Steeping vape juice is the process by which you allow vape juice to absorb oxygen, which allows the different ingredients to bind together while the undesired byproducts evaporate.
There are three primary methods for steeping e-juice. You can allow the vape juice to “rest” in a sealed container for some time, leave it open and exposed to the air, which is called “breathing,” or you can give the e-liquid a “water bath.”
Steeping refers to a method of allowing e-liquids to mature. Of course, the word steeping means allowing something to soak in a hot bath, so it retains the flavors of the liquid, but in e-liquid preparation, people steep e-liquid by letting it sit to get a better flavor.
Steeping vape juice is similar, in a lot of ways, to how you might treat a fine wine after you first open it. You let it breathe for a time because an aging wine tastes better. Of course, only one of the three methods involves breathing, but it is all a process that gives the e-liquid an improved, bolder flavor over time.
The Three Steeping Methods
You don’t have to steep your vape juice the same way every time. Depending on the ingredients, you may only ever steep your e-liquid one way to achieve the best flavor. However, all three methods have their strong suits, and you should know how to do each one.
The rest method is the easiest and most hands-off method. Once the e-liquid is in the vial, you essentially let it rest for two weeks or more. For this process, you could just leave your e-liquid bottles sitting on a shelf.
The best way to perform the rest method is to let your vape juices rest for up to two weeks in a cool, dark place. Once a day, come by and give your vape juice bottles a good shake. The general rule is, the more it “rests,” the better the flavor outcome.
You’ll know it’s finished through a method called “streathing,” which is a taste-testing process by which you taste your e-liquid periodically and track the flavor improvement over time. You’ll also notice a slightly darker color that shows you that chemical reactions have taken place and the process is working.
Your end goal should be to find the optimal flavor point before the e-liquid gets too thick—it thickens over time and throughout the steeping process.
Breathing your e-liquid is a more hands-on process because you can’t let it go on for too long, or it will lose flavor. However, you’ll have to find that perfect window because the breathing method is a great way to really bring out the flavors of your e-liquid.
When you “breathe” your e-juice, you don’t need to know any impressive tactics or methods. When steeping e-liquid in this way, you simply need to leave the lid off.
While you’re oxidizing the nicotine, you have to be careful not to oxidize it for too long, or you’ll get a diluted flavor.
Overall, you should let your liquid breathe for 12 hours before sealing it back up for another 72 hours.
Breathe steeping e-liquid correctly will allow it to go through just the right amount of evaporation and degasification to reach the most flavorful and potent combination.
Water Bath Method
People usually use the steeping method for stubborn vape liquids like tobacco and dessert flavors, but the water bath method is also a speed steep method that lowers steeping time.
The whole idea of steeping is homogenization, which you achieve by heating the flavor molecules within the e-juice. The water bath method, in particular, heats the molecules faster, which speeds up steeping and makes it the fastest of the three processes.
The unfortunate downside to heating with water in a slow cooker or is that you have to be very careful. This process is the most time-critical and touchy of all three. You need good timing, so you don’t allow the steeped e-liquid to get too hot, or it will spoil the entire process.
To perform the water bath method, you want to place your sealed vape liquid in glass bottles and then in hot water, either in a slow cooker, an ultrasonic cleaner, or just a plain old bowl of hot water.
Note: When using the warm bath method, you should never use plastic bottles because they may melt. Most people use a glass bottle because glass retains heat well. Furthermore, do not use boiling water to steep e-juices.
You need to heat your water to anywhere between 86°F to 122°F for up to four hours and no more. Throughout the process, you need to keep the heat stable and in between the aforementioned temperatures.
After each course in the water, be sure to engage in some streathing so that you can taste the level of flavor until you reach that critical juncture where flavor begins to dissipate. You may go through some e-juice before you get the numbers right.
You should also know that some people swear by mixed warm and cold cycles when doing water baths while others do not. Which type of water bath steeping method you prefer depends on your taste preference.
Overall, water baths are the best method of achieving an outstanding flavor, so if that’s what you are looking for, get ready to be really hands-on until you get the hang of it and know the exact limitations of the method.
Which Method Is The Best to Steep E-Juice?
If you know what you’re doing, the warm water bath method is both the most expedient and the best to steep e-liquids. You can achieve the best flavor and do it in a minimal amount of time.
However, the best method depends on your personal taste. The warm water bath procedure is the most hands-on and time-consuming, while resting is the easiest and most hands-off, but it is a slow method.
The breathing e-liquid technique is in-between the three as it’s not too complicated or too simple.
Why Steep Vape Juice?
Four different processes occur when you steep e-juice:
- Maillard reaction
Of the four, evaporation is the most dangerous for flavor because too much evaporation causes the flavor to disappear.
Excessive evaporation can also lead to an irreversible loss in nicotine concentration, so nicotine-addicted vapers aren’t going to be too happy with your product if there’s no nicotine.
So, if you’re using the breathing method, never leave the lid off longer than 12 hours, or evaporation will occur at a high rate.
Controlled evaporation, however, aids in the homogenization process.
Degasification isn’t quite the same as evaporation. Evaporation is the inevitable and continual loss of water molecules when exposed to open air. Degasification is the loss of inert and undesirable gasses over time.
Homogenization is a mixing process where all the e-juice flavors come together and is what you’re ultimately aiming for when steeping e-juice.
Lastly, you have what is called the Maillard Reaction. Simply defined, the Maillard Reaction is nothing more than a chemical reaction between an amount of sugar that is rapidly declining with amino acids.
The fastest way to initiate the Maillard Reaction is through the water bath method because the heat speeds up the molecules and hastens the process.
The reactions from Maillard, degasification, and evaporation all boil down to homogenization, which brings out the desired flavor when all the flavors combine to become one.
What Flavors Should You Steep?
You can steep all of the flavors that come across your desk, especially if they’ve been freshly mixed, just so long as you know the differences in how long each one should be steeped and have a solid data analysis on them.
Fruity flavors steep the fastest, so you won’t need to take as much time with fruit flavors.
Smokier or creamier e-juices are complex flavors that you need to steep much longer as their components take longer to come together.
Spicy flavors, coffees, teas, and similar flavors fall somewhere in between.
There’s also the PG and VG to consider. VG stands for vegetable glycerin, and PG stands for propylene glycol. Sometimes vape juice only has one of them, but usually, a liquid has both.
The thickness of VG is higher than PG. Therefore, VG takes longer to steep than PG. If you’re dealing with an e-juice that has both, it becomes more of a trial and error situation, where your notebook and flavor-testing are critical.
Overall, there shouldn’t be any metallic, acidic, or chemical taste in your vape juice. If there is, it’s an indicator that you need to steep it longer until it has reached the point where all of the compounds are in perfect harmony.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should You Shake the Bottle When You Steep E-juice?
During the steeping process, it’s common to shake e-juice. In fact, it’s done frequently over a week-long period, sometimes two.
Should you Keep E-juice in the Fridge?
No. It’s detrimental to the juice’s flavor and has no long-lasting benefits. Instead, keep bottles in a cool and dark place.
Does Seed Steeping Work?
There is no evidence that seed steeping works.
What is the Rice Method to Steep E-liquid?
The rice method is when you heat uncooked rice and place your e-juice bottle inside the rice. Some people put the rice in a coffee mug warmer to keep the temperature up instead of using slow cookers.