E-Juice Prices Depend On Whether You’re Vaping On a Yugo or a Ferrari
By Ivan Srsen Posted April 26, 2018
One of the key reasons why people get into vaping is cost saving. Of course, your primary reason should always be your health – vaping is a proven smoking cessation method. On the other hand, cigarettes kill about 50% of smokers and I have yet to see a claim like that related to vaping. Most studies agree that vaping is an effective and safer nicotine delivery system.
However, money matters so I’m often asked about how much I spend on vaping by those looking to get into it. Personally, I spend around $1500 year (frequent gear purchases included), which is a lot, but you have to understand that I’m a vape aficionado – how much I spend is not really important. Once I explain that it actually varies from vaper to vaper and that my case might not be applicable to anyone asking because, after the initial investment, it all comes down to vape juice consumption, I’m asked: ‘Well, how long does vape juice last?’
Now, that’s definitely the wrong question to ask and if you’re here to learn why that is, I’ll be happy to explain. The first thing that you need to understand is that vape juice prices differ greatly. Like with everything else in life, you can choose to go cheap or to go big.
There are several factors that affect vape juice prices:
- Quality of ingredients
- Manufacturing method
- Manufacturing conditions
- Mixologist expertise
- Brand value
- Third-party verification
- Steeping process
- Packaging & presentation
All these factors conspire to determine the price of a particular bottle of vape juice. Of course, there will be differences, quantity-wise (bigger bottles usually come with a discount), but the underlying math will be the same.
Based on these factors, we divide vape juice into four different categories:
- Regular vape juice – prices ranging from $0.15 to $0.4 per milliliter.
- Premium vape juice – prices ranging from $0.4 to $1 per milliliter.
- Organic vape juice – prices ranging from $0.6 to $0.9 per milliliter.
- DIY vape juice – can be as little as $0.06 per milliliter.
Factors That Determine Vape Juice Prices
So, we know that a lot of factors come into play when manufacturers decide the price of vape juice. Let’s take a quick look at each of them.
Quality of Ingredients
Although there’s only a handful of compounds that go into vape juice (VG, PG, nicotine, flavorings, and, sometimes, water), we can still find a substantial difference in quality for each of them. Quality ratings can go from ‘Technical’ (commercial purposes) to A.C.S.-grade (a standard set by American Chemical Society, safe for use in medicine and as food). Most manufacturers make vape juice using U.S.P.-grade ingredients (safe for food, drug, or medicine use), which is the industry’s gold standard. Of course, U.S.P.-grade ingredients are slightly pricier than lower grade ingredients, so the difference is calculated into the price of the product.
Apart from differing in quality grades, the ingredients can also differ in how they’re obtained. If something’s organic, it means that the manufacturer followed a specific set of rules when manufacturing it. PG can never be organic since it’s not naturally-occurring (so it’s out). VG, flavorings, and nicotine need to be sourced following strict guidelines, which can pump up the cost.
Some vape juices are thought up and mixed in basements. This allows those manufacturers to sell that juice at bargain prices. However, some manufacturers go to great lengths to ensure that their processes are almost artisan. Take BlackNote – a premium vape juice manufacturer that deals exclusively in tobacco-flavored juice.
BlackNote hand-picks their tobacco seeds and then carefully grows them, making sure that the plants have ideal growing conditions. They then painstakingly collect the leaves, dry them using a variety of methods, and naturally extract the flavors using the process of cold maceration. It can take up to two years for that seed to finally become vape juice, so it’s no wonder that BlackNote vape juice sells for $1.16 per 1 milliliter!
To continue with the Black Note example: do you believe they could pull that level of quality if they were a basement-based operation? Of course not. They have several ISO-certified labs where extraction and bottling take place. This ensures that what you get is not tainted or compromised in any way. Laboratories need to be equipped and manned, so that expense is calculated into every milliliter of vape juice.
I know what you’re going to say – how hard can it be to mix a few ingredients and come up with a totally new flavor? It’s not hard, I agree, and everyone can do it. However, if you want to make sure that your end result is vapable, it can be excruciatingly difficult. That’s why premium vape brands employ specialized mixologists and chemists – people who actually know what they’re doing and know how to mix flavors that won’t make you gag. Those professionals expect paychecks for their hard work and they count on you to buy the products they sometimes spend up to a year concocting.
