A guide to steeping
Posted on 7 June 2016 by Matt Brown.
Favourite flavour just not doing it for you anymore? Does your e-liquid taste dull, muted or just not the same as you're used to? Don't panic, it most likely just needs to be steeped.
Steeping is a naturally occurring process, during which the flavour and aroma of the e-liquid will mature and begin to come through more strongly. In most cases, you won't even be aware of this process if a particular bottle has had long enough on the shelf before making in into your hands.
Occasionally, however, if you've received a bottle of e-liquid from a fresh batch, it may not have had the same length of time to steep as usual. This doesn't mean that the liquid hasn't been steeped at all, just that it hasn't been enough for the flavour to mature to the point you are used to. Almost any e-liquid will benefit from some steeping, the longer the better.
While this process occurs naturally, it's also possible to help speed things up.
The first and easiest method of steeping an e-liquid takes just a few steps:simply involves removing the cap from the bottle, then placing it somewhere warm for a day or two, away from direct sunlight. An airing cupboard is normally ideal for this job.
- Remove the cap from the bottle.
- Place the bottle somewhere warm for a day or two, away from direct sunlight. An airing cupboard is normally ideal for this job.
- Replacing the cap and giving the bottle a shake periodically will also help to speed this process up.
- With the cap removed, gently squeeze the bottle to expel the air trapped inside once per day, cycling fresh oxygen into the bottle.
Very quickly you should notice an improvement both in taste and smell, and if your e-liquid contains nicotine, the colour of the liquid itself will begin to darken.
This process should only require a day or two to see some results, but as mentioned before, the longer a bottle can be steeped, the better.
Water Bath Method
An alternative, slightly more involved method, is to place your bottle of e-liquid in a warm water bath. This will prompt the same changes as the cupboard method, but potentially at a faster rate.
Place your capped bottle of e-liquid into a suitable ziplock bag, ideally double-bagging to prevent any water getting into direct contact with the bottle and damaging the label.
- Place the bag into shallow dish or bowl.
- Cover with warm (not hot) water, so that the whole bottle is submerged, but does not float.
- Allow to stand until the water has cooled to room temperature.
- Repeat as desired (2-4 times is about average for this method).
- Shake the bottle well between baths to help even out the temperature throughout the liquid.
- After the final bath, remove the cap from the bottle then place it somewhere cool and dark for 24 hours before use.
The contact between the warm (not hot) water around the bottle will help to thin the PG and VG found in the e-liquid, allowing them to bond with flavourings more quickly.
It's very important not to use hot water in this method, as too much heat may cause the nicotine and flavour to degrade over time.
For those with access to an ultrasonic jewellery cleaner, this method may be the one to try. The high-frequency vibration of these devices is perfectly suited for the task of agitating a bottle of e-liquid.
- Place your capped bottle in the ultrasonic cleaner.
- Add warm water to the bath. A unit with a built-in heater is important.
- Turn on and allow the cleaning cycle to finish (depending on which cleaner you have, there may be pre-set or user-defined cleaning cycles.
- Around two hours of steeping in an ultrasonic cleaner can equal up to a week of natural steeping on the shelf.
The user will need to play around with their device and timings to achieve the best results, but it's important to monitor the temperature of the water. If it starts to become hot, rather than just warm, allow it to cool before starting another cycle.
With any of these methods, the thing to remember is that the key element is time. Some e-liquid may take longer to steep than others (sweet flavours in particular tend to take a little longer than tobacco flavours, for instance) and while you can speed the process up, steeping an e-liquid will almost always benefit from allowing more time.