Ever wondered about the art of steeping e-liquid? how do you do it? What are the benefits of steeping? Can we speed up steeping? We’ve covered all of this and more in Guide to the Art of Steeping.
What is steeping?
Ever wondered about the art of steeping e-liquid? how do you do it? What are the benefits of steeping? Can we speed up steeping? We’ve covered all of this and more in Guide to the Art of 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 during the steeping process. 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 steeping 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 while steeping.
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…
Something I’ve learnt over the last year or so is that steep times are down to personal preference. The steep times we list for our products are purely guides. They are the steep times that have proven right for us during testing, but they may not be right for you. When customers ask me if one of our products can be vaped straight away, I always say the same thing – try it, and if you don’t like it, steep it. There’s no harm in that although the steep police may have something to say about it.
I regularly see people say “Tried this and didn’t like it. Put it away for 2 months and after steeping I love it now” and often I think to myself “Tastes the same to me 1 day old or 60 days old”. So like most other things in vaping, steeping is deeply subjective.
Here’s a simple (if slightly vague) guide to what needs steeping and for how long. Bare in mind this is a generalisation and often recipes choose not to stick to rules like these:
Fruits: 1 Day to 2 weeks steeping time
Bakery: 4 to 6 weeks steeping time
Custards: 2 to 12 weeks* steeping time
Tobacco: 2 to 4 weeks steeping time
Milks and Creams: 2 to 4 weeks steeping time
*Custards have undergone a change over the last couple of years with all the new Vanilla custard flavourings on the market. Once upon a time pretty much all custard recipes contained Capella Vanilla Custard V1 which requires hella steep. Lots of these new vanilla custards only require 2 to 4 weeks.