A big part of premium vape juice price is positioning. Some manufacturers don’t want to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find their customers. So they price themselves out of their range to position their brand as something luxurious and worth paying for. Granted, brand value is an extremely subjective measure but some people are willing to pay extra if they know their neighbors won’t have the same thing. What can I say – it takes all sorts and marketers are well aware of that so this pricing tactic works for a myriad of products. Also, it’s difficult to do marketing for vape juice (looking at you, Google and Facebook), so brands need to get inventive, which is rarely cost-reducing.
I already talked about organic vape juice a bit and how ingredients needed to make it can cost considerably more than the regular ones. However, that’s not where the costs stop. You can’t claim something is organic and expect everyone to take your word for it. The United States Department of Agriculture grants the said certification and the cost of getting certified can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Also, keeping the certification every year costs money (maintaining the processes, inspections, and so on). Organic costs and if you’re vaping it, you’re undoubtedly paying for it.
Almost every vape juice flavor tastes better after it’s had the time to sit a bit and steep. Some brands maintain very specific steeping conditions and that, along with extra storage space it requires, can pump up the cost of production. Be wary of ‘fresh’ vape juice – in most cases, this means that you’re going to have to let it steep for a few weeks to be able to enjoy the fullness of flavors.
Packaging & Presentation
Apart from marketing (which I covered), premium vape brands also spend money on presentation and packaging. Sometimes you will get your juice in nondescript plastic bottles packed in small cardboard boxes. Other times, these bottles will be high-quality glass, featuring a designer label and artwork. The packaging will also be carefully considered – ultra protective, with foam cut-outs to protect the juice during transport. This can considerably hike up the price for a milliliter.
Another aspect that needs to be factored in is the cost of doing business. As consumers, we tend not to think about the obligations that a company has toward its suppliers and the government – utilities, rent, taxes; these all have to be paid. Depending on where the company is located, these expenses can be substantial and can raise the price of vape juice considerably.
Let’s take a close look at how much you can expect to spend going with different types of juices. I won’t be considering those ‘hard to believe’ deals coming out of China – they are hard to believe for a reason and if you value your health, you will be giving them a wide berth.
Getting Your Vape Juice On the Cheap
Well, cheap might be a bit of an overstatement but what we consider regular vape juice usually has a much lower price point that what is marketed as premium or organic. Manufacturers don’t always compromise on the quality of the ingredients (though some actually do that). The way they keep their prices low is by using affordable marketing techniques, minimal steeping, minimal packaging, no certification, rudimentary manufacturing processes, and so on.
A good example of affordable regular vape juice is Vape Wild. 30 ml of their vape juice will set you back about $7, which comes to about $0.23 per milliliter. This is a great price if you’re looking for a decent-tasting liquid but you’re not willing to DIY or break the bank to get it.
Premium Vape Juice – For Those Looking For More
Because of everything I already listed, you will definitely pay substantially more for any vape juice that’s branded as premium. In addition to premium ingredients, these vape juices also carry the cost of marketing, facilities, expertise, branding, and everything else that goes into it. Keep in mind that I’m talking about juices that are really premium. There are a lot of unscrupulous manufacturers out there who slap ‘premium’ on just about anything to justify the price. Do your research before purchasing any premium juice to make sure that you’re paying for quality and not getting scammed.
A prime example of a premium vape juice manufacturer is Five Pawns – they actually call their juices signature juices and put a lot of thought and effort into creating them. 10 ml of Five Pawns vape juice costs around $9.50 (without a discount), which means that 1 ml goes for $0.95. The price goes down slightly if you’re buying a larger packaging (30 or 60 ml).
Organic Vape Juice – Because It Just Has to Exist, Right?
Organic vape juice manufacturers target a specific subset of vapers, those who concerned about the environment and go to extraordinary lengths to know what they’re ingesting. Since there aren’t that many organic manufacturers around and only one is USDA-certified (Pure Organic Vapors), they can save on marketing and packaging to bring their total costs down. However, this only means that their initial manufacturing process is more expensive than the one used to make regular and premium vape juice, which we will see in the calculation.
