One of the few drawbacks of vaping is the cost of e-juice. If you use a sub-ohm set-up you can easily burn through 10 mL in a day. These costs can soon add up, particularly if you’re a fan of premium brands like Cuttwood, Suicide Bunny and Cosmic Fog. And often your choices are limited. If the shop is out of your preferred nicotine level you either leave empty-handed or end up with a strength that can leave you dizzy or unsatisfied.
Don’t worry, there’s a solution to both these problems: make your own e-liquid. DIY e-juice is a fast-growing hobby – and even an obsession – for many vapers. With a little guidance you can make a bottle of vape juice as good as any shop-bought product, at a fraction of the cost and with complete control over the levels of nicotine and PG/VG. Here’s our easy-to-follow guide on how to make high quality homemade DIY e-juice.
What Is DIY E-Juice?
In the simplest terms making your own e-liquid, involves mixing together the four main elements that make up e-juice. These are PG, VG, nicotine and flavouring. You don’t necessarily need all of these, for instance, if you prefer nicotine-free e-liquid or want maximum VG juice for sub ohm vaping. There are other specialised additives that we’ll look at in a future article but these four are enough to make great quality DIY e-juice. The idea might sound overwhelming but it’s a lot easier than you might think. You don’t need advanced knowledge of chemical engineering – if you can boil an egg, you can make your own vape juice.
What Do I Need To Make My Own E-Liquid?
You’ll need to buy some kit to get started, but you’ll soon make this back by the money you save. First off, you need the four components that make up all e-juice (there’s a list of recommended sellers at the bottom of the page):
Propylene Glycol – Otherwise known as PG. You can read more about PG here. If you’re plus-ohm vaping you’ll need a bottle of this. We recommend 500 mL or a litre for starters. Make sure it’s pharmaceutical grade, with no additives.
Vegetable Glycerine – Or VG for short. Again, read our previous article for a more detailed breakdown. This will likely make up the bulk of your ejuice, particularly if you’re sub-ohm vaping. We’d recommend buying a litre of pharmaceutical grade to begin with.
Nicotine – It’s important to buy good quality nicotine. It degrades rapidly when exposed to air, darkening in colour and taking on a peppery taste, so make sure your sealed nicotine is clear. It depends on your preferred nicotine level but a 100 mL bottle of 72 mg/ mL nicotine should be enough for beginners. Nicotine is usually suspended in a PG solution, so be aware that this will affect the PG/VG ratio of your juice. As we’ve explained in a previous article, be very careful when handling and storing nicotine. Its efficacy as a poison tends to be overstated but spilling it on your skin can cause sickness if not quickly washed off. Of course, if you prefer nicotine-free vape juice you can leave this out.
Flavour Concentrates – These determine what your juice will ultimately taste like. There are thousands of individual flavours to choose from, which can be combined to make countless unique flavours. You can also buy one-shot flavours, where multiple flavours are pre-mixed. These are ideal for beginners, and some major juice-makers such as Pink Spot and Totally Wicked already sell their own ranges as one-shot concentrates.
As well as the liquids you’ll need other equipment for the actual mixing process. There are two methods: mixing by volume and mixing by weight. We’ll look at both, but strongly recommend mixing by weight as it’s cleaner and more accurate.
Scales – For mixing by weight, you’ll need a small set of electronic scales that go to 0.01g. This is accurate enough to deal with almost all DIY e-liquid recipes.
Storage Bottles – Store your PG and VG in individual squeezy bottles with nozzle tips to make it easy to add to the bottles. A couple of 100 mL condiment bottles should be ideal. Store your nicotine in amber bottles with droppers – the amber glass helps slow the degradation of nicotine and the dropper allows for more precision.
Syringes – If you’re mixing by volume, you’ll need a selection of syringes. We advise getting some 10 mL syringes for the PG and VG, and plenty of 1 mL syringes for nicotine and flavour concentrates. You’ll also need some needles – we recommend 14 gauge to make dealing with thick VG easier.
E-Juice Bottles – For your early experiments, buy a selection of 10 mL plastic bottles for test recipes and some 50 mL bottles to make large amounts of your favourite homebrew e-liquid. These are cheap and widely available.
Labels – Buy some cheap sticky labels to write the details on before sticking to the bottle. In time, you may find it easier and more polished to use a label maker such as the Dymo 160.
How Do I Make DIY Vape Juice? A Step-By-Step Guide
For beginners, it’s best to start with a simple recipe or a one-shot concentrate. We’ll look at finding these in more detail below. Or if you have a great idea for a flavour combination, you can jump right in. But be sure to make detailed notes so you can tweak future versions.
1) Recipe And Ratios
The first step is to find a recipe you like the sound of, and buy the relevant concentrates. For this example, we’ll use the recipe for Mustard Milk, a popular strawberry milkshake flavour, created by reddit user and leading DIY e-juice maker Fizzmustard:
- Strawberry (TPA) 6%
- Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (TPA) 6%
(TPA is the abbreviation for The Perfumers Apprentice, a major flavour manufacturer. But when going to TPA, you want to use their products listed under the Flavor Apprentice for your DIY endeavors).
Now we need to decide what PG/VG ratio to use. Fizzmustard recommends VG/PG 70/30, which makes it suitable for sub ohm vaping. You could also try out max VG, or if you want a version that works in a plus-ohm tank try a higher ratio of PG such as 50/50. If you change the VG/PG ratio you might need to adjust the amount of flavour added to get a similar taste.
