As vaping becomes increasingly more popular, I am seeing more and more vendors throw around the word “premium” on their line of flavors. How their line of e-juices only using premium flavoring, and it is the best on the market. I’ve also seen e-juice manufacturers charge a whopping $1/ml for a bottle of e-juice; that’s $30 for 30ml worth of e-juice. But what exactly are you paying for? What justifies the price of such high price e-juice? Why pay $30 for 30ml when you can buy a 30ml bottle for $10 elsewhere? Is it just a fad a gimmick or is there really a noticeable difference?
Let’s break down the base shall we? Nicotine, VG (Vegetable Glycerin), and PG (Propylene Glycol) are found in every bottle of e-juice. This base makes up 85% to 95% of the bottle of e-juice that you are paying for, and it is virtually identical in every bottle. There is no such thing as “premium” PG or “premium” VG; it is all one in the same. The other percentage is just the flavoring, and this is where the term premium could come into play. There are dozens of different flavoring manufacturers out there. Some in the USA others overseas such as Italy and even China (not good) and all with a different price point.
Generally speaking, the imported flavorings (not the Chinese ones) do cost more than the flavorings from stateside and from my experience no two flavoring companies are really the same. The Flavor Apprentice is a very popular choice when it comes to e-juice making, mostly because it is dirt cheap to order in bulk compared to companies like Lorann or even Capella; both of which have a higher price tag. In short there is such a thing as premium flavoring, but no e-juice vendor would be willing to reveal the secrets of their trade and inform you what company they’re ordering from even if they are calling it “premium” e-juice.
Other e-juice vendors (especially those with a much higher price tag than others) have been known to create their flavorings and flavor extracts themselves to create their custom flavoring profile. This is not an easy task to do and thus a higher price tag. Their e-juice is unique as the flavoring used cannot be bought from a mass produced flavoring company and thus one of a kind since it can’t be replicated. Now I’m not saying just because the company extracts the flavors instead of purchasing them means it will taste great (from experience with some of the premium flavors at times it really doesn’t), but each person is different in what they are looking for and taste is highly subjective.
Another thing to consider is the bottles being used to store the e-juice. Now I know this may sound silly as different types of bottles driving up the price and quality of e-juice but it can. For instance, glass bottles are generally five to ten times more expensive than plastic dropper bottles even purchased in bulk. Most premium e-juice manufacturers refuse to use plastic bottles because they claim it can distort the taste overtime as certain flavors and plastic do not play well together. Although the flavorings are delivered to the manufacturers in plastic bottles, so I want to say this is more tongue in cheek than anything else. But there are some benefits aside from pure ascetics with a glass bottle.
A glass bottle makes steeping and curing a lot easier than a plastic bottle. A lot of the times when e-juice comes in the mail, it needs a few days to a week of steeping/curing for the flavors and base to be homogenous. To speed this process up a lot of veterans give the e-juice bottles an 8 to 12 hour “warm bath” via a slow cooker. This method speeds the steeping process from a week to a few hours. Having glass bottles are generally favorable as the plastic bottles tend to float. Obviously glass bottles are more prone to damage than plastic bottles not to mention getting e-juice into a tank without some sort of squeeze bottle can be a daunting task as well.
Sounds silly but the packaging is another factor to consider as well. You may get glass bottles you may get plastic bottles, but sometimes vendors like to spice things up and make custom boxes to package your e-juice to give the façade of it being premium. In fact, there are a couple of ridiculous vendors out there that go into great lengths to package their e-juice. There is one company that uses a skull shaped bottle and another one that uses a custom made dice shaped bottle and uses shredded one dollar bills as packing material to give the illusion of a “high roller” status. Unfortunately, this makes getting the e-juice from the bottle to your atomizer quite difficult to do. Unlike liquor where you can just pour into a glass, the e-juice in these bottles would have to be moved via a syringe or some sort of dropper; very annoying.
Finally, there’s the taste aspect of these premium e-juices. So they are more expensive and have flashier packaging as well as bottles, but the ultimate aspect of the premium e-juice should be taste. So does the premium e-juice taste better than the cheaper e-juice? Yes and no. Taste is subjective, but the premium e-juices attempt to target a wider audience of vapers out there so that everyone would like it. For the most part, the premium e-juices do taste a lot better than the cheaper ones. Besides using more premium flavoring, a lot of the premiums e-juices are pre made. That is they limit the nicotine levels to 4 to five choices and won’t give a choice of what PG/VG ratio can be chosen. By limiting these options, these e-juices are good right out of the bottle because vendors pre-steep or cure them prior to shipping them out. Like a fine wine, e-juices are actually better the older it gets (talking weeks, not years though) considering as the e-juice ages the flavoring and the base become homogeneous.
So are the premium e-juices really worth the high price tag over the cheaper e-juices? This depends on person to person. For me, I’ve tried dozens of e-juices, and there were cheaper e-juices I really loved as well as a lot of the premium e-juices as well. However, a satisfying cheap e-juice is difficult to find. I’m certainly not saying it doesn’t exist but more often than not, they tend to disappoint; whereas the premium flavors are spot on and taste incredible most of the time. But again I stress taste is subjective; you may find some of the premium flavors absolutely horrible and be out $30. So definitely read some of the reviews before purchasing if you are a cautious buyer.