Complete Guide for Enhancing the Flavour of Your E-Liquid
There a literally thousands of flavours out on the vaping market these days, ranging from simple nicotine related flavours right through to more extravagant titles like Apricot Passion Fruit Roulade and Deep-Fried Jam Donut.
How do these delicious sounding e-liquids get their flavours? Some of them are so uncanny it is actually like having a real jam donut in your mouth! This is where your flavour concentrates, and in particular your flavour enhancers, come into play.
Flavour enhancers do exactly what it says on the tin – they enhance flavour much in the same way additives are used within the food industry, or the way we use salt at home. They are meant to balance and blend your flavoured e-liquid. For example, you may have created a concoction that is really nice, but not quite sweet enough for the flavour you’re aiming for. Here you may include ethyl maltol or sucralose to add that extra sweet touch.
Continue reading to find out the names of other flavour enhancers and the purposes they serve.
Ethyl Maltol and Sucralose
Mentioned earlier, these compounds are sweeteners and will go a long way to providing that extra sugar buzz you’re looking for! They are not the same however, so one cannot be substituted for the other, as they work completely differently. Sucralose is a standard, overall type of sweetener – whereas ethyl maltol helps to sweeten certain flavours and aromas specifically.
For example, you may have some grape or pear flavouring that you feel isn’t sweet enough for your liking. Add some ethyl maltol and you should notice a difference in that specific flavour’s sweetness. If you want your mixture as a whole to sweeten up, then include sucralose; which is effectively just the same as putting sugar in your tea.
So if you have a chocolate and cream recipe, but the chocolate is overpowering the cream, you can add a little ethyl maltol to the cream element in a bid to enhance its status and dominance within the mixture. If you add sucralose you will simply increase the sweetness of everything – leaving the same levels of imbalance within the whole flavour experience.
Another popular choice is acetyl pyrazine. This flavour enhancer exposes a grainy flavour and texture within recipes. Cookie, cake and bread related recipes often make use of this compound. If you have a cookie-based recipe, but the actual ‘feel’ and taste of a cookie isn’t there – whack in some acetyl pyrazine!
It can also help to smooth out bitter notes in dark flavours and make them more prominent. This helps for recipes that include dark chocolate and coffee flavourings. You should always avoid using too much though, as this can make the grainy flavour and texture a bit overpowering and unsavoury.
In truth, acetyl pyrazine can be tricky and extremely awkward. It can also make or break a recipe – so be gentle with it as first! This is probably one for the more advanced vapers and those who know exactly what flavour profiles they want to achieve.
Malic and Citric Acids
Continuing on with expert-level enhancement – this one is most definitely not for beginners. Malic and citric acids – as you can probably guess – help to enhance sour, tart and acidic/citrus type flavours. This can provide the kick you’re looking for when creating, for example, lemon and lime related flavours.
The thing with acid is that it can be extremely muting. What this means is that it can dull the overall flavour if used incorrectly or may kill the flavour off completely. Citric acid is extremely finicky and does posses muting properties. A lot of tart and sour flavours already contain citric acid, so even the slightest addition can mute the whole mix entirely.
Malic acid is the same, but it is ‘not as muting’ for want of a better term. So if you’re thinking of making some fruit and candy mixes, stick with malic over citric! Avoid using any of the compounds whatsoever if you’re not intending to create a sour flavour – i.e. this won’t work well in bakery related e-liquids!
Triacetin adds a thicker and smoother feeling to your mix – like adding Barry White to a setlist. You should use this enhancer when you want a more blended and unified flavour. This makes it popular in smoothie recipes containing two or more fruit flavours. If you can completely tell the difference in each flavour and make the distinctions clearly – add a little triacetin to blend them all together into one.
As with many of the compounds mentioned already, triacetin is not suitable for all mixes as it provides only a slight and subtle change. Often, the change it makes in the final product is not worth the effort during the process. You can buy products like TFA Smooth and MTS Vape Wizard, which contain triacetin along with some other compounds that can be more effective in certain mixes. Be cautions though – using these products will eliminate any layering or subtleties you have in your mix.
Triacetin can also be used in tobacco flavours to mimic an authentic smoke taste/feel whilst adding some weight to your recipe.
Menthol & Koolada
Menthol is a flavour that is popular both in the vaping world and in the tobacco industry. It offers a minty taste with a cooling sensation on your palette. Koolada offers the exact same properties, only without the minty flavour. Up until now the flavour enhancers we have mentioned have been subtle, but these bad boys certainly aren’t shy! In fact, just the slightest introduction of menthol will alter your whole recipe completely. That doesn’t mean you should be shy using them though – they are extremely fun to experiment with and offer countless possibilities when it comes to creating interesting flavour profiles.
Don’t be mistaken for thinking that these compounds are only suitable for mint-based recipes either. You will be surprised just how versatile and useful they can be, in recipes you would never have imagined! Especially if you use Koolada, which enables you to achieve that cooling sensation without the minty flavour. Try it with an ice-cream-based recipe and the experience is mind-blowing – the cooling sensation mimics the ice-cold feeling of genuine ice-cream!
Vanillin = vanilla as you may have guessed. Essentially, this is like adding vanilla extract to a cake recipe and works in the same way. You may be wondering – what’s the difference between this compound and your typical vanilla flavouring? Vanillin provides your entire mix with a vanilla tasting kick, which will be present throughout your entire vaping experience. Whereas, you can layer vanilla flavouring so that a specific element of the recipe receives a vanilla kick. This is much the same as ethyl maltol and sucralose.
So if you have a Neapolitan ice-cream flavour and you want to heighten the taste of vanilla, either through the back or the front, use the flavouring and avoid the vanillin enhancer. The latter will just make the entire mix taste more vanilla. This is a very specific ingredient that often comes at a 10% concentration – so use conservatively!
Last but certainly not least, we have the champagne enhancer, which can add a carbonated effect to your recipes. This makes it perfect for fizzy pop recipes and alcohol-based recipes – hence the name. The compound is slightly acidic and makes a subtle change, rather than providing an extreme fizz sensation. Properties include white grape and light floral notes, so it is wise to work your base recipe around these subtle tones.
One final note – please be wary of what you’re putting into your e-liquids, there’s people who’ve ended smoking increased amounts of nicotine by accident, or even smoking food flavourings.