So, who’s behind the PSYCHEDELIC STEAM brand? We decided to find out. Below is our interview with the people behind the juice. Don’t forget to check out our Spinfuel eLiquid Team Review (Team Dori), to get a first hand idea of what to expect from this unique brand. – Dori
SPINFUEL: Welcome to the pages of Spinfuel. We’ve been looking forward to talking to you. Would you like to introduce yourselves to our readers?
Same here! My name is Ethan, I am the founder of Psychedelic Steam E-Juice.
SPINFUEL: What position(s) do you hold in the company?
I am the owner, but I really find myself managing sales, and leading the R&D. Really the two things I love love – connecting with people, and experimenting.
SPINFUEL: Getting down to business; who or what inspired you to get into the e-liquid business? When was that?
I started making juice way back in the days of early clearomizers when I learned about diketones, and the total ‘unknown’ factor in much of the juice market. Transparency was a driving force for me to do DIY. As I got into more, I found a fantastic outlet that allowed me to channel so many of the inspirations in my life. Over time as my passion for this intensified, I decided to unify the driving factors into a brand.
Something encompassing of my love of music, with my want for transparency – it was with this in mind that Psychedelic Steam came to be in 2015. For me psychedelic music, and psychedelia was about pursuing new sounds, innovating the way people listened to music, and opening people’s minds to the endless possibilities.
For me this translated into a drive for unique flavors, with the knowledge of the chemistry behind what makes a quality juice. Perhaps it’s a more personal note, but when I was designing the juices, I really did try and embody certain artists. A notable one was Gypsy: I wanted to simultaneously capture that deep rich warm fuzz face tone Jimi Hendrix had in his early days, with the smooth, bright ‘pop’ out of his single coil pickups when he rolled back on the guitars volume a bit. Gingerbread with it’s warm red mouth feel, mixed with some rich buttery pecans, and slathered with a tart cream icing tastes how it sounds to me… Delicious. I do think that as one dives into our brand more, they’ll find that calculating what a juice tastes like isn’t where the obsessive search for quality ends.
SPINFUEL: Wow, that is such a perfect way to talk about these eliquids. By the way, where are you located? What’s the local and state level situation there with respect to electronic cigarettes? What’s the “attitude” of the people there about eCigarettes?
We are based right outside St. Louis, Missouri, in Belleville, Illinois. There is really a steep divide in the attitudes of individuals, but most people around here are very open to vaping. They have seen the positive effect it’s had on the people in their life, and that first hand experience cannot be devalued. At the State level we have had some road bumps. Earlier in 2015, Illinois was facing a ‘flavored’ e-juice ban, but fortunately the bill stagnated, because of the overwhelming outcry. Our vape fam up in Chicago (Cook County as a whole) have to deal with an insane e-juice tax now, in the city itself, one pays $40+ for a once $20 30 mL! So it’s hard to say what the People’s Republic of Illinois will do next.
SPINFUEL: When you launched your company how did you decide on your first flavor or “set” of flavors?
Well, we knew that it had to be a melange. Having a line up of just fruits, or all from a very specific sub-sect, wasn’t it for us. Instead we wanted everything from fruits to tobaccos, all of which a little more off the beaten path than the juices we would buy. We didn’t want to produce something that had been done before, so each juice was honed to be alone in it’s market.
SPINFUEL: I think you accomplished your goal, each of the flavors we reviewed were very different from each other. It seems that no matter how many eLiquid vendors we review, they all have their own “signature” recipes. Each brand is different, which I find remarkable. With just a handful of ingredients each company is able to create their own specific traits. Would you describe your signature as psychedelic or something else?
It’s about the subtleties for us. Sure, any juice will have a dominant flavor, but an all day vape catches your tongue because of it’s supporting notes. These supporting notes are what keep Psychedelic Steam strange.
SPINFUEL: Do you steep your eLiquids before they are shipped to customers? If so, how long do they sit before you ship them out? If you do not, do you suggest that customers ‘home steep’ them before vaping?
