Until recently, I’d tried several times to make my own tobacco e liquid from real tobacco but every time the same old problems would emerge: my e liquids would take ages to brew, would always turn out too oily, too dirty, too sweet, too harsh, or just didn’t taste or smell “tobaccoey” enough. Now at last I’m pleased to say I’ve developed a simple four-day DIY tobacco e liquid production process that promises a clean, strong-tasting and authentic rich tobacco flavoured eliquid, with no oiliness or unwelcome flavours. Safety first: please read disclaimer below.
How is this NET extraction method different?
Previous NET tobacco extraction methods I have seen and tried involved a lot of boiling, steeping and soaking in alcohol, and these processes tend to subdue a lot of subtle flavours and create a lot of gunk and tarry aftertastes. Other methods recommend PG as the only solvent, though this tends to extract only flavours but not aroma. My extraction method produces a cleaner, richer NET e juice thanks to an accelerated four-day cold maceration process, zero use of alcohol and no direct heating of the tobacco itself, so less gunk and bitterness.
Why bother making your own NET tobacco e liquid?
There are a lot of suppliers already stocking eliquids that contain real tobacco extracts, and a few that are also selling NET tobacco concentrates and extracts that allow you to mix your own realistic-tasting NET e liquids. Of course, mixing from pre-made extracts is a lot easier to do, though most tobacco concentrates are produced using chemical processes, which can remove a lot of the freshness. Doing the whole thing from scratch is a rewarding process, and will produce a richer, more authentic flavour. It’s also a lot of fun!
Are NET tobacco E liquids safe? Disclaimer:
Making your own e liquid from real tobacco might be seen as a bit of a step back for those vapers who have already weaned themselves off the taste of tobacco. If that’s you, keep vaping on whatever you usually vape – this recipe is for die-hard tobacco loving adults who just can’t get on with vaping factory-bought “tobacco” eliquids, and who run such a big risk of going back on the smokes that only the real thing will do. Even then, I wouldn’t recommend vaping tobacco extracts in the long-term, for obvious reasons. View this e liquid recipe as a one-off treat for special occasions. I am likewise in no way pushing real tobacco eliquid extracts as a safe form of vaping – if you are unsure about the safety of doing this then please don’t bother!
Read on to find out how to make your own NET e liquids from real tobacco in four days!
e liquid from real tobacco: recipe
This method makes about 100 ml of NET tobacco eliquid that may tolerate a little extra dilution with PG/VG (30% or so) though it is best vaped neat. You can use any loose tobacco you like to make this e liquid – I’ve suggested blending the two most common light (golden) and dark (OH) rolling tobaccos in UK because they are fine cut and complement each other well. Pipe tobacco works well in small amounts to add extra flavour, though creates a bit too much gunk if used on its own – it’s also usually rougher cut and so may need more time to soak. Likewise, quantities in this recipe are pretty approximate – I’ve suggested more PG than VG as you will waste roughly one third of the PG you use – you can likewise adjust these proportions to your liking. Your finished NET e liquid will contain a small amount of nicotine – therefore, add extra nicotine sparingly, especially if you are direct-lung vaping – you’ll only need a few drops of extra nicotine.
Things you need: 3g (1/8 oz) light rolling tobacco, 3g (1/8 oz) dark rolling tobacco, 75ml Propylene Glycol (PG), 50ml Vegetable Glycerine (VG), few drops of distilled water, a few ceramic bowls or cups, basic kitchen utensils, a flour sieve, a microwave oven (or small saucepan and hob), paper tissue or nylon muslin bag, cling film (Saran wrap).
Important: if you can get fresh whole leaf tobacco, you will get better results and your resulting e liquid will be much cleaner and purer in flavour. Most “roll-up” tobacco (in the UK at least) is full of additives and will not give you a great flavour. Better still, you can grow your own tobacco in the UK (though this requires more patience!) and this will give you the best results all round.
