Last Updated on February 2, 2018 by Team Spinfuel
A DIY e-Liquid Concentrates Adventure
This week I was trying to decide if I should create videos for this column but after viewing dozens on YouTube I decided not to add more to the overall data already clogging up the Internet. Besides, this column is not an actual tutorial, but rather the ramblings of someone learning how to mix together ingredients to create eLiquids. A way for our readers to either follow along with me as I learn, or to show you, maybe, some of the things the real eLiquid artists go through as they became great eJuice creators.
Last Week on “Fun with Concentrates”
It’s been 10 days since I mixed 20-5ML bottles of ‘single flavor’ eLiquids using Totally Wicked eLiquid concentrates. The intent was to gain some confidence in the early stages of becoming an accomplished eJuice creator. By mixing single flavor recipes I would gain the experience of precise measuring, proper mixing techniques, and learning to become comfortable with handling the various ingredients.
I set the bar fairly low; as long as the juice ended up vapeable it would be considered a success. You have to learn to walk before you can run and being able to mix together a few ingredients that would be good enough to tide me over in case I ran out of the eLiquids I buy from my favorite ‘flavorists’, I could then begin to fine tune my recipes and venture out to where the big kids play.
Out of the twenty flavors a handful were good enough for me to keep. The others did taste like they were supposed to, but the problem is I wouldn’t buy them from a professional flavorists, so I wouldn’t vape them from my homemade attempts unless I was going through nicotine withdrawals and they were the only possible cure. Single flavors like ‘orange’, ‘cherry’, ‘chocolate’, and a few others are not very good by themselves. But, flavors I thought were okay and would wind up vaping were flavors like; ‘coconut’, ‘banana’, ‘lime’, ‘pina colada’, Blackcurrant, ‘pineapple’, ‘passion fruit’, and ‘Sarsaparilla’, along with a couple of Totally Wicked Red Label tobacco flavors. They were especially satisfying.
What went right and what went wrong…
The Totally Wicked eLiquid product line has been really easy to learn how to use. That helped quite a bit as I was learning to get comfortable with the products. TW has a forum for people that use the TW ingredients that I found very useful. It is filled with people like myself looking to find some tips and tricks of the trade in order to speed up the process of the painstaking discovering of their own. For anyone just starting out, or veterans of mixing that want to add to the knowledge base, this is a great place to be.
Anyway, despite the special eyedropper that came with the PG and VG nicotine solutions I decided early on to use a series of 1ML syringes in an effort to standardize the measurements of the ingredients. I believe that down the road it will become easier to get a feel for the measurements, especially when I get to the level of tweaking flavors and altering recipes. Today I am still working off the exact recipes for standard flavors.
All the eLiquids I made (I don’t use the word ‘created’ here because there is nothing proprietary about the flavors I made) had the right thickness/thinness, none possessed a chemical or fake taste, and while certain flavors would need to be tweaked when it comes to the number of drops needed for flavor concentrates, the recipes worked more often than not.
The “takeaway” from Chapter 4 will be what I learned about flavoring. All brands of concentrates have different, well, for lack of a better way to say it, concentrations of flavor. For instance, if you were using LorAnn flavorings you would normally shoot for 10% flavor in your recipe. Flavour Art requires only 5% to achieve the same level of flavor, a pretty big difference when it comes to the recipe, negligible when it comes to the results. As long as you know the characteristics of your chosen flavoring brand you’ll be fine. By that I mean that each company that makes concentrates to be used in eLiquids, have their own characteristics. It is vital to learn what they are when you get serious about eJuice creation.
Totally Wicked Concentrates
An eLiquid created with Totally Wicked ingredients will, to me anyway, provide consistent flavor across the wide range of concentrates available because they have all been created to work together. By this I mean that because I am using Totally Wicked branded PG, VG, Concentrates and nicotine solutions my flavors can be mixed with a certainty of quality. The characteristics of each have been geared to work together.
Totally Wicked Flavor Percentages
As a beginner I had to choose a percentage of concentrate flavoring that I would use in my first batches of recipes. For Totally Wicked eLiquids I chose 15% after reading several posts in various forums that discuss DIY eLiquids using TW ingredients. Naturally, as I progress and learn more about the characteristics of each concentrate and my own particular ‘wants’ in an eLiquid flavor I will need to adjust that percentage. And this, ladies and gentleman, is where mixing separates the craftsmen from the artists.