Juices steep in their batch to homogenize for two weeks, then they wait a week in the final bottle before ever leaving the door. Generally the bottle of Psychedelic Steam you pick up has been steeped for at least a month once you factor in shipping time, and/or shelf time. I know, being someone who has a hard time foregoing reward, how much of a pain it is to wait for juice to steep once receiving it. While there is a trade off in customizability, this was a no brainer for us. If you ever are wondering when your bottle was made, just check the lower right side of the label!
SPINFUEL: A month is perfect for most blends, I think anyway. Your eliquids had a completeness to them, as though they had fully matured. Not every brand is like that. Let’s talk about packaging. How are your eLiquids packaged?
These days Psychedelic Steam comes in clear glass Boston-rounds, with child proof droppers. In addition to the standard warnings and branding, they have the nicotine, PG:VG, the flavor description, batch number, date made, and be sure to inspect the bottle closely — random bottles win free bottles of Psychedelic Steam! It’ll say it clear as day, on the side, or on the bottom. We love to give back to those who allow us to do what we love.
SPINFUEL: There is a lot of concern these days about how and where eLiquids are being made. Could you describe your ‘mixing’ area? Where do you do your mixing, bottling, and shipping?
Our clean room is about 1000 square feet, complete with tile floors, laminate counter tops, HEPA filtration systems that keep the air change rate above 35 times an hour, and a twice daily standard sterilization regiment. Once the mixing and bottling is done here, the bottles move to a separate area to await shipping. I’ll be the first to admit that our clean room isn’t ISO certified, but all B&M’s that sell Psychedelic Steam will have pictures of our clean room, the standard lab procedures, and our complete testing results.
SPINFUEL: This kind of clean room environment is going to be a must when regulations come down from on high. We’re happy to know that, for the most part, you’re ready. But, safety is also a huge factor today. What kind of measures do you take to make sure that your eLiquid is safe to consume? What methods do you use to prevent contamination or other factors that can harm your product?
We test for diacetyl, acetyl propionyl, glyoxal, and methylglyoxal content in our juices, and renew the tests annually. With each test, we hold ourselves to the standard of <22 ppm diacetyl/mL, and <44 ppm acetyl propionyl/mL. While none of the juices have come close to these marks, it does provide a realistic standard considering the limits the NIOSH disclosed to Dr. Farsalinos after his insightful study. For us it wasn’t about throwing others under the bus, or telling people how to live their lives, but providing an option for people who want to know what they are vaping.
SPINFUEL: That’s true. Does your crew wear any type of special clothing when they are mixing?
Yep! Lab coats, hair nets, respirators, and gloves to eliminate the possibility of contaminating the juices.
SPINFUEL: Do you mix everyday? Do you mix in batches, and if so, how large is a typical batch?
We don’t mix everyday, generally it is a week to week process, but we do make the juices in five Gallon batches.
SPINFUEL: Do you have a specific audience in mind for your eLiquids? Are they blended for dripping, and sub-ohm coils?
Because the juice itself is decently thick, at >75% VG, I find it tastes best in dripper, and sub-ohm tanks. With that narrowed down, it really varies from juice to juice. What I prefer? Gypsy: Drippers with nichrome infused claptons really bring it to life, especially at >4.2V Solitude: Sub-ohm tank at 4 – 4.2V Syd: Sub-ohm tank. Unless I’m enjoying a fruity IPA, then I drip it with kanthal. at 4-4.2V Zeppelin: Dripping with nichrome at >4.2V
SPINFUEL: What types of hardware do you use when testing your eLiquids? Is there any specific hardware that provides the best ‘vape’ for your eLiquids?
We all seem to use devices that exceed 50W, and vary between sub-ohm tanks and drippers. However, I’ve seen many people with lower wattage devices be extremely satisfied with beta testers!
SPINFUEL: Your eliquids were vaped in our RDA’s, and you have the right approach. Drippers can tell you exactly what the flavor will be.
