There is definitely a lot of interesting stuff we hear every day with regard to vaping and all things pertaining to it.
E-liquid is one of the central parts of vaping, and one question that is often asked revolves around its shelf life: does e-juice expire or not?
The simple answer is Yes.
But there is more to it than that.
Vape juice does not expire and becomes toxic like some foods or medicines. What does happen is that over time it loses its potency and flavor.
It is similar to processed food in this regard. The sell-by or expiration date is not the exact moment when the product suddenly becomes dangerous. Rather, it is an estimate of the timeframe the product is scheduled to downgrade in quality.
You see, sell by or ‘born on’ dates are a manufacturer’s way of guaranteeing the freshness of food products.
When the product goes beyond this date, the manufacturer cannot vouch for it any longer. It’s how companies avoid customers complaining that their two-year-old packet of milk doesn’t taste fresh.
And so it is with vape juice.
Why does E-liquid Expire?
E-liquid and other nicotine products also come with such ‘best by’ dates.
Usually, the expiration window set for most e-liquids is around 1-2 years if stored in the right conditions. Beyond this point and the juice is no longer guaranteed to be of a similar quality to when you purchased it.
That’s because the components that constitute e-juice – nicotine, PG, VG, and flavour – start breaking down, therefore compromising the overall quality of the juice, rendering it a bit too ripe for vaping.
This breaking down of the ingredients can be as a result of two things:
Nicotine oxidation – When you store e-liquid in direct sunlight or warmer room temperatures for an extended period, a process called oxidation occurs. The same happens when you leave a vape juice bottle open for too long. When nicotine oxidation occurs, the flavour is affected and the juice will have a harsher throat hit as well.
Flavour degradation – It is also important to remember that vape juice does not only expire when the above happens. Storing it in the right conditions for far too long can also cause the juice to go bad. When you leave it to steep (sit idly) for more than the recommended period (say 2 years) the flavour changes for the worse – it could taste flat, stale or even carry a chemical taste.
While vape juice is a bit like wine to some extent in that steeping it (similar to ageing wine) improves the flavour of the juice, leaving it for years will have the opposite effect. Unlike wine.
How to tell if your Juice is Expired
There are a few ways to tell if e-liquid is expired.
You can examine the bottle to see if there is a noticeable difference in the color of the juice or smell it to establish if the smell is off.
You can tell if e-juice has expired when you find the following:
- The liquid is darker than normal – Steeping, a process that introduces oxygen to the juice, darkens the liquid just a tad. But a significant change in colour could be a sign the juice has gone bad.
- The e-liquid has a foul smell – Just like stale milk, you can just tell when an e-liquid is bad from the smell.
- The flavour is flat or dull.
- The nicotine does not deliver a smooth TH (throat hit).
- There is separation – In normal instances, the heavier and denser elements of the vape juice will naturally gravitate towards the bottom of the bottle and a little shake-up mixes everything together again. When you find the contents are not blending after several shakes, it could be a sign that the juice is no longer vape-able.
- Similarly, if the juice is VG-based, it might appear runny than usual when it is not fit for vaping. VG juices are characteristically more vicious and should drip slowly out of the bottle as opposed to pouring straight out.
- The sell by date is longer than 2 years. Some flavours have a longer shelf life (even 5 years) but there really is no point waiting on a juice for more than 2 years.
How to keep your Vape Juice Fresh
The best way to keep your e-juice from spoiling is to store it in a cool, dark place. Exposing it to sunlight causes the vape juice to heat up, consequently down its components.
For this reason, avoid placing your bottles on window sills, as well as in your car where the juice is likely to heat up, hastening the expiration.
Additionally, when you open your juice and decide to store it for a while longer, make sure to close your bottles tightly as this goes a long way to retain the flavour. This also goes for the larger shortfill bottles.
Some people advise to store e-liquid in the fridge, but we think that’s a bad idea for reasons best explained in this article. LINK TO: Here’s Why Storing E-Liquids in the Fridge is a Bad Idea