storytime: at some point in my mid 20s i fell in to the terrible habit of smoking "clove cigarettes" after i started dating a cute girl from one of my classes. they tasted like candy and she assured me they werent as bad as the real thing. well, that ended up setting me on the dark winding path which eventually led to me trying, "the real thing." first at parties after a few drinks, then after big meals and finally at the peak of my habit: working hours on end in front of my computer chain-smoking malboro reds with the windows closed for days and days. looking back now, my behavior was truly disgusting.
it wasn’t until i turned 30 that i realized just how large of a mistake i had truly made. i was getting my routine checks at my allergist when my doctor informed me i had the "working" lung capacity of a sedentary 70 year old man. she then asked me if i wanted to get paid $3k to join a study of an experimental drug for people with asthma, allergies and exceptionally low lung capacities. for whatever reason, this was the final nail in the coffin. i declined the money and decided on the drive home that i would devise a plan to begin to quit smoking.
after a few false starts what ended up working for me was this: it took 6 months of a gradual taper from 2 packs a day to 1, then from 1 to a 1/2. finally, i bought and started learning to use a RDA type vape. the rules were as such.. for the last 3 months i was to switch from the reduced amount of cigarettes to soley using my vape pen. i did this by restricting my smoking to only when i was out and about (friends, bars, parties, etc) and using my vape exclusively the rest of the time. my hope was that this gradual change would be able to break me out of the psychological habit completely.
soon, i decoupled the pavlovian habit of smoking while working in front of my computer.i replaced it with a drag from my kangertech 160w dripbox mod. at about 2 months in to this process i was out for dinner with my girlfriend at the time when i casually remarked to her that i was going out for a cig; she sighed and said nothing in response. i walked out to my car and looked for my pack but was confused when i discovered it was empty. on further recall it seems it had been for some time: i couldn’t remember when the last time i picked up a fresh pack was. it was at this critical moment that i instead reached for my vape pen in the cupholder.. and i haven’t had a cigarette since. it wasn't a big thing at the time but looking back this was the moment when i finally quit smoking cigarettes.
so, that is my dirty history with smoking cigarettes and how i got in to this odd habit of vaporizing flavored oils with nicotine in them from a metal wire wrapped around a bit of cotton (aka: vaping). things were looking up since i had made this change, at my next allergist visit my doc was happy to report that my lung capacity was back to normal. my gf at the time remarked that my snoring had gotten much better and personally i noticed that i could smell (and taste!) things other than that disgusting dirt-smoke stench again. but, as the saying goes, every silver lining has a cloud as well.
after vaping for awhile i realized it was entirely possible for me to consume the e-juice at the same rate of expenditure as buying packs of cigarettes would cost me. this was fine for awhile but after witnessing a guy literally mixing my vape juice in front of me, shaking the bottle a little and charging me $20 at the vape shop down the street i decided that aw, what the hell, monkey-see monkey-do, right? i was going to learn to make my own vape juice.
to my suprise the prices for everything you need to mix your own vape juice was EXTREMELY REASONABLE. just to put this in perspective, for the cost of about 1 month of vape juice bought from the store i could end up making enough DIY juice for the entire year. i could also make multiple different flavor combinations, nicotine strengths and even occasionally gift (or sell) some of these concoctions on the cheap to friends who liked my style.
so, if you are quitting smoking, vape chasing clouds or are just interested in making a bit of spare cash, i would like to introduce you to the wonderful world of DIY vape juices! before we begin you will need to have a few things. in addition to the base oils and flavors you need for mixing (more on that later) you will need a scale for measuring the quantity of oil you use in each recipe. while you can get away with using a large syringe and a blunt tip needle for mixing by volume it is very discouraged in the diy scene because it is messy, inaccurate and just plain not cool!
so do yourself a flavor and get a cheapo $20 digital scale that can weigh up to ~1000g+ and is also sensitive down to two decimal points (should display: 0.00g). if you already have one you are all set!
first things first: head on over to one or all of the following e-juice recipe sites and find some recipes with flavors you might find appealing.
keep in mind you'll need to buy each of the individual flavors in order to make these so the more recipes you can make with the least ingredients = the better. there is a special section here where you can find out what you can make with what you have on hand.
you are going to want to jot down the flavors listed in those recipes (and take note of the comments and reviews of other users when choosing what to make). these are the bottles of flavors you will be ordering so that you can use them to mix. for your first order you should have between 5 - 10+ flavors of about 1-4oz in volume for each. this should cost ~$5 per flavor, ideally.
