Have you suddenly found yourself in possession of a large volume of e-liquid? Maybe, like a wine collector, you like to have several bottles available for sampling at any given time. Perhaps you’re stocking up for the apocalypse. Maybe you just have a bunch of extra bottles because your favorite online vape shop has held a spectacular sale. Whatever the reason may be, you should know that e-liquid has a finite life, and how you store e-juice will have an enormous effect on what it will taste like when you finally get around to vaping it.
So, how do you store vape juice?
When you’re done reading this article, you’ll be ready to store enough vape juice to get through just about any conceivable scenario.
Store E-Juice in a Cool, Dark Place
The three things that cause e-liquid to degrade more quickly are air, light and heat. Therefore, you can minimize two of those factors – light and heat – by storing your vape juice in a cabinet. The warmer the molecules are in a bottle of e-liquid, the more quickly they’ll move around in the bottle, and that’s what hastens vape juice toward its eventual demise. That’s what we want to avoid.
Considering the value of keeping your e-liquid cool, you might conclude that the best place for vape juice is in the refrigerator. Opinions vary, though, as to whether the fridge is a good place to store e-juice. It might keep your e-liquid cooler, but it also has a bright light that turns on every time you open the door. Either way, storing vape juice in the refrigerator is a moot point if you have children because no child-resistant bottle can resist a clever child’s hands for long. In that case, a high cabinet is definitely the best place to store your vape juice.
Plastic Bottles Aren’t Ideal for E-Liquid Storage
One important thing to know before you begin storing your vape juice for a rainy day is that the plastic bottles most vape juice makers use these days aren’t ideal for long-term use. Plastic containers aren’t truly impermeable; air will get through the bottles and interact with your e-liquid. The permeability of plastic bottles could mean that the flavors of your e-liquids will degrade more quickly in storage than they would if you stored your e-liquid in glass bottles. Most manufacturers don’t allow you to choose your bottle type, so the best thing that you can do to keep your e-liquids in top shape during long-term storage is to avoid opening the bottles until you’re ready to use them.
Another reason why glass bottles might be better for long-term e-liquid storage is because glass is inert in addition to being less permeable than plastic. During storage, there is a possibility that the molecules in a plastic bottle will interact with the molecules in your e-liquid, altering the flavor slightly. That won’t happen with glass bottles.
A final benefit of glass bottles for long-term e-liquid storage is that many e-liquid manufacturers ship their vape juice in amber or cobalt blue glass bottles. The tinted glass provides additional protection from degradation due to light exposure.
Most e-liquid makers use plastic bottles today because that’s what consumers want. When you’re draining a high-volume tank several times each day, refilling with an eyedropper becomes very inconvenient – so most vapers prefer squeeze bottles for e-liquid. However, the fact that most e-liquid companies now use plastic bottles makes proper e-liquid storage more important than ever.
How Long Does E-Liquid Last in Storage?
You can expect a bottle of e-liquid to last approximately one year in storage. Most vape juice bottles have “best by” dates printed on their labels, which eliminates the guesswork. If you want to store e-juice that doesn’t have a date on the label, you might find it helpful to make a note on the bottle indicating the day you bought the e-liquid.
Vape juice doesn’t self-destruct after it’s been in storage for a year. If you’ve been storing a particular bottle of e-liquid away from light and heat for a little more than a year – and you’ve kept the bottle tightly sealed – it’s probably still fine to use. There’s nothing dangerous about using an e-liquid that’s been in storage a little too long, but the flavor of the e-liquid may not be ideal.
Further reading: How Long Does Vape Juice Last?
What Happens When I Store Vape Juice?
When you store a bottle of vape juice, it begins to age. People in the vaping community call this process "e-liquid steeping." You can click the link for a more detailed explanation of the vape juice steeping process, but we’ll explain it briefly here.
Some people put e-liquid into storage because they’ve taken advantage of a good sale or because they’d like to have a supply of vape juice handy for a rainy day. Others, however, store their e-liquid to improve its flavor. Technically, the word “steeping” doesn’t actually apply to something that’s just a liquid. Steeping is what you do when you use a liquid to extract the flavors or medicinal compounds from a solid. Either way, though, people in the vaping community starting using the term “steeping” to describe e-liquid aging, and everyone still uses the term today.
To learn more about why some people want to steep their vape juice, read our guide on how to steep e-liquid. In short, though, some people believe that allowing an e-liquid to age for a while can improve its flavor – especially when the e-liquid was produced very recently. The fact is, though, that steeping is very unlikely to improve most of the e-liquids you can buy today. You’re most likely not buying your e-liquid from a boutique maker who mixes every bottle to order. It’s more likely that you’re buying e-liquid that’s already had a few months to age as it’s made its way from the manufacturer to a distributor and a retailer before finally reaching you.
In other words, it’s entirely possible that storing a bottle of vape juice for several months will result in that e-liquid not tasting quite as good as it did when you bought it.
So, what happens to e-liquid when you store it?
- The nicotine in the e-liquid begins to oxidize and turn yellow. If you store a higher-nicotine e-liquid long enough, it may begin to take on a brown color. There’s nothing unsafe about using an e-liquid after the nicotine has begun to oxidize, but you may find that the oxidation affects the overall flavor of the e-liquid. Some people find that nicotine’s degradation products – such as cotinine – taste a bit bitter. You may like the added complexity of flavor resulting from the degradation. It’s also possible that you won’t notice the bitter flavor and will simply find that the e-liquid tastes mellower due to the slightly reduced nicotine content.
- Alcohol-based flavors will begin to evaporate out of the e-liquid. That may be a good thing if you’re sensitive to the flavor of alcohol and find that it overpowers the other elements in an e-liquid’s flavor profile. For example, many custard e-liquids include an egg note with an alcohol base. Some people find the alcohol flavor overpowering and enjoy those e-liquids much more after giving them time to steep.
- Molecular bonding takes place within the e-liquid. The bonding can help to meld several distinct flavor notes into a more cohesive whole. An e-liquid with individual notes of cream, vanilla, strawberry, cake and buttercream frosting might come out of storage tasting less like a mix of those various flavors and more like strawberry shortcake.