Propylene Glycol is a chemical that’s approved by the FDA for human consumption. This is the chemical people refer to when saying things like “you know e-cigarettes have antifreeze in them?”. It’s true that it is an approved refrigerant/antifreeze in systems that are in close contact with food items. The reason for this is because if there should be an accident that causes leakage, food items would still be safe for consumption. Several ice cream manufacturers use Propylene Glycol in their products to evidence it’s safety. Propylene Glycol (aka. PG in the e-cig world) is used in many products we use every day, things like soap, shampoo, candles, shaving cream, food flavorings, etc. It’s also the main ingredient in many e-liquids because it helps provide the ‘throat hit’ common with smoking. It helps to make vaping feel more like smoking and also helps provide the visible vapor. When purchasing PG be sure that you only buy it in containers labeled USP. Only products labeled as USP are safe for human consumption, any other quality certification should be avoided.
Glycerin is a natural chemical that’s derived either from plants and animals. It is used in many of our food items and is safe for human consumption. Again, only containers with the USP label should be used in e-liquid making. Glycerin is often used in foods as a sweetener light. It is also used in many of the same items as PG such as soap, shampoo, hand lotions and lubricants. It’s a thick, gelatinous liquid that is sometimes difficult to work with when making e-liquid. Many vapers use the term Vegetable Glycerin (aka. VG) in reference to Glycerin derives from plants. This leads many to believe that VG is the only type of Glycerin that’s safe for or works well for e-liquid. This however is a myth, it makes no difference whether the Glycerin is derived from plants or animals, both work fine for making e-liquid. If it’s 99.5% pure (most USP Glycerin is) or better than it’s really exactly the same chemical regardless of from what it’s derived.
The only necessary reason for choosing plant derived glycerin would be personal preference, possibly for religious reasons or lifestyle choices such as vegans. Again, both animal derived and plant derived Glycerin are safe for use in e-liquid mixing, the only really important factor is that it’s labeled USP. The rest of this instructional will be using the abbreviation VG to refer to Glycerin, even though it’s not specifically referring to plant Glycerin.
Nicotine is a highly toxic chemical. In fact, it’s one of the most highly toxic chemicals known to man, milligram for milligram it’s more toxic than Arsenic. When pure Nicotine is mentioned in this tutorial it’s referring to 90% Nicotine concentrate or higher. In order to handle pure Nicotine it’s necessary to take extreme precautions and use hazardous material safety procedures. Simply opening a container of pure Nicotine could potentially poison everyone in the room by inhalation. It’s definitely not a substance you want to be careless with!
Nicotine also happens to be the addictive ingredient in tobacco and the reason it’s so difficult to quit smoking. In small, controlled doses it’s mostly harmless to humans and actually may have some beneficial qualities. Much research is being done around the world to try and find more ways that Nicotine can be used to help humans.
The Nicotine you will buy for DIY is not pure, it’s diluted in a base of either PG, VG. When making a purchase the buyer is usually offered the choice between PG, VG or a mixture of both for the Nicotine base solution. Choices are also offered for the strength of Nicotine in the solution. Usually the buyer can choose strengths ranging from 24mg/ml through 100mg/ml depending on preference.
When the buyer receives the Nicotine it will then be diluted even further to match the preferred strength for vaping. The final e-liquid solution usually contains between 12mg/ml and 24mg/ml of Nicotine by the time it’s ready to be put into the e-cigarette. Of course this amount varies depending on the user’s preference and some vapers prefer less than 12mg/ml. E-liquid containing more than 24mg/ml is not recommended by eCignificant, although it’s not unheard of for some vapers to prefer using even higher strengths than 24mg/ml.
The final chemical needed for DIY is the flavoring. As it is with all things, what one person finds delectable could be nauseating to another. If you are new to e-cigarettes and aren’t sure what flavors you will like then I suggest purchasing flavor concentrates in small bottles until you figure out what works for you. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of different flavors to choose from and many different flavor manufacturers available. Be aware that not all flavors will be exactly alike from all manufacturers, this is especially true when it comes to tobacco flavors. With so many different choices combined with the fact that you are able to mix different flavors to create something new, there’s really no end to the possibilities. Try everything you can and make lots of what you like, it goes quicker than you think!
That sums up the chemicals you will be working with now let’s get to the hardware. You could get by with much of the DIY process by simply using things you already have around the house however it’s highly recommended that you buy supplies to use just for making e-liquid and nothing else. This keeps accidents from happening and it’s not really expensive to build a decent amount of DIY supplies and tools. As you progress you might choose to get more items than suggested here in order to help make DIY more efficient. We will just cover the simple necessities here and let you know of some things that might help but aren’t necessary. Here’s a simple list of recommended items, we’ll explain them later:
Other items that aren’t necessary but are helpful:
As you spend more time with DIY you will discover which items you use most and which ones you might want to improve efficiency. This is a starting point and a good place to begin. If you get the items on the recommended list (and the chemicals), you will have all you need to make your first batch of e-liquid. Always be sure to wear gloves when working with any chemicals, this is especially so for the Nicotine liquid. Even though you will be working with a diluted solution, it’s still good practice to stay protected. Nicotine can absorb through skin and an accidental spill could land you in the hospital. Also, always be sure to make and store your chemicals (including the finished e-liquid) out of the reach of children. If you have children or pets in the home make certain they are well away from your mixing area while you’re working.