Why is My Ejuice Harsh? (Updated)

YouTube player

Feel the BURN

This is probably the most asked question I get. I’ve answered it many times here on DIYorDIE, but I figured I’d do a bit of an update video since the original is quite old and we have a bit more info to present. In case you’re wondering, the original video is below. It still holds up today, but I just wanted to add a bit more with this latest video.

YouTube player


The first topic I talk about is nicotine. One of the main reasons your e-liquid may be too harsh is because your nicotine has gone bad, or has “oxidized”. The way you can tell your nicotine has oxidized is by looking at a few things. The color. The Smell. And how it vapes. Bad nicotine is usually a dark, reddish-brown color, and puts off an offensively pungent aroma. If your nicotine looks this way, and it didn’t when you first purchased it, there’s a good chance it has oxidized. Also, when you vape it, if it is harsh, burns, or has a bad taste, it’s probably oxidized. Now, there’s oxidized nicotine and “low quality” nicotine. The latter is one that’s more intrusive because you might not know it’s “bad”. Usually low quality nicotine carries the same traits as oxidized nicotine, but not always. There is bad tasting, harsh, low quality nicotine, that is clear. So the best way to remedy this is to just pick up good, high quality, nicotine.

LiquidBarn – My Nicotine Recommendation

Too Much PG

Another reason your vape might be too harsh is because it’s got a bit too much PG. Many people find higher PG juices to be a bit too harsh and irritating. Some people are even allergic to PG and must avoid it all together. This is an easy fix, as you just need to make your own juice with less PG. I always recommend staying around 50/50, or 60VG 40PG, but it’s up to you. This isn’t usually the issue anymore mainly because most use higher VG liquids. But the point still remains.


The next reason is a bit more intrusive and personal. The reason your e-liquid may be harsh is because you’re personally sensitive to one of the flavorings, or flavoring compounds, inĀ  your juice or e-liquid. So e-liquids are made up of hundreds of different aroma compounds, all of which work together to create a final flavor. It only takes a sensitivity to one of those compounds to make your juice harsh. One way to identify this is to take your recipe, and test each individual flavoring on its own. Once you find the culprit, make note of it, and find some similar alternatives. If you find those alternatives are still harsh, then you may be sensitive to one of the compounds used to make those flavorings. Below are a list of compounds many people find themselves sensitive to.

  1. Diacetyl
  2. Acetyl Propionyl
  3. Acetoin
  4. Ethyl Alcohol
  5. Acetyl Pyrazine
  6. Cinnamaldehyde
  7. Other Aldehydes
  8. Maltol / Ethyl Maltol
  9. Vanillin / Ethyl Vanillin
  10. Citric Acid
  11. Other Acids
  12. Sucralose

Now it’s hard to tell if your flavorings include any of those compounds. The best way to find out is by either contacting the flavor manufacturer, or by cross referencing the flavoring with the TFA spec list. Because most flavorings contain similar compounds, the spec list is a good way to find out what compounds are in what flavor profiles.

TFA Spec List

Bad Recipes

Finally we have just plain bad recipes. If a recipe is not developed correctly, it could become harsh or hard to vape. This is usually due to overflavoring. Maybe a juice maker developed a lemonade, but used way too much citric acid in the mix. Well it might be too harsh. Maybe your recipe is using too much of a flavoring compound, although your total percentage seems fine. This could impact vape performance. So again, the best way to remedy this is to try and single out the issue, look for replacements, and cross reference with the spec list.

So if you find your recipes or your e-liquid is too harsh, or too hard to vape, go down this list, one step at a time, trying to source the problem, and then fixing that problem. You may never be able to fix some problems either. Personal sensitivities sometimes means that you just can’t vape certain profiles. Personally for me, I have issues with cinnamon flavors. It’s something I just don’t really work with too often. And the same might go for you. Just make sure you’re doing your best to make note of any flavor or recipe that is harsh, to avoid issues in the future.




Leave a Reply