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The top-up option: short fill vaping – what’s it all about?

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One of the most annoying aspects of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) has been the limit on the size of e-liquid bottles containing nicotine – but thanks to ‘short fills’ and shake ‘n’ vape kits there’s a way round it!

But what exactly is a short fill, I hear you ask? Well, for those of you not in the know, a short fill is basically any sized bottle of e-liquid that’s nicotine free and ‘not quite full’. In other words, there’s space for you to add what’s known as a ‘nic shot’ (short for nicotine) that comes in a separate 10ml bottle of various nicotine strengths that you add to top up.

Typically, they come in 60ml bottles containing 50mls of nicotine free e-liquid with a separate 10ml ‘nic shot’ that once added gives you 60mls of juice mixed to your preferred nic strength. I did say typically 60mls – a quick hunt around the net shows you can pretty much get any size of nicotine free e-liquid you like.

Who’s opting for short fill e-liquids?

That’d be pretty much anyone who vapes and looking for bigger bottles of e-liquid is the long and short of it! The current law that only 10ml bottles of e-liquid containing nicotine can be sold in the UK and Europe has seen an explosion of vapers making their own juice via the DIY method. And companies have been quick to spot the potential the growing DIY e-liquid market has opened up and most if not all either supply the basic ingredients – PG – VG – Nicotine and Concentrates or have teamed up with other businesses to supply their flavours.

Don’t doubt it; DIY vape e liquid is now a big business but it can also be a little bit daunting to newcomers and that’s where the short fills come in. Of course, it’s possible to create a decent juice at home from one or two flavour concentrates, but a lot of people have neither the time nor the inclination to buy in all the stuff such as the liquids and mixing paraphernalia – nor do they have the patience to wait for the e-liquid to steep. We live in a fast-moving society looking for quick and easy fixes – so the short fills are just that – mix – shake ‘n vape!

So, the majority of short fills out there are supposedly mixed in a way that makes them ready to vape almost immediately – a quick and easy DIY method so to speak. Now, having set the scene, let’s take a look at the short fill e-liquids in action.

Working out the right amount of nicotine

Sadly, the vast majority of short fills out there – certainly some of the more well-known brands – don’t cater for those of you who enjoy higher nicotine levels. So, to keep this as simple as possible I shall only be looking at the common 18mg 10ml ‘nic shots’ you find for sale all over the net and probably in your local vape shop.

On most sites there’s the option to add a nic shot to your cart and the calculations are generally done for you and you normally have a choice of what ratio of PG-VG the nicotine is mixed with. Here’s an example – if you want 3mg nicotine strength (60mls of e-liquid, 3mg nicotine strength and an 80-20 VG-PG mix) and the calculations you opt for are 50mls of zero nic e-liquid (x1)/ 10ml 18mg nic shot suspended in an 80-20 VG and PG mix = 60mls of 3mg e-liquid.

In which case, to keep things really simple to get a 3mg nicotine e-liquid you’ll need 50mls of zero nic juice and x1 10ml bottle of 18mg nicotine suspended in your chosen ratio of PG and VG.

And don’t worry if your favourite flavour isn’t available as a short fill because you can use a syringe to remove 10ml of e-liquid from a 60ml bottle. Of course, be sure you have an empty bottle spare to put this in for later use. Now, the above are general calculations to make things easier based on the bottle size available but when you check out the calculator you will find the exact quantities needed. You can of course buy empty e-liquid bottles in larger sizes to mix more accurately. Happy hunting – and mixing!


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