(Not) a steep learning curve: why and how to steep e-liquid
Wine connoisseurs and spirit enthusiasts wouldn’t dream of uncorking a fine wine or cracking open a bottle of scotch long before either’s aged well, so why necessarily would a vaper think of doing the same with vaping juice? Yes, that’s right; many in the e-cig community believe e-liquids (high-quality ones bought from a well-reviewed online retailer or recommended vape shop London) ought not to be vaped immediately, but left to sit and mature to reach their ideal state before being savoured. This is what’s called steeping – and the following is what it’s all about…
What is it?
In simple terms, steeping is when a solid substance is submerged in water in order to soften or remove flavour; think making a cup of tea with a tea bag or tenderising meat by marinating it. That said, steeping e-liquid means something a little bit different – it’s much more like marinating – or ageing – the fluid. It would be natural to assume that e-liquid is ready to be vaped at its best as soon as it’s bought and, yes, there’s nothing wrong with doing this, naturally; the juice should taste excellent if it’s of high-quality and mixed by a reliable and well-reviewed e-liquid company.
Yet, the truth is that in many cases it actually takes the juice’s principal chemical ingredients propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG) a bit of time to properly soak up all the flavour molecules in the liquid – ensuring that the concoction’s flavour will be at its finest by letting the different ingredients sit, congeal and blend together. Moreover, steeping enables any trace elements of alcohol in the juice to evaporate due to oxidisation; the result? The flavour and its aroma become both more pronounced and smoother.
Although it basically involves placing a closed bottle of e-liquid in a cool, dark place for a lengthy amount of time, there are different methods for steeping vape juice. For instance, in addition to the aforementioned long-term storage, shaking the bottles routinely is advised, as well as running the closed bottles under warm tap water, as heat promotes the molecules in the liquid to move more and faster. Other methods include:
- Breathing – in steeping terms, this refers to removing a bottle’s cap to enable the e-juice inside to properly oxidise for a while; no more than 12 hours of this is recommended because, any longer, the flavour and nicotine level will start to diminish
- Streathing – as the term may suggest to you, this is a mix of steeping and breathing, essentially; the process begins with a good shake of a bottle followed by the running of warm tap water over it and then removal of its cap and the positioning of the bottle in a cool, dark place for a couple of hours before replacing the cap and shaking well.
Is there a time limit – or minimum – to steeping?
Not really because this factor’s almost entirely dependent on the individual e-juice flavour you’re looking to steep. As a rule of thumb, though, fruity flavours often do best with less steeping, while tobacco flavours enjoy more and creamy/ dessert-style juices require perhaps the most time to achieve ‘peak flavour’. The reality is some people set a minimum of around two to three weeks of steeping, while others swear by months of it. It’s entirely up to you and what you feel works best – for both you and your e-liquids – once you’ve started with it, experiment with it for a while and got used to steeping. Just be sure you don’t keep a vape juice bottle hidden away beyond its expiration date, though!