Why does e-liquid turn brown?
Some users have noticed that after a while, any e-liquid left in either the refill bottles, or the e-cigarette tank itself has started to turn brown. But why is this? And more importantly, is it safe to continue using it for vaping? In this blog we’re going to answer the question “why does e-liquid go brown?”, and what to do if it does. Put simply, the various ingredients in your e-liquid begin to break down and turn brown after prolonged exposure to both light, heat and air. While nicotine can often turn brown naturally as time passes, both oxidation and UV rays can easily affect the colour of both the flavourings and bases.
How long does e-liquid normally last?
E-liquid usually has a shelf life of between 1-2 years depending on the flavour and base used. The change in colour is to be expected if the liquid has been left open for an extended period of time – but luckily, the new 10ml bottles tend to be used relatively fast. If the e-liquid has turned brown before it’s even been opened, however, it’s a good idea to return it to the retailer and ask for a replacement. In order to prevent your e-liquid from turning brown, it’s always recommended to store your bottles in a cool, dark location, preferably in an air-tight box.
Why does e-liquid turn brown when it comes into contact with UV rays and oxygen?
Oxidation is a natural process that can affect a number of different materials. Examples of this include rusting as oxygen steals electrons from the host metal, or when different kinds of fruit such as bananas or apples turn brown when they are left out for a few days. Strangely enough, the oxidation process, often referred to as ‘steeping’ by users can often be carried out on purpose for the sake of flavour in a similar method to wine production. The breakdown of ingredients can lead to a more intense flavour or a less harsh throat hit, so don’t be surprised if you run into vapers who leave their e-liquids open for a few days before use. Ever looked at the carpet under furniture in a room with lots of natural light? More often than not, you’ll notice that any hidden areas will be deeper in colour, while the exposed areas will be bleached thanks to the power of the sun. This is because UV rays are extremely damaging to many materials, including our own skin if we stay in the sunshine for too long without protection. These rays are also likely to ruin an e-liquid by reducing its potency and taste by raising its temperature and ultimately forcing the nicotine to lose two hydrogen atoms and gain a single oxygen atom. This process turns nicotine into another substance, cotinine. While cotinine is still safe to vape, it may not provide the ‘hit’ a vaper is used to.
Is ‘steeped’ e-liquid safe to use?
While there is no research to suggest that ‘steeped’ e-liquid is dangerous, your vaping satisfaction may be reduced somewhat if the nicotine loses its strength, or if you are not partial to the flavour it provides. Interestingly, many manufacturers have started selling their own ‘pre-steeped’ e-liquid to satisfy the demand of the market and is likely to maintain its quality and strength for much longer than any e-liquid that you ‘steep’ yourself. While this blog has answered the question “why does e-liquid turn brown?”, like many aspects of vaping, it’s consumption is a very subjective decision, and it is worth experimenting to see how you find the flavour but bear in mind that ‘steeped’ e-liquid will often shorten the lifespan of your coil and cost you more in the long-run.