Pure Organic Vapors is a wholesaler so I’m not sure what their original pricing is. However, several online shops sell their organic vape juices and they are priced at about $23 for 30 ml. This brings the price for 1 ml to about $0.76. That’s pretty expensive considering the minimal marketing and packaging expenditure these brands usually incur.
DIY Vape Juice – Affordable, Time-Consuming & A Bit of a Gamble
Making your own vape juice is the best way to save money. However, it’s also time-consuming, not to mention the fact that you never really know what you’re going to end up with. Vape juice DIY is trial and error – if you’re anything like me, you will make some truly horrific batches until you stumble upon something that’s even remotely vapable. That’s essentially why I stopped DIYing – I was too lazy to invest my free time tinkering with it.
That said, there’s no denying that DIY can be extremely cheap. Even if you’re not buying in bulk, USP-grade VG and PG are both really affordable. The same can be said about nicotine and flavorings. For example, expect to spend anywhere from $8 to $12 for 1000 ml of VG (about the same for PG), around $40 for 1000 ml of 100 mg/ml nicotine (can go up depending on the VG/PG ratio and nicotine density – keep in mind that you will be diluting the nicotine), and about $6 per 15 ml of flavoring ($30 for 5 different flavors). Add a one-time $30 expense for syringes, beakers, and bottles, and you can do the math.
All in all, DIY vape juice could cost you as little as $0.06 per 1 ml! It’s an incredible bargain if you’re willing to put in the time needed to get things just right.
How to Save Money On Vape Juice
Regardless of your choice of vape juice, there are ways to keep the prices down. The most obvious one is DIYing, which I’ve covered. However, what if you don’t have the time or the energy to invest in that? Try out these vape juice cost-saving tactics – they’ve worked for thousands of vapers so far, so why should you be different?
- Always buy large quantities and in bulk – Ok, it’s an investment, but if you find a juice that you absolutely love, it pays off to buy it in bulk. The bigger the bottles, the better because most sellers price down 60 ml bottles compared to 15 ml ones.
- Look out for flash sales – Times are always a-changin’. The same holds true for tastes. In an industry that churns out as many products as this one, it’s natural that sellers will try to get rid of old merchandise as quickly as possible in order to free up storage space. Keep an eye out for flash sales on your favorite sites.
- Use coupon codes – Coupon codes are a great incentive to buy and a lot of sellers provide them to specialized sites. The only shame is that not enough vapers are taking advantage of them. Next time you’re buying vape juice, google the brand name + coupons – something might pop up and you just might save 10 or 20% off your purchase.
- Keep an eye on the cost of shipping – Shipping can really balloon up the cost of acquiring e juice. Your best bet is to look for sites that include free shipping on orders above a certain value. US vapers have a lot of choices here – however, if you’re somewhere else in the world, make sure that the shipping doesn’t cost more than what you’re actually buying because that would really sting!
How Much Will You Spend On Vape Juice Depends On How Much You Vape
A factor on which your total cost depends on is, of course, how much your vape juice lasts. This wildly differs from person to person and you can even expect your vaping habits to change occasionally. Sometimes, I vape as little as 2 ml per day. Other times, that number is closer to 15 ml (what can I say, I get bored watching TV).
Let’s say that the average is 5 ml per day. That means that you will vape 1,825 ml in a year. If you’re DIYing, your total vape juice cost could be as low as $109 for the whole year. Using regular vape juice will cost you $419; premium juice will set you back around $1700 yearly, and organic juice will come to about $1400. This is using the calculation for above-mentioned brands. Add $150 every year for a device and coils, and that’s your total vaping cost.
Like I said, how much vape juice lasts and how much does it cost are nonsensical questions. It can cost as much as you’re willing to invest and will last as long as you see fit – it totally depends on you. Even if you only vape on premium juice, you’re like to save money on a yearly basis, at least when you compare it to smoking. On the other hand, going with regular juice, or even DIYing, will drastically reduce your cost.
Where do you stand on this? Do you use regular or premium vape juice, or did you opt for the DIY approach? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss the pros and cons of each option.