I did it. I started a vape lab.
You read that right. A vape lab. If you don’t know what vaping is, you won’t enjoy this article. If you’re not sure why you would need a lab for vaping, then you might not enjoy this article. But unlike tobacco, you can make your own “fuel” for ejuice. Sure, you might say you can grow your own tobacco, but it’s hard to whip up a cigar quickly.
Speaking of cigars, I smoke the occasional cigar, but it gets expensive and runs the risk of turning into a more substantial smoking habit, so I prefer vaping. As a hobby there is about a million more variables in vaping than tobacco, so it is a more engaging hobby. With cigars the best you can do is walk around in a walk-in humidor and smell some cigars. I guess you can pimp out a cigar cutter, but that’s pretty low-energy. With vaping you can make your own juice, your own mods (the device that vaporizers the juice), and coil customization (the actual thing that heats up and boils up the juice). I want to make my own juice, so this article is just a brief run-through of the start up.
I’m still doing the accounting to see how frugal this is, but as a hobby it can get pretty expensive. If I knew what I knew now, I could do it all again cheaper. Someone who drips goes through a lot of juice in a short period of time. If you can source e-juice for $10 [30 ml], then that’s pretty good. But if you are buying a bottle every week, that’s 40 dollars in juice a month. More than my cigar budget, granted, that I vape way more than I smoke cigars so I get more action out of a vape than a cigar, but I gotta cut cost.
So to make your own juice you need equipment. So what did I do?
I went full science nerd. I went to a local surplus store that sells lab gear, and I got the following.
4 x150 ml beakers ($2.99 ea)
1x 25 ml graduated cylinder($6.99 ea)
1 x 500 ml beaker ($3.99 ea)
15 x 1 ml glass pipettes($0.39 ea)
2 x 16 ga syringe ( got this online) ($0.99 ea)
I got some manipulator tools such as forceps, a surgical scissors, and a dental pick. I also picked up some rare-earth magnets for a magnetic stirrer I built (about $15 for all that).
If you want the basic bare set-up, I’d recommend 2x 150 ml beakers, 1 graduated cylinder and some pipettes or syringes. A graduated cylinder is useful for measuring out your VG and PG, and a pipette is good for measuring out the small amounts of concentrated flavoring you need.
I also spent a lot of money on my “ancillary equipment” I went to the dollar store numerous times and bought things such as storage containers, a tray I use to do my mixing in, a note book, etc. I was surprised how quick the ancillary costs rose. Truth be told, I wanted a well organized lab. At the end of the day I am doing garage chemistry, but no need to be incomprehensible like a Trump policy (what is that?). And Nerd alert, I even labeled my storage containers with a a labeler I bought some time ago.
My work flow is like this:
I design a flavour, determine the best PG/VG combination and do the math. Right now I make 30 ml batches, as 30 ml bottles are my standard unit of choice (for now). I measure the PG and VG in the graduated cylinder and dump into one of my beakers. I then use pipettes to add the flavour. Right now, I heat up my solutions either on my wood stove, or over a burning candle. This helps speed up the “steeping” process, but also makes it less vicious, so I can put it on my home-made magnetic stirrer and I let it stir for about 30-60 minutes (or as long as I want).
The cons of this, is if you are a pretentious flavour junkie. If you don’t have a good eye for flavours and are easily offended by flavours, then it might be discouraging to get into DIY-juices. Just think about it, you want to make some dope lavender flavour vape juice. You get your flavors together, and you clink some beakers, out the product? Some rotten stew of mangled flavors. You barf all over the floor and pass-out from all the dry heaving you do after, so in the end this DIY juice thing, wasn’t for you. You’ll need to spend more time and money to get a vapable juice. The people who benefit the most from DIY-juice is people like me. I smoke Century Sams cigars, the most unpretentious cigar around, the type of cigar that offends all of the senses. The cigar that has no discernible characteristics except “Grade D Tobacco” and recycled cardboard as a wrapper. It’s the type of cigar that crosses an Obama red line.
I can vape straight VG no problem, much like I can drown my sorrows with some rum straight from the bottle. If I brew a bad flavour, I still vape it. I’m in it for the raw sensations and not the “earthy hints” of juice. But sure I like a good flavour too.