At this stage in the learning curve my aim is to be a craftsman, not an artist. The artist part will come much later. A craftsman learns the characteristics of the concentrates, but pretty much sticks to the recipes. A Pina colada eLiquid, for instance, will have a recipe that is tailored to using TW ingredients, and the end results will be a “good but not great” Pina colada eJuice because I have done nothing to make it my own at this point. And that’s fine at this stage.
If others before me have created decent Pina colada eLiquids using TW ingredients than naturally I’m going to pay particular attention to the recipe they use.
The other day I read something that struck a cord with me. To paraphrase, it went something like this; “Just because someone with a camera makes a great photo by accident it doesn’t make him or her a great photographer”. How true that is. In my professional photography career I’ve met dozens of people who have taken a great photo but who have done so completely by accident. Still, with that great photo in their mediocre portfolio they went around calling themselves pros. If you are truly a good photographer you should be able to create good or great photographs consistently. The same holds true with creating eLiquids. One good bottle of eJuice does not an artist make.
I know, and talk to, many real artists in the eJuice side of the industry. These artists are able to take any flavor and create a uniquely wonderful eLiquid flavor time and time again. For them, the craftsman level was just the beginning.
Going beyond the craftsman level the artist truly knows and understands the characteristics of their tools, which includes the concentrates they use. They will develop their own signature to their flavors and they will know how to achieve that signature no matter what flavor they are creating.
Sticking with the Pina Colada example a little while longer there is a Totally Wicked eLiquid flavor called “Pina colada” and I’ve used it and crafted a flavor that is pretty decent. But the artist would obviously do it differently. The artist would know what concentrates would go together in order to achieve an accurate representation of the Pina colada cocktail. Taking those flavors, along with the other ingredients they would spend days or weeks (or longer) and create many versions, tweaking their recipe along the way until they find the perfect combination that will produce a very accurate Pina colada liquid, yet be slightly different from all the others out there; they would have made it with their signature style. They take it one step further to make it their own original flavor, or version, of Pina Colada.
At this stage in the game I’m satisfied with my achievements, as lowly as they are. I’m able to take a handful of concentrates and create decent eLiquids in a few different “ratios”. My best, so far, is the coconut eLiquid recipe. I am able to craft a consistent flavor at 50/50, 70/30, and even 90/10 PG/VG ratios and have the flavor remain the same. Obviously the vapor production and throat hit are different using the different ratios and if I were an artist at this point and not a craftsman I would make the decision on which recipe represents MY signature blend, my signature eLiquid. Would it be 20% flavoring? 25%, 15%, with a 50/50 or 70/40 PG/VG ratio, would I add a drop of lime or pineapple, or something really different, in order to create a signature juice…these are the things that would need to be decided before putting my stamp on it. The resulting recipe would be my signature recipe. And whatever I did remain secret so that it remains MY signature.
Beginning with next week’s column I am moving into the two-concentrate level of pineapple and coconut. As I type this I am mixing a few recipes and will mix many more as the week progresses. What I want to achieve by Chapter 5 is MY pineapple/coconut recipe, as a craftsman. In other words, I want to be able to produce a recipe, and the actual eLiquid that is a great tasting pineapple/coconut liquid with a good throat hit and good vapor output. This recipe will be the one I will work with over the next few weeks in order to create not only a good eLiquid, but also one that is unique to the eJuice community. I may even begin to play around with a ‘signature’ style, perhaps find a flavor among the ones that I have that will create a juice that is recognizable but with a little something more that makes it mine.
My ‘hope’ is to be able to understand how Totally Wicked’s pineapple and coconut concentrates work with each other, which flavoring percentage works best, and which ratio of PG/VG will provide the other important aspects of this unique flavor. Hopefully, within 4 weeks I will have a unique, Spinfuel eJuice Pineapple/Coconut flavor worthy of sending out for beta testing.
This past week I learned to be comfortable with measurements and handling of the ingredients. I reached the craftsman level with being able to craft standard flavors that do not repulse people. I have learned how important it is to understand the characteristics of different brands of flavorings. And I have some grasp as to how I might approach the benefits of tweaking a recipe, which is only possible when you truly understand what each drop, or millimeter will do to your eLiquid.
If you are following along with me, I would love to know what your percentages are when using Totally Wicked concentrates, and why you chose them. You don’t have to reveal your secrets, but perhaps you can share why you chose that percentage and what happens when you deviate from them.
Until Next Time!