The Art of Steeping

What is steeping?

Steeping (in the context of vaping) is the term for a number of chemical processes that occur in order for your e-liquid to be at its optimum tastiness. Flavour molecules bonding to VG, flavours maturing, and flavours fading are all processes that occur during a steep. Most recipes that contain custards, creams, tobacco or bakery flavours will require a minimum of 2 weeks to come to maturity. Some much longer. Citrus and strawberry flavours tend to fade. Generally, the more complex the recipe is the longer the steep is required as there are more elements that need to balance.

Can we speed up Steeping?

It’s a common misconception that the steep can be speeded up by various methods including hot water baths and ultrasonic cleaners. Unfortunately, these methods are touted around by people who don’t truly understand the concept of the processes that are occurring. These methods WILL NOT speed up steep times, however they can help to homogenise a juice, which can in effect, shave a few days off the amount of time it can take for your e-liquid to be ready. The issue is that flavour molecules are incredibly delicate and do not respond well to heat, which is why on most bottles of flavourings it says store in a cool, dark place. I have done my own tests with a baby bottle warmer back in the day and they didn’t end well. Muchos juice in the bin!

What’s the best way to steep E-liquid?

Shake well, then shake again. Then leave it in a dark place at room temperature with the bottle sealed. Some choose to shake it every couple of days but it’s not really necessary. A good shake when you first mix it and a good shake when it’s steeped will do.

What if I leave the top off?

This is referred to as breathing E-liquid. Generally, an e-liquid should not require breathing, however, if you find it to be harsh after it’s recommended steep time, leaving the top off for 12 hours will allow some of the flavouring to evaporate along with some of the volatiles which may reduce the recipes perceived harshness. At this point you can sample it again and breathe it for a further 12 hours if necessary. For the most part though, this shouldn’t be required as the recipes should not be harsh once steeped and we want to keep all those yummy flavour molecules locked in that bottle if we can. The longer the top stays off, the more likely you are to lose some flavour so best to keep that in mind if you are planning to breathe an e-liquid. Worth noting that some people swear by breathing all e-liquid as part of the steeping process. They are crazy of course, but whatever works…