How Much is E-Liquid Really Worth?

E-Liquid bottles - Whats e-liquid worth?

If you want the cheapest e-liquid your best bet is to buy all the ingredients separate and make it yourself. It can be very cheap, I pay about $0.06 cents per milliliter to make my own DIY e-liquid.

If you don’t want to make it yourself and you still want cheap e-liquid, your best bet is a discount e-liquid supplier like Mt. Baker Vapor. It’s possible to get pre-made e-liquid for as little as $0.13 cents per milliliter when you buy a large 236ml bottle and use a 10% off coupon code.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the super expensive “premium” e-juice lines. The well-known brand “5 Pawns” sells a single 30ml bottle of e-juice for $27.50. That works out to about $0.91 cents per milliliter. I personally have never vaped 5 pawns because I’d rather spend $27 bucks on a nice mechanical mod instead of a measly 30ml bottle of e-juice. However, I’m open to trying a free sample…wink wink.

Bottle of 5 Pawns e-liquid

5 Pawns E-Liquid

The price on e-liquid can range anywhere from a few cents up to a dollar. That’s a huge difference considering all e-liquids contain the same basic ingredients.
Propylene Glycol and vegetable glycerin are the base ingredients in e-liquid and usually make up for about 75% of the volume. They also happen to be the cheapest ingredients, even in small purchases the price drops below a penny per milliliter.

The other two ingredients, nicotine and flavoring, are more expensive but still relatively cheap. Nicotine liquid works out to about $0.15 cents per milliliter (100mg strength) at My Freedom Smokes and flavoring costs about $0.17 cents per milliliter. If you were to buy these items direct form the manufacturer and in larger quantities the price would drop substantially.

When I discovered how cheap e-liquid is to make I started wondering what makes premium e-liquid worth so much. Here are the different things I came up with:

Quality of Ingredients:

Like everything else higher quality usually means higher prices. I think e-juice companies should be more open about their base ingredients. If they have better nicotine, PG, or, VG than other suppliers they should fill us in on how they know. Do they do any special testing? Most of the time I just hear words like “organic” and “premium” thrown around with no meaning.

Quality Control/ Lab

Is the liquid made in someone’s basement or is it made in an ISO 7 compliant clean room. How do they do quality control and ensure the product is made to the correct specifications. Sometimes I worry about all the new e-liquid suppliers popping up, just because you can make e-liquid doesn’t mean you’re ready to sell it.

Company/ Brand name

We all know that brand name goods cost more than the generics. I would call “5 Pawns” a brand name whereas the vape shop store brand would be the generic. Are you willing to pay more for a name brand? Vaping 5 Pawns may be a status symbol to some.

Mixologist/ Flavor Creation

I think this could be one of the most important measures on how much e-liquid costs. Is the flavor unique, complex, and tasty? Can I make it myself? Was it hard to create or did someone throw a few different flavors in the bottle and slap some cool name on it like “Wizards Tit”.

Freshness / Steeping

I always see people advertising fresh e-juice but in my experience most e-juice tastes better when it steeps for a while. If a seller takes the time to steep e-liquid it could be a reason for a higher price.

Presentation

This would be about the bottle, the label, or anything else “looks” related. It’s nice to get e-liquid in a classy looking glass bottle but I think sometimes seller go a bit overboard. I’m not interested in paying more just because a stupid plastic trinket is rubber banded to the bottle.
There’s a reason I don’t post many e-liquid deals, it’s just too hard to tell if the price of e-liquid is a good deal. There’s just too much range in price and variables to its value.

For the most part I don’t buy expensive e-liquid, I prefer to make it myself. With so many different e-liquid vendors it’s hard to tell who has the best e-liquid for the best price. For the most part, I won’t pay much for e-liquid. I know how cheap it can be made for and I don’t like getting ripped off.

What do you guys think? Do you have a limit on how much your willing to pay for e-liquid? Submit your comment below.

Nathan is the founder of VapingCheap.com and dedicated to finding the best vape deals online. In 2008 he had his first vape on a DSE-901 e-cigarette and has loved them ever since. He created Vaping Cheap to help current vapers save money and to help smokers make the switch to vaping.

