If you’re new to vaping, it’s likely that e-liquid shelf life hasn’t even crossed your mind. In most cases, new vapers buy e-liquid in small quantities, use it up and then purchase more at their local vape shop.
However, if you’re someone who likes to rotate flavours regularly, mixes large batches of DIY e-liquid, or buys in bulk, you may need to consider the shelf life of e-liquid. Fortunately, you can take simple measures to ensure it remains at its best for long periods of time.
Keep an eye on bottling and/or best before dates
As a rule of thumb, most e-liquid brands advise a maximum shelf life of 1-2 years. All reputable e-liquid brands print a bottling date on their products and some also advise an expiration date, though this isn’t always the case.
If you’re wondering why one of your favourite premium e-liquids is on sale at a crazy discount, it’s worth checking the bottling date. In many cases, it may simply be approaching a year after bottling, which isn’t a problem if you intend to vape it relatively quickly. If it’s been much longer than a year since bottling, though, we recommend opting for a fresh batch, even if you need to pay full price.
Storing e-liquid properly
Although some properties intrinsic to an e-liquid’s formulation affect its shelf life, how you store it is equally important. Light, heat and exposure to air will all cause e-liquid to degrade more rapidly.
Therefore, it’s important to store your e-liquid in a cool, dark place, making sure the bottle is properly sealed. Making an e-liquid display on your countertop might look nice, but unfortunately, this leaves it at risk of faster degradation. Typically, a downstairs cupboard is the ideal place to store your e-liquid when not in use.
If you’re making a particularly large batch of DIY e-liquid that requires long steeping times, for example, 250ml of a heavy dessert, then you should think about using dark glass bottles. Amber, brown and dark green glass all help to prevent light from interacting with the liquid inside. Additionally, glass is far less likely to interact with e-liquid over long periods of time than the plastics normally used for commercial e-liquids, which are intended to be consumed within one year.
What happens when e-liquid degrades?
The flavourings used in e-liquid are also known as “volatiles”. By their nature, they like to escape from solutions, and this is what makes them so flavourful in the first place.
Lighter volatiles, such as fruit flavours, tend to escape more quickly than heavier ones, like dessert flavours. As a result, the flavour intensity of your e-liquid may decrease as it degrades. Since different flavourings interact in different ways, this can lead to an e-liquid completely changing its flavour profile after extended periods.
If an e-liquid is allowed to sit for extreme periods of time (more than 1-2 years) a noticeable loss of flavour should be expected. This might not be a problem in and of itself, but the experience certainly won’t be the same as the manufacturer intended.
Over time, nicotine oxidises and interacts with other ingredients in your e-liquid. If stored correctly, this process is slow, so it shouldn’t be too much of a concern. However, if e-liquid is stored incorrectly, or left for extreme periods of time, it will degrade more noticeably.
The tell-tale sign of nicotine degradation is a peppery taste and increased harshness. In addition to this, as nicotine degrades it becomes less potent, so if it’s happened to one of your e-liquids, it will be less pleasant to vape and less effective at satisfying cravings. Nobody likes to waste e-liquid, but when nicotine noticeably degrades, it’s time to purchase a fresh bottle.
Does nicotine strength and type affect e-liquid shelf life?
You may be surprised to know that the type of nicotine in your e-liquid can play a big role in its shelf life.
Nicotine salts are more chemically stable than freebase nicotine, which means they degrade at a much slower rate. You’ll still need to store nicotine salt e-liquids properly, but when you do, they have a better chance of outlasting that one-year timeframe. It’s important to note that flavours will generally still lose their potency at the same rate, regardless of nicotine type or strength.
Does e-liquid degrade when it’s in your vape?
In most cases, this isn’t something you need to worry about, since you’ll likely be consuming the e-liquid in your tank and refilling it within a 24-hour period, or even more frequently. However, if you rotate between multiple devices and leave one of them out of use, it’s something to bear in mind.
Since a typical vaping tank is transparent and experiences significant fluctuations in temperature, it’s an ideal environment for e-liquid to rapidly degrade. For this reason, if you like to rotate between multiple devices, it’s best to empty and clean your tanks in between each use.