SPINFUEL: How do you make sure that your flavors are always consistent, that each batch or bottle delivers the same flavor time after time?
Well that really comes down to making the batch. We have consistent flavoring suppliers, and a solid protocol that allows appropriate homogenization, and steep time for the product. Pair this with relatively large batches, and it’s no surprise we’ve never had anyone complain about receiving a bottle that tasted off!
SPINFUEL: What about yourself? Were you a smoker before you switched to vaping? If so, what made you decide to quit smoking?
Yeah, I smoked a variety of things; from cigars, and pipes, to cigarettes, and cloves. Towards the end, I was smoking about a pack and a half per day. Around then my father let me in the loop about a new technology a lady at his work was using. I went out shortly thereafter and got my first vape… It was back in the days of cartos, but it was enough light for me to stop smoking immediately!
SPINFUEL: How often do you vape now? How many hours per day?
I vape all day, I don’t measure it by hours, but I seem to vape between 5 – 10mL/day.
SPINFUEL: That seems to be the thing with people in the business. We all vape continuously because it is a huge part of our lives. Do you have a “favorite” flavor? What is your favorite category of eLiquids for your personal vaping? Fruity, tobacco-based, sweet, and so forth?
Juice is like music to me, I love so many different types of styles, and b(r)ands, it varies with the seasons, and the situations. But some of the most outstanding juices I’ve had? Boba’s Bounty by Alien Visions, Wild Fire by Propaganda, Carny Reserve by G2, and this new one we’re about to drop called Shuggie. As it stands, I like a rich dessert, which may be what drove me to care so much about diketones.
SPINFUEL: Great choices! So, what makes a good eLiquid?
Flavor <- Throat Hit <- Vapor. I could care less how much vapor something produces, for me it’s just an externality. A side effect of pursuing the texture associated with fuller flavor.
SPINFUEL: That’s interesting. I know many people who put vapor at the top. You wouldn’t believe how many vapers I know who always have a bottle of flavorless High VG eliquid around just for creating huge clouds of vapor. I’ll admit, flavor is most important, but I also like a lot of vapor.
SPINFUEL: Where do you think the ecigarette industry is headed? Do you have any predictions about FDA regulations?
There has been a lot of speculation from people more educated than I on the topic, but one lesson that I have learned from this, and I think more of us can extract, is empathy.
I think that we often look at these agencies in a maternalistic light. They are protecting us from this company, or that company, but in reality, they trample out the smaller competitors in the pursuit to protect people. The smaller, and often times better firms that would have naturally taken over that market space, and make it easier for those large firms to control the market. Many of you reading this probably go, ‘yeah, duh, Big Tobacco, and the Pharmaceutical Industry!’, and you’re very right – in our industry. But if you look at the bigger picture, it’s like that in every industry, and this is the case every time you see regulators trying to step into voluntary transactions here or there. The boogie man – whether company, or industry – is never as harmful as those who wield aggression under the facade of altruism.
SPINFUEL: We completely agree with that. For us, its about our personal freedoms and limited government, especially in the climate today when government is more about business than it is for the protection of its citizens.
SPINFUEL: When all is said and done, why should our readers buy their eLiquid from you?
We offer affordable juice, designed for a discerning palate, all performed with total transparency… Why not give it a shot?
SPINFUEL: Exactly. The number of brands on the market now, and new ones popping up almost daily, there is a great number of reasons to try a bottle or two as much as you can. When you find something you like, you keep them in your rotation, but you continue to explore. That’s the great thing about all these eliquids, exploration. Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers while you have their complete attention?
If you’re considering giving us a shot, but are tight on money, I totally understand that. Shoot us a Like on Facebook at Psychedelic Steam, we’ll be doing giveaways that can help you when you’re budget is tight. Outside of that, we appreciate the review, and we can’t wait to hear what everyone at Spinfuel thinks!
SPINFUEL: I can’t thank you enough for talking with us today. We wish you much success down the road! – Dori