next, you will need to get 2 separate 1 gallon bottles of both VG oil and PG oil, costing about $15 each. VG stands for Vegetable Glycerin, PG stands for Propylene Glycol, these are the primary oils for vape juices. your flavor bottles are typically made with a PG oil base so you will want to figure out what balance of these two types of oil you prefer, and then use that preference to tweak your recipes to your individual taste. it's commonly stated that VG is "smoother" and produces more vapor or "clouds". on the other hand, PG gives you the "throat hit" and more flavor. don’t worry too much about this just yet, the more you mix the better you'll get at determining this ratio for your particular tastes. last on the list of purchases, i would suggest that you buy the 1 liter 100mg nicotine strength 50/50 bottle. this is what gives you that nicotine fix that (former) smokers crave. this bottle cost me about $50.
its good practice to use a small glass beaker ($3) for measuring and mixing. any kind of container will do however: you could even cut the bottom off a discarded water bottle and use that (which i do sometimes in a pinch). what you want to do with this is to place it on your scale ($20, after it is turned on, calibrated and reading 0.00g) and then press the T or "tare" button to subtract the weight of the container you are using from what’s being weighed. this allows you to measure only the oil and not the container.
using the "adapt this recipe" drop down tab from e-liquid-recipes.com, alter the recipe to reflect how much juice you are making (basically, how big is the old or new vape juice bottle you are going to be using to store the stuff). next you are going to want to change the nicotine strength to 100mg (or whatever strength you bought) and the desired strength to either 3, 6 or 12mg based on your preference. this number is dynamic and can change based on the other proportions of oil/flavors in your recipe. personally, i mix mine to 9-12mg but that is considered on the strong to very strong end of the scale. next, enter the desired PG/VG ratio (i go 50/50 or 60/40 usually). at this point you should have everything you need to get mixing, so lets do this!
if you have latex gloves handy, you’re going to want to put them on now. slowly and carefully add the flavors to your mixing cup that is on top of the scale. once you have added the MG (milligrams, make sure your scale is measuring in this weight) amount that the recipe calls for press the T or Tare button on your scale to zero it out before adding the next flavor ingredient. once you have finished adding the flavors you can now add the desired VG, PG and nicotine concentrate that the recipe calls for in this same way.
once you are done, pour the completed recipe in to an old or new (cleaned and dry) empty vape juice bottle, the kind with the dripper in the cap. if you entered the volume correctly in juice calculator the volume of oil should fit just right. congrats on mixing your first vape juice! now go wash your hands if you got any of it on your skin! the nicotine in the oil can give you a wicked headache, trust me on this.
the last and final step in this process is what is called, "steeping." there are two methods to do this: the fast way and the slow way. i do both just for good measure. the reason you do this is to let any stray ingredients (like alcohols) that may be in the flavoring oils evaporate off. it also allows the oils to mix more completely as well as allowing the combined oils to oxidize and turn from a clear/yellow to an amber-ish color. this amber color usually indicates the steeping process is complete. note: at the point before you steep your vape juice it is still technically ready to be smoked. as such this process is not absolutely necessary but it can greatly improve the quality of your vape juice and the experience of smoking it. keep in mind that different recipes may call for different (or no) steeping times. the average steep time is 1 week but when steeping is not required it is called a "shake and vape." (and i helped!)
the slow way to steep your vape juice is simple and somewhat automatic. if you order your vape juice online it usually happens naturally by sitting on the stock shelf and being shaken while being delivered. what you do is take the cap off the juice, put it some place dark and return to it once or twice a day or so in order to shake it vigorously. on the other hand there’s the fast steeping method. get yourself a cup of warm-to-hot water and fill it to 1/3 the height of your vape juice bottle. next, put your vape juice bottle (with its cap off) in the warm water while being careful not to knock it over and get any water in the bottle's oil. let the bottle sit in the warm water in a dark place for about an hour. once it has completely cooled you can then repeat this process again as many times as you like until you get your desired flavor and consistency.
and that's it! after your juice has steeped for whatever length of time you feel is long enough you can then place the cap back on the bottle and put it on your shelf somewhere.. or better yet, smoke it! you now know everything i know about mixing and making DIY vape juice. go forth and create some amazing flavors!
disclaimer: vape juices can contain nicotine. nicotine has been found to be addictive by the FDA. i am not paid by, endorsed, sponsored or in any way affiliated with nicotine river, kangertech, malboro, dijarum, ebay, or any of the websites linked in this post. if you try this at home using this guide you are soley responsible for your own saftey. i am not a vape specalist nor did i stay in a [integrated hotel advertisement] last night. some days i can barely tie my own shoes! mix at your own risk