a solvent (hot water) to create a tasty caffeinated beverage.
As some of you might remember from chemistry class, this process is known as diffusion. This happens when a substance with higher concentration moves into a lower concentrated area.
You might be thinking, well, there aren’t any solid substances like tea leaves in e-juices so why is it called steeping?
If you look at the definition that Wikipedia gave us, you will find that this term is a bit misleading. The terminology here doesn’t completely translate to the traditional meaning of steeping, but it has become widely accepted as the industry lingo to explain the diffusion of e-juice flavors as the juices mature.
To put it simply, the definition of steeping e-juice is the process of letting the e-juice flavors diffuse as it rests in a closed bottle away from the light.
The best way to steep an e-juice will be to let it age naturally and let the flavoring blend together as the e-juices matures and reaches peak flavor.
There are various steeping methods vapers use but before we get into it, we will talk about why vapers steep their e-juice and the effectiveness of it.
Going back to the tea analogy, when you let the tea steep for too short or too long, the color and the taste of the tea become drastically different as time and diffusion run its course.
In the same way, when e-juices are freshly mixed, it requires a certain amount of time to let the flavoring bind with the other ingredients in the juice.
If you’re not a tea drinker, think about making chili, have you ever noticed that eating chili a day or two after it’s been made is like 10 times better?
This is the same concept that applies to e-juices since the flavoring needs time to bind with the other solvents in the mixture.
What is ideal to one person may differ from others as taste is a subjective experience and this is why people steep their e-juices to fine tune the flavor intensity. The majority of the vaping community find that steeping does make a difference as they smooth out the rough spots to make the flavor more consistent and profound.
So far, there have been no scientific studies done on how much the flavor changes on a molecular level and how significantly steeping changes the taste.
Some vapers find that not all juices require steeping. Some vapers have noted that certain flavors tend to better with age whereas others can turn out worse than originally.
The general consensus here is that steeping sometime works and sometimes doesn’t.
With so many variables involved from the start of the e-juice to actually vaping the product, it is too complex to conclude whether steeping will be required unless you actually try the vape juice and would like to experiment in making the vape juice better.
A general rule of thumb in the vaping community seems to be that the more complex the flavors are such as tobacco, cream, and custard flavors, the longer the steep time will be to reach maximum flavor. We will cover the specifics in just a bit.
Whether you steep or not, the actual process of steeping is not rocket science but it is important to know why steeping is a commonly used technique in the vaping industry. Like wine, cheese, and whiskey, some things in life are better with time.
Now that we got the high-level overview out of the way, we can talk about the different ways of improving an e-juice besides steeping.
There is a lot of information out there about steeping but one common method that people use is letting your vape juice breathe.
Instead of steeping your e liquid with a closed cap, we let the e liquid breathe by taking the cap off. Breathing and steeping vape juice are not the same thing.
So, what does breathing do to the flavor of the e-juice?
Some vapers prefer to remove any ‘perfume-y’ portion of the flavoring which allows the alcohol or other volatile components in the flavoring base to leave the bottle.
As an end result, this could make the flavoring less chemical tasting and in theory, it should produce a more rounded flavor without it being too pungent.
It also progresses the oxidation of the nicotine which will diminish the strength of the nicotine and flavoring.
You may also notice that the color of your e-juices tends to get darker and this is a natural result of the nicotine oxidizing. Because of the oxidation of the nicotine and the flavoring, it is recommended that breathing should not be done for more than 12 hours and it should also rest in a cool dark place.
The more you let it out to breathe, the more you will risk muting the flavoring and nicotine strength.
Not all vape juices will require breathing since not all e-juices contain alcohol or have volatile notes in the flavoring base so based on your perception of the e-juice, you can make the judgment call to breathe your e-juice or not.
Pro tip: If you decide to breathe your e-juices, make sure to keep it out of areas where there are potential sources of contamination. No need to fret, what we mean by contamination is anything foreign entering the vape juice. Things such as flies, ants, paper towel lint, dust, other particles, etc. Just be cautious of any sanitation issues.
Streathing e-juices is a process that combines the two techniques: breathing and steeping. It is more complicated and hands-on but with a little bit of experimentation, you can find a process that works best for you.
Check out the video by RipTripper and follow his steps:
The question we all are asking in this industry is how long does an e-juice take to mature? When is the best time to vape an e-juice after it has been made?
The answer to the question, for now, is that we simply don’t know.
As an underexplored area in this industry, there isn’t a hard fast rule on how long it should take to steep since this largely depends on the flavorings used, the mix ratio of the e-juice, storing conditions, and personal taste.
So, for now, we are all experimenting in our rooms and in the lab to find out the optimal time to vape an e-juice. You probably have accidentally steeped your e-juice before by leaving your e-juice in a drawer only to find it months later.
Whether it tasted bad or better is something that we are all essentially doing to finetune our e-juices to our liking. Isn’t this fun?
You probably even had seen expiration dates on your e-juice before. This is all related to steeping as we are all trying to determine what the “best-before’ dates are since flavors tend to change over time.
What we do know is that nicotine, PG, and VG have a shelf life of 2 years if they are stored in proper conditions. So, if you have e-juices sitting around, we can say that the average time that it will last without significant alteration in the flavoring is less than a year.
The expiration date or ‘best-before’ date largely depends on the e-juices storing conditions. Say that you use a dripper tank and you constantly take the cap on and off (Breathing), then you leave one of your bottles in your car on a hot summer day and remember to get it later that night. Doh!!
