The world’s a bit complicated when it comes to brands. It seems like everything we buy means buying into an ecosystem. Buy a Mac? Bad luck if you’re trying to get a piece of Microsoft software. Xbox fan? Say goodbye to PS4 exclusives. And don’t even think about trying to put a cheaper own-brand razor head onto that expensive Gillette handle!
So when it comes to vaping, some people are conditioned to believe that the brand of liquid they choose is a compatibility issue. After all, if you’ve shelled out on an Aspire electronic cigarette, don’t you then need to buy Aspire-branded eliquids?
Here’s the good news. You don’t. You can use any brand of eliquid, whether they’re a £10 bottle of craft juice from the local vape emporium, or a £1 eliquid from a high street retailer. And the reasons why are simple.
All Eliquids Are Created to the Same Recipe
When it comes to software and hardware, it’s easy to lock out competitors. Building a razor? Make sure that your Wilkinson Sword blades have a square peg, and then they’ll need to buy a new handle because they won’t fit into Gillette’s round hole. But when it comes to eliquid, you can’t do that. Because if something can be vaped, basic chemistry means nearly any coil will vaporize the liquid if it’s getting the right voltage. That’s because all eliquids should follow the same basic recipe. PG, VG, nicotine and flavourings.
Sometimes those ingredients will be present in different quantities and ratios (and that’s important, as you’ll find out), but there’s nothing in there that means your liquid only works with one brand of vape hardware. Unless of course, something’s not quite right.
But Not All Brands are Created Equal
Those are the four ingredients a vape liquid should contain. But unfortunately, we’ve all heard about unscrupulous companies adding things they shouldn’t – other chemicals to bulk things out, flavorings that aren’t food safe – that kind of thing. So when you’re trying a new brand, do your research. If they’re based in the UK or the EU, they’ll have to abide by the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) that keeps quality high. North American vape manufacturers also abide by certain quality standards to keep you safe. But some cheap imported vapes, or ones cooked up at home by hobbyists, might not. So make sure the brand you’re considering is legit, that the bottles and labels are high quality, and that they contain proper legal information such as a country of origin. If a vape is made in the UK, you can be sure the e-liquid manufacturers will tell you!
It’s Not the Logo that Matters, It’s the Ratio
So once you’re sure a brand is legitimate, can you use any of their liquids? Well, no. Because there’s an issue of PG/VG ratios. Broadly speaking, there are three kinds of ratio. 50/50, which are an equal balance of PG and VG. These can be used with any device, so feel free to buy a bottle or two. The other two are designed for specific kinds of coil. High PG liquids are for vape pens and all standard electronic cigarettes. They’re flavourful, provide a decent throat hit, and are available in high nicotine strengths. High VG eliquids are far thicker and sweeter, and they need the power of a sub-ohm coil to vape properly. If you do have a box mod or other sub-ohm device, you’ll need VG liquids to enjoy a thicker mouth feel and larger clouds. So always check the ratio. And if you’re unsure, stick to 50/50 eliquids.
Can You Really Use Any Brand of Eliquid?
Hopefully, by now, you should feel confident that you can purchase any brand of vape juice for your electronic cigarette – as long as the exact eliquids you choose meet the following criteria:
- It’s manufactured in the UK, EU or USA in accordance with TPD regulations
- It’s got the hallmarks of being genuine (warning labels, address, etc)
- It’s got the right PG/VG ratio for your electronic cigarette (high PG for pens, high VG for mods, 50/50 if you’re unsure)
If you’re happy with your choice after taking those questions into account, you’re fine. It doesn’t matter if the brand’s an artisanal vape shop juice brewed by a coven of nicotine witches under a full moon, or whether it’s a Poundland brand made by professional chemists in Manchester.
As long as the brand is legitimate and the ratios are right, you can use any brand of eliquid in your vape.