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E-Juice Shelf Life: Do E-Liquids Expire?

If you’re new to vaping, or even an experienced vaping enthusiast, there is a good chance that you still find yourself asking questions about different aspects of the vaping lifestyle. One of the more common questions seen on forums and other discussion sites is whether or not e-liquids ever expire. Many people seem to assume that the juices can, if unopened, survive almost indefinitely. The fact is, however, that manufactured e-juices do have expiration dates that you can use to determine a recommended “use by” time frame for the vaper. Still, it can be helpful to understand more about why these products carry expiration dates, and what those dates mean for you.

Check Out Our Simple Beginners Guide To E-Liquids

Lack of Guidance

Without uniform standards for labeling, it can be difficult to know when any product has passed its date of usefulness. Given that the electronic cigarette industry is largely unregulated in many places of the world, that can make it difficult to know whether the products you are using are safe or not. Now, there are no actual studies available to show that old e-juice is unhealthy or dangerous, but users should always err on the side of caution. How then can you determine whether you should be using that dusty bottle of juice?

expired e-juiceAs a general rule, you can expect that the ingredients used in any bottle of e-juice should maintain their usefulness for roughly two years. That includes the base ingredients PG and VG, as well as the nicotine contained within the liquid. Depending on the type of food-based flavorings used to round out the four-ingredient recipe, that shelf life could be reduced even further. Of course, many manufacturers simply recommend that you throw out anything older than a year, but that’s never been based on any serious scientific studies either.

Warning Signs

The good news is that there are warning signs that could indicate that your e-juice is approaching or past the end of its usefulness. If you see any of the following signs, it is a good idea to think twice before putting the juice into your vaping device:

  • Color Changes. We’ve all seen our e-juices change color to some degree – a slight change to a darker shade that is almost imperceptible, but more severe alterations in color should serve as a clear indication that something is wrong. This more significant alteration in color usually entails a dramatic change that signals a more serious chemical alteration in the juice itself.

 

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It should not be confused with subtle changes of the sort that occur due to nicotine interacting with the other ingredients over time, or the oxidation process. Neither of those alterations pose any risk to you or your device, and are simply the natural chemical reaction processes that can result from exposure to air, heat, and other environmental shifts.

 

  • Odd Odors. It might seem like a no-brainer, but it needs to be mentioned: if your e-juice starts to take on a foul odor, that is a clear sign that something is off. Typically, this experience only occurs with juices that have been sitting around for a couple of years, and involves a dramatic change in how the liquid smells. If you notice that sort of odor change, toss it.

 

  • Changes in Thickness. Obviously, different e-juices have dramatically different consistencies. However, each juice type should remain fairly consistent in its thickness over time. When e-juices sits around, sediment can form at the bottom of the bottles. Ordinarily, that sediment returns to the mixture with a bit of shaking. When it does not, that is a clear indication that the recipe has lost its integrity, and the juice can no longer be used.

sediments in e-liquid

 

How to Prevent Early Spoilage

Of course, time is not the only enemy when it comes to preserving e-juice. The liquids used in electronic cigarettes are also affected adversely by light and high temperatures. That is why most manufacturers provide their products in tinted or otherwise darkened bottles, and recommend that the juice be stored in a cool environment. Light and heat can both cause nicotine to have strange reactions with the other ingredients used in your juice, and continual exposure can shorten any liquid’s lifespan.

e-liquid storageFor that reason, many experts recommend storing e-juices in coolers or refrigerators to prevent both light and heat from reaching the liquid. Another option is to just store the bottles in a cupboard or drawer, away from light sources, and in the coolest room of the home. That latter choice is preferred by some who find that the refrigeration process itself alters the flavor of their liquid.

Naturally, you also want to ensure that your liquid remains in its packaging. As noted above, oxidation can also be a concern, and one that directly impact the nicotine levels in your juice. In fact, overexposure to oxygen can result in a process that actually reduces the strength of the nicotine in your e-liquid.

Manage your Liquid

Sometimes, the only real problem that vapers have with e-liquid expiring is that they buy too much at one time, usually in an effort to save money through bulk purchases. While that can be an effective way to keep your vaping costs down, you also need to consider just how much of those savings might be lost due to spoilage. If your e-liquid is spoiling faster than you can use it, then you may want to adjust your purchasing habits.

The bottom line is that e-liquids can indeed expire, given enough time. And they can also go bad due to certain environmental factors and a failure to properly handle and store them. Fortunately, there are no studies indicating that the use of spoiled e-juices poses any serious risk to human health – but the absence of research should not be taken as evidence that you can safely use any expired product. Your best course of action is to always err on the side of caution, and simply throw out any juice that you even suspect might be spoiled.