SPINFUEL: Welcome to the pages of Spinfuel. We’ve been looking forward to talking to Blackstone for a while noe. Would you like to introduce yourselves to our readers?
MO: Hello Spinfuel, my name is Mo. I am one of the company Co-Founders. These are really exciting time for us and I am really happy about being able to finally sit down with Spinfuel and talk about our newest line of eliquids, Blackstone.
SPINFUEL: What position(s) do you hold in the company?
MO: When we first started, I wore almost every hat. That’s the nature of startups and small businesses. Now, I am in more of a managerial position. It’s fun. It gives me time to do interviews like this. I am also still the lead developer because I love everything about vaping. I have to make sure we are making the perfect product and I really enjoy working with our Mixology team. They are the best in the business, if you ask me.
SPINFUEL: Getting down to business; who or what inspired you to get into the e-juice business? When was that?
MO: Back in 2012 my brother was doing his best to quit smoking using a small blue electronic device. Intrigued by this device, I took a few puffs and thought “this could be a lot better!” I read a lot and found out that most liquids were being produced overseas and of poor quality. My passion for cooking made eliquid recipes second nature and so dreamE began. My goal was to provide better tasting eliquid’s made 100% in the USA from ingredients sourced from reliable USA manufacturers. I am glad to see that we could contribute to eliquids tasting much better.
SPINFUEL: 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?
MO: Our corporate office is in California-and I can tell you Southern California has vape fever. It’s great to see that the community is growing so fast. It used to be that you would see one or two people vaping here and there. Now, its all over the place. Regulations are increasing; I see no vaping\ No Smoking signs a lot more. I don’t like the fact that they are trying to ostracize us like cigarette smokers. Vaping is not smoking. However, I believe there is a time and a place to vape. Surely, everyone agrees that smoking in planes and inside restaurants where there are children should be prohibited.
SPINFUEL: When you launched your company how did you decide on your first flavor or “set” of flavors?
MO: The first set of flavors were all basic flavors. It’s where the market was at that time. We then spent over a year making our signature line Blackstone. With Blackstone, we wanted to blend for both drippers and tank users. Creating recipes for both styles was a challenge and a lengthy process.
SPINFUEL: 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, and exciting. With just a handful of ingredients each company is able to create their own specific traits. How would you describe your signature?
MO: That’s a challenge. When we mix, we have to balance what we love to make and what we think people want. If you are going to be great at anything in life you just have to be yourself — especially if you are an artist. Making eliquids is a form of art. This company was founded on the principles of individual freedom. I, and the rest of our Mixologists, have the freedom to create what we want, but we listen carefully to what our loyal fans have to say so that we can make products that they love.
SPINFUEL: We steep all the eLiquids we receive for review purposes, even if we’re told there is no need to do so. 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?
MO: For a few years we were making all of our eliquids fresh made to order. It’s a nice feeling to know that you just received a product that was fresh out of the oven sort of speak. As our orders increased, we found that making small batches of flavors that were really popular saved a lot of time and orders were shipping faster. However, we still email each client after their purchase steeping guidelines for each flavor. Some complex flavors take longer to steep than other simple fruit flavors.
SPINFUEL: What’s the best way, in your opinion, for customers to ‘steep’ eLiquids at home? Do you have an area in your facility where your liquids go to steep?
MO: There is so much about rice steeping, microwave, ultrasonic cleaners, and crockpots to spend months reading. I’m old fashioned and still steep my Blackstone eliquids in a cool dark closet. We steep them the same way in our facility, after they are bottled they are stored in a closed box until our products are shipped.
SPINFUEL: Let’s talk about packaging. How are your eLiquids packaged?
MO: That’s a good question. We have a beautiful bottle. Our designer did a great job developing our label and we wanted to showcase it because our fans love it. But, safety is always our first concern, so we wanted to be sure that all our bottles were the safest on the market.
All our Blackstone bottles have a child resistant cap. Even our glass dropper bottles have them; I don’t understand why manufacturers are still selling bottles without them. The 2nd concern was tamper proof. We still have bottles that use the plastic tamper proof ring but recently starting using glass bottles for which we use shrink bands to seal them. Knowing that no one has opened the bottle after production is important. We also properly label all of our bottles with warning, date produced, and nicotine strength.
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?
MO: We were one of the first companies that did all our mixin g and bottling in an ISO 2008 clean room using laboratory grade mixing equipment. Our packing and shipping department is separated outside of the clean room so that we can keep it clean.
SPINFUEL: How do you make sure your mixing tools and containers are kept clean and sterile?
MO: Keeping our equipment sterile and clean is required by ISO certification and annual inspection. We use glass laboratory measure equipment and sterilize after each use to maintain the highest level of care.
SPINFUEL: Safety is also a huge factor today. What kind of measures do you take to make sure that your e-juice is safe to consume? What methods do you use to prevent contamination or other factors that can harm your product?
