As the country falls apart and brain-seeking zombies roam the land, you’re obviously going to face a very serious problem:
Your vape shop will be shut, and your supply of e-liquid will dry up.
The problem of how to safely store e-liquid through a zombie apocalypse has been keeping us at night, so we asked Lee Johnson to research the best solutions…
One of the first e-liquids I really loved was a luscious banana nut bread blend.
It quickly went from my “all day vape” to my “all day, every day vape,” and I ended up working through the bottle pretty quickly. Then I realised, I’m a reviewer, I’m supposed to actually write something down before I drain the whole bottle and forget just how amazing it is.
So I did.
But there was still a little bit left, and I decided to save it for a rainy day…
So I put it into “storage.” I use quotation marks because I was still a relatively new vaper, and I didn’t even think about proper storage practices. I just left the thing on the shelf with my other juices and went about my business.
I can’t find the words to express my disappointment, when – several months later – the “rainy day” came, I eagerly filled my tank with the juice and took a vape. The flavour had died. I was left with a peppery, bland mess that barely even contained the ghost of the flavour I’d loved so much.
I only had myself to blame. I could have easily found out how you should store e-liquid and been able to enjoy those last few millilitres. I bought some more (obviously), but what should I have done? How do you keep your flavours from dying and make sure you enjoy every last drop?
Thankfully, it’s really easy, so you’ll never have to toss away some of your favourite juice like I had to. And if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse, you’ll know what to do.*
*From a vaping point of view, that is. From a survival point of view these tips will be completely useless. But at least you can enjoy a last vape before you are ripped to pieces by a pack of bloodthirsty zombies.
The Enemies of E-Liquid: Heat, Light and Air
The basic rules for e-liquid storage come from an understanding of what you should keep your juice away from.
Nicotine expert Dr. Jacques Le Houezec points out that light and air will cause nicotine to oxidise, which results in a change of colour (but doesn’t affect its properties). However, he also says:
I would be more concerned about the flavours. They certainly degrade faster than nicotine.
Before going on to clarify:
It could change the taste, but should not change the effects. Some flavours, particularly tobacco flavours, or chocolate or coffee, can also turn dark with time, probably [due to light and air oxidation]. This should not be a concern, but I would recommend to keep them cool and away from light.
How Does Heat Affect E-liquid?
The problem with heat comes down to how chemical interactions work in general:
if something is hotter, its molecules have more energy, and this could be enough to allow them to interact with other ingredients or to break down into smaller components.
This wouldn’t be an issue, but the specific compounds create the flavour notes in your e-liquid, so if any of them change, it will alter the taste of your juice.
How Does Light and Air Affect E-liquid?
The reason you’re advised to avoid light and air comes down to the effect of UV light and oxygen on nicotine.
The oxygen reacts with the nicotine to produce cotinine (this “oxidation” process involves the loss of two hydrogen atoms and the gain of one oxygen atom) and the UV light helps this process along by providing energy in a similar fashion (but not in exactly the same way) as heat does. The more the reaction occurs, the less nicotine will be left in your juice, but in most cases the effect won’t be noticeable – unless you’re really careless in your storage.
The issue with oxygen can’t be completely avoided, because some will be dissolved in your juice even if you have a full bottle with no “headspace” above it, but the effect will be minimal as long as you keep it away from light.
The basic message is simple: keep your e-liquid away from heat, light, and – where possible – air. (And zombies!)
How to Store E-Liquid for the Long Term: Plastic vs. Glass and Freezing
Does anything change when it comes to long-term storage? Can you keep e-liquid in the fridge or freezer?
The same basic rules apply, but storing your e-liquid long-term does bring with it some potential issues. Firstly, while plastic bottles are absolutely fine for shorter-term storage, they aren’t the ideal solution over the long-term (more than a couple of months): you should use glass bottles instead, at least until they are banned by the EU next year.
This is because the plastic can interact with the e-liquid, and – as explained a moment ago with reference to heat – any chemical changes will alter how your juice tastes. Additionally, although plastics prevent most things from passing through them, some air can get through (in fancier language, they’re “permeable” to some gases), and since air degrades e-liquid, this isn’t a good thing.
