Steeped in Flavour: Your Complete Guide to Steeping
Just like fine wines, e liquids rarely taste at their best immediately after they have been bottled. It takes time for those delicious flavours to fully develop. Steeping is the process by which vape juices are improved for your vaping pleasure. Steeping is particularly important if you mix your own e liquids. While most off-the-shelf flavours are steeped before dispatch, your DIY recipes will initially be a little too fresh or raw to offer the best possible taste.
There is much debate over the benefits of steeping. Some vapers claim that the process does little to enhance flavour while others wouldn’t dream of topping up their tanks without giving their juice time to develop. However, blind tests have suggested that steeping does improve most vape juices. You might need to exercise patience if you are to maximise your enjoyment of your flavours!
What is steeping?
Put simply, steeping is the practice of aging your eliquids. The process ensures that the propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerine (VG), flavourings and nicotine in your juice are perfectly blended. Trace elements including alcohol and water can be allowed to evaporate away, intensifying flavour. It is possible that steeping results in an effect known as the Maillard reaction. This is a chemical interaction between amino acids and reducing sugars which alters flavour. It is the effect you experience when you toast bread or sear a steak.
Should you steep commercial e liquids?
Most commercial e liquids that you buy will have been deliberately steeped or have been steeped by default due to the time they have sat on the shelves prior to dispatch. That doesn’t mean that you can’t affect improvements to the flavours by steeping them yourself. It would be worth checking the bottles to see when your e liquids were manufactured. If they have been sitting around for some time, they will probably be good to go. You should bear in mind that if you have purchased several bottles of juice, the last ones you use will have been steeping for a while before you open them.
There is only one way to find our if your preferred flavours can be enhanced by steeping and that is to steep them and see!
How to steep your juice
Place your e liquid bottles in a cool, dark place. This could be a box, drawer or cupboard. Shake the bottles every so often as this may speed up the steeping process.
It is also beneficial to allow our juice to breathe. Take the cap off and leave your juice to sit for a few hours. This will allow trace elements to evaporate but don’t leave your juice open for more than 12 hours.
The longer those lids are off, the more chance there is that your bottles will be knocked over or invaded by insects. In addition, when e liquids are exposed to the air, the nicotine will begin to oxidize. This chemical reaction will diminish the strength of the nicotine and darken the colour of your juice.
Some vapers claim that throat hits are diminished by steeping but this could be the result of leaving juice exposed to the air for too long.
Complete the stepping process by removing the bottle caps occasionally and gently squeeze the bottles to recycle the air.
How to streath your flavours
A combination of steeping and breathing, streathing also involves warming your juice. Shake your bottles first and then run them under warm water. Take the caps off and stand the bottles in a cool, dark place for a couple of hours. Replace the caps and shake the bottles again. Test your juice throughout the process to discover the ideal steeping time.
The theory here is that when you warm the e liquid, the VG thins a little enabling the flavour to be better absorbed. Once returned to room temperature, the VG will regain its usual viscosity, but the flavour of the eliquid should have intensified.
How long does it take to steep your juice?
You may have to experiment to settle on the ideal steeping time for your juice as some flavours must be left longer than others. Recipes (both e liquids and concentrates) featuring only fruity notes can be vaped after just two or three days while tobacco and dessert flavours should be steeped for at least two weeks. Flavour is subjective and only you can decide when your juice has reached its sweet spot.
Can you speed up the steeping process?
It’s always a good moment when your new e liquid supplies arrives, especially if you have been running low on juice. You might feel that you simply don’t have the time to steep your flavours before you will need to top up your tank. Some vapers feel that the steeping process can be accelerated and so you may wish to try a speedier approach. Here’s a few methods that vapers utilise to accelerate the process:
- The slow cooker treatment – place your e liquids into a bag and then place in a slow cooker filled with water. Leave your bottles to steep on the lowest setting and shake them occasionally.
- Use your ultrasonic cleaner – if you are lucky enough to have one of these cleaners for your vape kit, you can try using it to speed up flavour development. Those ultrasonic waves will vibrate your juice, causing ingredients to blend quickly.
- Invest in a magnetic stirrer – this accessory is highly useful if you mix your own juice and can also speed up steeping. Place your juice in a large container and place it on top of the stirrer. The agitation should accelerate steeping.
Maybe you will evolve your own special methods for steeping. Just be careful not to apply excessive heat to your recipes. You will discover many weird and wacky suggestions, including placing your juice bottle in cooked rice or in the glove compartment of your car. But sometimes simple is best!
View steeping as the perfect finishing touch for your flavours rather than a miraculous transformation. If you don’t enjoy a flavour, steeping probably won’t change that. But It could ensure that a flavour you love is even more delicious.