An Advanced Overview of E-Liquid Oxidation
As you may know, steeping your e-liquids results in a deeper, richer flavor. There are many methods online to getting started with steeping, but very few go into the chemical and physical details of what’s happening. These details are essential to understand how to refine your steeping process to obtain the best possible flavor.
To begin, let’s look at what the chemical processes are that are occurring to enrich e-juice flavor. First, there is a process called nicotine oxidation. Here, oxygen molecules bind to nicotine and break it down into various oxidation products based on how much energy was used to break up the molecule. While some consider this a bad thing, generally it gives the nicotine a bit more of a bite and a slightly stronger hit. Oxidation does not just occur in nicotine molecules, though. When an e-liquid is exposed to oxygen and agitated, oxygen molecules are suspended throughout the liquid. This gives the oxygen a chance to interact with any molecule present in the juice, and generally the molecules most attractive to oxygen are the flavor compounds. Flavors get slightly oxidized in the time you expose them to air, and this slight oxidation generally brings out the richness in flavors. Too much oxidation though can make your flavors stale due to the oxidation products becoming more prevalent than the original flavor molecules. This can be commonly seen in home-brewed beer, when a hobbyist accidentally lets a beer age too long. Because the flavor molecules have an oxygen bound to them in some shape or form, when they are vaped they will be more noticeable to the sensitive taste buds and taste receptors in the nose and mouth. Therefore, it’s imperative to steep your e-liquid for a perfect amount of time.
To upgrade your steeping process, you want to increase the rate at which oxygen molecules interact with flavor and nicotine molecules. Since molecules need energy to move faster and they need to move faster to interact more, you can heat the vape juice up to speed up the steeping process. Though you may already know to heat up the liquid as the first step of steeping, what you don’t know is that you can continuously heat up the liquid throughout the steeping process. Instead of letting the e-liquid sit in the dark for up to a month, you can take the e-liquid out periodically and heat again. This will allow the oxygen to recirculate to new flavor molecules that have not been oxidized yet, enriching the flavor faster and more efficiently than prior steeping techniques.