The top brands of e-juice are American-made, high-quality products. Each one is affordable and there are some features you can customize: certainly nicotine level, but sometimes more. You can rely on all of these top 5 brands to be available from local and online vendors and to never create artificial expense and demand by limited supply.
1. Virgin Vapor
Annette Rogers and her team have been creating award-winning e juices from pesticide-free, vegan, GMO-free flavorings for years. They don’t use artificial colors, sweeteners, sugar, gluten, or additional stuff you can’t pronounce. In spite of Rogers’ insistence on quality and use of USP, USDA organic ingredients, she does not charge a fortune for her e liquids.
Virgin Vapor belongs to the AEMSA, their e juices manufacturing takes place in a lab overseen by a chemist, and she offers a huge selection of flavors. Black Cherry Marshmallow, Peanut Butter Banana Sandwich, Vanilla Chai Latte, and Bella Amaretto are a few of her many offerings. Prices vary because some flavors are made with a 100% vegetable glycerin (VG) base; some contain more organic ingredients than others; and there are clearance flavors among her selection which supply excellent deals.
2. Vaporfi Vapor Juice
This e cig company, maker of numerous bestselling vaping devices, is also an award-winning vape juice producer. Their Grand Reserve Collection has been lauded by Spinfuel and Vape Summit IV. Their CATCH YA LATTE coffee flavor tastes like hazelnut espresso with caramel and syrup. The regular custom blends give vapers a chance to mix their own magic vicariously for $15.99 per 30 ml. Contest winners become new flavors. The Premium Line of 6 e juices for sub ohm vaping includes Moroccan Gold coconut vanilla tobacco — a crowd favorite. Options are endless, all created and blended in the US at a regulated lab under the supervision of a chemist using an FDA-registered formula and USP ingredients.
3. Cosmic Fog
This Californian company makes top-shelf vapor juices; the kinds you pay a little more for. They are not organic and their menu is short, relative to those above, but compared with ANML, for instance, it’s not a bad selection and certainly interesting. The makers of Cosmic Fog take more than half a year to create and finalize their flavors like Nutz, Euphoria, and Cola Gummy. If you vape “Church,” that will take you right back to afternoons after the soccer game and ice cream sundaes to celebrate a win or a good effort. Nutz is like a gourmet lunch box sandwich with almond butter and honey crème plus a dollop of strawberry jam.
4. Mad Alchemist
Mad Alchemist is the brainchild of an RN and scientists plus a culinary artist who, together, make e juices the nurse’s patients can vape safely. They released 7 flavors in 2013 as a way to increase the availability of quality vape juice of which there was very little at the time. Their current list of 11 flavors and names play with fantasy themes but their production is rooted in reality: USA made and/or naturally extracted ingredients, no alcohol, Kosher bases, and 100% organic, lab-grade nicotine. Twice in a Blue Moon is blueberry cinnamon crumble with 70% VG, great for VW/TC mods. You didn’t know that strawberry, pear, apple, and cream are what Fairy Dust Elixir is made from did you? The secret is finally out.
5. Ben Jonson’s Awesome Sauce
From their nostalgic labels to their intelligent flavor blends, Ben Jonson’s Awesome Sauce is a class act. Ben Cox and Sam Benaim started their company in California back in 2012 when they were just vapers looking for better flavors and higher quality. In those days much of the vape liquid came from China. Not anymore. Their micro-brews are tested for months before being released to the public; flavors like Snickelfritz kiwi, watermelon, and peach; or Cr3eam featuring chocolate pastry and vanilla.
Vapers Love Sweet Flavors
Vape juice was first designed to emulate the flavors associated with smoking. Although vapeologists quickly realized they couldn’t copy the terrible tastes of toxicity, they were able to mimic tobacco and menthol fairly easily.
Soon it was clear that if e-liquid could taste like menthol, it could also be flavored to resemble almost anything. The only thing standing in the way of vape juice companies was customer response: what would they consider “palatable” in vapor form? It turned out almost anything goes, although consumers have shown a strong preference for sweet types of e liquid.
E Cig Liquid Trends
A typical menu of replaceable cartridges for e cigs emerged for American audiences to peruse; nothing long or fancy. It consisted of single-flavor offerings such as varieties of tobacco (Turkish, smooth American, dry styles, and others); basic menthol, mint, or peppermint; vanilla; chocolate; cherry; and clove. There were a few variations such as grape or another style of fruit but these became the classics we still have today, ten years later. Most of them were made in China with exceptions such as Halo.
