A Beginners Guide to DIY Electronic Cigarette E-Liquid
DIY E-Liquid Mixing Guide
An introduction to the Do-It-Yourself vaping experience
Mixing your own e-liquid flavors can be a fun, cost effective and rewarding experience and isn’t nearly as complicated as you might think. With some unflavored nicotine, your favorite flavors and a few simple tools, you can be on your way to becoming a “mix-master” in no time.
The General Idea
All of the juices that are used in an electronic cigarette consist of at least three main ingredients. Like any recipe, these three ingredients can be adjusted to suit your tastes.
• propylene glycol (PG) and/or vegetable glycerin (VG)
Nicotine is the obvious ingredient, and you will want to make sure you mix your juice to the nicotine level that’s right for you. The level of nicotine is expressed in milligrams per milliliter or mg for short. Most vapers will stick to a level of nicotine somewhere between 6mg and 24mg. Unflavored nicotine for mixing usually comes in a higher strength so that it can be diluted to suit individual tastes. Undiluted nicotine can be extremely poisonous and is absorbed through the skin, so great care should be taken when using it. Wear protective clothing and gloves and obviously keep it out of the reach of children and pets.
Propylene Glycol (PG) or Vegetable Glycerin (VG) are used to dilute the concentrated nicotine liquid to the desired strength. PG makes the vapor and is partly responsible for the cigarette-like “hit” that e-cigarette vapor gives the user. Vegetable Glycerin (VG) is smoother and gives less of a throat hit, but creates more vapor. It is often too thick to be used by itself, however. Many vapers prefer a mix of 80% PG to 20% VG while others prefer a 50/50 mix. It’s all a matter of taste.
Flavoring is where a lot of trial and error comes in. While the other ingredients are mixed to exact measurements, the amount of flavor that a mixture needs varies widely depending on the strength of the flavor, the type of equipment being used and of course, personal taste. In general, starting with about 5% flavor and working your way up is a good idea. Even at 5%, though, some flavors will be overpowering and will be best when mixed with other lighter flavors. Flavorings are added by-the-drop to avoid contaminating measuring equipment. Generally, 20-30 drops are in a ml.
The Ingredients and Tools
There really is very little required to get started in mixing your own juice. Here are the basics that you will need:
- Propylene Glycol (PG)
- Vegetable Glycerin
- Measuring cup or graduated cylinder
- Small funnel
- Pipette or eye dropper
- Empty bottles
- Latex gloves
- Index cards
- An e-liquid calculator
Mixing is where things get a little complicated. Combining the right amount of just three or four ingredients doesn’t sound too difficult, but figuring out just how much of the concentrated nicotine will be needed can be a challenge. Luckily, there are a number of great people who have taken the guesswork (not to mention the math!) out of it for us. A simple e-liquid calculator is available online and a more elaborate Excel version can be downloaded.
Before we go any further, here are some examples to try out:
- Scubabatdan’s excel e-liquid calculator – my first and lasting favorite.
- eJuice Me Up – a free downloadable program
- E-Liquid Recipe Mixing Calculator – an online calculator with flavoring options and costs
- eliquidcalculator.com – an online calculator with a number of options
- ejuice – and one for your iPhone
The calculators will help you to determine just how much of each ingredient is needed to deliver the expected result at the right nicotine level. Let’s start with an example using unflavored concentrated nicotine in PG at 36mg and have as our goal an 18mg solution with an 80/20 PG/VG mixture and 10% flavor. We’ll make 10ml.
A calculator will show that we need the following amounts of ingredients:
• 5ml 36mg Unflavored nicotine
• 2ml PG
• 2ml VG
• 1ml Flavoring (20-30 drops)
Notice that half of the mixture is 36mg nicotine. That’s because we want to reduce the concentration by half to equal an 18mg strength. We wanted 20% VG in the mixture, so 2ml out of the 10ml will be VG. 1ml of one or more flavors will be added to equal 10% and 2ml of PG will make up the rest of our 10ml.
Now is a great time to write down exactly what you have decided to mix. I like to use numbered index cards for each recipe and label the bottle with the corresponding number. The important thing is to know what is in each bottle so that you can repeat the mix exactly. Nothing is worse than discovering that you really like a flavor made a week ago and having no idea of what you put in it.
Use pipettes, a graduated cylinder or measuring cup to measure out the ingredients as exactly as possible so that your nicotine strength stays consistent. The use of latex gloves is recommended when handling any nicotine solution, especially at higher concentration. Flavorings will often be added by the drop rather than measuring because it takes so little of each flavor.
Now it’s time to vigorously shake the bottle and enjoy vaping your new creation! Some flavors will take a little time to fully mix and develop, so don’t toss a flavor right away. Try going back to it after a week or so to see if it is any more enjoyable. This is where that note card becomes especially important!