Adding Ice & Menthol to DIY E-liquid

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Icy vapes is a tale as old as time. Breathing in that cool, sweet air, is an experience that many crave – especially after years of smoking menthol cigarettes or tobacco. However in vaping, we have the ability to get icy…like REALLY icy. Not only this, but we also have the ability to fine tune our recipes to enhance our iciness, and have our iciness enhance our flavor. I think this fact is the reason so many gravitate toward the icy experience. This article aims to provide you everything you need to know about making your vapes as cool as a cucumber.

When to Ice:

So obviously the first thing you need to figure out is if you want to ice your recipes. This solely relies on YOU and YOUR palate. Many vapers hate the cool punchy feeling that ice can give. But I also want to point out, in terms of a “mixing theory” point of view, icing your recipes can be very intentional. For instance, certain flavorings and flavor profiles respond really well to a bit of ice enhancing them. Profiles like Watermelon, Grape, Pear, Lemonade, all respond extremely well to ice. So if you’re mixing for clients or mixing for others, you may want to experiment with adding some ice. As a mixer you should be thinking of ice as a flavor enhancer, and not just a “only for icy people” type of binary ingredient. It’s difficult to list every single profile that responds well to ice, however I have found that flavor profiles that do not contrast as much do the best. Think of flavors that are inherently bright and “fizzy”, these are usually the better profiles to go after. Once you want to ice your recipe, you need to move on to “with what?”.

Ice vs Menthol

This next part will discuss the difference between icy and minty flavors – because the difference is massive.

  • Icy: The cold sensation found from menthol, without any flavor associated with it. Think of it like adding ice cubes to a beverage. The ice boosts the coldness of the drink, but also may water it down if there’s too much of it. Also, the more ice, the colder it gets.
    • Flavorings used for Ice: WS-23, WS-5, WS-3, TPA Koolada, FA Polar Blast, FLV Ice
  • Menthol: Menthol is a form of icy ingredient that presents its own mint-like flavor. This is important as, because its not neutral, will influence your recipes flavor quite drastically. This means if you want to alter your recipe is a more minty direction this would be the ingredient to use over Ice. And conversely with Ice, the more Menthol you add, the more its mint flavor is apparent.
    • Flavorings used for Menthol: Menthol Crystal, FA Artic Winter, FW Menthol, FLV Cool Menthol

So now we know the difference, the question is which is often the right route to take. Again, as mixers, we need to be mindful of the profile we want to make. If you’re looking to make a sweet, fruit Slushie, you probably don’t want to add any mint so using Ice would be the better option. But that type of profile is usually really vibrant and sweet, so we don’t want to add too much ice to be sure we don’t water it down.

On the other side, if we’re making a Watermelon Cucumber recipe, we may want to add in Menthol to provide a nice mint-like accent to the profile. It always comes down to what we want to achieve, and what we should be expecting in the mix. Getting this step wrong is one of the WORST things you can do to a recipe, and will immediately turn off the audience.

How Much?

The next step is to figure out how much ice or menthol, to use. This part is very difficult, as it seems that ice-vapers seem to gain a tolerance to the amount of ice they vape. Meaning the more they vape ice, the more ice they need to reach that required icy satisfaction. A very interesting phenomena that should probably be studied. Nonetheless, this means its hard to know how much to use. I’ve found that a base level of 2% is often a good place to start for a recipe. Remember that even 0.25% WS-23 is enough to produce somewhat of an icy experience, especially for those who don’t vape much ice. So moving in small increments is advised. What should help is the scale below to give you an idea of strength of iciness. Weakest to Strongest…