The same was true of refill bottles; e liquid sold in quantities of 10 ml to 30 ml by people such as Mount Baker Vapor, Vista Vapors, and MadVapes. Their original home brews (before adding premium lines) typically contain one or perhaps two flavors and are not considered “gourmet.” Customers can source simple cinnamon, black licorice, apple pie, or pina colada-style e liquids from these and many other online or physical vapor stores.
Vape-juice businesses soon introduced the option to “make” your own e juice. That is, customers were able to select two or more flavors — up to 5 in some cases — and have them blended to certain ratios. You could select one shot of each or a single plus a double of a different flavor. Certain vapor stores even invite consumers to select a base: all PG (propylene glycol); 50/50; max-VG (vegetable glycerin); or a ration of 70/30 either way. Mount Baker Vapor is one such firm; Vaporfi is probably the most famous.
Gourmet E Juice
Then the industry hit a few snags. Consumers were worried about the following:
• where their product came from
• propylene glycol
• food colorings and potential poisons
• organic ingredients
The easiest of these to fix was the first: sourcing from US companies. As with everything, consumers must be aware that vape liquid made in the United States isn’t necessarily built from US ingredients. It’s blended and bottled to American standards. Many US companies decided to buy all of their ingredients (PG, VG, flavoring, and nicotine) from within the United States, taking a load off of the minds of vapers unsure of the standards by which foreign ingredients are made or packaged.
Allergens: that was a hard one. Vaporfi uses Malaysian palm glycerin because it is safe for people with nut allergies. Clearly there has to be a trade off between safety and patriotism in some cases. Mistakes involving toxic food dyes were quickly discovered and rectified.
The answer to fears about PG seems easy at first: switch to VG. Unfortunately, coils for most mid-range systems can’t handle the thickness of an all-VG e juice. Uncertainty reigned: can a customer use all-VG e liquids without blowing their coils out every few day as opposed to once every 7 to 10 days?
With the new sub ohm systems featuring triple, quad, and even octuplet coils (like the Arctic V8 by Horizon), it’s finally okay to vape thick liquids made from 100% vegetable glycerin and you can also find totally organic, non-GMO e juices this way.
Most firms merely make it a principle to use only USP-grade and FEMA/GRAS ingredients but don’t go so far as to ensure products are organic, non-GMO, or even that they will be mixed in an ISO-certified lab.
Big controversy blew up over certain flavorings, especially diacetyl. Since employees at manufacturing plants handling diacetyl commonly develop “popcorn” lung, e-juice business hurriedly sought to prove there were no traces in their products. It wasn’t always enough: testing found traces in many popular brands anyway, but several of those firms took measures to eliminate even what the FDA termed “safe levels” in response to customer protest.
Designer e cigs have long been the rage, but what about designer liquids? Small businesses got their start when regular vapers started making their own liquids at home for personal use and experimented with flavorings they could buy from all-purpose stores. They came up with elegant, eclectic, and exotic combinations. Flavors like “Church” by Cosmic Fog explored the qualities of an ice cream sundae in vapor form. Unicorn Milk by Cuttwood brought the nostalgic flavors of instant strawberry-milk to audiences. Five Pawns played with intricate bar mixtures and The Schwartz brought consumers yogurt-type e liquids. America’s vapers were officially in love with gourmet e-juice, especially anything sweet.
They can still find a pizza-flavored liquid or make one at home. It’s possible to locate high-end tobacco styles and simple mint-fruit combinations. One thing is certain, however: consumers know they can upgrade from one-dimensional flavors to e-juice cuisine at any time.
Of course these more complicated e juices come at a price. Whereas it costs about 40 cents per/ml to buy a bottle of strawberry e liquid from Mount Baker Vapor, many of the names listed above sell for between 80 cents and $1 per/ml. Reserve e liquids (steeped in whisky or brandy barrels and made in micro-batches) cost at least $1 per/ml if not more. Will customers buy them? You bet: short supply creates big demand and the impression that a product is worth paying more for. Customers are competitive too, happy to boast that they picked up a rare bottle of reserve e juice when their friends did not.
Sub Ohm Mixtures
Vapor combos designed to create big clouds are especially trendy because the VW/TC industry is booming. The PG/VG ratio is more important to many vapers than flavor, although they don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Virgin Vapors, Kind, and Charlie Noble do brisk business because they cater to a high-VG audience.
Tips For E-juice Shopping
As many writers will tell you, e-juice tastes are subjective. There are some general factors for everyone to think about when shopping for vapor liquid, however, which every vaper can benefit from. Follow these simple guidelines in order to simplify and narrow down the dozens of possibilities you face. E-juice shopping isn’t complex but you are confronted with a lot of choice and there are a few pieces of advice that will help the bewildered new shopper.
