What Are Shortfill E Liquids?
In most countries globally, vapers have it easy when it comes to their e-liquids. They can purchase the largest bottle size of juice available, provided, of course, they are of legal age. In Switzerland, for example, vape juice and tobacco products can be legally bought from the age of 16, if the canton rules don’t forbid it locally. Unfortunately, things aren’t so convenient for citizens in the EU (European Union) and UK.
What is shortfill e-liquid?
As we know, the most addictive ingredient in vaping juice is nicotine. Despite a subset of nic-free e-options available, millions of vapers understandably still crave the substance.
It wasn’t until May 2016 that new laws were passed by regulators impacting how nicotine would be sold. A shortfill is a nicotine-free vape juice which hasn’t been filled to the top; a gap intentionally left for the user to add nicotine.
Vapers also call it a ‘shake & vape,’ referring to the need to shake the bottle once you add the nicotine to ensure a proper mixture. Typically, these fluids will come in a 60ml container where 50ml consists of ordinary vaping juice.
The 10ml gap is designed for nicotine, which comes in a 10ml bottle size sold separately. In many other cases, you can buy a 120ml container where 100ml has the e-liquid, and the remainder is meant for the nicotine.
The shortfill fluid contains flavouring (as with regular e-liquids), higher VG (vegetable glycerin) content or a combination of VG and PG (propylene glycol).
Why is e liquid now sold in shortfills?
The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) in the EU regulates the sale of tobacco and nicotine-based products. In May 2016, updated laws were administered directly affecting vaping liquids.
Among other things, the most pertinent changes were that manufacturers could not sell nicotine-filled e-liquids above 10ml in capacity, nor should the strength exceed 20mg/ml.
So, the solution was shortfills. Instead of making a 60ml bottle with nicotine (exceeding the 10ml threshold), you could offer 50ml nic-free liquid with separate 10ml nicotine.
Who are shortfills for?
Shortfills can benefit vapers who don’t want nicotine and those who prefer tailoring the substance’s intake. If you were a heavy smoker, a shortfill would make it easier to abstain from nicotine (since these juices are nic-free).
Therefore, you don’t need to buy ordinary e-liquids that previously would have consisted of the compound. If a vaper still prefers nicotine, shortfills allow them to control the intensity more accurately.
Pre-filled vaping e-liquid tends to have a fixed nicotine strength. Although you can shop around for the lowest intensity, shortfills are another alternative. Each vaper has a different nicotine tolerance, which is particularly relevant for heavy smokers.
Therefore, shake & vapes provide a DIY method of sorts for mixing your vaping juice to find the desired concentration. Another cool thing is the financial savings. These bottles are rarely sold in capacities less than 50ml.
50 is higher than the average size of e-liquids generally. If you buy most things in bulk, the unit cost is reduced, meaning you save money in the long run.
What is a nicotine shot?
A nicotine shot is a 10ml bottle of unflavored nicotine used for shortfills. Nic shots will have a combination of VG and PG like regular e-liquids. You purchase these shots separately with the shortfill fluid at a pretty cost-effective price.
For instance, at Vape Club, you can buy 60% VG grape drank e-liquid at CHF 9.99, with a nic shot starting from CHF 0.49. With nic shots, you get one of two types: freebase nicotine and nicotine salts.
The former is the most commonly used and potent type of the stimulant found in cigarettes and ordinary vaping juices. Nic salts are the natural nicotine in ‘salt’ form, where the substance is not converted to a ‘base state’ as with freebase.
Both nicotine types offer different throat hits. Freebase is a little harsher on the throat, while nic salts aren’t. The latter is preferable for frequent puffers to prevent them from reverting to smoking while receiving a sufficient nicotine delivery.
How to add nicotine to shortfill
Here are the four simple steps:
- Unscrew the top nozzles of both the e-liquid and nic shot.
- Pour the appropriate nicotine amount into the e-liquid (covered more thoroughly in the next section).
- Press down or twist back the shortfill’s cap to seal it. Then, shake the liquid for 2-3 minutes to ensure it fully mixes with the nic shot.
- An extra tip is to ‘steep’ the fluid for an hour or two (some even recommended 48 hours). This is the process of exposing the fluids to air to homogenise the ingredient, resulting in a better or ‘aged’ flavour.
Shortfill e-liquid mix: how to achieve the right nicotine strength
The first consideration is determining the nic shot strength you should buy based on your tolerance. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all approach here, but here is a simple guide:
- 18mg to 20mg/ml for heavy smokers (more than a pack daily)
- 12mg/ml for the average smoker (up to a pack every day)
- 6mg/ml for the light smoker (up to five cigarettes daily)
- 0-3mg/ml for the occasional smoker (a few cigarettes weekly)
Next, you must ensure the nicotine potency is proportional to the shortfill size. Fortunately, you can use many free nic shot calculators for this purpose. However, we’ll go over a few typical examples.
Usually, nic shots come in 10ml bottles with 18mg of nicotine strength. So, if you added this to a 50ml shortfill, the overall nic concentration would be 3mg/ml. We arrived at this figure by:
- [(18 X 10) / 60ml (50ml bottle size + 10ml nic shot) = 3
If you wanted to double the intensity to 6mg/ml, you could buy two 18mg nic shots and add them to a 50ml container:
- [(18 X 20) / 60ml (50ml bottle size + 10ml nic shot) = 6.
- 20 represents two 10ml nic shots
One of the downsides is that you might need several nicotine shots to increase the substance’s potency, which could slightly dilute the flavour. Generally, many shortfills have a higher flavour concentration to compensate for this deficiency.
Summary: top reasons to use shortfills
Ultimately, if a vaper lives in Switzerland, they don’t need to worry about shortfills. However, if you live in the UK or EU, let’s summarise the top reasons for these juices:
- Shortfills will save you cash in e-liquids since you buy them in larger containers than the average, making them cheaper per millilitre.
- With such juices, you can better tailor your nicotine potency.
- If you prefer zero nicotine, these are the way to go.