PG: Propylene glycol: main ingredient that also contributes to TH
PGA: Propylene glycol and grain alcohol (Everclear): preferred by some to PG
TH: Throat hit, which smokers usually like although cigarettes don't compare
VG: Vegetable glycerine: produces the vapor but dilutes flavor and reduces TH
PG is the ingredient in which bases are prepared from powders. It's also the main ingredient in finished juices of which you'll most. I likely vape more than the average and a quart lasts me well above a couple of years. I know of nowhere to get it cheaper than Amazon. Everywhere else is expensive in comparison. The higher the PG the better the TH. I enjoy TH so I use a mixture of 80%. (Most commercially prepared juices are mixed at 70% PG, 30% VG.) Some people dilute PG as much as 50% to use PGA instead. I've done the same with Everclear. (Alcohol delivers TH.) It was all right, but I thought simple PG was much better. You store PG in the frig. PG is bought by the quart from Amazon. A quart of PG lasts me a little over a year.
What makes the vapor. Add more you see more. (People who sell ecigs on YouTube know this.) Add less and you can see none. Use no VG at all and you can vape invisibly but for the tip of your battery glowing. I like to see a nice waft of cloud, and it helps determine when the juice in your cartridge is exhausted (if not a bad taste), or when a cartridge has not yet absorbed enough juice to vape (needs standing upright a few minutes). Since I use 80% PG my only choice is 20% VG when I calculate some concoction. I get all the vapor you could want to see. Pretty close to a cigarette. Again, there is no cheaper place to buy food-grade VG than Amazon. (It's foregone that nothing goes into an eliquid that isn't food or pharmaceutical grade.) Because VG is thick you will put some in a sink of hot water to make it more fluid when you mix. I thins pretty quickly that way. You store VG in the frig. VG is bought by the quart from Amazon. That should last you a few years.
If you enjoy nicotine and TH then you need know that nicotine delivers the majority of TH. PG assists but is no substitute, howsoever less expensive than nicotine. Nicotine is the most dangerous substance you will handle in DIY (unless you don't use any, vaping only for flavor). Be careful to not get any on your skin (disposable latex gloves if you like). For sake of simplicity in calculations I purchase 100mg unflavored nicotine with PG only. I presently measure nicotine at 12mg, more than enough, which translates to 12 percent of a mixture bought at 100mg nicotine. When purchasing finished juices you are given options for how much nicotine you want. The amount equivalent to regular filtered cigarettes is 18mg or 1.8%. However, I'd been a chain smoker for decades and I assure you that 18mg is beyond need for a perfectly enjoyable vape. One rule of thumb to begin when making juices is to make sure the amount of nicotine you use is less than the VG you use. You store nicotine in the freezer. It doesn't thicken and will be perfectly workable for mixing. Nicotine is bought at ECigExpress. Since they sell only liters, one liter of nicotine should last you nigh a decade.
DIY originally meant Do Your Thing. Until someone discovered the letters don't match. We'll confine flavors on this site to three basics: menthol, vanilla and malt. I currently measure all flavors except vanilla at 21% of a juice. That is, I use 12% nicotine (purchased raw at 100% nicotine in 100% PG), 21% flavor and 66% PG/VG (of which PG is 80%, putting the VG to measure at about 13%).
Glass. Not plastic. I was fortunate to have some of various sizes packed away from years ago, so that was not an expense. Some vapers use 10ml bottles for experiments. I prefer 30ml though that's a greater waste upon tossing an unsuccesful mixture. 30ml is good for holding base juices you might make, though you can prepare all you like and store it in the frig once you're certain you're making it right. I put VG in a 100ml bottle to warm it in a sink of hot water when mixing. (VG is thick. It will quickly become more workable, especially for eyedroppers.) I mix juices in another 100ml bottle. (That's the size in which Bacon Bits once came. I think they're about 85 ml now, which is fine. You'll want a couple bottles, anyway, in that range.) I usually have three everyday finished flavors in three 50ml bottles stored on a shelf. Don't put finished juices in the frig. Leave them out to breathe and get some light, which improves them. You'll see a big difference the next day. Since I usually make my three basic vapes (malt, menthol and maple) at the same time, when they get low I pour them into a 30ml together (for vaping) to have three empty 50ml bottles. You can get 30ml blue glass bottles at Amazon for a little more than a buck a piece. (They want $2 a piece at ECigExpres. Such as flavors and nicotine you may wish to purchase at ECigExpresss. Other items, however, can be highly overpriced. Here are some easy links for purchasing ingredients.
Like Avery which you might find at a Walgreens. Labeling your bottles will prevent later mysteries.
I had a couple 100ml graduated cylinders already. You need only one and can bring it home with 30ml. Measure more exact beyond that (ml) is with an eyedropper, no need for a syringe. Whatever, syringe or cylinder, they're cheap. Surprise quiz: how many standard eyedropper drops equal 1ml? Twenty. Blank cartridges want up to 18 drops. Some vapers are very precise. As for myself, I used an eyedropper while mixing at first. But I generally just eyeball it now: "Yeah, looks like about 5ml." You'll need at least one eyedropper though to load your finished juices.
You will need these to grind menthol crystals. Anyone should have a tiny bowl that can serve for a mortar. I use a little sauce bowl not quite as large as two mustard cups at a fast food restaurant. For a pestle I use a covered corkscrew (good for popping cartridge caps) with a 3/4 inch slightly curved base. Perfect. When you DIY you find all kinds of items about the house that you didn't know Dr. Jekyll used.
Eyedroppers come with various purchases, which I prefer to squeezing bottles. A pair are cheap anywhere if not. You will need a funnel to pour liquids into bottles with thin necks. The one I use to pour transmission fluid into my car works well. Just a regular little funnel, not the giant red thing you might see at an auto repair. It's narrow end is wider than a syringe's would be, so pouring takes little time.
That's it. Four ingredients go into basic DIY juice: PG, VG, flavor and nicotine (optional). The tools you need are an eyedropper, funnel, several vials, labels, a graduated cylinder or equivalent syringe to 30ml (minimum), and a small mortar and pestle for menthol. You will also want to be able to measure 1/4 teaspoon. A microwave will make things considerably quicker, but isn't necessary. Take care. Don't heat the liquids you're working with, like PG, for more than 5 seconds at a time. Better three intervals of five seconds to dissolve a powder than fifteen continuous seconds. Bottles will get hot in the microwave so use a cloth to take them out without a spilling ouch from your fingers.
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