So, all’s happy and good in your vaping world but then you reach for that next bottle of e-juice and, lo and behold, you discover that it – and other e-liquid bottles alongside it – have darkened in colour. What’s going on? Should you be concerned? Has the e-juice ‘gone off’? Should you not vape it and just throw it away?

Well, first things first. There is a chemical explanation for this change in colour to your e-liquid and, like it or not, it’s down to chemistry and, thus, boils down to the sort of relatively simple science you studied in science lessons when you back at school.

To wit, depending on how much you remember from those school lessons, you may well recall that heat’s a powerful catalyst for chemical reactions. Now, bearing that in mind, many of the artificial sweeteners that feature as ingredients in e-liquids have a tendency to caramelise (i.e. burn) when they’ve been exposed to heat and, in turn, this ensures that sugars in the fluid will potentially break down and separate and – eh, voila! – your lovely new-pre-vaped-juice  vape juice will inevitably darken or even turn a brown shade.

Indeed, you might even discover that the more you vape an e-juice, the darker the fluid will become in the actual tank of your e-cig device and thereby manage to produce a rather unsightly and unappealing, gunky build-up on the device’s trusty atomiser.

Moreover, if you’re not prone to buying high-quality and highly recommended e-fluid (never an ideal move when it comes to your vaping purchases and you don’t often check the ingredients of an e-juice before you buy it, you may unfortunately find the fluid’s also releasing a volatile chemical known as diacetyl while you vape. This is bad news, indeed, because diacetyl is notorious for being harmful when inhaled by e-cig users.

Questions and answers

  • Why has the e-juice gone a darker shade in its bottle? To reiterate, the e-fluid has most likely gone a darker shade because of a specific chemical reaction between nicotine and oxygen occurring in the bottle. Nicotine, besides everything it does as a highly addictive chemical in the body, is a particularly reactive chemical, in general. This means then that when it’s exposed to oxygen – or even potentially to light (yes, that’s right; light! – it may well react by transforming the e-liquid (whatever its brand; whether Ruthless e-juice or any other) into this aforementioned, all-too-familiar, all-too-concerning brown shade. However – and this is important; so, take note – when this has occurred and you’ve noticed it (and can’t fail to notice it and become concerned), it shouldn’t be taken to mean an e-juice that’s darkened has necessarily gone bad just because this has happened.
  • Can you prevent an e-juice from darkening? Well, yes and no. Essentially, you can’t prevent an e-fluid from coming into contact with oxygen (even if it’s being stored away in its bottle with the top screwed on tight; some form of oxygenation will inevitably occur), yet there are a few things you might try to prolong its ‘normal’ colouration and slow down the process of oxygen and any level of warmth changing the initial colour of the e-fluid:
  • oBe sure to store your e-juice bottles in as cool and as dark place as you reasonably can
  • oIf the changing colouration of your bottles of e-juice is a major concern to you, one mitigating factor you can enforce before you even store the fluid is to buy a certain kind of e-fluid to start with; e-juice whose propylene glycol (PG) level is higher than its vegetable glycerin (VG) – rather than the other way round – may well slow down the de-colouration, as the former PG/ VG ratio tends to result in naturally sweeter e-fluid (i.e. juices whose sugars are more abundant and take longer to break down and separate)
  • oBe sure to clean your e-cig device’s tank/ atomiser and coils with regularity; ideally, you should aim to do this following every vaping session that’s seen you newly fill up your tank/ atomiser.

Now, whether you like it or not, it’s probably inevitable and unavoidable that your e-juice will darken and turn brown over time; all the same, should you try to follow the above recommendations then the process will be at least slowed somewhat and, either way, rest assured that should you experience some fluid re-colouring there won’t actually be anything wrong with the juice, as it’s a natural process. It certainly shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a thoroughly satisfying, delicious vaping session, that’s for sure.

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