If you know anything about cooking chili, it’s that the longer you stir it, the better it tastes. What does this have to do with steeping?
After all, e-liquid is similar to food. It even uses food-grade flavoring. Think of a fine wine or bourbon that’s been aged; that is why we steep. Keep on reading to learn how to steep e juice. It’s not rocket science, steeping can be easy…
What is steeping?
Steeping is a misleading term. It is defined by putting a solid in water to soften, or extract flavor from it. (For example, if you’re making peppermint tea or marinating a tough piece of meat to tenderize it. When referring to steeping e-liquid, the word takes on a slightly different meaning. A more appropriate definition would be marinating or aging your e-juice.
Steeping e-juice involves letting it age in order to acheive better flavor. There are many ways to do this, which we will go into more depth later. Essentially, it means letting the e-juice sit. The most important factor in this equation is time. It allows the ingredients (PG/VG, flavorings and nicotine) to blend together. Additionally, some juice can contain trace amounts of alcohol, depending on the flavoring used, which will evaporate during the steeping process.
There is a lot of misinformation on the topic, but it can be broken down into 3 categories. Steeping, breathing and “streathing”, which is just a combination of the first two processes.
Why steep vape juice?
As far as I’m concerned, the steeping process starts as soon as the batch is mixed. The time that the juice travels to the store and sits on the shelf is technically when the steeping process begins. However, the flavor will greatly benefit from additional steeping time.
You might be thinking, “Why do I have to do this myself!? Why can’t they just sell the juice when its ready?” The reality is that it takes some time for PG, and especially VG, to properly soak up all the flavor molecules. Plus, that extra time will greatly enhance the taste of your eliquid. If you have ever made sauce, soup or chili, then you know exactly what I mean.
Steeping simply allows the ingredients to congeal. Some flavorings contain alcohols which can taste harsh when they are first mixed. Steeping oxidizes the juice, which allows that alcohol to evaporate. As a result, the juice’s flavor and aroma become smoother and more pronounced.
My brother was super hungry one day after work and I was just finishing up cooking a batch of chili. I prefer to let it sit for at least a half hour after it is done to cool down. Although he was starvin’ like Marvin, I strongly advised him to wait another few minutes. But he didn’t.
The truth is that he enjoyed the hell out of that chili. It probably tasted okay since it was already simmering on low for a good hour, but the point I am trying to make is that it could have been even better! The chili becomes slightly darker, thicker and richer in flavor after it sits for that extra half hour, much like steeped e-juice.
Patience is a virtue
If you do not have any patience whatsoever, then just stop reading this. Steeping e-juice is for distinguished gentlemen (and women) trying to squeeze every drop of flavor out of life. The term “steeping” has been used for years, mostly for soup and hot beverages such as tea.
Steeping takes patience, self-control and a vision for a better tomorrow. Tea is not something you can just throw together and quickly guzzle down. We are talking about a much more sophisticated way of life. So, keep on reading to learn how to get your favorite e-juice to taste even better.
How to steep e-juice
This is when you place your closed eliquid bottles in a cool, dark place, such as a tall cigar box, for an extended period. It’s also recommended that you shake your bottles as often as possible to help expedite the process. However, the reality is that real steeping takes time.
Another way to speed up the process is to run the bottles under warm tap water. The heat from the water will get the molecules moving around faster. You could use your sink, or a bathtub if you have a lot of juice. We will go into more depth about “speed steeping” methods later.
How to breath e-juice
This is when you take the cap off and let your e-juice bottle sit for a few hours. We recommend no more than 12 hours of breathing e-juice. Eventually the flavor and nicotine content begins to diminish during this process, so don’t forget about it! (Many people use the term steeping to describe this process, but the truth is that “breathing” is not the same thing.)
How to streath e-juice
Streathing is essentially a combination of steeping and breathing, hence the name. To streath your juice, start by shaking your bottles, then run them under warm tap water. Take the cap off and place them in a cool, dark place for two hours. Put the cap back on and shake well.