19 COMMENTS
  • BadBob 07/12/2014

    Nathan your right any one can make eliquid, back years ago when i started vaping there were no real choices except to make your own a little Walmart Vg some PG some nic if you could find it and some tobacco absolute bang you were done. then I got into the wife’s baking cabinet found some nice goodies in there for flavors, you know vanilla vape or rum vape maybe a cherry vape it was acceptable at the time, but never really great. then a few years ago i started really putting some time in to more complex flavors my self (back to that in a minit). as time has moved along some company’s started selling commercial ejuice, some worse than any thing I ever tasted, but some pretty darn good, so either they got real lucky or some one or a team put some time into developing there ejuice, and they did it for free right? probably not!
    I know for a fact a few of my eliquid recipes have hundreds of hours in developing them, now not all at once, a little here and a little there but it all adds up, Right? now if i could get paid for that time i would have something.
    and some of those guys probably put some time into safer and cleaner ways to make there product and they probably had to spend some more time researching how to do that and mabey they had to spend some money to get that certified lab so there customers could have safer cleaner eliquid to vape. ah and they probably had to lease or buy a building to make that eliquid in pay for some power to have lights to see to make the eliquid, they probably didn’t do all by them selves so they has some employees to maybe bottle it up and label it and some one to sell it or ship it.
    now a little deeper in to the mass production of eliquid, automation I know for a fact there is a ton of money there 50 to 150k for a basic set up and training for some one to tun the machines.
    So when we make eliquid at home your right we can make some for our self maybe a friend or two at a fairly low cost buy some glass or plastic bottles to put our own eliquid in make a hand written label and for our personal use that works, but not for the masses there are rules to be followed just to make safe clean eliquid.
    wow I didn’t intend for this to be so long winded, just to say I partly agree with you. The fact is if you know how and want to spend the time to make your own just ok eliquid then yes you can do that for a reasonable cost to your self.

      • Mark Bartlett 02/22/2015

        I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels we are being over-charged for e-liquid. I feel no less bitter when I’m reminded of the cost of cigarettes to justify price, with the common quote, “you were happy to pay £6 – £10 for a pack of 20 cigarettes, but moan about paying the same for 10ml of eliquid”.

        Trying to find credible eliquid reviews from vendors is also a challenge, where reviews on Youtube will have you thinking you are watching an episode of Masterchef, describing different flavour profiles and how moreish they are for an all-day-vape.

  • Natasha Scoggin 07/13/2014

    Well said.

  • Jason Valentine 07/13/2014

    As with anything, taste is subjective. I’ve talked with dudes that say 5 pawns is garbage and others that say it’s ‘sick as tits’. They do put extra time into it, steep it in oak barrels, etc. I have two bottles in the house, but i still feel $27.50 is overpriced. Packaging and stuff costs more i guess. I’ve been looking in to making my own juice lately. Got any tips and links you’d recommend Nathan?

  • Patrick Petty 07/13/2014

    When they refer to organic it usually refers to the flavoring components. Think of it like this. Some of the cheapest flavoring components are those used in hard candies to get things like a banana runt flavor or a jolly rancher hard candy type of flavor, but organically derived flavors are actually derived from the real deal and might produce a truer strawberry or banana, and then it can get even more complicated than that. There are true tobaccos derived from real tobaccos and even companies using processes like steam extraction of flavor like the vaping rabbit, so it can get very complicated. If you’ve never tried 5 Pawns or some of the other premium liquids, you might want to give it a sample. Some of them are extremely complex and delicious though at the price point not something most people can afford to vape everyday. Juice in general has a high markup that is used for marketting and presentation and packaging but some of them do use higher quality and grades of ingredients and higher quality flavorings that cost more. Mt Baker is one place to get a budget juice but if you are willing to look you’ll discover that Steam Juice and Strix make extremely high quality juices on a friendly budget as well as many others out there. In the high end companies like 5 Pawns, Vaping Rabbit, Long Beach Juice Supply Co., Ripe Vapes offer some exceptional and unique offerings of things you won’t generally find in a budget juice. Mixing flavors really can be an art and it can be seen in things like 5 Pawns’ Lucena, a decadent peach cobbler made with white cling peaches and garnished with shaved hazelnuts, Port LB, a crepe with a berry reduction, or Ripe Vapes Pear Almond which is a pear almond marzipan inspired vape. Just like whiskeys and wines and beers the vaping industry has many products at many price points and sometimes you just want a hamburger and sometimes you want a 5 star gourmet dessert.

  • Doug Weaver 07/13/2014

    I’ve been DIY-ing for about 7 months now and I’m loving it. I get to control what goes in my liquid so no questios about mystery ingredients. And the $.06 per ml is pretty spot on. I’ll buy some pre-made stuff from time to time (when I’m feeling lazy) but most of the time I’m mixing at the counter.

