February 20, 2020 6 min read

DIY Nicotine Vape Juice - Beginners Guide

Are you planning to create your own nicotine eliquid? Then look no further, it’s actually a lot easier than one might first imagine. All you need are three components (two components if you opt for a zero-nicotine blend) and a couple of tools.

  • A PG/VG Base
  • Flavor Concentrates
  • 100mg/ml Nicotine Base

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty of mixing the components to create your own nicotine eliquid, lets first take a look at what the individual components are.


 “If you’re a smoker who needs the throat hit and “feel” of a traditional cigarette, then having higher PG concentration is the way to go. Inversely, if you want to blow those magnificent plumes of vapor, then a higher concentration of VG is the way to go.”


What is a PG/VG base?

A PG/VG base is basically the bulk of any nicotine eliquid. Take note that most commercially available vape juices range from a 50PG/50VG ratio all the way up to a 20PG/80VG ratio. PG and VG have a number of differences, but we’ll just highlight the main differences that affect the vaping experience.

Propelyne Glycol (PG)

  • Tasteless and Odorless, very minimal/zero impact of flavor, this means that flavors will be more pronounced when using higher concentrations of PG
  • Has a harsher throat hit than Vegetable Glycerin (VG), this mimics the throat sensation of traditional cigarettes

Vegetable Glycerin (VG)

  • Has a slightly sweeter taste but mute flavors a little bit requiring you to use a more powerful mod or higher voltages to compensate.
  • Has a smoother throat hit and produces more vapor than PG

What’s the perfect PG/VG ratio for my nicotine eliquid?

This question has no wrong or right answer since everything is subjective. If you’re a smoker who needs the throat hit and “feel” of a traditional cigarette, then having higher PG concentration is the way to go. Inversely, if you want to blow those magnificent plumes of vapor, then a higher concentration of VG is the way to go. This is the beauty of going the DIY route, you can customize the combination of your PG/VG base to hit that balance of throat hit, flavor and vapor production.

We suggest a 50/50 PG/VG ratio to start with and adjust from there. It might take you a few tries to get to that goldilocks ratio, a.k.a. just right, but once you get there, the feeling is amazing. Plus, the DIY route is pretty affordable so if you don’t like it, you can just chuck it.

This was also echoed in the RACGP smoking cessation guide when they quoted studies from the United States and UK showing that the uptake of combustible tobacco products has gone down with the increase in usage of nicotine vape juice.


Flavor Concentrates, can I use any old food flavoring?

The answer is a big and resounding NO. When going the DIY route, make sure that you only get from reputable sellers selling flavorings that have been tested for vaping. There are a number of flavorings out there that contain oils, natural sugars and other ingredients that may be harmful when vaped or exposed to high temperatures. And as a side note, don’t be tempted to add colorings to your nicotine vape juice, it does nothing for the flavor, it gunks up your coil faster and you don’t know what reactions happen once it’s heated to create vapor.



100mg/ml Nicotine Base (10%)

There is this common misconception that 100mg/ml is “pure” nicotine when in fact, it’s only 10% pure. The purest form of nicotine is 99.8% and that translates to 998ml/ml, which is extremely dangerous to handle, even deadly, so 99.8% nicotine should only be handled in a laboratory setting with complete hazardous material protection gear.

100mg/ml nicotine base, on the other hand, is relatively safe to handle with just gloves and a lot of careful handling. 100mg/ml nicotine comes in either PG base or VG base, it’s important to take not of what the base is for your nicotine because that will factor into your computations for DIY nicotine vape juice down the line.


How to compute my 100mg/ml nicotine base mix levels?

There are a lot of free tools online that one can use to compute how much 100mg/ml nicotine base to add to your mixture to get the desired nicotine levels, but for the beginner, it might seem a little bit confusing to start so we made a handy chart as a quick reference so that you’ll know exactly how much to add to get just the right level of nicotine in your DIY eliquid.


Which Nicotine level is for you?

From experience, these are the nicotine levels that are commonly used in commercial nicotine eliquid and who uses them.

  • 0mg/ml—No nicotine added. This is for those who have totally tapered off nicotine or to those who just want to continue vaping without any added nicotine.
  • 3mg/ml—This nicotine level is for those who are stepping down from higher nicotine levels, or to those who are switching from cigarettes to vaping and smoke under a pack of “light” cigarettes per day.
  • 6mg/ml to 9mg/ml—This level is probably where a lot of people fall under, regular smokers who just want to switch to vaping. This level of nicotine also provides a more “solid” throat hit.
  • 12mg/ml to 18mg/ml—This level is usually for those who were heavy smokers who smoke upwards of two packs a day or even for those who used to smoke unfiltered cigarettes. The throat hit for this nicotine level is a bit intense so be forewarned when doing DIY for the first time.

As a rule of thumb, we don not recommend using freebase 100mg/ml nicotine base for concentrations of higher than 18mg/ml. For those wanting a higher level of nicotine, this already goes into the territory of nicotine salts and more advance pod systems which we will cover in the future.


I’ve got everything ready, now what?

Now that you have all the components ready, your PG/VG base, some flavor concentrates and your 100mg/ml nicotine base, it’s time to start mixing. But before we do that, we need to get some recipes. When it comes to recipes, there are two sites that are the go-to for DIY mixers and budding commercial mixers, and those are ELR and All the flavors.

Both of these sites contain thousands of users and recipes from DIY communities around the world and is an excellent place for any budding DIY nicotine eliquid enthusiast to start looking for recipes. Of course, part of the fun in going the DIY route is coming up with your own recipes but as a starting point, you can’t go wrong with any of the resources pointed above.


Time to Measure

There are two ways to measure your volumes when mixing your DIY nicotine eliquid. By volume and by weight.

By Volume

This method is traditionally used by those who are mixing large amounts eliquid, where small variants won’t affect the overall taste and feel of your eliquid.

By Weight

This is the best method to get accurate measurements for small volumes.

Now there are a lot of arguments on which way is better, and it would take hours just to go over all of them, but for us, it’s just a matter of preference. Whichever way you find more comfortable or easier, then that should be the way that you do it. Just remember that if you start your recipe off by volume measurements, make sure to use volume measurements all the way through to keep your measurements consistent.


Shake n’ Vape vs Steeping

As a rule of thumb, most flavors that have menthol in them can be vaped immediately after being mixed while most pastry flavors requires at least one to two weeks’ time (others say up to a month!) to properly “steep” and for the flavors to fully come out and develop. Don’t be alarmed if the nicotine eliquid you just mixed doesn’t taste very good off the bat, just give it some for the flavors to develop. Remember, patience is key.

How to steep your eliquids? Simple, just put them in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight and that should be more than enough for the nicotine eliquid to steep, just remember to give the containers a vigorous shake/mix every once in a while.


DIY vs Buying Commercial Nicotine Eliquid

DIY

PROS

  • Cheap
  • Fun to do
  • Virtually Unlimited Combinations of Flavors
  • You can tweak nicotine levels to your liking

CONS

  • Takes a while for flavors to steep
  • Trial and Error
  • Labor intensive
  • Can be frustrating at the start
  • Can be inconsistent if you don’t have the right equipment

COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE NICOTINE ELIQUID

PROS

  • Consistent taste and quality
  • Ready to buy and vape immediately
  • Reviews for flavors and brands are readily available
  • Hassle-free

CONS

  • A little bit pricy compared to going the DIY route
  • Some nicotine strengths might not be available

Conclusion

Whichever way you decide to go, DIY or off the shelf, remember that vaping is supposed to be fun and safe. So don’t stress too much about pricing or waiting or whichever detail is bothering you, just go out and have fun vaping!


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