E-Cigarette Reviews and Rankings

Is Expired E-Liquid Safe to Vape?

As someone who has been reviewing e-liquids for many years and still has lost of almost full bottles of juice stored in multiple cabinets, I’ve often struggled with the idea of vaping expired e-liquid? Is it safe, does the taste of the e-juice change significantly over time, and does e-liquid actually expire? I’m not a chemist, but I’ve been doing online research on these issues, and I’ll try to clarify things as best I can.

So, first things first – does e-liquid have an expiration date? Technically, the answer is ‘yes’, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. It’s important to understand that the expiration date on e-liquid bottles is more of a recommendation rather than a warning not to use the juice after that specified date. Some ingredients in e-liquid tend to break down after a certain period of time, and the juice can start to change flavor or even taste stale. However, that can happen even before you reach the expiration date, if you don’t store the juice in proper conditions.

At the same time, if you’re brave enough to vape a juice past its expiration date and it still looks and tastes ok, should you throw it away? Well, some e-liquid manufacturers will tell you that you definitely should, but they’re obviously biased. I personally think it’s best to focus less on the expiration date and more on the juice itself. Has it changed color significantly, does it smell funny, is the consistency ok and is there any residue at the bottom of the bottle? We do the same with edible things like milk, so why not apply the same way of thinking to e-liquid?

Most commercially available e-liquids have an estimated duration of between one and two years, if stored properly. That’s because ingredients like vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol and nicotine will last between one and two years before they may start to break down and affect the taste, color and consistency of the e-liquid. Flavors are a bit more complicated, with some being good for about a year and other lasting up to five years.

So what happens when e-liquid ingredients start to break down? Well, the first thing you’re bound to notice before even opening the bottle to take a whiff, is a change in color. Oxidation in general and nicotine oxidation in particular is a natural phenomenon that occurs over time. Once the nicotine molecules make contact with the oxygen in the air, the oxidation process begins. If you leave a bottle of juice on your window sill after opening it even once, you’ll probably see it change color dramatically in just a few days. On the other hand, if you store in in a cool, dark place, the oxidation still occurs, only at a much slower rate.

The things to keep in mind regarding color changes in your e-liquid is that they are normal and that there are certain factors that influence the rate at which the change occurs. For example, the less juice is in the bottle (and the more air there is), the quicker the change in color occurs. Heat and and sunlight also impact the oxidation rate. However, just because an e-liquid changes color from clear to light amber, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vape it. Now, if it goes from clear to dark brown, it’s probably not a good idea to use it simply because the taste is most likely affected as well.

Smelling the e-liquid is another good way of testing whether your juice is still worth vaping. As the flavorings in the e-liquid degrade over time, it loses its smell, so if your favorite concoction doesn’t smell as good as it used to, it’s probably a good idea to throw it away. The same goes for when you detect weird or off-putting smells.

The passing of time also affects the taste of e-liquid, causing it to either become bland or develop an unwanted taste. So if you’re trying a vanilla or strawberry juice and it doesn’t taste like either of those flavors, why keep vaping it? I’m not saying it’s dangerous, or bad for your health, but why would you vape something that doesn’t taste like it’s supposed to?

As far as I know, there is no scientific evidence that vaping expired e-liquid is bad for you, provided it has been stored properly. If you’ve been keeping it direct sunlight and the PG, VG and nicotine have lost their properties as preservatives, there is a danger of bacteria developing in that e-liquid and you definitely don’t want to vape that kind of stuff. But that can happen to juice that is still a long way from expiring, so make sure you store your juice in a cool dark place, away from sunlight.

So, to recap, the expiration date is merely a recommendation, and it’s up to you to decide whether an e-liquid is still worth vaping. Even though I’ve heard of no health complications as a result of vaping expired e-liquid, sometimes you just don’t want to vape something simply because it doesn’t look, smell or taste right. It sucks to throw away an expensive bottle of e-liquid, but if you don’t enjoy vaping it anymore, what are you going to do?

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