What is Vape Juice?
Vape juice, otherwise known as e-liquid, is the flavored liquid that you pour into your tank or vape pen. When it’s atomized, the vapor emitted from the pen gives you that delicious flavor that you’re so used to, along with the nicotine or THC hit.
Liquids are made up differently, but you can expect to see the common makeup of propylene and vegetable glycerol which create the liquid that helps to bind everything together, along with the nicotine/THC and the flavors.
If you’ve asked how long juice can sit out because you’re worried about the juice going bad - the answer would be that it does go bad, but there are generally no major health risks associated with expired vape juice.
Most places that sell vape juice will have a date on the bottle that will indicate its best life cycle, but it’s not always as black and white as that.
What’s The Deal With The Expiration Dates?
Regulation of vape juices in the US is very limited at the moment compared with other countries, so there isn’t a specific date for all liquids from the bottling process to its expiration date.
Having said that though, it’s generally accepted that most liquids can last for between one and two years. There are a number of factors that will affect this though, including but not limited to the quality of the vegetable glycerol and propylene glycerol. Along with these, the way in which you’ve stored your vape juice is another key factor.
Even if you’ve been super cautious with your juice though and kept it in the best possible conditions, eventually it will be time to throw it out. One way to assess this is if the color of your vape juice has changed.
The Color of the Vape Juice Has Changed
Over time, your vape juice will alter its color and go from its regular color to a yellow, then a brown shade and eventually it will go black. For it to go that bad though, it would have to have been opened and then left for quite some time.
The reason that the juice will change color is largely to do with the nicotine content, which is sensitive to light - so over time it will darken, particularly being left out in the sunlight.
There are plenty of other components involved that will change the color over time though, and some alter more than others. For example, menthol flavorings have fewer components and will alter at a much slower rate when compared with sweeter flavored liquids.
What About Oversteeping?
Oversteeping refers to when the flavor of the juice has become overpoweringly strong and becomes horrible to vape. This is normally due to being stored for too long. The natural process of vape liquid is steeping, where the liquid matures as oxygen leaves the mixture, but when it’s steeped for too long, the taste is over-concentrated and you’ll be forced to throw it out.
This is generally the most common way someone might refer to their e-liquids as “bad” when talking about expiration.
What About Splitting?
Liquid splitting refers to when the ingredients separate from one another - and you’ll be able to notice this if the liquid appears more watery than it normally would be. The bottom of the bottle will appear thick like caramel. This is due to the heavier ingredients (in this case the vegetable glycerol) sinking to the bottom of the bottle as the ingredients split.
Over time, but not as common, nicotine can split from the solution and lead to a very harsh vaping experience - which is another reason why someone might throw out their liquid and call it bad.
Is Expired Vape Juice Dangerous?
It’s extremely unlikely that if any of the situations we’ve listed above have occurred, that you’d get sick or worse. You may however, experience a very sore throat or cough a lot if you continue to vape a harsh, cutting liquid. You may also feel a little nauseous and possibly have a headache - but there’s no evidence of an extreme reaction or danger. However, it’s better to simply discard your vape juice if you suspect it’s not good enough, and you should always expect the highest quality when you're vaping - why settle for less?!
How Should I Be Storing My Vape Juice?
The key factor which we’ve outlined is that if vape juice is left out in sunlight over extended periods of time, it will be affected much quicker than in other storage conditions. You’re best advised to store your vape juice in a cool, dark place and try to consume it in a timely manner if possible.
Some people decide to store their vape juice in the fridge. This will keep the juice in a good state in some cases but not all - remember, nicotine is sensitive to light, so the fridge light can affect the liquid too! It will also crystalize the sugars, the longer it stays in the fridge - so the splitting process might speed up.
It’s also possible that storing the liquid in the fridge can lead to a less desired vaping experience, which is a little too cold for your throat.
Summing It Up
Vape juice (or e-liquids) do go bad and the time you can leave them out will depend on the overall conditions. Brighter and hotter conditions will cause the juice to go bad in a shorter duration.
General rule? If it looks bad or tastes bad - throw it out!