DIY e-liquids

DIY, or “Do it yourself”, liquids are all the rage in vaping. What exactly are they? Is this practice only reserved for experts? To complete our guide to how e-cigarettes work, in this section, we explain how to make your own e-liquids.

“Do it yourself” e-liquids

DIY stands for “Do it yourself”. It is not specific to vaping, and in used in all areas, from electronics to home improvements, including in the kitchen.

In vaping, it simply refers to making your own e-cigarette liquid. This does not mean that you have to come up with new components or squeeze some oranges to create a natural fruity liquid.

The DIY process can be defined as mixing the ingredients of your liquids yourself, using only products specifically designed for vaping. When a manufacturer produces an e-liquid, they procure the raw materials, and then make up mixtures in precise proportions. Making a DIY liquid is exactly the same thing.

The vaper, rather than purchase ready-to-use liquids, purchases the different components and makes up the mixture themselves. It is worth pointing out that DIY enthusiasts use the same components as those used in the e-liquid industry, buying them from a specialist retailer, to the exclusion of all others. Vaping any old thing is obviously out of the question.

Why is DIY so popular?

e-liquids bottles

This brings up the question, why trouble yourself with making your own mixtures when the store shelves are already inundated with ready-made liquids?

The price

Based on the average prices recorded in Europe

The liquid is the main recurrent vaping cost, and has to be purchased on a regular basis. A 10 ml bottle costs an average of €6, setting the average price per litre at €600. When using a basic set-up infrequently for indirect vaping, a single bottle can last for one week. On the other hand, for a heavy vaper with a high-power subohm atomizer, their consumption can be up to 30 ml per day.

The average consumption is on the rise with the development of gear producing more vapour. This vapour is simply evaporated liquid, and the more vapour you make, the more liquid you will consume, it’s mathematical. Recent gear thus tends to make the price of the liquid a key criterion.

As such, with ready-to-vape liquids, the budget can be up to €18 per day. With DIY liquids, 10 ml of liquid comes to €1 or €2, sometimes less. Therefore, an average price that is six times lower. Over one year, that can make a sizeable difference.

The TPD

The European directive stipulates a maximum capacity of 10 ml for liquids containing nicotine. Bottles containing 30 ml or 120 ml, which could be bought for a much more attractive price per millilitre by limiting the cost of packaging, are now a thing of the past. However, besides that, it is much more convenient to use bottles with a larger capacity when you have a high daily consumption. The new regulatory framework imposed by the European Union has therefore played a major role in the increasing popularity of DIY liquids in the vaping community.

Simplicity

DIY liquids are very simple to make, even if the process involves multiple “levels” of difficulty.

In its most basic form, it consists of a nicotine-free ready-to-use liquid, to which you merely add the nicotine. The base liquid can be 30, 60, 120 ml or more, and as it contains no nicotine, it escapes the restrictions of the TPD. Nicotine is added using a booster, or a 10 ml bottle containing 20 mg/ml nicotine. Add the desired dose of booster in the liquid to obtain the final nicotine content required. While the technique is a bit rough and ready, the result is often satisfactory.

A more elaborate solution consists of using concentrates. You purchase a neutral base with the desired proportions of PG and VG, and add a concentrated flavour and nicotine. Bases are easy to source in litre format, so you can make the amount of liquid you like in one go. The cost price is substantially reduced with this option which it still relatively straightforward despite being methodological.

The final solution consists of buying food-grade flavours and making up your own recipe instead of using a ready-made concentrate. This obviously offers the advantage of using your favourite flavours to make your own liquid. However, you will need some experience and time to find the right proportions and harmonious mixtures, but there are many sites and forums like E-liquid-recipes.com where you can find recipes. It quickly turns into a hobby, quite like cooking in a way.

Are DIY liquids for you?

If you use one 10 ml bottle per week and you don’t want to complicate your life further, DIY liquids are clearly not for you. The stores contain stacks of e-liquids, and you won’t be having any problem finding one to your taste. Some are even impossible to match with a DIY liquid, as not everyone can be as talented as their creators!

However, if you consume large quantities of liquid and you want to reduce your vaping budget, if you prefer larger-capacity bottles, or if you want to make up your own recipes, DIY liquids will be a good alternative.

Some precautionary rules

DIY bottle juice

In theory, handling liquids with nicotine requires you to wear protection (gloves, goggles, etc.), but, in practice, very few people do so. At the doses contained commercially available compounds, the risk of a serious accident is relative for adults handling these products, but this does not rule out risks for other family members, particularly children. Always keep your DIY equipment under lock and key, in places that are inaccessible for little ones. Wear protective gear for more safety.

The flavours used in e-cigarette e-liquids represent a significant area of modern scientific research. Due to thermal degradation, the aromas contained in e-liquids can, under certain conditions and depending on their natures, produce aldehydes. As such, the lower the flavour content of a liquid, the lower its theoretical risk profile will be. If you make DIY liquids using flavour concentrates, we can only advise you to minimise the added flavour in your mixtures as much as possible. Your tastebuds are highly sensitive, there is no need to saturate them. DIY liquids can offer a very good means to improve the quality of your vaping by minimising added flavours in e-liquids.