Over time, all of these fluctuations in your e-juice will result in the degradation of the nicotine and flavoring. With steeping, we are trying to eliminate these variables to let the e-juice steep naturally for a refined and preferred taste.
If you think about it, if we let an e-juice sit in the sun versus storing it in the proper conditions, we can bet money that the properly stored e-juice will age much slower and retain its flavoring for a lot longer.
Alright, so how long does it take to steep man? As we have said before, there is no easy answer and the time it takes to steep your e-juice is highly subjective. But, you still might be asking, well I just need a number man, just tell us a number.
How long does it take to steep an e-juice??
For the folks out there that want a general guideline, we got you covered. Here we go!
As we have discussed above, steeping is just a method to improve the flavoring by letting it sit in proper storing conditions. Most would argue that letting it steep naturally without accelerating the process is the best method for steeping e-juices.
People say you can’t rush art like making wine and whiskey alike since the aging process will naturally alter the chemical structure. When it is ready to vape, you can fully enjoy the flavor once it has reached a natural equilibrium.
Here is a general guideline for how long you should steep vape juice as a starting point:
Once the vape juice has been freshly mixed, the flavor may have an extra sharp taste to it and this will gradually fade away as time progresses.
The average time to notice any significant change from steeping will be 2-7 days.
For Fruit flavors: 1-3 days but no longer than 2 weeks
For Tobacco flavors: 1-4 weeks
For Custard, Cream, and Bakery: 1-4 weeks
It is strongly recommended that you try the juice before you put it through any steeping periods since all e-liquids are made differently. Steeping for more than a month and still dislike the taste, this may just be a sign to move on and find a flavor profile that fits you. But hey, some people have found success with leaving e-juices steep for over a month so don’t let it stop you from trying!
As you probably have figured out by now, steeping is a time-intensive process. If you’re not a person who stocks up your vape supply at a month at a time, then you will most likely benefit from speed steeping.
Like we have mentioned before, letting time do its thing and storing it in a cool dark place such as a basement, cigar box, or shoebox will be argued to be the best method for steeping. Unless you have lab grade equipment to homogenize the e-juice ;)
Before we go into the different methods used to speed steep, it is important to know that heating and agitating your e-juice will speed up this natural aging process.
Just like aging, heating will speed up the changes in chemical structure and agitation will work to disperse the flavoring in the e-juice to diffuse much quicker.
As far as how the taste will change, this will be dependent on the flavoring and it can work for the better or worse depending on how the user would like to interpret the flavor. Another thing to note is that speed steeping may decrease the overall shelf life of the e-juice but if you tend to go through juices quickly, don’t worry about it :)
Forewarning, you do not want to use excessive heat, it will accelerate the oxidation of the nicotine and can dramatically affect the taste of your e-juice.
A good rule of thumb would be to keep the temperature no more than lukewarm, perhaps no more than 90 F.
We will show you some popular techniques that vapers have used to dramatically cut down the steeping time. These are very general guidelines on what other vapers will use but remember you can combine other techniques to make your own processes such as breathing, plain old steeping, or both (streathing).
Remember, Safety first Y’all! Time to put your experiment glasses on !!
What you will need:
What you will need:
What you will need:
Optional: shaking the bottle after removing for rice
What you will need:
You might have done this unintentionally in the past but this surprisingly crude methodology has had many successes in the past for some. We would prefer to speed steep in a more controlled environment but hey, it’s worth a shot if you accidentally have done this before.
Please be aware that the inside of your car can reach up to 172 degrees in the summer and it is highly recommended that you avoid this method if you are able to bake cookies in your car.
Before we get into the agitation methods, there are many other variations of the heating methods such as using space heaters as a source of heat to warm the water/rice and there are others that have used coffee warmers and candle warmers to achieve the same results.
For DIY makers, there is a host of other ways to age vape juices which we will not cover in this article. The main point here is as long as you get the basics and don’t overdo it, the world is your oyster!
What you will need:
Be mindful of the temperature in the water if you have an Ultrasonic cleaner with a heating function. Another thing, you are trying to simulate weeks worth of steeping and there is no magic number on how long the sonification will equate to for a week’s worth of steeping so this comes down to trial and error.
Other Agitation Methods:
We didn't cover all of the creative methods out there but you can use a combination of the heating and agitation methods to achieve your desired taste. Some may have better success with agitation methods versus heating. It really comes down to understanding the fundamentals and creating a process that works best for you!
At Ruthless, we manufacture our e-juices in-house in our GMP certified facility and ISO 7 state of the art clean room. We use high-grade lab equipment and ingredients to make sure that our flavors are consistent and well balanced throughout the lifecycle of the e-liquid. We go to great lengths to ensure that our flavors are the highest of quality and we won’t put anything out there that we don’t take pride in. We are passionate about exploring new avenues into making our e-juices great and we are always pushing the boundaries to further the vaping industry.
When it comes to steeping, we have found that the ideal time to do sample testing is a week after the vape juice has been freshly mixed since we have found that it is a sufficient amount of time for the flavoring to settle in for a balanced taste. However, for our cream, custard, and tobacco flavors, we age our e-juices for at least 2 to 4 weeks to give it a more robust flavor.
If we find that our flavors are not up to our standards regardless of aging, we will not ship it out. We want to make sure that we fully capture the complexity of our flavors whether it’s straight out the lab or a month later when the marriages of the flavorings are in a prime state.
Once our quality control testing and sampling tests are complete, our premium e-juices do not require any steeping as they are pre-steeped and tested to be ready-to-be-vaped when they are shipped to your door.
Let us know what you guys think about steeping and what are some methods that have worked best for you? Happy Steeping!!
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