What is E liquid steeping?
To get the best out of your chosen blend of e-liquid, steeping is highly recommended. If you’ve never tried steeping before now, you’ll be amazed at the difference this simple process can make to the taste of e-liquid. Think of it as being comparable to what you do with a cup or pot of your favourite tea blend. Do you just add hot water to the leaves and start drinking immediately, or do you allow the leaves to stand in the water – to steep, in other words – so that the flavour develops? Chances are, you do the latter – and you can enhance the vaping pleasure of your e-liquid in exactly the same way.
How does steeping improve the flavour, exactly?
What steeping, or infusing the e-liquid, achieves is a softening of the harsher edges of the product, to deliver a smoother, rounder flavour. E-liquid flavourings are subtle – similar to quality tea blends – and the steeping process helps them to mature so all their flavour notes can be fully appreciated. As e-liquid matures, it tends to darken thanks to the presence of nicotine. This is an indication that the flavour is developed and is ready to be enjoyed.
What steeping method is best?
Just as you shouldn’t drink a cup of tea too soon, or uncork a bottle of wine and immediately start consuming it without letting it breathe first, you shouldn’t simply open your-liquid and start vaping straight away. The common denominator here is time. Give your e-juice some time first, and the most natural way is to leave your bottle somewhere safe at room temperature, with the cap off, preferably in a dark room.
Even a few hours of interacting with the air, will make a difference to the flavour, but you can leave it for a day, a week, or a month if you like. Try some at various stages of the steeping process, to find the one that works for you, as no two e-liquid blends will develop at the same rate. Top tip: after a day, gently squeeze the bottle to expel stale air and replace it with fresh air.
Shaken and stirred
E-liquid is heady stuff but it’s not a dry martini, so by all means shake and stir for a couple of minutes to speed the steeping process up, especially if you can’t wait to vape! What agitating e-juice does is bring the air bubbles to the surface and aeriation helps the flavour to develop. Top tip: shake the bottle with the cap on for at least two minutes, and repeat as many times as you like before using.
Some vapers use microwave heating to prime their e-liquid, but although you can achieve good results with this method, there is a risk of damaging the blend. When the suspended particles are blasted with microwaves, molecular fusion occurs, but as heat has a detrimental effect on nicotine, you should use the microwave in short, sharp bursts of one second at a time. Some people swear by this method, and it’s certainly worth trying. Top tip: remember to take the cap off the bottle, and consider decanting the e-liquid into a glass container to eliminate the risk of the plastic bottle melting in the microwave!
Some vapers find that gently warming through their e-liquid in a warm bath of water is the optimum steeping method. Immersed in a warm bath, the viscosity of the e-liquid in the bottle becomes thinner, speeding up the molecular interaction of the different flavour elements. Again, this is a method to try for yourself to see how your own blend of e-juice responds, and how quickly it matures. Top tip: remember to keep the bottle cap on, and make sure the water is warm rather than hot when you immerse the bottle. If the water temperature is too high, the heat will degrade the strength of the nicotine in the e-liquid.
This may sound like an extreme way of maturing your e-liquid, but commercial ultrasonic cleaners are used by some vapers as an effective way of speeding up the steeping process. Some enthusiasts claim that using one of these devices can reduce the maturing process by as much as a fortnight! Certainly, the high energy ultrasonic pulses will get the molecules bonding at an accelerated rate, so if time really is short – and you have one of these devices – this is definitely worth trying. Top tip: if you don’t have an ultrasonic cleaner, borrow one from a friend to try before you buy.
Make steeping a habit
Whichever method you choose, the key to optimising the flavour of your favourite blend is to plan ahead, and give the e-liquid sufficient time to steep. This can’t be emphasised enough. Only with enough time will e-liquid reveal its true characteristics. Some e-liquids will take longer than others; some may be at their best in no more than a day. Very few, if any e-liquids, will taste as good as they can if you start using immediately. All flavours and blends benefit from being steeped and in our experience, none have been worsened by steeping.
It’s worth remembering that most e-liquid manufacturers bottle their product as soon as it’s ready, so although some steeping will occur naturally when bottled, and while being transported, you should still expect to use one of the above methods to steep your blend before using for the first time. If we had to recommend one steeping method over another, then we’d suggest you stick with the traditional way of simply removing the cap and letting the e-juice breathe. Learn to be patient, and let time do its job. The result? A tastier blend of e-liquid that you can fully enjoy.
In terms of planning ahead, it makes sense to buy more than one quantity of e-liquid at a time. That way, you can experiment with how long to let it breathe before using. Once you find the optimum time-taste balance, you can always make sure you’ve got some e-liquid to vape, while the next batch is quietly maturing.