Industrial e-liquids can contain additives or taste enhancers. As a precautionary measure, we recommend that you simplify the composition of your e-liquids as much as possible and avoid them.

In the case of PG/VG bases, the current trend is for e-liquids with a high vegetable glycerin concentration as VG produces more vapour. However, VG inhibits flavours and is considerably less fluid than PG, which implies slower wick hydration by capillarity. So, if choosing bases with high VG concentrations, make sure that your atomizer or clearomizer provides the wick with a good source of e-liquid, in order to avoid dry hits, even partial, which can cause higher than normal aldehyde production. As vegetable glycerin does not carry the flavours in vapour as well as PG, you might tend to increase the flavour percentage in bases with a high VG concentration.

Make sure to purchase your different compounds in reputable specialist stores. Remember that e-cigarettes offer smokers a means to reduce their risks, but the vapour itself is not completely free from toxic compounds. How you vape, your gear, and in this case, your e-liquid, have a major influence on your general vaping quality. It is preferable to increase the nicotine content rather than to vape more.

How do you choose and make your base?

An e-liquid is of course made from propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, at different ratios. Making DIY liquids offers you the option to choose exactly the proportion of PG and VG that you need to get the most satisfaction out of your vaping. We provide a step-by-step explanation of the principles to follow to choose and make your base correctly.

Nicotine boosters

French vaping has been marked by a major historical event: on 16 May 2016, the European Directive was transposed into French law, and bottles of e-liquids containing nicotine could not exceed 10 ml. The problem with this is that … manufacturers soon got around the problem by selling 10 ml bottles containing 20 mg/ml of nicotine, known as nicotine boosters. The vaper then mixes them with a nicotine-free flavoured base.

Concentrated recipes

The choice is a hard one for manufacturers used to selling their latest best-selling e-liquid at €600 per litre. But vapers love this option and are also looking to save money. In this way, you can find major brands’ recipes in a concentrated formulation to be able to dilute it in large-capacity bases. We give a detailed explanation of the principle of concentrated recipes.

Creating your own recipe

The very best liquid? Simply your own. However, you still need to be able to make it, and that’s where things can get tricky. For this reason, we have tried to guide you through the steps required to make a 100% homemade recipe. To create your own recipe, come this way.

Ready-to-use packs

Lacking motivation? Lacking time? Lacking the creative spark? No problem, the world of e-liquids is packed with all kinds of tips to help each and every vaper reduce their risks while not forgetting the pleasure factor. Ready-to-use packs allow you to make your own mixtures very quickly and enter the world of DIY in a matter of minutes.

Steeping (maturation)

This, after the recipe, is the noblest phase in the liquid creation process, but undoubtedly the most frustrating as you need to wait. Yes indeed, a liquid needs to mature gently so that its flavours can express themselves to the full. We explain this tricky, but final, step in our guide on steeping.

Storing e-liquids

Your wonderful liquids now need to be kept away from the harmful effects of the environment and to fend off oxidation. To keep your most precious recipes longer, here are a few rules to follow in relation to storing liquids. 

DIY FAQ

Below is the list of frequently asked questions about DIY liquids. If you can’t find an answer to your question, feel free to leave your question in the comment box below.

  • Where can you buy compounds to make your e-liquid?

A number of online retailers offer the compounds needed to make your own e-liquids. However, make sure that you always use reputable or trusted websites, so that you can be sure of the quality and soundness of the compounds sold.

  • Can anyone make their own e-liquid?

In theory, they can, provided that they are adults of course, and that they know a little about what they are doing. However, if, as stated in the article, you only vape a few ml of liquid per day, it might not be necessary to trouble yourself with this process.

  • Are all flavours available?

Probably not all, but many definitely art. So will you be successful in reproducing the flavour of your favourite e-liquid at home? Maybe. DIY liquids are no magic bullet, you need to try, test, start over, retest… and sometimes succeed to achieve your objective, but always staying ready to get back going again when it doesn’t work out!

To find out more:

  • Everything you needed to know about the cigalike, an e-cigarette format that was considerable success in the early industrial vaping era.
  • We have given you a detailed explanation of how a box mod, a square or rectangular vaping device, works.
  • Get right into the heart of vaping with our key explanations on clearomizers.
  • Vapers seeking a personalised vaping experience often opt for a good atomizer or a dripper. We explain everything.
  • For purists, we offer a guide on mech mods.
  • Finally, pods are clever devices for new vapers. They are described in a detailed section.
  • Without electricity, there is no vapour. Here, we explain the operating principle and role of the battery.
  • Finally, wondering how “e-juices” are made? Read our guide on e-liquid composition.

DIY e-liquids

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