DIY E-Liquid Resources
Methods to mix DIY e-juice: weight and volume
Mixing by weight: with the use of a scale, each ingredient is introduced to the mix by weighing it and taking its specific gravity into account. Simply put, an mL of VG is heavier than an mL of PG or an mL of flavoring. Don’t fret about the science though. Just make sure you use a vape juice calculator that factors in these values and let it do the number crunching.
Mixing by volume: this method involves measuring each ingredient’s volume with the use of a large set of syringes (ideally one per ingredient). It is the easiest to understand for a beginner since liquids are normally measured this way, but it’s also less accurate and requires more supplies and cleaning. Calculators are still essential when mixing by volume—they won’t only translate percentages to mL, but will also give you the exact amount of nicotine base you will need to reach the strength you are after. Again, please don’t eyeball nicotine when making e-juice!
Regardless of the method you are going to use to make your e-liquid, and your preferences for what you would like to vape in the end, you will need the essential vape juice ingredients and DIY supplies.
What do you need to make your own vape juice?
Here is your checklist:
Base Liquid – Or in other words, vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol: the two most important ingredients in e-juice. Your base liquid, which is ultimately unflavored zero nic e-juice, can come already premixed in a ratio like 50/50 or 70/30. But if you want to have flexibility over the final ratio of your juice, I would advise buying a liter of VG and 500 mL of PG. Make sure they are both USP grade—it will ensure they are clean enough to use for mixing e-juice.
Vape Juice Flavor Concentrates – These determine what your juice will ultimately taste like. Make sure you only use concentrates made specifically for vape juice and stay away from stuff like essential oils—and any type of oil in general. There are thousands of individual concentrates to choose from, which can be combined to make countless unique recipes. Brands do matter, and each flavoring has different flavor notes and potency (you can find examples in my e-liquid recipes guide). When starting out, I suggest finding a couple of high-rated recipes that you feel you will like and buying the specific concentrates for these recipes. You can also buy one-shots, where multiple flavors are pre-mixed. These are ideal for beginners, and some major juice-makers already sell their own ranges as one-shot concentrates.
Nicotine – Nicotine is optional, of course. The strength of nicotine you choose to buy depends on your preferred nicotine level and your ability to handle the equipment. A 100 mL bottle of 36 or 48 mg/mL nicotine should be enough for beginners. Nicotine is usually suspended in a PG solution, but you will be able to find it in different ratios if you shop around. Be very careful when handling and storing nicotine. Its efficacy as a poison tends to be overstated but make sure you keep high-strength nicotine away from your skin and your face. Always use gloves when handling nicotine and please keep your nicotine bottles out of children’s reach.
Storage Bottles – Store your base liquid in individual squeeze bottles with nozzle tips to make it easy to add to your homebrew. A couple of 100 mL condiment bottles should be ideal. If you use nicotine, store your nicotine in amber or cobalt bottles—the dark color and solid glass help slow the degradation.
E-juice Bottles – For your early experiments, buy a selection of 10 mL plastic bottles for test recipes and some 60 mL bottles to make large amounts of your favorite homebrew e-liquid. PET and HDPE plastic are great choices for long-term storage, but LDPE should also do the trick. 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.
Gloves – Always have a box of disposable gloves handy. These are invaluable and available at any corner pharmacy.
The rest of the equipment depends on the mixing method you will choose to follow:
Syringes for mixing by volume: I advise getting some 10-30 mL syringes for your base liquid, and plenty of 1-5 mL syringes for nicotine and flavor concentrates. You’ll also need some needles—I recommend 14 gauge to make dealing with thick VG easier.
A scale for mixing by weight: you’ll need an electronic scale with a 0.01-gram precision. This is accurate enough to deal with all DIY e-liquid recipes. You should also make sure that the scale can weigh at least up to 200 grams, and ideally 500 grams—you may think that 100 grams is enough, but if you ever decide on mixing larger quantities or use glass bottles you will need the extra headspace. If you want a reliable and affordable scale, the American Weigh Scales LB-501 is considered the golden standard by most DIYers out there. It weighs up to 500 grams in 0.01-gram increments, and it comes with calibration weights and a 10-year warranty. Finally, you will need at least one syringe or a pipette for your nicotine—this way you can have more accurate results and avoid nicotine spills.
