How Long Does Vape Juice Last and Does It Expire?
If you’re a vaper, you might be tempted to bulk buy a load of vape juices so you’re ready for a future day - especially if the last time you were in your local vape shop, they were on offer. But have you ever noticed an expiry date on them? Have you even considered what might happen to them once they get older? After all, what ingredient in vape juice could even go off?
Here at RELX, we’ve answered all these questions and more below. Read on to find out just how long your vape juices will last.
Does Vape Juice Expire?
In a word, yes, vape juice does expire - but probably not as quickly as you’d expect. What’s important to remember is that vape juice is a substance made up of many chemicals. Unlike fresh produce, these chemicals can last a reasonably long time if kept in optimal environments.
However, there are very few products that won’t go bad after a while. Even if that ‘going bad’ is simply losing its flavour instead of getting mouldy.
One of the main chemicals used in vape juice is propylene glycol, which has an expiration time of around two years from the date of manufacture. Most vape juices, therefore, are good to use until this time. However, the juice won’t go bad on the expiration day; this simply means it’s passed its prime date and will start to degrade.
Is Expired Vape Juice Dangerous?
While more research is needed to say with complete certainty, the studies that have been done thus far suggest that e-liquids degrade over a long period of time. The main findings indicate that the correct term to use for e-liquids is ‘preferred consumption date’ as opposed to ‘expiration date’ because of this.
When substances have a ‘preferred consumption date’ (PCD), the effects after this time tend to be things like presenting a bad flavour, bad smell, a difference in texture, and even a colour difference.
With this in mind, there is currently no evidence to suggest that ‘expired’ vape juice is dangerous. It’s more likely that it will simply become unpleasant to use over time.
What Happens as Vape Juice Ages?
As the vapour produced from vaping passes through our mouths and taste buds, it’s important that it tastes pleasant. In fact, taste and vibrant flavour is a significant element of why many people start vaping - especially given that there are so many flavours available now.
However, unfortunately, one of the main changes that will happen to old or expired vape juice is that the flavour will start to go. This won’t happen overnight but will occur over a period of time and get worse as time goes on.
This is down to various chemical reactions, such as temperature and oxidative degradation. Ultimately, the vape juice will end up losing its flavour entirely.
Another aspect that you will find changes in your vape juice is the colour. While this is certainly not as important as the flavour, it can still be unpleasant and concerning if your e-liquid becomes a different colour from when you first purchased it.
One of the main reasons that food colouring and pigments are affected by time is their pH levels. The lower the pH, the faster it can degrade. Each pigment has a different pH level, so this one entirely depends on the colours used in your vape juice in the first place.
Vitamin C has also been shown to lead to juice browning.
There are various substances that don’t mix well together and, therefore, separate when attempted - and not all are the product of expiration. For example, oil and water won’t mix. There are even some types of mouthwashes that have layers in them. Sometimes, when you shake these products, the substances will mix temporarily before separating once more.
Unlike in these examples, when vape juice is towards the end of its life and begins separating, it is unlikely that shaking the bottle will end in the substance becoming mixed again. Part of the reason vape juice separates is because of the ingredients vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol. These substances will mix at first but eventually separate over time due to the fact that glycerin has a high density.
Furthermore, a reaction you may start to notice around the two-year mark of having your vape juice is that it becomes thicker. This might be alarming, and we do typically advise against using an e-liquid that is thicker than you would expect - especially with so many great options.
Thankfully, though, it's unlikely to be anything dangerous or toxic. However, it does indicate that the substance is old. This likely means the other effects mentioned above will have happened, too, which may make vaping unpleasant.
The likely reason for the juice thickening is evaporation. This is partially why it’s recommended to keep your vape juices somewhere dark and cool - it allows the evaporation process to be held at bay.
The final effect you may notice in your older vape juices is that the flavours may begin to weaken. Beyond that, if you're using an e-liquid with nicotine, the strength of this will also likely reduce.
The main reason for this is due to the same process in some of the other effects discussed in this article: oxidative degradation. Put simply, oxidative degradation is when a product starts to expire and loses major elements due to long periods of exposure to oxygen.
Both the chemicals used to flavour the e-liquid and the nicotine will become much weaker over time because of this, and you may find that the vape juice is no longer providing the satisfaction that you want from it.
How To Store Vape Juice Properly
While vape juice and e-liquids are not technically foodstuffs, they have the same guidelines for storage. Generally, it’s for the same reasons. You’ll probably have noticed that most of your food products have the suggestion to store them in a cool, dry, dark place.
This is to keep them from spoiling. Keeping products away from heat, light, and fresh air means various degradation processes, such as thermal and oxidation, can be kept at bay for longer. The longer you store your vape juice correctly, the longer it will last and be pleasant to use.
Being mindful of where you keep your vape juice can be a large factor in how long it lasts, so be sure not to leave it out and about.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Vape Juice Go Bad?
It is possible for vape juice to go bad. However, it will take a long time to get there. Most vape juices have a shelf life of about two years from manufacture. It is also unlikely for your vape juice to become toxic or dangerous; it will merely become unpleasant to use.
How Do You Dispose of Expired Vape Juice?
The best way to dispose of expired vape juices while avoiding causing damage to the environment is to contact your local recycling centre to find a service that will dispose of them safely. Pouring the e-liquid down the sink can cause damage to the environment and should be avoided.
The good news is that it is unlikely that your vape juices will become toxic or dangerous when they expire. The bad news is that they will expire.
Luckily, vape juices tend to last around two years, so you should hopefully never run into this problem, but in case you do, be sure to dispose of the e-liquids safely and responsibly.
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