  • WS-3 (TPA Koolada). A mild coolant that provides a slight lift to ice in recipes. However, many do seem to get an “aftertaste” from this and its more recently seen as non-desirable.
  • FLV Ice – This is similar to WS-3, however it does seem a bit more icy on the upfront and on the end of the flavor. It also doesn’t seem to provide any off-notes that may be present in Koolada
  • CAP Menthol – The weakest of Menthol flavors. It provides the common menthol flavor, but with a slightly smoother finish. Great for adding a slight menthol accent to recipes, without fully committing.
  • Menthol – This would come next in the “iciness” realm where Menthol provides a punch of ice, along with a slight minty flavor. Dilution % of Menthol also plays a role in how much ice it brings, though that’s the case for all of them. I’m going off the average base dilution of 20-30%
  • FW Extreme Ice – This flavoring provides a strong menthol flavor, but is also paired with strong mint flavor. Not nearly as neutral as any other on the list.
  • FA Polar Blast – This seems to be a mixture of WS-3 along with Menthyl Lactate. I personally find it slightly more icy than just menthol, and certainly more icy than TPA Koolada.
  • WS-23 – This ingredient is the next iciest, with an average dilution around 10-20%. This ingredient provides a strong ice with lingering ice feeling. Currently the standard in making icy vapes, because of how versatile it is.
  • WS-5 – At an average dilution around 10%, this is the iciest of the bunch. This ice has been more common in extremely icy disposable vapes. While it provides stronger iciness, it is a bit tougher to use properly.

Building an Icy Recipe

Finally, let’s bring all we know together and make ourselves an icy vape. I’m looking to make something bright, fruity, with a nice icy, almost slushy-like finish. Thinking more in line with a sorbet. So with that, we need to make sure our recipe has great vibrant flavor and that we choose the correct ingredient to ensure it gives just the right amount of ice on the finish.

I think Mango is often a great profile that works well with ice, but let’s also add a bit of berry to really provide a nice complex flavor.

CAPSweet Mango5%
SSARaspberry Syrup3%
FLVGolden Kiwi0.5%

In this recipe I’m taking a simple, yet potent, mango base, and adding a few berry ingredients. I’m also enhancing the recipe a bit with some FLV Golden Kiwi to really give it some legs. On its own, the recipe tastes fun and energetic, but adding a touch of ice will really take this recipe to another level. But I don’t want to overdo it. I just want to give that nice slushy / sorbet feeling to the mix, and not turn it into a radioactive ice-bomb. So I think a middling amount of ice would be great.

FA Polar Blast 1%

Using FlavourArt Polar Blast here would work well at 1% as it can provide both a nice amount of ice to the mix, without making it too icy and watering down our syrupy flavor. But it also does seem to provide a slight bit of mint that pairs well with the mango. I like this, however if you didn’t want to add that slight mint accent you could also just add…

WS-23 0.75%

Just using the WS-23 will ensure all the focus is on the mango and berries in the recipe, and the ice acts only on the finish and enhancing properties. Either situation works just as well, and its only up to you to decide which direction to take it in. I’m using 0.75% here, which is quite a bit different than 0.5%. I just wanted that slightly extra amount of ice – but experiment between these small percentages because they do make a difference.

Sweetness to Ice

The last thing I want to mention is sweetness. Sweetness, or sweetener rather, is one of the most important aspects of Ice. Providing an icy recipe with no sweetness produces a very dry, wispy, and displeasing flavor. Sweetness helps propagate a layer for the ice to reside in and linger on. Usually using some type of Sucralose-based sweetener, like Capella Super Sweet is a must when making ice recipes. With that knowledge here’s our final recipe….

CAPSweet Mango5%
SSARaspberry Syrup3%
FLVGolden Kiwi0.5%
CAPSuper Sweet0.5%

And here is the culmination of our work and research. What one might see as just adding in some ice ingredient on top of an already good recipe, a true mixer understands how intentional every part of the process is. From the type of ice we’re using, to the amount we’re using it at, to the profile it’s up against, to the amount of sweetener to pair it with, every part of the chain is important in creating a great recipe. This type of thinking is what separates a good mixer from a great one, and ultimate a good recipe from a great one.

If you’re interesting in learning more about all the different types of ice and menthol flavors, check out these Noted episodes where they go over a myriad of different flavorings and discuss the difference between them.

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