Ingredients to avoid
Here’s a list of ingredients that people often wonder if they should use in their vape juice, but they absolutely shouldn’t:
- Any type of flavoring that’s not widely used in vape juice DIY (potentially dangerous)
- Essential oils, and any type of oil (certainly dangerous)
- Any type of household item that might seem like a good idea (it is not)
- Very high-strength nicotine (unless you work at a lab)
Two ingredients that have been the subject of debate in the DIY community are distilled water and vodka. People have been using them to dilute e-liquid, but with today’s vape gear they have been rendered practically useless. Some swear that water helps with flavor, but I can tell you from experience that it will make your vape pop and spit. I strongly advise staying away from anything other than VG and PG when it comes to base e-liquid.
E-juice calculators: An Essential Tool
If you want to mix accurately and have replicable results, you will need to use a vape juice calculator. A calculator simplifies the whole process by giving you all the info you need, be it the amount of nicotine needed to reach your favorite strength, or how much from each ingredient you will need to end up with a bottle of tasty 70/30 e-juice. It may sound challenging, but it’s super simple once you get the hang of it.
Many calculators are web-based, while others are available to download for mobile or desktop. One of the easiest and most popular is the web-based calculator of E-liquid-recipes.com (ELR). It is super simple to use once you get the hang of it and has a huge recipe database and even a forum where you can ask questions or discuss all things DIY. One of the most useful features of the website is the “what can I make?” button under the “flavor stash” section. Once you have your flavors registered to your account, you can get a list of recipes that use only stuff from your flavor stash!
If for some reason you don’t want to use a web-based calculator, here are two more options for you:
eJuice Me Up (desktop) — an easy-to-use offline desktop-based calculator that saves your recipes locally. If you are planning on using it for mixing by weight, make sure you click on Tools and then Grams Set. To save some time, I suggest using ELR’s default values there:
- PG: 1.036 g/ml
- VG: 1.261 g/ml
- Flavoring: 1.000 g/ml
- Nicotine: 1.036 g/ml (if PG-based), 1.261 g/ml (if VG-based)
Vape Tool (Android) — a beginner-friendly app for all things vaping. Just visit the “E-liquid Blender” section of the app and the rest will be self-explanatory. Note that this app is very useful for wrapping coils too (the “Coil Calculator” section), and it is one of the longest-lasting vape apps at the Play store.
Tips and tricks of DIY e-juice
Take full advantage of online tools and resources. Reddit has many subs dedicated to DIY and e-liquid-recipes.com offers much more than its calculator. One of its most useful features is the flavor stash—input your stockpile and ELR will come up with a list of e-juice recipes you can make.
Less is more! Using larger amounts of flavor doesn’t necessarily translate into a more flavorful vape. In some cases, overdoing it will end up muting the flavor of your e-liquid!
When following existing recipes, avoid directly replacing concentrates between brands. One brand’s “Peach” might be a realistic ripe peach while another’s might be a candy or a canned peach. And flavor profile is not the only reason you should avoid replacements…
Be aware of how potent your concentrates are. Potency varies not only between brands but even for flavorings of the same brand. Companies like Flavourart and Inawera are notorious for their potent concentrates, where 1-2% is more than enough to dominate a recipe—but even some of theirs can be used in the 5-10% range. A good indicator of potency is the “average mixing quantity” percentage, which can be found on each flavor’s page at ELR.
Take Notes – After testing, make plenty of notes, either online or in a notebook. Is one note too strong? Would it be better as a 50/50 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.
Single flavor testing – want to find out how each concentrate will affect your mixes? The first step is to vape it on its own. Go by ELR’s recommended percentages if you are not sure where to start from.
Remember, like with any hobby, e-juice DIY can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You can mix a simple vape juice in less than a minute, or spend months trying to come up with the best ten-flavor combination for a traditional Thai dessert e-liquid. It’s all up to you. Have fun with it.