How to make an e-liquid recipe – part 2

So, we’ve ran through the basics. At this point you should have a handle on the practical side of things. Now let’s look a little more in-depth at the theory side of making e-liquid recipes.

Start simple

I see these recipes floating about with 16 different ingredients and I think to myself – “how in the fuck did you arrive at that?” I seriously doubt they have added each one separately after testing/mixing/steeping and there is no chance of being able to balance that many flavours at once using guess work/knowledge, so in other words they’ve just chucked something together and there’s a good chance it will be poor. Often, I see recipes where mixers add completely undetectable amounts of concentrates that couldn’t possibly alter the taste…. OK there’s a possibility that these recipes might taste nice in the end, but they’ll be nice in spite of what the creator has done, not because of what they have done. They are feeling around like a blind lesbian at a fish market. This is rife in the mixing world. I think people think the more ingredients used, the more impressive a recipe looks. I don’t care what a recipe looks like. What it tastes like is all that matters. More flavours, unless added in the right way, will mean the overall flavour will be more watered down as there is too many things vying for centre stage. A recipe rarely needs more than 8-10 ingredients. Especially fruit recipes. Dessert recipes can often become quite complex as vanillas and creams tend to work best when layered, but even these can be achieved with 10 concentrates or less. It’s only really when you are making something really specific that has a lot of different aspects to the profile, like Jam roly poly with custard for example, that I could ever see the need for more than 10 concentrates in a recipe. If you are at the point when you can successfully pull off intricate recipes like these then you already know everything I’ve written here so you should probably just bugger off and get on with your life. Spend some time with your kids. Better still, spend some time with my kids so I can get on with this (jokes, I wouldn’t inflict them on you).

I don’t profess to know all the secrets to mixing. Every day’s a school day for me. You never stop learning when it comes to this subject, but one rule I always mix by and has served me incredibly well so far, is that if an ingredient doesn’t have a job to do in a mix then it has no business being there. By that I mean, if it’s not boosting the flavour or making it sweeter, wetter, more candy like or whatever its job may be, then it’s a pointless ingredient.

Start every recipe as simple as it can be and add complexity (if it needs it) as you go. You are much more likely to reap the rewards of a better final mix when mixing like this. Sure, it may take you longer but it’s the logical way to mix and the outcome will reward you for your time.

Learn your concentrates

Buy a handful of flavour concentrates and mix them up singly. See what they taste like on their own before you start trying to mix them together. This will give you a better idea of what is likely to work well together and it will also give you a clue as to what percentages to use.

Have a clear idea of what you want to create

I spend a lot of time thinking about a recipe before any mixing takes places.

Think about flavour combinations you like from the real world and try to recreate them. Soft drinks? Ice lollies? Whatever. Buy the flavourings you need and give them a sniff. See which ones are closest to the profile you are trying to create and then use those as centre stage. Start with a two or three flavour combo. Add a little sweetener. Test. Make notes. Not quite right? Change the percentages and retest until you get it to where it needs to be.

Not all food/drink flavours translate well into vaping and it can be difficult to tell what will work and what wont. I tend to find, for my style of mixing, what works for me is using a sweet fruit and a floral or citrus fruit together. So, Lychee and mango or pineapple and lime. You get the idea. Then it’s about layering those fruit until you get the strongest flavour and then balancing it all together.

Here’s an example of a really simple recipe (off the top of my head) using flavours from the previous mixing blog:

FA – Lime Tahiti distilled – 3%

INW – Shisha Strawberry – 3%

Cap – Sweet strawberry – 5%

Cap – Super Sweet – 0.75%

Ws-23 30% – 2%

Ok it’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s simple and will be reasonably tasty and it’s a great place to start for you to adapt from. There are a few things you can add to this to elevate it to the next level. Here’s a couple of ideas for you:

FLV – Lemonade – 2-3%

Or

TFA – Dragon Fruit – 2-5%

Or

Cap – Sweet Guava – 3-4%

Or

FA – Raspberry – 2%

Strawberry flavours are weird. Probably the most popular fruit to vape but for whatever reason a lot of people suffer with not being able to taste them in recipes. They also fade as they steep. Inawera Strawberry Shisha helps with this as it’s a strong flavour and doesn’t tend to fade too much. In the recipe above it’s used to boost the overall strawberry profile and keep it on top over the steep. Generally, strawberry flavours need to be layered like this. As of yet I haven’t found a single strawberry concentrate that can do the job of many. Raspberry or Dragon fruit flavours are worth a look at when making a strawberry heavy recipe as people like to add them to strawberry flavours at low percentages to help boost the overall flavour.

What percentages to add

This is guess work until you have learnt the concentrates you have. Sure, you can use google and it will bring up the blurb from e-liquid-recipes about each individual flavour, but it largely depends what you are mixing it with. For example: 5% Capella sweet strawberry in a dessert recipe is probably about right, but in a fruit recipe with other fruit in the mix, you’ll need either more sweet strawberry or other strawberry flavours to back it up. It all depends what it’s competing against and what its job is in the mix. Often flavours react weirdly with each other. Add this to that at just the right percentages and it is no longer this or that. It becomes something new.

Here’s a very general strength guide for the main flavour houses:

Flavor West: 10-20% standalone / 5-10% in a mix

Inawera: 2-4% standalone / 0.5-3% in a mix

The Flavors/Perfumers apprentice: 10-20% standalone / 5-10% in a mix

Capella: 10-15% standalone / 4-8% in a mix

Flavorah: 2-5% standalone / 0.5-3% in a mix

Flavour Art: 3-6% standalone / 1-4% in a mix

Start Low

When working out what percentages to use I find starting low works best. You can add more but you can’t take it away. Adding more flavour doesn’t necessarily mean getting more flavour from the final mix either. It’s all a balance. I tend to think of it like a jigsaw. Each piece has its magic number in order for all the elements to work and fit together. Too much of one flavour will hide all the other flavours.