  • BadBob 07/14/2014

    As with all things the cream will rise to the top, it happens in every industry why should it be any different with this one.
    those who provide quality product at a fair price will succeed in this industry, the nice thing is right now we have lots of choices for E liquid some of them are very good and some are very bad, over time the bad will fall by the wayside, leaving a more stable competitive market place. The down side to this is the consumer will pay the price to churn the cream.
    we should all be thankful that we have gormay eliquid to chose from right now, But be informed if the current FDA regulations are put into place in there current form you can look for all of that to go away leaving very few choices and I feel most of those will be controlled by big money and not necessarily good quality. if that happens the days of cheep e liquid will be no more.

  • CaptDJB 07/17/2014

    there’s one company that makes flavorings “so easy a Caveman can do it”
    http://www.onestopdiyshop.com/
    There On Stop Flavorings are just pure awesome
    Savings – what I spent in the 1st 4 months of vaping on vendor juice … makes me smh having said that – it did get me off the analogs.
    I know some people who vape only Vg n Pg with some sweetner after all vg is sweet on it’s own.
    Dr F vapes straight up VG
    People coming into this “switch” now have SOOOOOOO many options and I say that after just having been around for the BOOM of this past year!
    Ten days will be 1 year tobacco free for me, down to 6 mg nic, sometimes less..
    Bottom line is I’m just saying I agree with all points made, although I truly wouldn’t want to be enjoyin a vape and have a splinter manage to find it’s way out of my dripper. (oak barrels) JK !! JK!!
    Vape on – pop your head into the many DIY groups on FB – just remember
    Take the best, leave the rest there can be some … well not so good advice.
    These ARE important:
    Re Custard notes, Creams etc – any new diyers need to be aware!
    http://shop.perfumersapprentice.com/flavorsworkshop/custard.html
    cinnamon: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0887233313002610

    I shall now go back to vaping my dessert OSDIY Baked Cinnamon Roll – more roll than cinnamon and GOOD! 😀 !

  • Matt "Vapeologist" Green 09/17/2014

    Great article Nathan. I agree that 5 pawns is obscenely overpriced, and honestly, the juice is freakin’ awful. They have tried so hard to make the juice so complex that they have successfully made it worthless to myself and all of my vaping buddies.
    A couple very good, I mean VERY GOOD e-juice brands that are extremely affordable would be: White Label Juice Co. and Dr. Crimmy’s e-juice. How about 100mL of high vg e-liquid with a strong, delicious taste that vapes storm clouds- for 20 bucks a bottle? That’s how White Label does it. Or 125mL of amazingly flavored high vg juice for around 30 bucks? Dr. Crimmy’s is your destination. Try them both, or try only one, you won’t be disappointed. It might change your outlook on so-called “premium” juices.
    Happy Vaping.

  • Rick, Mt.View 10/14/2014

    I found a juice I just loved, CRFT’s LIME COLA, a San Fransico, area company. It is $22/30ml and I was approaching 2 bottles a week. That’s like a ciggy habit! I just couldn’t justify that kind of weekly cost just for juice……insane.
    Swapped over to DIY using very good ingredients and my cost is now at $6.50/30ml. I can now experiment freely and have, within a month, already found 2 all day vapes.
    Every serious vaper just has to get into DIY.

  • Rich 10/16/2014

    Its a good article but you fail to mention that vendors have to oay taxes, over head ie… website fees, high risk credit card processing, shipping, make up for incidentals, time put into the work or creating the liquid, promoting the liquid ect. Even without any of the above said unless you are vaping just vg and pg you are not paying .06 cents a ml to make your own juice.

    There are a lot of rules for starting a company. One is have a tax permit. You can seperate the fly by night mixers to real companies by see in if they accept PayPal. PayPal does not allow any vapor products to be sold through them anywhere but the U.K. where there is some regulation. Take fasttech for example, they process for the U.K. dont believe me ask your bank.

    A real merchant will have pay in page with nicotine warning and 18 and over or age verification software for thier high risk credit card processors. I see where you are writing from and understand the frustration of buying pretty bottles to get sub par if vapeable liquids.

    Well written but I do see some room to not just kick mixers in the nuts. After all your bottle that holds your DIY juice is roughly .15 on its own.

  • jischinger 10/19/2014

    I wish someone would make a series of videos showing how they make their liquids
    I’d like to try and get a few tips

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