Day 1: tobacco preparation and initial cold soak and mash
Put your tobacco (1/4 oz total) into a clean bowl and cover generously with cold PG (but don’t drown it – see picture) and leave for one hour, then mash with a fork for a couple of minutes to release initial flavours. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature overnight, high up and well away from children and animals.
Day 2: soak and mash
Remove cling film and repeat the fork mashing process again – the liquid around the tobacco should be a bit darker now. Cover again with cling film and store as before. You can mash twice (morning and night) to release a bit more flavour if you wish.
Day 3: soak and mash
Remove cling film, mash again and leave to soak as you did the day before.
Day 4: final mash, rough filter, VG soak and flush, fine filter
1) Mash one final time and pour out your PG/tobacco mixture through a fine sieve (a flour sieve or tea strainer will do). This is just to remove the big bits of tobacco and make the liquor easier to process later on. DO NOT throw away the spent tobacco in the sieve!
2) Put the strained juice to one side and meanwhile heat roughly the same quantity (or a little less) of vegetable glycerine and a few drops (1/4 – 1/2 ml or so) of distilled water (if not distilled, tap water’s ok) in a seperate bowl/cup for either a few seconds until finger hot (not boiling) in the microwave, or in a small saucepan on the hob. You can skip the water if you prefer, though it makes the liquid easier to filter later on and shouldn’t affect your vape.
3) Once ready, take your tobacco from the sieve and add to the hot vegetable glycerine. Mix well to extract flavours and flush out any PG left from before the sieving process. Cover the tobacco and glycerine bowl with cling film (to stop water evaporating) for about an hour.
4) Pour the glycerine/tobacco mixture through the sieve into the bowl containing the PG tobacco juice. You may need to squeeze the remaining tobacco in the sieve to extract all the juice from it. Clean hands or a (very) clean garlic press should do the job nicely.
5) Now, throw away the tobacco in the sieve, mix the extracted VG/PG tobacco juice liquid in your bowl and heat until finger hot (microwave or hob).
6) Set up a filter with either a nylon muslin bag or a couple of paper tissues doubled up and laid over a clean bowl (you can secure your filter with clothes pegs or a plate if you wish). Pour the hot liquid onto the paper filter and leave for 30 minutes or so until (or most of the liquid has been filtered.
If the juice takes ages to filter, heat liquid mixture again for a few seconds and try one sheet of tissue filter paper instead of two. The end result should be a dark and suberbly clear liquid that is neither cloudy or filmy (if it is, you’ve done something wrong and will need to throw it all away). It should also taste satisfyingly bitter (thanks to the PG extraction) and should have a strong sweet aroma, as long as you left the tobacco long enough in the VG.
7) When completely cool, add nicotine base liquid to taste, mix well, bottle and enjoy.
DIY Mixing with nicotine salts for a smoother tobacco flavour
For greater authenticity, and a smoother throat hit, I would strongly recommend using a nicotine salt base at 18mg, either on its own, or blended with your regular nicotine base. Adding nicotine salts will improve the flavour and richness immensely.
Final points: this real tobacco eliquid recipe works because the tobacco is given time to yield its most subtle flavours over a few days in the PG, while the short-contact VG soak extracts warmer and sweeter flavours, as well as aroma. You can try extending the PG + mash steep time to a week or more, though you may find that you end up extracting too many nasties, like oils, sugars and starches, which are to be avoided if possible. If your filtered e liquid looks at all oily, cloudy, or has a film over the surface, it’s probably best to discard it.
Despite the lack of heating, and relatively fast production time, this DIY tobacco e liquid will contain more soluble compounds than commercial tobacco eliquid, never mind how many times you filter it. Therefore, it’s best vaped in a device with a replaceable wick, and this will need to be changed daily for best results. Try also vaping at a low temperature (ideal power set up for flavour in my opinion is about 3 volts / 17.5 watts with a 0.5 ohm coil) and maximum 8mg nicotine. That’s a pretty weedy build for most sub-ohm vapers but for me these settings provide the best conditions for enjoying subtle flavours.