Mixers are often posed with an interesting complex. Take this brand new medium, take all this information that only lives online, and make art. It’s a bit daunting for those who may not have realized the scope of the hobby. But there are a few things I want to point out to mixers, that may make this complex seem less grand, and more fun. So here are some things I think EVERY mixer should know.
It’s All About Flavors, Baby
This is number one. The main thing we do is take pre-made concentrated flavorings that other companies make, and pair them in a way that creates something else. So it’s not as simple as painting, where each and every color – while inherently different – all act and are used in the same way. This moves it closer to Mixology or Cooking, where knowledge of each and every ingredient is needed to fully utilize them. And in mixing, knowledge of your flavorings is number one.
The best way to learn your flavorings is to simply use them. Use them in many different situations. Pair them up with many different flavorings. Use them in different layers. And for god sake, take notes of what you’re tasting. These notes with serve as your flavor database, in which you can refer to in the future. Sure, you can use things like the Flavor Book, or rely on Noted, but because everyone’s palate is quite distinct, it’s always best to curate your own set of information you can rely on. But, hey. I get it. It’s very time consuming and costly to do so. So if you are relying on other notes, just make sure to keep track of your own preference.
Money Money Money
Let’s quickly chat about cost. Many new mixers might find that mixing appears to be too expensive. You need base, you need all different flavorings, you need a scale, you need an area where you can mix, you might need a place to store your ingredients. It can seem daunting at first. But I’m here to let you know, the amount of money you’ll save in the long run, far outweighs the initial costs. This video/article I’ve made breaks down the math on this topic. You should also take a look at tracking costs. You can do so with alltheflavors.com. Here, you can put in the amount of flavoring you have in your inventory, and how much it costs. And every time you mix with that flavoring, your costs are tracked. A very useful feature!
I also want to touch on cost, when it comes to development. We all want super intricate flavor profiles. But sometimes, we use ingredients that don’t quite need to be used. This is added cost. For instance, you’re making a Strawberry Marshmallow. Instead of using TFA Marshmallow, CAP Marshmallow, TFA Vanilla Swirl, TFA Sweet Cream, and FA Meringue, – which all are used to make that one marshmallow vape – look to consolidate flavors, and remove flavorings that may be unnecessary. That TFA Marshmallow most likely contains the same ingredients CAP Marshmallow has, so pick one. And for its accents, you may get the same flavor by removing TFA Sweet Cream. This also goes in line with concentrations. There’s no need to use very high %’s of flavorings, if you’re vaping higher powered RDAs/RTAs. Instead of using 10% TFA Strawberry, drop it down to 4 – 5% to get the same exact result, and save your ingredients costs. Wasting materials is the fastest way to eat into your mixing savings. So be frugal, and you’ll find that after the initial startup costs, you’ll end up with far more money in your pocket.
Sucralose / Sweetener
Many new mixers who get into mixing find that, no matter what they do, they can’t quite get the flavor they get when they buy something off the shelf. “What makes these e-liquids premium?” is a question I see often. The sad truth is actually quite simple. Sweetener. Commercial e-liquids not only use sweetener, but contain pretty high levels of it. 1-2% of CAP Super Sweet (a popular sucralose based sweetener) is an average concentration of sweetener in commercial recipes. And the difference is night and day. Test it yourself. Make a mix without sucralose, and then make a mix with it. You’ll find that not only is the e-liquid far sweeter, but the flavors are FAR brighter, the mouthfeel is far more present, and the vape far more succulent.
Now I understand you may not want an extremely sweet experience. Many mixers come into mixing because commercial e-liquid is just too sweet (this is also why you’ll notice not many DIY recipes contain sweetener). But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. Even just 0.25 – 0.5% of sweetener (the amounts I personally use) increases the flavor output dramatically. Some recipes call for different situations, of course. But don’t be afraid to use a little of it. Keep messing around with it until you find a level you enjoy.
Cloning is TOUGH
Unfortunately, to the dismay of many mixers, cloning is simply the most difficult thing you can attempt in mixing. Think about taking an entire meal, eating it with your eyes closed, and then trying to recreate that exact meal, making sure you even get the brand of the ingredients correct. It’s almost impossible, and it has NEVER been done in mixing before. Mixers have gotten close, but there hasn’t been one 100% clone of an e-liquid before. What makes this so unfortunate is that new mixers often get into mixing because their favorite e-liquid is no longer available. So in order for them to attain that same level of satisfaction, their only option is to try and recreate it in DIY. But after a few attempts, these same mixers get discouraged and end up not happy with their level of vape.
My tip to you mixers who are in this position is this – find something else. You’ll never be able to get that same exact level of flavor from that e-liquid. You can get damn close though! While it may take you some time to reach an acceptable level, the reward is often worth it. And if you find you’re not getting close, just move on. Find another e-liquid to try and attempt, or mix up some new recipes. That constant chase may end up with you leaving the hobby altogether, and sometimes, end up back on cigarettes. While some are pickier than others, I haven’t found one case of a mixer not finding another great ADV they enjoy. Just know there will be a bit of a hunt going on.
Honorable Mention: K.I.S.S.
Quickly, I want to remind you to keep things simple. Sometimes when a new mixer starts to get the ball rolling, they end up complicating things in a way that is only detrimental. This leads to a mixing rut. Keep your profiles simple. Keep your development simple. Getting into serious flavor bending, layering, and accent development, all in one recipe – while it may lead to an amazing recipe – usually ends up in disappointment. Remind yourself the best recipes are recipes that utilize their flavorings the best way.
There’s A Lot to Learn
The last thing I want you to know, is that there is quite a bit of stuff to learn. Like I mentioned above, there are techniques like flavor bending and layering, but we can even go further and get into deeper DIY, where we start to take a look at the individual components that make up these flavorings. The amount of information in DIY is vast – and there’s never a shortage of new things to take from this hobby. So if you’re the learning type, you’ll fit right in. But this, of course, is all relative. You only need to take from DIY, what you need. If you’re creating delicious recipes you love, with only the simple knowledge of a few flavorings, then that’s great! There’s no need to dive into forced muting or relative concentrations, if you have no use for it. But that information is here, should you ever get into a situation where you need to use a specific technique. At the end of the day, the goal is to have you create recipes that you not only like, but love. So if it takes a library of DIY knowledge to get there, then that’s what it takes. And DIYorDIE and the entire community will help you get to that point.