E-liquid is a bit of a strange thing for many of us, not quite food and yet not quite artificial. It sits somewhere between traditional consumable goods and recreational substances like tobacco, yet it also seems distinctly synthetic. This middle status makes it a tricky thing to approach when it comes to longevity and storage. How well does it keep? Do I need to store it in special conditions? How long does E-liquid last once opened and vaped? The questions go on.
There seems to be some distinct confusion in the vaping community here, particularly for new beginners who haven’t had much experience with E-liquids. Knowing how long your E-liquids last and how to get the most out of them is an essential part of vaping, a key step in ensuring the quality of your experience. With that in mind we’re aiming to answer these burning questions today, giving you the best information to help you make sure your time vaping is time spent well.
HOW LONG DOES E-LIQUID LAST ONCE OPENED: EXPIRATION DATES
As we’ve already explored in a previous article, E-liquids do have an expiration date. This is often set at two years after manufacturing, a length of time that errs on the side of caution. We get this two-year timeframe from the average shelf life of the primary components of E-liquids, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine, as well as the time it takes for liquid nicotine to lose a moderate amount of its effectiveness. The inclusion of CBD in an E-liquid doesn’t often affect this timeframe, as CBD has a comparable shelf-life to liquid nicotine and breaks down in a similar way.
Of course this timeframe assumes that the E-liquid is properly stored. This is quite easy to do as the vast majority of E-liquids don’t require any special storage conditions. Mostly, all you need to do is make sure the bottles are kept upright in a cool, dark place away from sunlight, with the cap screwed firmly on. Personally, we’ve found that an out-of-the-way cupboard or shoebox tucked away somewhere is perfectly adequate. Exposure to excessive air or sunlight is what will be the greatest threat to your E-liquids, whilst an excess of heat also risks causing premature degradation.
It’s also worth noting that this timeframe doesn’t account for the potential components of flavourings that may expire quicker. Although it is relatively rare, some E-liquids do contain flavourings with a shorter shelf-life. In these cases, any effect on longevity should be reflected clearly in the expiry date and instructions on the packaging.
Between the timeframe of two years and the rate at which most vapers get through a bottle, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be faced with expired E-liquid. Nevertheless, we urge you to use common sense when deciding whether or not your E-liquid is good to use. If it tastes stale, smells off or otherwise looks like it might have turned, it’s always better to avoid unpleasant experiences.
HOW LONG DOES E-LIQUID LAST ONCE OPENED: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I OPEN IT?
So, how long does E-liquid last once opened? It’s entirely understandable to think that opening your E-liquid would reduce its shelf-life. Although it does technically have an effect on the longevity of your E-liquid, in practicality it makes no difference. For the most part the two-year limit printed on the bottle will still apply.
There are a few reasons for this, but more than anything is the fact that most vapers are unlikely ever to reach that limit. At the rate that the majority of vapers go through their E-liquid, having an opened bottle for two years is a laughable thought. Most vapers will get through a small tank’s worth of E-liquid every day, somewhere between 2-3ml. Unless you frequently rotate your E-liquids amongst a huge supply, take a break from vaping for a year or so, or have a truly immense bottle, chances are that any single bottle will be used up long before the two-year mark comes around.
The main threat to the quality of your opened E-liquids comes from exposure to air. This threat specifically effects any nicotine or CBD present in the liquid. If exposed to a large amount of air these compounds will begin to oxidise. This can have a few consequences, but most significantly it can lead to a reduction in effectiveness and change in flavour. Although this can be unpleasant or disappointing, it is unlikely to ever be dangerous.
Some vapers also assert that an excess of air will have similar effect on certain flavourings. However, there is no credible evidence proving this.
HOW LONG DOES E-LIQUID LAST ONCE OPENED: SOME TIPS
Even if the risk of your E-liquids being spoiled with time is relatively low, it’s always good to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep it in the best state possible. By taking care to properly keep your E-liquids in the right conditions, you’ll ensure that you get the most out of it for as long as possible.
The first stage is always ensuring that you’re storing your E-liquids well. We’ve already said it but just to reiterate: upright in a cool, dark place, free from sunlight. Make sure to keep the cap screwed on tightly, as limiting your E-liquid’s contact with the air is the next biggest thing you can do to keep it in top shape. How long does E-liquid last once opened? If you make sure to follow these steps, then right up to the expiration date.
For an extra measure, if you have an especially big bottle of E-liquid consider splitting it down into several smaller ones. This will ensure that while you’re using one bottle, the rest of them stay airtight and away from light. This extra stage certainly isn’t necessary, but if you want to go that extra mile it will make sure that the majority of your E-liquid stays in its ideal conditions.
HOW LONG DOES E-LIQUID LAST ONCE OPENED: SUMMARY
So, how long does E-liquid last once opened? Essentially the same time it lasts when sealed: two years.
E-liquid is very different to most organic products with an expiration date because opening the bottle really doesn’t do that much to change its shelf-life. Whereas food and drink begin to decompose as soon as you pop the seal, E-liquids are far more resilient. Their primary components are extremely stable compounds, paired with ingredients that have a similar longevity. Although exposure to air will have an effect in the long run it is relatively negligible in the short term and, certainly under usual circumstances, is less of a factor than heat and sunlight. The very fact that practices like breathing and streathing E-liquids exist across the vaping community is a clear indicator of just how much of a detrimental effect, or lack thereof, exposure to air tends to have.
Certainly E-liquids can still go bad, with everything from manufacturing errors, faulty seals on bottles and dozens of other unforeseen issues potentially causing problems. You should always be careful when you vape, keeping an eye out for any discrepancies before you begin. If your E-liquid looks dodgy, smells funny or just tastes unpleasant, there’s no point in risking it. Vaping should be something you strive to get the highest quality experience from, so don’t settle for anything less. As long as you treat your E-liquids well, quality should be exactly what you get.