E-Liquid Expiration – How Long Does Vape Juice Last?
If you thought that expiration date on your e-liquid was just a product of government regulations, think again, e-liquid does expire. However, the date printed on the bottle is really more of a rough guideline than an absolute toss-out date. You may find your e-liquid lasts longer than the printed date or you may find it expires well before it. This makes knowing why e-liquid expires and how to tell if your liquid is expired, just as important as understanding how to store it properly.
Below we do our best the answer these questions along with some of the other most common e-liquid questions asked by vapers.
Can E-Liquid Go Out of Date? How Long Does E-Liquid Last?
Table of Contents:
- What Happens If Vape Juice Is Expired?
- Is It Safe to Vape Expired E-Juice?
- How Do You Dispose of Expired Vape Juice?
- Vape Juice Storage Tips
- Should I Keep My E-Liquid in the Fridge?
As mentioned, yes, e-liquid does expire. Generally, vape juice lasts around 1 to 2 years before its flavor is affected, and eventually, the liquid becomes ‘bad’ and no longer safe to consume. Most companies indicate a date on the bottle when the juice is best used before. When there's not a date marked, it's recommended to err on the side of caution and assume one year from your purchase date or the production date for that the batch of liquid.
However, both ingredients and storage method can also affect how long vape juice lasts. The juice as a whole will only last as long as it’s most perishable ingredient. Most often, it's the nicotine that loses its potency first. The other elements— propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), and flavorings tend to last a bit longer.
This also means that nicotine-free e-liquid has the potential to last longer. E-liquid that has been exposed to sunlight, heat, and open air will deteriorate more quickly. This means a bottle kept, say, in a bedroom window with a poor seal is going to expire long before an unopened bottle in a cabinet.
Additionally, these elements affect e-liquid in different ways. Heat speeds the breakdown of all ingredients, often leading to a lack of flavor even if the juice isn't entirely bad. Sunlight and oxygen, on the other hand, causes oxidation, which will reduce the potency of any nicotine present.
What Happens If Vape Juice Is Expired?
So, if expiration and use-by dates are only rough estimates, how can you tell when your e-liquid is past its prime?
Expired e-juice has several identifying characteristics that will help you decide if it should be disposed of or used.
First, it will begin to change colors. A slight color change is typical in the lifespan of vape juice containing nicotine. Nicotine is oxidative and will react with the other ingredients in the e-liquid. Significant color changes, however, often indicate that the liquid has gone bad.
Furthermore, just like food, expired vape juice will begin to smell as it reaches its end date. Take a whiff before you take a puff of old liquid to be more confident that it's still good.
A third check is to shake it. E-liquid often naturally separates to some degree with sediment forming at the bottom of the bottle, but if it remains separated when shaken, it has most likely gone bad. Finally, you can just give your questionable vape juice a try. Old or expired juice will taste stale or have a bad aftertaste. When there's doubt, start small and see - you'll usually know one way or the other very quickly.
If you store your vape juice properly, have had it less than a couple of years, and it looks, smells, and tastes normal, then you're probably good to go whether the date on the bottle has passed or not.
Is It Safe to Vape Expired E-Juice?
Now that you know how to tell if your e-liquid is getting too old, it raises the question of what to do about it. If it doesn't taste too bad and still hits well, is it safe to keep using old vape liquid?
The short answer is, no one knows for sure.
There hasn't been much research done on the health effects of using expired vape juice. Therefore, there are no studies that say definitively one way or the other what will happen if you try it. Regardless, it is certain that expired vape juice will have little to no nicotine content and has a high chance of tasting pretty unpleasant.
Given this, you’re probably better off just replacing liquid that seems questionable. Why risk unknown consequences for a poor vape experience?
How Do You Dispose of Expired Vape Juice?
The obvious answer here might seem to be, “throw it in the trash,” but unfortunately, if improperly disposed of e-liquid can pose a health risk to children, pets, and the environment. As such, it shouldn’t be dumped down the sink and should be diluted in some way before being thrown away.
A very simple method is to pour it in with some used coffee grounds, or if you have a cat, you can also toss it out with the kitty litter. Any substance that will absorb the liquid is fine.
No matter your absorbent material, it should also be sealed in a plastic bag before thrown in the trash. Alright, assuming you’ve disposed of what’s expired, and you’re now in need of some new vape juice, it would be helpful to know how to store it to maximize its shelf life, leading us to…
Vape Juice Storage Tips
The most critical elements to keep in mind when storing your e-liquid are heat, air, and light. If you can avoid exposure of your juice to any of these elements, it will last much longer. You want your e-liquid in an air-tight container in a dark, cool location.
There are a few simple steps you can take during regular or daily use to increase the lifespan of your vape juice.
Be sure that you store your liquid in tinted glass containers. While you're carrying your juice around, the colored glass will keep sunlight out and better protect what's inside. Even if you use tinted bottles, avoid leaving your juice in direct sunlight.
Make sure your container is sealed. Always double check that your vape juice is securely closed, and do your best to open it as infrequently as possible.
Be especially careful storing and using vape juice in your car. The extreme temperatures that can build in a parked car drastically reduce the useful life of your juice. Bring your vape inside with you instead of leaving it in your vehicle if possible. If you must leave it, at the least, tuck it away so that it's not directly in the sunlight.
As long as you’re careful to avoid these vape juice storage faux pas, your e-liquid should last until its expiration date, or you finish it-- whichever comes first.
Should I Keep My E-Liquid in the Fridge?
Given the guidelines just detailed, you may be thinking the fridge is an ideal storage location being dark and cool, and you’re right! A refrigerator protects your vape juice from its biggest enemies - heat and light. You can even store e-liquid in your freezer if you like, though it’s unlikely to have any benefit over the fridge.
There are still a few things to be aware of before putting your juice in the fridge or freezer though.
First, think about the storage container material for your e-liquid. Plastic containers can leach chemicals into the liquid or allow air through— even in the fridge. Glass containers are better at protecting your juice for the long term.
Second, consider the access of others, particularly children, to your fridge. Nicotine overdose can be lethal, and it's much easier for a child to open the refrigerator door than it is to find a box on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet.
If your fridge isn’t the best storage location at your house, don’t stress. Even though a refrigerator is the best location for long-term e-liquid storage, a box in a drawer or closet works almost as well. As long as the juice is protected from the elements and kept cool, it should last.
Though it may seem confusing and like an unnecessary hassle, taking these simple steps to avoid exposing your vape juice to heat, air, or sunlight will ensure that you have the most enjoyable and safe vaping experience. Despite the lack of research on the effects of bad or expired vape juice, the risks should be assumed to be present and avoided.
Potentially putting your health at risk by using bad juice, subjecting yourself to a liquid that doesn't taste good, or throwing money away by not taking proper care of your vape is just not worth it. Your health - and pleasure - should be valued above all else.
Do you take steps to protect the quality and lifespan of your e-liquid? Are you planning to start? If it's time to start fresh and replace your questionable vape juice, we're here for you with a variety of delicious options.