Next, choose your nicotine level. Here, we’ll make a 10 mL bottle of Mustard Milk with 6 mg nicotine and VG/PG at a 70/30 ratio, but you can adjust to your personal taste.
Now we have our choices we need to work out the amounts to use. This can be complicated to do by hand, but don’t worry, there are various online juice calculators that do it automatically. For best results, set up an account on eLR – it’s easy to use and you can access your recipes it from any online device. (Other more-comprehensive juice calculators such as EjuiceMeUp and Steam Engine are also recommended.) Go to the create recipe page, input the relevant details and hit save. This will produce a table showing the volume, weight and percentage of each ingredient. Another good all-in-one calculator is at e-liquid-recipes.com. You’ll be able to save your e-liquid recipes as private or public (so other users can see it).
Time to get your hands dirty. First, and most importantly, set aside a safe hygienic area in a clean room with no pets or children around. Use rubber gloves and a plastic tray in case of spillage.
By Weight – If you’re using scales, you should focus on the grams. Put your empty 10 mL bottle on the scales and set it to zero. Now add your flavours by dripping in the correct amount in grams. Then add nicotine using a dropper or syringe and be careful not spill any. Use your squeezy bottles to add the PG and VG. If you prefer to use syringes, make sure you use a fresh one for each ingredient to avoid cross-contamination. The final weight should match that shown on eLR table.
By Volume – If you’re mixing by volume it’s a bit trickier. Using separate syringes for each component, check the measurements on the syringe to gauge the mL and add these to the empty 10 mL bottle. Each flavour concentrate and nicotine will require an individual 1 mL syringe. Be aware that this method is less accurate than using scales.
Note: Another way to use volume, and possibly the simplest (albeit maybe not the most easy to convey for others to replicate or to scale up) is by using drops as your measurements. It works really well with flavorings, and if you make a small investment in empty plastic dropper bottles (ideally with all the same size droppers) it should suit you fine. This is the least precise way of measuring for nicotine, so we caution against using drops to get your nic percentage bang-on.
Congratulation, you now you have your first homemade bottle of DIY e-juice! What now?
Labelling – Label your mixes with the following: VG/PG ratio, nicotine level, flavour percentage and date created. Do this immediately. You’d be surprised how many beginners don’t, only to be stumped when they find a perfect blend but with no way of recreating it. Save your recipes in a notebook, spreadsheet or on eLR.
Steeping – This often confounds newcomers to the DIY e-juice world. Most homemade e-juice containing more than one flavour needs a certain amount of time to let the flavours blend and settle. This varies with every mix but you’ll often find multi-layered dessert or cream-based mixes need over four weeks to reach their best, while simple fruit recipes might not need to steep at all. Most recipes come with a recommended steeping time. As well as this, there are various methods that aim to speed up the steeping process but these are a subject of much controversy in the DIY e-juice community.
Testing – Once your e-juice has steeped, it’s time to test it out. It’s best to use a good quality dripper or rebuildable atomiser rather than a tank. This saves wasting coils on potentially substandard e-juice and easy rewicking makes sampling different juices quicker. Be aware that ohm and temperature can greatly affect the taste – juice that tastes great at 80w on a 0.2ohm RDA vape is likely to taste very different in a 1.8ohm tank at 15w.
Make Notes – After testing, make plenty of notes, either online or in a notebook. Is one flavour too strong? Would it be better at a 50/50 PG/VG blend rather than max VG? Keeping detailed notes will help improve your future e-liquid mixes and vastly help your homebrew/DIY e-juice skills.
Storage – Sunlight, heat and oxygen can have a negative impact on e-juice so keep your homemade juice in a cool dark place. And make sure they’re safely out of reach of pets and children.
Finding New E-Juice Recipes
Your first bottle of DIY e-juice was a success – now what? There’s a whole world of flavours out there, many times more than you’ll find on sale at your local brick and mortar vape shop. Here are some tips for finding new recipes:
Reddit – The DIY e-juice subreddit is responsible for countless excellent recipes. Here you’ll find invaluable information about the art of DIY, along with thousands of vape juice recipes.
eLR – As well as being a valuable mixing calculator, eLR also has a vast numbers of recipes. Its most useful feature is the flavour stash – input your stockpile of flavours and eLR will come up with a list of e-juice recipes you can make. But be careful, anyone can submit recipes so they aren’t necessarily all winners. Stick to trusted authors and highly-rated submissions.
Clones – Some DIY e-liquid makers have dedicated themselves to recreating premium e-juice lines using freely available flavours. There are numerous clone recipes online, but some are less successful than others. This activity is frowned on in some parts, particularly when it comes to cloning e-juice made by smaller vendors who are active in the DIY community.
Create Your Own – The only limit is your imagination! Always fancied vaping grapefruit tobacco custard? Go for it, no one’s stopping you. You can make juice as simple or as complicated as you desire. This article only scratches the surface, there are many more possibilities and ways of going deeper into DIY e-liquids. We’ll explore all this and more in future features.
DIY E-Juice Starter Kit
If you are unsure of what gear to get, Myfreedomsmokes do a fantastic DIY e-juice starter kit. It comes with all the stuff you need to get going and you can also get some VG/PG and flavorings as well.
You can get the DIY e-liquid starter kit for just $53 here.
Recommended DIY E-Liquid Sellers
PG, VG and Nicotine: