Steeping, or maceration, is a term well-known to DIY vapers. For some, this step is a process for releasing all the flavours of an e-liquid. For others, it is an “optional”, even unnecessary step.
But what exactly is steeping. Is it a myth or a reality? INGESCIENCES looked into it!
Is it worth the wait?
Like a good wine or a perfume, flavours need time to develop and reveal all their splendour. Anyway, this is what steeping is all about. Concretely, the steeping process, amounts to letting an e-liquid sit for more or less time so that each component, PG (propylene glycol), VG (vegetable glycerine), nicotine, and especially the flavours blend together in the liquid. Once this resting step is completed, the mixture stabilises and an e-liquid with the best flavour is achieved.
During the steep, the e-liquid’s constituents react with one another, some disappear while others are created. These chemical reactions are diverse and varied. Actually, each recipe, each flavour, will produce its specific chemical changes.
So, it is impossible to generalise the best steep time to all formulas. Since each e-liquid is unique, its steep time is specific to it. Some quite simply do not change after their formulation. For this reason, there is no general recipe or rule on the ideal steep time for an e-liquid. It is nevertheless admitted that fruity flavours stabilise faster than gourmet or tobacco flavours.
Factors that influence steeping
The factors that influence this phenomenon are many: the presence of nicotine, the type of flavour used, the PG/VG proportion of the product or the storage conditions of the mixture.
Note that currently, flavours present for the DIY market are mostly already diluted in a PG/VG matrix. So, part of the possible interactions has already been carried out. Not being a pure flavour, the maceration time would then be considerably shorter. Some even vape their e-liquid just after having prepared it without noting any changes of taste over time.
However, other vapers prefer to speed up this step by heating the e-liquid or even by using ultrasound. Remember that the use of these techniques does not provide complete control of the parameters characterising the e-liquid. The consumer is then exposed to a finished product that is potentially modified and whose safety should be studied.
Note in particular that this science is far from being exact! And despite all the latest progress in vaping knowledge, the definition of a “good e-liquid” remains personal and subjective. So, it is up to everyone to steep, taste and appreciate their e-liquids as they see fit.