Now squeeze the excess air out of the bottle which recycles the oxygen throughout the juice. This can only be done with a bottle that has a nipple, such as a unicorn or chubby gorilla bottle, as opposed to those that come with a dropper. Repeat this process a few times as it takes a lot more patience, effort and precision than simply steeping or breathing alone.
How long does steeping e-juice take?
This is highly dependent on the juice. Fruity flavors tend to require the least amount of steeping time. Tobacco flavors need a bit more time to steep and creamy dessert eliquids take the longest time to reach their flavor peak. It’s recommended that you steep for at least two weeks, but some flavors may take longer, while others may be good right out the bottle.
Using warm water or a heat source such as a slow cooker, a computer fan or an ultrasonic cleaner will help to speed up the process. The whole point of steeping vape juice is to get the optimal flavor out of the juice, so if it tastes good to you, then you’re done. You should observe the color of your eliquid. If it becomes darker, then you know it has been steeping.
Some people like to steep their juice for 2-3 weeks, while others might even let it go for months. It’s highly subjective, so you can steep for as long as you want, but just make sure you are not going past that expiration date! The average shelf-life of e-juice is usually no more than two years.
After that, the nicotine will begin to degrade, which will have a negative impact on the flavor. If you notice a spicy taste when vaping, it is probably because your nicotine is on its way out. The flavoring will also start to diminish by that point, leaving you with juice devoid of flavor.
How to speed steep e-juice
Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat! Here’s how to steep e-juice fast…
Most people simply don’t have time for steeping. Taste your juice. If you’re already satisfied with the flavor, don’t bother. Some people prefer the taste of freshly mixed juice, believe it or not. If you want to speed up the process, here’s a few speed steeping hacks that you can use:
Bath – Fill a bowl, sink or bathtub (depending on how much juice you’re steeping) with warm water. Not room temperature or boiling water, it needs to be just right. You can test it by putting your hand or elbow in it. (Pretend you are Goldilocks, you know how the story goes.) Place your eliquid bottles in a plastic bag and let nature do the rest. Easy and effective.
Slow cooker – Not only good for making chili, slow cookers provide low heat at a consistent temperature for extended periods. Just fill it up with some water and set it to the lowest heat setting. Place your bag of e-juice inside and periodically shake them from time to time.
Ultrasonic cleaner – If you own an ultrasonic cleaner for vape gear or jewelry, it can also be used to speed-steep your juice. Just fill it up with warm water and let the power of ultrasonic waves send vibrations through your juice. This will allow the molecules mix together quickly.
Magnetic stirrer – Transfer your eliquid into a large container, preferably a glass one. Then place it on top of the magnetic stirrer and let science do the rest. This method works great, especially if you are creating your own DIY juice. (I call this the Walter White method.)
Seed Steeping – Not a typo. Seed steeping is when you blend already steeped juice, with fresh, un-steeped juice. This “plants the seed”, which will help to speed up the process.
Other speed steeping methods
There are many other “creative” steeping hacks to speed up the process. You can find them all over the web. However, we don’t recommend all of them. Using an electric dryer or a microwave might seem like a good idea in theory, but it’s hard to control the temperature.
Get creative, but don’t get too crazy. If you’re using plastic bottles, excessive heat isn’t ideal. In fact, it can alter the taste of your juice. If it works for you, go for it, but be smart about it.
Steeping is not for everyone but is highly recommended for better tasting e-juice.
Vaping has already become a multi-billion-dollar industry. Many juice manufacturers can barely keep up with their rapidly expanding market. These companies probably want to get their products out as fast as possible to meet the demand of consumers like yourself. This means sometimes you might be getting a freshly mixed batch of juice that requires some steeping for it to taste just right.
Of course, you can order from companies that sell “pre-steeped” liquids, or you can just get lucky and get a batch that has already been sitting for enough time. Some flavors may not need to be steeped. On the other hand, if you’ve been steeping a bottle for months and it still doesn’t taste right, there’s always a chance that your juice just sucks.
Check out the Best Eliquids guide if you’re not still getting the taste you were hoping for.