Certain e juices contain flavorings which are considered “tank crackers” because they are hard on acrylic or plastic tanks or clearomizers. It causes the tube to become cloudy or even to literally crack. These flavors usually contain elements like anise to create a black licorice flavor, citrus, or they taste “hot” like cinnamon and mint.
E Juice Bases
The base of your e-juice is made from propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), or both of them mixed. A mixture of both is typical and the more PG you find in a base, the thinner it will be. Early vaping materials like cartomizers and single-coil, simple clearomizer heating systems prefer these thin bases to VG-rich e juice. Thick e liquid turns cartomizer filler gummy too quickly and clogs the system. Unsophisticated coils also become clogged by too much VG. When you become a more sophisticated vaper, the dual and vertical coil builds you choose are suited to thick vapor juice.
This part of the e juice base is responsible for throat hit. A lot of PG helps to establish a strong smoking-like reaction, especially in addition to nicotine. Select brands made with USP-grade (United States Pharmacy-grade) propylene glycol.
Thicker than PG, this viscous substance creates a lot more vapor and also lends itself to sweet vapes. You find that custard-styles and anything creamy or rich-flavored contains lots of VG. Again, select vegetable glycerin which meets United States Pharmacy standards. There is some concern over peanut allergies with vegetable glycerin, so be cautious and read the label. Some companies prefer Malaysian VG for its purity.
Fanatics of all things natural will not even touch an e-juice style if it contains synthetic flavorings. Most foods we eat contain chemically-constructed copies of common flavors which are hard to extract from natural items or are just too costly. Butter and cream types are two examples; tobacco is another. Since e juice companies are distancing themselves from tobacco products, they try to avoid tobacco in every sense, except for a few firms which make their blends using tobacco extracts for an authentic and natural result.
A few firms apply only natural flavorings to their blends. These are usually fruit styles such as tangerine, mango, and guava which lend themselves to natural extraction. Most companies combine natural with synthetic ingredients to maintain an extensive selection of flavors plus some layered styles. Even fewer firms use only organic ingredients. In this case, e juices are made strictly with vegetable glycerin as there is no such thing as organic propylene glycol.
Nicotine, the Stimulant
Many plants contain nicotine; tobacco is just the best known. Vapers’ nicotine could be a by-product of vegetables such as tomato or eggplant. Find out where the nicotine in your e juice is sourced from: is it a US plantation? Determine its purity. Reputable American firms supply nicotine which is more than 99% pure.
Blending and Bottling Facilities
Even with the highest-quality ingredients at their disposal, e juice firms can ruin their product by utilizing inadequate mixing facilities and not meeting hygiene standards. A back room at the local vape shop is not a safe place to blend e liquid. While vapers love having the option to ask for a custom-blended product made on the spot, this is a consumed item.
Like foods and drinks, vapor juice for storage should be mixed in a regulated facility where professionals follow strict hygiene protocol by covering their hair, hands, shoes, face, and clothing with protective items. Their air should be HEPA-filtered. All materials used for mixing and pouring should be made from food-grade stainless steel. This facility could be an authorized Clean Room or an ISO-compliant laboratory supervised by a trained chemist.
Most companies do not say anything about their mixing facilities on Facebook, bottle labels, or their websites. Don’t be afraid to ask. Some of the businesses that use regulated facilities and USP-grade ingredients include Halo, Vaporfi, NicQuid, and Apollo.
Simplicity vs. Complexity
Among vapers, there are e-juice snobs just as there are wine snobs. They believe that aged products, complicated blends, and organic, natural flavorings combined in small batches to the tune of $1 per milliliter are far better than single flavors created from synthetic ingredients in large batches costing 30 cents per milliliter. Only the individual vaper knows for sure if this is true. As always, the rule is that if it tastes good to you then there is nothing wrong with a style of e juice. Don’t let the snobbishness of others fool you into thinking your e liquid isn’t good enough.
Gourmet e juice firms generally mix at least two flavors, often more like three or four, to create a layered effect. One or two of these are dominant; the rest create undertones or light accents. An example of simple would be “coffee”; a sophisticated version would blend Hawaiian styled “Kona” coffee with hazelnuts, cocoa, and a hint of cinnamon or vanilla.
Wherever possible, buy e juice bottled in glass. Plastic leaves a strange taste in your e liquid. Glass protects the flavor and integrity of your ingredients because glass is inert; it doesn’t leach something of itself into the liquid.