MO: I agree. Safety for Blackstone was a huge factor when we launched. We continue to stay on top of vaping industry research. As mentioned earlier, we bottle in a clean room to prevent any possible contamination and clean equipment in between each batch that we produce. We only purchase ingredients from reputable USA based suppliers. All our flavor concentrates are batch produced and individual ingredients are logged with their unique batch numbers which are assigned our batch id’s that are printed on each finished bottle. We go the extra length to ensure we know where each ingredient was used. We are also in the process of having all of our eliquid’s tested from independent laboratories.
SPINFUEL: What assurances do you have to make sure the nicotine levels in your individual bottles of e-Liquid are what they are supposed to be?
MO: Our nicotine levels are tested twice. First when we receive concentrate nicotine from the supplier, and then again after we have mixed our base solutions. We batch produce our base solutions for safety and consistency.
SPINFUEL: Does your crew wear any type of special clothing when they are mixing?
MO: You would think we were going in for surgery! Head to toe scrubs are required whenever in the clean room. Soon we will have pictures on our website of our factory and our entire bottling team. You can see all the effort everyone puts into making sure we have a safe product made in a great environment.
SPINFUEL: Do you mix everyday? Do you mix in batches, and if so, how large is a typical batch?
MO: At the moment, we probably mix Blackstone E-Liquids two to three days a week. What type of mixing depends on if we are making base solutions or a full run from scratch. Our larger orders are made from scratch and are probably done every few weeks and those can be anywhere from one to 5 gallon batches.
SPINFUEL: Do you have a specific audience in mind for your eLiquids? In other words, are your eJuices best used with cartomizers, tanks, and clearomizers? Are they blended for dripping, or subohm coils?
MO: When we launched it was all for tanks and carto’s, although dripping a higher PG blend wasn’t bad you just didn’t get all the clouds you wanted. As the dripping community grew and the devices became advanced, so did our excitement for creating unique flavors blended for drippers in mind.
SPINFUEL: What types of hardware do you use when testing your liquids? Is there any specific hardware that provides the best ‘vape’ for your eLiquids?
MO: I’m still old fashioned with my ego c-twist and Kanger Protank. I have them everywhere for when a battery drains out or mistakenly drop and break it. It’s also so much more convenient than having to drip every few minutes. However, with our Blackstone High VG line I tend to use a Magma RDA with .5 to 1.5ohm coils and Japanese cotton. Great Flavor and huge clouds.
SPINFUEL: What is your suggested, or “house blend” for PG/VG ratio for your eJuice?
MO: We have several blends, each formula unique to its flavor profile. For our Blackstone line, we introduced two blends. The first 40% to 60% PG and second the dripping line comprised of Max VG blend that is anywhere from 80% to 90% VG.
SPINFUEL: How do you make sure that your flavors are always consistent, that each batch or bottle delivers the same flavor time after time?
MO: We take pride in our craft. Craftsmanship coupled with an amazing calculating software and specialized measuring instruments ensure we always mix at the same formulations. It’s an amazing marriage of technology and passion.
SPINFUEL: Something that has always had me wondering; How does a professional eLiquid artist make sure that their flavors taste the same no matter what the PG/VG ratio?
MO: Sorry, but I am going to have to make you keep wondering. We don’t put our flavors to a set standard ratio. We let the flavor profile decide. It takes months to finalize a flavor profile which then we match to a PG\VG ratio. It does make it difficult when mass producing.
SPINFUEL: Does nicotine levels affect the flavor of your eliquids?
MO: I personally do believe nicotine levels affect the flavor. You’re not only adding another component to the flavor, you are also adding another source of PG or VG depending on your base.
SPINFUEL: Do you have a “favorite” Blackstone flavor? What is your favorite category of eLiquids for your personal vaping? Fruity, tobacco-based, sweet, and so forth?
MO: I tend to lean on the flavored tobacco and dessert flavors.
SPINFUEL: What makes a good eLiquid? In other words, what order of importance are flavor, vapor, and throat hit in your e-Liquids?
MO: Flavor is always on the top of the list followed by throat hit and then vapor, but that’s just me.
SPINFUEL: Where do you think the ecigarette industry is headed? Do you have any predictions on the upcoming FDA regulations?
MO: We are really excited about vaping. This is only the beginning for the vaping industry and for us. The sky is the limit for us due to all the wonderful people who we work with. We hope to be one of the companies that continues to help vapers.
I don’t really think that the FDA will impact the vaping industry in a negative way. I welcome regulations. I rather compete on an even playing field where everyone has to manufacture their eliquids in the type of quality control environments we use for manufacturing.
SPINFUEL: Why should our readers buy their e-juice from you?
MO: Quality control and consistency. There are a lot of fake manufacturers out there posing to produce in clean rooms with professional bottling equipment and they aren’t. How do we know? We know because many smaller brands, and ones that you wouldn’t even imagine, have contacted us over the years to bottle for them. We were surprised that they were still making in house in the back of their offices.
If that is not reason enough, the readers of Spinfuel can always stop by our website and pick up some free samples. We believe in letting people try before they buy.