Buying e-liquid in the UK might be second nature to experienced vapers, but that’s only because we have the benefit of experience. Every expert vaper was once new to vaping, and we were all just as confused by the terminology then as you are today. E-liquid, however, is one area in which you will definitely be happiest if you can find a way to set aside the confusion. In this article, we’re going to help you do that by explaining all of the key factors contributing to your buying decision. When you’re done reading, you will be an e-liquid expert.

What Is E-Liquid?

E-liquid is the flavored substance – usually infused with nicotine – used in a vaping device. The atomizer coil in your device’s tank or cartridge heats the e-liquid, turning it to vapor. When you inhale the vapor, you taste the e-liquid’s flavor and absorb the nicotine. The fastest way to dramatically change your vaping experience is by trying a different e-liquid. In that sense, it is probably fair to say that e-liquid is the most important aspect of the vaping experience. That’s why reading an e-liquid buying guide before making your purchase can be so valuable!

What Does E-Liquid Contain?

Most e-liquid contains four primary ingredients: vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, nicotine and flavors. The last two ingredients are self-explanatory, but the first two ingredients might be unfamiliar to you. Vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG) are very common in the food and cosmetics industries. They are most of what’s in any e-liquid, so they are also the majority of what you inhale when you vape. VG and PG serve many important purposes in an e-liquid. They dilute the extremely concentrated nicotine and flavor compounds to their desired strengths. They’re natural emulsifiers, so they help to keep the ingredients in an e-liquid mixed together. They also retain water and inhibit microbial activity, so they help to keep packaged foods moist and fresh.

What E-Liquid Flavors Are Available?

E-liquid companies use food-grade flavors to make their products, so they use the same flavoring compounds that popular snacks, candy and soda makers use. That means an e-liquid can taste like almost anything – including many of the snack foods that you buy in supermarkets. You can find e-liquid that tastes like mint chocolate chip ice cream, root beer, a blue raspberry slush, a blueberry doughnut and just about anything else you can name. Of course, there are also plenty of tobacco and menthol flavors available for those who are just beginning their transition from smoking to vaping.

Can I Buy E-Liquid Without Nicotine?

Absolutely. In fact, many people use vaping as a way to decrease their nicotine intake slowly by buying e-liquid in progressively lower nicotine strengths. When you buy bottled e-liquid, you can even make in-between nicotine strengths by mixing bottles of different strengths. If you reduce your nicotine intake slowly enough, you’ll hardly notice when you finally make it to the 0 mg strength.

What Is Throat Hit?

The throat hit is the sensation that nicotine creates in your throat when you inhale it. Although the sensation is slightly irritating, many people also perceive it is very satisfying because they equate that sensation with smoking. You can also feel throat hit when you vape. If you feel an assertive, satisfying throat hit when you inhale the vapor, you’re probably using the right nicotine strength for your needs. If the throat hit feels harsh and irritating, try a lower nicotine strength.

What Is Nicotine Salt E-Liquid?

Nicotine salt e-liquid contains an acid that converts the nicotine to its salt form and lowers the e-liquid’s pH. With a more neutral pH than that of standard e-liquid, nicotine salt e-liquid remains smooth and easy to inhale even when it has a high concentration of nicotine. In the UK, nicotine salt e-liquid is available with a maximum nicotine strength of 20 mg/ml. It’s intended for use in smaller vaping devices such as small vape pens and refillable pod systems. Because of its higher strength, nicotine salt e-liquid is not intended for use in powerful “sub-ohm” vaping systems.

What Is the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD)?

The TPD is a European law governing certain things that companies in the vaping industry can and can’t do when manufacturing and marketing their products. The most significant limitations imposed by the TPD are:

  • The maximum allowable nicotine strength for any e-liquid is 20 mg.
  • The maximum allowable bottle size for any e-liquid with nicotine is 10 ml.
  • The maximum allowable capacity for any vape tank is 2 ml.

The restrictions of the TPD mainly come into play for those who use larger, more powerful vaping devices. For those people, 10 ml of e-liquid is an almost insignificant amount because it isn’t even enough for a full day of vaping. Shortfill e-liquids have become extremely popular among that subset of the vaping community.

What Is Shortfill E-Liquid?

Shortfill e-liquid is a large bottle of nicotine-free e-liquid with empty space in the bottle for you to add your own nicotine. Since short-fill e-liquid contains no nicotine, it can come in a large bottle without violating the TPD. Nicotine shots are 10 ml bottles of nicotine e-liquid, and adding a nicotine shot to a short-fill e-liquid gives you a large bottle of nicotine e-liquid.

Should I Steep My E-Liquid?

Steeping is the process of aging an e-liquid in a controlled fashion to give undesirable flavors a chance to mellow out a bit. Some people find that an e-liquid with harsh edges will tend to become a bit smoother if it’s stored in a cool, dark place for a few weeks. If you decide to steep a bottle of e-liquid, remove the bottle from storage each day and give it a quick shake. You may find that the flavor improves over time. If you like the way an e-liquid tastes when you try it for the first time, don’t bother steeping it. Steeping won’t improve an e-liquid that you already like.