Vapourless E Liquid

Sunday, October 2, 2011

DIY Liquids with a Kick: More Mouth Flavour!

Though it might seem obvious, whenever you vape, you perceive the flavour of the vapour much more than you do the smell of it, though of course aroma and taste are connected. The crucial thing I’ve discovered is that flavourings on their own, however strong they smell out of the bottle, often need a “carrier” for them to light up the flavour receptors on your tongue.Remember to mix your flavours before you add your base nicotine liquid!

Propylene Glycol, and to an extent, Vegetable Glycerine, are reasonably effective as flavour carriers; PG especially, adds bitterness, but I find that without additional carriers, mixes that contain just these solvents, nicotine and a few drops of flavouring, don't really satisfy.

So to complement your flavour concentrates and beef up the base liquids you are using, it’s worth looking at other ways to create a fuller mouth flavour. In vaping terms, this means finding ways to improve sweetness, bitterness and sourness in your liquids.

* All of the ingredients suggested in this post are used as food additives (apart from Tobacco Absolute) though of course, just like anything else in the world of vaping, not much is known about their long-term effects on the human lung. If you are not sure about using these ingredients in your DIY mixes, then please don't!

Even if you don’t want your liquid to be noticeably sweet, a small amount of sweetener will give your juice more body, by bringing out the depth of other flavours present. If you’re a beer-drinker, you’ll appreciate the fact that most beer doesn’t actually taste that sweet. This isn’t because there is no sugar present after fermentation-there is usually quite a lot-the reason is that the sweetness is balanced by the bitterness of hops. Both flavours balance each other out to deliver a strong, characteristic taste that is neither bitter nor sweet. You can see the same complementary balance in other foods, like dark chocolate and red wine; the same principle can be applied to your DIY liquids.

My favourite sweetener is pure sucralose, a highly concentrated water soluble powder, which you can buy in bulk and dilute with PG. I make it into a solution by adding about 3ml of powder to 5ml of PG, which I mix together and microwave on full power for 4 seconds before mixing again. The 5ml bottle of sweetener liquid I made one month ago is still going strong; do not underestimate how powerful this stuff is. Therefore, buying the powder in small amounts (30g) makes more sense than getting a 100g bag (like I did) that will pass its sell-by date before you can even use a tenth of it.

Unless I am making a super sweet e-liquid, I only use at most one drop of this home-made sweetener per 5ml batch of DIY E-Liquid. Otherwise, about five drops in 5ml is the most I can add before the sweetness becomes overpowering.

Ethyl Maltol
Another great sweetener is Ethyl Maltol –this is the keynote flavour in candy floss (cotton candy) and is added to a lot of processed foods as a sweetener. I would say that EM is more bittersweet than sweet, though the sweetness that it does have is nowhere near as powerful as sucralose. Like sucralose, I buy it in powder form and dilute it down with PG (7ml of EM powder in 30ml PG) using the microwave method explained above. EM is really useful in most mixes, though it’s especially good for taking the bitter edge off other flavours, notably that of Tobacco Absolute, which is why so many TA recipes also contain EM. I usually use about 5 drops of my own EM solution to every 5ml mix I make, to add body and roundness. For really sweet brews, I would go with sucralose, or a mixture of sucralose and EM. In UK I get my Ethyl Maltol powder from Ecigwizard, (see link top-right of blog) though for larger amounts, a trade ingredients supplier might be more economical.

So far, I haven’t had any real success trying to find a satisfactory bittering solution for my non-tobacco flavoured liquids apart from adding extra PG and Ethyl Maltol. I’ve tried small amounts of isomerised hop extract, which is used in brewing, and is incredibly bitter, but it has an aftertaste which isn’t too pleasant, unless you want to make the flavour of hops a key feature of your mix. Thankfully, nicotine itself being a fairly bitter substance anyway, the need for extra bitterness isn't usually a noticeable issue in most mixes.

Tobacco Absolute (TA)
Tobacco Absolute is a naturally very bitter flavour and works great in small amounts when combined with Flavourart tobacco flavours to add bitterness, though is obviously not much use if you want to recreate the bitterness of coffee or chocolate flavours, for example.You can get TA in liquid form from PA, under the name "Tobacco Blend".

If you really want to do justice to any FA/PA fruit flavour – strawberry, lemon, lime, raspberry, etc, you need a bit of sourness – the balance of sweetness and acidity is crucial to these flavours. Raising the acidity of other non-acidic flavours can also serve to create a more interesting balance.

Malic Acid
To up the sourness in a mix, I use Malic Acid, an acidity regulator used in confectionery and brewing. This likewise comes in powder form, and you can dilute it exactly as described above. I use about 5ml of powder in 10ml of PG (corrected from earlier-sorry!). About 1 drop of this solution is enough to raise the acidity of any regular non-fruit flavoured 5ml mix; about 3-4 drops will simulate the sourness of fruit, though you will need to balance carefully with sucralose. You should be able to get hold of Malic Acid from any decent online brewing supplies shop.

Want to try mixing your own tobacco e liquids from flavour concentrates?   DIY Tobacco Liquids from Concentrates