Changing DIY mixing for the better, forever
HOW TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR MIXING TO MAKE IT BETTER FOREVER
I have been working with eliquids since October 2008, including helping to develop the first UK manufactured eliquid, ECOpure, which launched in April 2009. I still have the same passion, as I am a vaper who likes to create new blended Flavours, over 60 since 2012, which I consider good enough for the market.
My methods for creating a new blend differ from the 'orthodox' methods, but for very good reasons. I have seen that the majority of recipes follow a particular format, a list of all the ingredients and percentages that are combined to make an eliquid, often with the total Flavour percentage shown.
That is where I saw a major flaw, which has increased over the years as equipment became far more varied and sophisticated, from my first DSE103 cigalike in 2008 to the high powered sub-ohm devices of today.
Every set-up has its sweet spot, the point at which the Flavour perception and vape experience are at their optimum, but that sweet spot depends on the percentages being right for each individual; some tanks might require just 3% Flavour content to deliver the best, others might need 10%, equally so with individual Flavours, some are good at 3% while others need more. The variables in Flavour behaviour, equipment, and, most importantly, personal taste, must be given the utmost attention in order to enjoy the best vaping experience. Some might wax lyrical about a particular recipe that has 14% Flavour, but for others, that might be sickly and overpowering, often resulting in comments from 'yuk' to 'buttjuice!'. If only the percentages were more flexible, then I am certain more vapers would agree on Flavour perception.
Here is how I develop blended Flavours from scratch easily, and whilst avoiding the potential waste of valuable juice - even though I have thousands of gallons at my disposal, I baulk at wasting even a few ml!!
There is one essential ingredient that rarely gets a mention, PATIENCE, and that will see you through all of the process.
It all starts with an idea, often (but not always) inspired by replicating the sensation of something we like, a particular food or drink; so we determine what the individual ingredients are and then make an educated guess as to the relative percentages of each Flavour required - this step gradually gets easier as you become more familiar with the Flavours you use and how they perform.
The first step is to make notes of the recipe with exact figures; these will change as the process is repeated until you hit the jackpot.
I mix a very small sample of the concentrated Flavours, only a few ml, give them a good shake in a small bottle, have a smell, then leave the blend for a few days for the chemicals to have a game of inter-molecular reaction, kind of a wild swingers party in a bottle! This steeping time might be increased to ten days for Tobacco flavours and complex blends.
Usually, you want to be able to identify the individual Flavours (or at least some of them) when you vape the finished liquid, but you do not want big gaps between the Flavours; that is where steeping the blended concentrates pays dividends as hopefully, the new compounds that are created will serve as background Flavours and fill in the gaps. I use the word 'hopefully' because there is no guarantee when you set off on this journey that it will end at your preferred destination! Sometimes, Flavours that go well together in food or drinks just turn baaadd when used in eliquid, that's life, but inversely, some Flavours you might never dream of using together (but accidentally pick up the wrong bottle!) turn out to be stunning. Using enhancers can help if you have gaps, or find a blend is really nice but not quite rounded. I never use sweeteners as I have seen too many images of gunked coils; instead, I often use Champagne Flavour because it brings a clean subtle kind of sweetness, does not overpower other Flavours if used sparingly, can be used with just about any Flavour, even tobacco Flavours, and does not gunk up coils. My coils used to get changed at around 6 weeks normally, the wicks maybe every 14 days. That should be the case for all coils when using clean liquid.
UPDATE: I now use Mesh Coils exclusively, better flavour delivery and can last for several months if used with clean eliquid/flavourings.
Back to the blend; after a few days with an occasional shake, maybe a quick smell, I will test this first recipe sample, but again by using a frugal amount. I mix and shake 1.9ml of unflavoured eliquid (this is your choice as to PG/VG and Nic strength) with 0.1ml of the newly blended concentrated Flavour to give a liquid with 5% Flavour strength. This is a benchmark % from which you can work; vape the 2ml over a few hours to allow the Flavour to come through. Because the Flavour concentrates have been steeped already, further steeping is usually not essential at this stage, only later for stability testing (and for Custard Flavours!).
You should now know two things; is the Flavour to your taste, and is the Flavour strength good for you and your equipment. If not, make minor adjustments to the recipe you wrote down, now called version 2. Changing one ingredient at a time is time consuming when you are going to repeat this process until satisfied, but it will pay big dividends by the end and will reward you with a vape experience that is tailor made just for you - total control.
You can easily adjust the Flavour strength for the next sample if it seems too strong/weak. Remember to keep accurate notes of every recipe variation so that when you strike gold, you can easily recreate it time after time, and so can those you share it with, who should be eternally grateful.
This adjusting/steeping/sampling process can go on for some time but don't be put off, Michael Angelo didn't paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in a weekend! ;)
We've now reached a point where you should see the advantage of developing new blends this way. Your blended Flavour is created as a concentrate, which means anyone you share it with can make it easily, but they can choose/adjust the Flavour strength to suit their taste and equipment just by making a 2ml sample. The alternative is to use 'reverse maths' to work out the Flavour content of a recipe then recalculate the relative percentages of each individual Flavour and recreate it to suit yourself. That is a pain in the butt, even if you get the maths! That is why it is essential to separate the two parts of the process, so that anyone can use your recipe to create the blended Flavour, AND they can easily choose to use it at the Flavour strength that suits them, rather than be forced to vape it at a strength that is wrong for their personal taste and equipment. I find it hard to believe that after all these years of innovation and progression, vapers are still throwing everything into the pot at one go and hoping for the best. Many good Flavour recipes have been given bad ratings just because they were either too strong or too weak for the person vaping them. It is all about having total control, and I want everyone to have that control. Vaping not only saved my life, it gave me the opportunity to continue enjoying my habit/pastime/pleasure and I always encourage others to do the same, make your liquid perfect for you.
It can take me between 2 and 6 months to develop a new blended Flavour using the standard Flavours, the more complex ones using up to 14 standard Flavours (and enhancers) can take a long time and go through many changes until I am happy with them, but the feeling when it finally comes good is amazing. I reckon less than 5% of the recipe ideas I begin with make it to market, the rest go in a drum labelled 'buttjuice'!
A slight diversion: I once took a sample from the 5kg drum of 'buttjuice' concentrates and mixed it with some eliquid, it vaped well and tasted quite good!! It might be difficult to recreate as it contains around 100 or more flavours!
Eventually, when I am happy with a Flavour, I make up a litre and leave it for four to six weeks to ensure it remains stable and the Flavour does not change for the worse. Then I have reliable vapers sample it at varying Nicotine strengths and different PG/VG ratios on different equipment. I still use small samples at this stage to avoid wasting precious liquid; only when I know it is all right will I make up a bigger bottle.
There are very few Flavours that I would consider an ADV, mostly because vaping the same Flavour all day can become dull, giving rise to Vaper's Tongue, a lack of Flavour perception. I usually have five or six tanks on the go with different Flavours, some favourites and some under development, and that variety helps keep the perception fresh. Cures for Vaper's Tongue include eating some toast or crisps (potato chips) that scrub the taste buds, or brushing the tongue with a toothbrush.
So, now you know why I mix like I do, because I want the Flavour right and I want to choose my strength to suit my taste, total control!
If you made it this far, thank you for your indulgence :)