Additives and enhancers can make a great deal of difference
(From original post March 2015)
In contrast to homemade DIY juices, many commercial e-liquids may be perceived as being more complex and balanced, richer and thus more satisfying. There are a number of reasons for this –
- You’re not a flavour chemist
- Inability to locally access various compounds-molecules
- Concern over adding such compounds – (Justification for some)
- Not utilising readily available additional ingredients
- Not utilising common flavours to add sweetness as opposed to sweeteners
- Lack of steeping – Ageing
- Lack of practice-experience
There are a number of compounds that are difficult to obtain by the general public and are only available to registered lab facilities. At this point, I won’t be delving into those and will stick to what is available both domestically and internationally.
“Yes, those good old 11 herbs and spices again”
Flavour chemists and or seasoned mixers from commercial e-liquid companies, generally utilise a variety of enhancers, additives and compounds to develop more complex recipes. Invariably, this is what makes so many juices irresistible, and in some cases quite difficult to dissect.
Although this may be common practice for commercial companies, vapers making their own liquids need not be too concerned or overwhelmed. DIY e-liquids made with the primary 4 ingredients, and perhaps an additive or two, can satisfy virtually all current smokers, and those who have already passed transition.
I will be expanding this list in a future post, to focus more on compounds that are at times commercially utilised in the industry. Many may be unfamiliar and harder to source, and we will look at endeavouring to substitute these will more traditional additives.
What are Additives and Enhancers?
For the purpose of DIY, they’re often just concentrated flavours used to enhance a particular flavour profile. Some however, such as Ethyl Maltol, Sour and Vanillin are true additives, designed specifically to be used as such, and are not suitable to vape solo.
Any number of additives can assist with enhancing flavours. They can also have a correlation to dependency. At times it’s simply perception, yet, there can be a psychological aspect to this.
For example, chocolate, that wonderful, delectable indulgence. Yes, simple inclusions such as chocolate can make a difference and it’s an across the board ingredient in all cigarettes. So is caffeine, vanilla and a variety of fruit, nut and alcohol compounds.
Sometimes it’s simply a drop or two of cocoa, vanilla-Vanillin, cream or even alcohol flavours, that offer up a flavour boost. Ultimately this can lead to a more satisfying vape.
Common Additional Ingredients
Here are some examples that can be utilised for your DIY. I’ve provided the starting point for percentages, as well as uses. Determining the necessity of these ingredients, as well as percentages, is as always trial and error.
Unless otherwise stated, these ingredients are available from our Recommended Vendors
Sweeteners are one of the more common ingredients, and many mixers use Sucralose or Stevia. Whilst these can be useful in small percentages, I generally suggest avoiding sweeteners.
Although the jury is still out on whether vaping sweeteners long-term could be harmful- (as I’ve said, significantly less than smoking) utilising and experimenting with alternative flavours is the better practice. This also helps in making one a more rounded mixer.
Here’s a post on Sweeteners, focusing on alternative solutions.
Common in e-liquids. A flavouring enhancer that works well with bakery, tobacco and dessert type liquids
Adds Notes of- Nutty, Bakery, Bread, Popcorn, Corn chips
Application- Bakery-Dessert or Tobacco
Percentage- Start at 0.25-0.50% No more than 1.5%
Malic Acid(AKA Sour)
Adds Notes of- Sour. Enhances fruit flavours- adds a pop to liquids
Application- A must try for fruits
Percentage- Start at 0.25-0.5%
Ethyl Maltol (EM) Also known as Cotton candy
Very Common in e-liquids. A must have.
Ethyl Maltol can sweeten/soften sharp flavours in liquid and add more body
Adds Notes of- Sweet, Burnt Cotton Sugar Candy with Jam & Strawberry notes
Application- Tobacco primarily but experiment with ALL flavours
Percentage- Start at 0.5% Will reduce flavour at around 1% and more so experiment
FlavourArt Black Fire
A hardwood charcoal and smoke along with some sugar
Adds Notes of- Smoke, char, campfire
Application- Tobacco flavours when these elements are needed.
Percentage- Can be strong so start at 0.5%
FA MTS Vape Wizard
MTS stands for Mellow, Thick and Smooth. Flavour stabiliser
MTS vape wizard contributes toward softening any acidic/sour perception, it assists in making vapour thicker, and it delivers both body and depth to any e-liquid
Adds Notes of- Not a distinct flavor per se. More about what it provides
Application- Tobacco a must try but can be used for most e liquids at low %
Percentage- 0.5 – 2%
AAA Magic Mask
Reduces the acid perception without modifying the pH. pH is one of the key factors involved in food stability
Adds Notes of- Citrus to me..but not really about flavour
Application- Can be utilised in most recipes
Percentage- Start at 1 or 2 drops per 10ml = 0.5% starting point
Koolada (Menthyl methyl lactate)
Adds Notes of- No flavour just cold. Can be used in conjunction with menthol
Application- All Flavours
Percentage- About 2.5-5%
Koolada is good but FlavourArt Polar Blast is preferable IMHO. Koolada is just very common
Smooth Flavour PG Concentrate (TFA)
This will round out any harsh edges and provide a thick, satisfying mouthfeel. It will soften the high notes of your blend while boosting your background notes.
Adds Notes of- Fruity
Application- All Flavours
Percentage- Start at 2% depending on other additives- Experiment
Bitter Wizard is designed to reduce the sweet flavour of PG & VG
Adds Notes of- Bitterness, removes sweetness, adds dryness
Application- Tobacco mixes
Percentage- Start at 1 drop per 10 ml or max 1% if long steeping
Adds Notes of- Sweetener, Vanilla
Application- All Flavors
Percentage- 0.5 – 2% on average
Brown Sugar TFA
This is a water-soluble version that I use in many mixes. Also, use marshmallow
Adds Notes of- Sweet
Application- All flavours
Percentage- Start at 1% but subjective. Depends on other ingredients
Flavorah’s Caramel is an excellent brown sugar also, IMHO a better choice.
Saline can be used for many e-liquid mixes. Some have said this is the secret missing element to mixes. Well, I’m not convinced. NaCl 0.09% from a pharmacy. NOT table salt
There are many varieties worth exploring. Great for tobaccos, bakery and dessert vapes.
Flavor West Hazelnut is my favourite, it also offers a lovely creamy note.
Adds an extra depth and brightens Fruit flavours
Adds Notes of- Fruit, zing, tangy
Application- Fruits and Tobacco
Percentage- Start at 1 to 2 drops per 5 ml
Apple Cider Vinegar or Variations of Vinegar
Increases acidity and can make liquids pop
Adds Notes of- Fruity, tangy, sour, vinegar of course
Application- Really enhances a tobacco mix. Also, try for fruits at 0.5%
Percentage- 1-2 drops/10 ml
There are a number of e-liquid spice concentrates that can be very useful. Cinnamon, Clove, Anise, Wood Spice and Ginger, just to name a few.
Tobacco – Cigarette Additives
A post on some additives that can be used for tobacco & cigarette e-liquids. Flavours and Additives for DIY Tobacco Mixes
I hope you find this useful, and as always, if you have any thoughts drop us a line.