Are you one of those people who systematically dumps out cartons of milk on the date stamped on the package?
Or are you one of the hardy souls that bravely takes a bite out of cold cuts 10 days after the package date?
Then there’s vape juice. Do you ever wonder if the expiration dates matter? It’s not like you eat them, after all. What could possibly happen if you ignore the expiration date?
We went hunting for answers to our “burning” question. Does vape juice go bad?
Read on to learn about the answers we found.
What Exactly Is Vape Juice?
Vape juice or e-juice is the fluid used to create the vapor you breathe. It is made of four basic ingredients. There are a few variations, but they are easy to spot.
Vape juice designed for modern atomizers is about 80% vegetable glycerin. Vegetable glycerin is a neutral, colorless, odorless, thick liquid. It is what produces the thick plumes of white vapor. Chemically, it is safe to inhale alcohol.
Vegetable glycerin is non-toxic and has a sweet flavor. It is combined with propylene glycol, a thinner alcohol liquid to make a free-flowing liquid that will not clog atomizers. Propylene glycol provides the “throat hit” favored by some vape users. It does not form clouds when vaporized.
The remaining two ingredients are flavoring and nicotine. These two items make up the remaining 8%-10% of the product. One of the most attractive features about vaping is the wide choice of delicious-tasting juices. Vape juice isn’t strongly flavored on its own, so it is formulated with food-grade additives to add appeal.
Does Vape Juice Go Bad?
If there are any health concerns about vape juice going bad it’s mostly down to flavorings and nicotine. Like every consumable, the contents lose quality over time and might eventually pose a danger.
Some e-juice loses quality quickly and some formulas don’t. Of course, it all depends on the quality of the raw ingredients and the manufacturer. Most legitimate manufacturers label their products with a best-by date.
What Does the “Expiration Date” mean?
There are some flavoring ingredients that the FDA identifies as safe to eat but not to inhale. Some flavoring compounds change as they age. Their slow breakdown not only changes the color or flavor of the vape juice, but can leave harmful compounds present.
Other legal flavoring compounds can allow bacterial or fungal growth over time and should be discarded. Homemade fluids containing oil of any kind can be dangerous to inhale, whether or not the active ingredients are past their expiration date.
Finally, there’s nicotine. Nicotine concentrations vary. Nicotine and flavorings are dissolved in an alcohol-based solution. As your vape juice ages, concentrations of the various additives may change.
The FDA does not require any sort of expiration date to indicate safety or quality on e-liquids. Manufacturers provide them as a guideline for consumers to make their own judgment.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Expired Vape Juice
In general, vape juice shouldn’t be used at all beyond a year or two of manufacture date. There are simply too many opportunities for contamination. Bacteria and fungal growth or even mineral crystallization over time can have unfortunate effects.
The neutral chemicals that make up most of e-juice are vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral. In food, it is an additive to prevent degradation over time. Vegetable glycerin is susceptible to bacterial growth over a long period. The combination is what gives e-juice it’s basic shelf life.
Flavorings and nicotine are another matter. Some flavorings break down into toxic compounds over time. Other flavorings spoil and encourage bacterial growth. Nicotine breaks down with exposure to heat and sunlight.
Ultimately, it is up to your good sense to decide to use a vape juice. Whether or not your expiration date is past, look for the following.
Signs Your Vape Juice Is Past Its Prime
Expired e-juice may be just fine if stored properly or e-juice can go bad just by leaving it exposed to heat and sunlight. Look for and discard:
Color has changed
Nicotine oxidation is the natural process of oxygen interacting with the molecules of nicotine present. Large-scale oxidation can cause wholesale color changes and rapid darkening. It is unpleasant and may affect flavor and effectiveness of the nicotine.
Changes in liquid consistency
The viscosity of your juice depends on the quality of the brand and the ingredients inside used. Vape juice rich in propylene glycol is thinner and more liquid, vegetable glycerin rich versions are thicker. Remember that glycerin does work as a bacterial growth medium over time.
A little residue might build up in the bottom of your bottle. Shake it before using. If it does not immediately come together, discard the e-juice. Also, if the consistency is significantly thicker or thinner than it should be, stop vaping that juice immediately because it means that it’s not for use anymore.
Just like food that may have turned, you can just take a big sniff. Moldy, musty or “off” smells mean its time to dispose of the bottle.
If your vape juice shows any sign of these problems before the expiration date, despite proper storage, do not use it and notify the manufacturer. To prevent problems, buy small amounts frequently rather than one large amount. Rotate your stock and use the oldest e-juice first.
The Answer to the Question
Yes is the answer to “Does vape juice go bad?” The process is not quick, as it may take a year or two for vape juice to become toxic. However, serious degradation of quality happens after just a few short months.
Does the expiration date matter? It all depends on the brand you use and the flavors in the liquid. Every vape juice uses the same basic ingredients. All the ingredients have a similar lifespan. However, don’t exclude the possibility of vape juice going bad before its expiration date.
We recommend purchasing smaller quantities more frequently to ensure always getting a fresh batch. Think of all the flavors you can try! Ready to learn more? Keep reading our blog!