How much air can get through depends on the type of plastic – generally speaking, higher-quality plastics are less permeable to air – but glass is a way better approach for both removing the air permeability and minimizing any interactions with the container.
Additionally, for long-term storage, using the fridge is ideal. This is for the same reasons we refrigerate or freeze most foods: the “chemistry stuff” is less likely to happen because the molecules have less energy, and bacteria don’t like cold temperatures (although PG is anti-bacterial anyway).
Dr. Jacques Le Houezec also confirmed that freezing or refrigerating e-liquid is absolutely fine. Chances are your e-liquid won’t actually freeze, but when we experimented with one e-liquid there seemed to be some loss of flavour.
The only thing to keep in mind is that having your e-liquid in a fridge or freezer will make it thicken up, so you should allow it to warm to room temperature before trying to fill up with it and vape. The e-liquid won’t freeze, since both PG and VG have low freezing points. (While pure VG would freeze at normal freezer temperatures, this would only happen if your juice was over 80 percent VG.)
Keeping Kids and Pets Safe
The other set of considerations when you’re storing e-liquid relate to keeping it away from curious kids and pets. To put it bluntly: nicotine (like many other household goods) is poisonous and there can be tragedies if you aren’t careful with your e-liquid.
You might think that your kids are safe anyway because your e-liquid has child-proof caps, but in reality “child-proof” actually means “child-resistant,” and it’s far from a fool-proof solution. A cap can be called child-resistant if most children can’t open it if left for a short period of time.
In other words: if you leave your kid with something in a child-resistant bottle for more than about five minutes – medicines and e-liquids alike – he or she will stand a good chance of being able to open it, and some kids will open it in a much shorter time. You should never rely on a child-resistant cap to keep your kids safe.
The solution here is simple: keep your e-liquid somewhere children or pets can’t get to it. A high cupboard, a lockable box, a high shelf or anywhere out of reach is absolutely fine.
Putting it All Together: How You Should Store Your E-Liquid
So light, heat and air are enemies of e-liquid, and it’s better to keep it out of reach of any little creatures you have running about the place. This is more than enough information to ensure you store e-liquid efficiently and safely.
Short Term E-Liquid Storage
The ideal place for short-term storage is a high cupboard. Why?
Well, this not only keeps it out of reach, it’s also nice and dark, and will probably be away from any sources of heat. If you have a cupboard out of direct sunlight (and not over a radiator or next to your oven), then you have an ideal storage spot. You can also use a storage box, and if it’s lockable you don’t have to worry too much about keeping it somewhere high up, either (but you can do that anyway, to be as safe as possible).
To minimise the amount of air it’s exposed to, you should ensure the cap is firmly screwed on, and you can even squeeze plastic bottles before screwing on the cap to remove most of the air. If you have a large bottle of juice that’s half-empty, you can also fill up several smaller bottles with it so that most of the e-liquid is in full bottles (with little room for air above it).
Long Term E-Liquid Storage
For long-term storage, there are a few extra considerations, but the message is largely the same. Minimising the amount of air in the bottle is even more important, and you should switch to glass bottles (at least, until EU regulations outlaw them!) Use dark or tinted glass (page since removed) if possible.
Finally, keeping the juice in the fridge or (ideally) the freezer will maximise its lifespan. The only problem is that it’s harder to keep kids away a fridge or freezer, so you’ll either need a lockable box, a high shelf or some vigilant parenting.
Conclusion: Why My Bottle of E-Liquid Died
If you follow the above advice, you won’t have to lose juice you love like I did. In retrospect, I can see my numerous mistakes: the bottle in question was in direct sunlight (at least for a few hours a day) with a nice supply of air above the juice, for over six months.
If I’d followed the advice I now know well enough to share, I could have still enjoyed my “rainy day” juice in all its glory anything from six to 18 months later (or possibly even after that). Trying it didn’t do me any harm, but that intense disappointment was enough to make sure I never made the same mistake again.
Thankfully, you can learn from my new-vaper carelessness so you don’t have to see one of your favourite flavours die. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
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