Making Eliquid is simple and cheap, the best way to vape if I am being honest. You can create some masterpieces or share others for a fraction of the cost. However there is more to making Eliquid than just mixing and vaping, there is something called steeping. Steeping , for want of a better term, is the process in allowing your Eliquid to develop over time to improve the flavour and get the best possible enjoyment out of it. In short, any Eliquid that you mix requires a steep, whether it be a day or a year (well not quite but stranger things have happened). the problem when it comes to steeping however is that there is so much misinformation about in regards to it that it can be easy to follow an old wives tales in trying to get that lovely custard flavour ahead of father time. If you ask online, chances are there will be a tried and tested method that someone will swear by with their liquids that, well, may not be all quite true. So join us whilst we take a look at the art of steeping, are you doing it right?
What is Steeping?
Steeping is a necessary part of making any Eliquid as it allows you to develop flavour in a chemical reaction of sorts that allows individual flavours to strengthen and blend together in a way that improves the overall flavour. Think of your E Liquid as a cup of tea, you place your teabag into the water and let it steep until ready. If you take the bag out right away, the tea will taste weak, leave it much longer and you get a much stronger flavour. This principle applies to steeping, depending on the flavour in question, the longer you leave it the better it becomes.
As the Eliquid Steeps, you will find that the colour for the most part will darken. This is a good sign that the alcohol has dissipated and the flavours are slowly steeping and blending to get to the right profile. Clear liquids may have a yellowish hue to them, desserty type flavours may become dark brown. It is nothing to worry about and it is completely natural, the darker the E Liquid, the more it has steeped to the point it won’t darken any more.
Throughout this process the nicotine will remain stable so unless you plan to steep an E Liquid for 18 months, then your strength of mixed E Liquid will not change at all during this time.
What is Breathing?
Another term that you may have come across before is breathing. Breathing can be another important part to making E Liquid as the process oxidises the flavours, sharpening them before a steep and setting the chemical reaction off right. Not all E Liquid requires a steep, with more desserty style flavours being the main ones that benefit from the process. Flavour such as strawberry can have an adverse reaction to over breathing, as the flavour can dissipate from the liquid and grow weaker despite the steep afterwards. It can just vary from flavour to flavour so it is always good practice to look up breathing recommendations based on what you are mixing with.
Breathing can vary in time, from an hour to 12 hours depending on the complexity of the mix you are making. Single flavours are best without a breathe but recipes will require on as standard. Always check with the recipe provider what the recommended breathe time is to prevent any adverse flavour reactions/weakening before you even get chance to start vaping it.
How to Steep
So now we get onto the main part of this guide, how to steep your E liquid. As mentioned there is many ways you can steep your E Liquid that are tried and tested methods. The idea behind steeping is getting your E Liquid to the point where you can experience the best possible flavour so this is where I will let you in on a little secret. The absolute perfect way to steep your E Liquid in the best optimal time to get the best flavour is……
Quite an anticlimactic answer I know but for good reason. Despite all the 101 ways you can steep E Liquid, time is the best possible answer. Simply seal your E Liquid up, put it in a dark cupboard away from light and air and just wait until the steep time is over.
And that is it. Nothing more to steeping! Just wait the amount of time and your E Liquid is ready to go. I guess you want more though right? Ok, now we have established the only way to steep, let’s answer an all important question.
Do I have to wait the full steeping time?
The answer to this is not at all. Steeping is an advisory amount of time before the flavour is ready to be enjoyed but there is nothing stopping you from vaping it earlier. Maybe your desserty flavour tastes better to you after only two weeks, that is fine. E Liquid comes down to individual taste preference after all, what you like may not be what is recommended on the box. Similarly, you don’t have to vape at the recommended time either, many people choose to leave their E Liquid to steep for even longer than that, to really strengthen the flavour before they crack it open and enjoy. You may have heard of people leaving custards for months at a time, again nothing wrong with this, all down to what you want to do.
Can I use heat/ movement to steep faster?
The answer to this is a firm no, it makes no difference to the overall experience of the steep and in fact may trick you into thinking otherwise. Some of the tales of steeping can include microwaves to apply heat, ultrasonic cleaners / machines to shake vigorously, leaving out in the sun / on a radiator etc. The theory behind it is sound but it makes no difference to the time it takes to steep the flavour. What you might experience is a darker liquid quicker, a thinner mix due to heat or maybe the start of the steeping process. However away from that, it won’t speed up the process one bit, so better to keep these methods at arms length, they are just a waste of time and can even potentially adversely affect your mix.
What is Shake and Vape?
Another term you may be unfamiliar with is the shake and vape style of E Liquids. No, it isn’t some new fangled way of mixing E Liquid, it means to mix and vape straight away. No breathing, no steeping, just good to go as soon as you have finished mixing. This can be true for simple fruits or mints but chances are any complex or deeper flavours will not shine through this way and may not even taste of anything using this method.
Brief Steeping Guide
This list is not exhaustive and by no means a solid guide to follow. However try to use this as a rough guide when mixing individual flavours and perhaps to gain an idea of how long a recipe will take to fully steepen.
Fruits- 1-2 days. The quickest style of flavour to steep and have ready, fruits tend to be strong from the off and do not benefit well from breathing. It is good practice to allow for fruits to sit for at least a couple of days with around a week to get them really popping
Menthol/Mint- Shake and Vape. Mint and menthol flavours very rarely need to steep as a single flavour due to the strength of flavour to begin with. One you can leave for around half an hour and should be good to go almost instantly, with the flavour improving over the next day or two.
Cake style- 4 weeks. If you plan to use a cheesecake or similar profile flavour, then the minimum steep time is recommended at around 4 weeks. If mixed with fruit, be careful with the breathing on this one.
Creams- 4-6 weeks. Chances are a cream style flavour will take anywhere between 4-6 weeks to come into its own within an E Liquid mix. This is by no means a shake and vape style flavour as it is designed to add body to your flavours rather than as a stand out. A Little breathe ahead of time is usually required but then its a long 6 weeks before you can finally start enjoying it.
Custards- 8 weeks plus. This is the one that everyone leaves in the cupboard for weeks on end. The custard style vapes take the longest to steep but as a reward you can get a much better flavour experience as a result. It can be vaped at around 6 weeks, but the longer the better with a good custard flavour, especially when in a complex mix.
So there you have it, a quick run down on how to steep your E Liquids, nothing to it, like I said. It is an important process to making E Liquid and as such, should be followed to a tee to ensure you have the best possible flavour from your mixes. When you feel your flavour is ready is entirely up to you but please, just give it time. There is nothing to gain from trying to speed things up, take it from the UK’s favourite DIY brand.