The e-liquid or “vape juice” market is no stranger to variety. As of 2014, a study by the University of California, San Diego found that there were more than 460 brands selling over 7,700 different flavors of vape juice — and the numbers have only gone up since then. This incredible selection may be a good thing in terms of providing vapers with a practically limitless supply of new flavors to try, but are there any drawbacks to such a flooded market?
In a word: yes. The two most serious downsides to an oversaturated market are poor regulation on the lessor known product manufacturers’ side and a good deal of confusion on the end users’ side. Some of the most common questions among new vapers are on the topic of e-liquid storage. Do e-liquids go bad? Do they all have roughly the same lifespan before going bad on the shelf regardless of brand, and what are some sure signs it’s time to move on to a new bottle?
In this post, we answer all these questions, and provide other useful information to keep you and your vapes away from any hardware- or health-related sticky situations.
When Does Vape Juice Go Bad, and What Are Some Telltale Signs of The Process?
Obviously, the rate at which anything spoils depends mostly on the ingredients involved in making it. While vape juice doesn’t go bad nearly as quickly as eggs or dairy products, it definitely does go bad — and the quality of the ingredients used vary by manufacturer.
Ultimately, it’s important to note the manufacturing and expiration dates printed on e-liquid bottles. The dates are typically printed on the sides or bottom of the bottle, or even somewhere on the box it came in.
It’s worth noting that the vape industry is still in its relative infancy, and the impressive speed of its growth has left market regulation and standardization practices struggling to keep up. Because of this, you may find some vape juice products that don’t come with a printed expiration date. While we recommend simply avoiding these e-liquids, you may already have some at home. In these cases, there are a few unmistakable signs indicating a batch has gone bad. Let’s take a brief look at them below, in no particular order:
- Changes in color are the most readily apparent signs of a bottle of e-liquid starting to go south. Nicotine oxidation is a natural and unavoidable process that occurs every time you open the bottle, but sustained oxidation over long periods of time is likely to change the nicotine content, throat hit and even color of your vape juice.
- Changes in consistency are another sure-fire way of separating good bottles of vape juice from ones that have been on the shelf too long. Depending on the propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG) ratio listed on the bottle, a change in e-liquid consistency is easy to spot with just a shake. Residue settled on the bottom of the bottle that no longer reincorporates when shaken is another good sign of spoilage.
- Changes in flavor or aroma are your last and most serious red flag if a bottle of liquid has passed the color and consistency tests listed above. If on your first draw the vape juice smells or tastes considerably different than the last time you vaped it, discontinue use immediately. As always, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
DIY Vape Juice and The Risks of Mixing/Vaping Them
Aside from explosions caused by faulty or counterfeit vaping hardware, poorly formulated e-liquids are the leading suspected cause behind vape-related illnesses. It generally isn’t recommended to use DIY or so-called “homebrew” vape juice, as there’s no way to guarantee the quality of each of the ingredients used. Possibly adulterated additives such as poorly-sourced flavorings or THC could also be present in DIY liquids you haven’t mixed yourself.
Another vital consideration to make is the preparation process for DIY vape juice. Major vape product manufacturers have access to top-of-the-line equipment for the measurement, formulation and preparation of their e-liquids. Mixing ingredients at home with everyday items is definitely not the way you want to go, unless you absolutely know what you’re doing.
If You Must DIY: The Best Place to Buy DIY E-Liquid Supplies
Look no further than the reputable vape shop you already go to or check out our extensive selection. Any standard vape shop is likely to stock various dilutions of freebase nicotine, as well as separate bottles of PG, VG and basic flavorings in several differently-sized bottles. Additives such as hemp oil, terpenes et cetera can be purchased at duly licensed dispensaries.
Safety & Best Practices: Going Beyond E-Liquid Storage
While we all know to keep our e-liquids in cool, dry spaces in order to prevent accelerated spoilage, there are a few best practices we can use specifically for storing vape juice and keeping mishaps as infrequent as possible.
For example, consider avoiding the purchase of large bottles of e-liquid and instead buying several small bottles, having no more than three open at any given time to prevent excessive oxidation of any single product. DYI mixtures are best kept in dark bottles and away from sunlight, as their lifespan is understandably shorter than standard e-liquids.
Also, disposing of expired e-liquids doesn’t have to be a wasteful process; simply store them under the kitchen sink, heavily dilute them in spray bottles and spray them on gardening plants such as tomatoes and carrots. The traces of nicotine keep pests such as insects and rabbits from ruining your harvest.
For more tips and best practices, check out our summer guide to e-liquid storage on the MFS blog.