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Ask yourself this question…would you drive to a new city without first checking out the route on your GPS or looking at a map to at least find a starting point and see how to get to your destination? So why would you mix a new flavor without at least checking to see what your starting percentage should be and having an idea of how it will affect the final product? I always like to check the manufacturers' recommended percentage and start lower than what they recommend. Experience tells me that you never really want to start out full blast on a flavor, for several reasons:
Check out some of the recipe websites like www.e-liquid-recipes.com or www.alltheflavors.com and go to the resources/flavorings tab. Type in your flavor and see what the average percentage used is. Does it seem realistic based on the initial smell or taste test you did on the flavoring? Check and see how you are using the flavor…for instance is it the main flavor in the recipe? If it is that’s Great, then go almost standalone or a bit under what the MEDIAN usage is. DO NOT USE THE AVERAGE!!! And sure you'll get some crazy results sometimes, but hey that’s what makes it interesting. Always remember, if it's a cream start light and let your creams steep. Many times, you won't taste a cream off the bat and accidentally over flavor and then when it does age or "steep", the cream takes over and you don't know why. Remember, most creams are meant to be used as accents, not main flavors.
Capella (CAP) and TFA: On average I test mix at 3%, 4% and 5% to get a feel for how they taste. I've had my CAP and TFA as high as 9% on a few standalones (TFA Strawberry Ripe) and as low as .5% (TFA Dulce de Leche), this does not include creams. I use CAP and TFA Creams, on average, at a maximum of 2% but have gone as high as 4% with Bavarian Cream and Vanilla Swirl.
Flavour Art (FA): This is one that can and will be very strong on average. I ALWAYS check my recommended percentage directly from the manufacturer themselves. This will ensure you generally start at the correct percentage. I mix these at 1-3% on average, though there are some that are so strong that you only need 1 drop per 30 ml’s (i.e., FA Blackberry). I use the FA creams around .4-2% maximum. Many times, you will not taste the FA creams at the beginning…they will come into the flavor at around 2 weeks. I've also noticed that at lower percentages the FA creams provide more texture, and at the higher percentages; more of the intended flavor. Be careful however, as FA creams are not very forgiving and can and will take over your recipe.
Inawera (INA) is going to be as strong as FA if not stronger. A great example is their Wild Strawberry IT IS SOOOO STRONG you may only need 1 drop per 15-30 ml’s (you’ll have to base it on your personal taste) to be full and rich. Some other Inawera flavors are not quite as strong and can be used upwards of 3% if necessary (i.e., Black Currant). Based on my experience I find that it’s best to use most Inawera (INA) flavors below 1.5%.
Keep in mind that each and every manufacturer’s products are going to be used at different percentages, I suggest you find the high and the low of each flavor so you know how to use it to achieve the end result you want. Think about it…how can we make good juice if we don't know how the individual flavors perform or what they taste like at different percentages? As a rule of thumb, if I’m are testing standalones, I’ll try 2/3 of the recommended percentage (e.g., if recommended was 3%, perhaps start at 2% and work your way up...).
After all, that's what this is all about!
The following is a little guide to getting started on knowing your flavors…as a matter of interest by knowing your flavors you will understand that the "cheaper" priced flavors are not always cheaper!
FlavourArt (FA) concentrates are very concentrated (as are Wonder Flavours (WF), Inawera (INA) & Wizard Labs (WL) Menthol). Many times, you will only need .5%-3% of a flavor to get the needed effect. Many of the popular brands will need two times that amount and hence these are what we consider "super concentrated". Super concentrated flavorings are usually a bit more expensive to purchase the same amount, but since you need less flavoring, they actually end up being cheaper.
FlavourArt Vienna Cream (FA) is used on average at .4% to a maximum of 2% …1oz (30 ml) of FlavourArt Vienna Cream is $5.55 or $0.185 cents per ml. If you use it in a recipe to smooth out some fruits at 1.3% you will put a total of .4mls in a 30ml bottle. That's it! That's equates to ONLY 7 cents of FlavourArt Vienna Cream in 30 ml’s of finished liquid. On the other side of the coin, (TFA) Vanilla Swirl (NOT super concentrated) is used on average 2%-4%. Doing a comparison…1oz (30 ml) of TFA Vanilla Swirl is $3.95 or $0.13 cents per ml.
In order to achieve the same effect as 1.3% of Vienna Cream, we are going to have to put the Vanilla Swirl in at 3%. As you know, 3% is .9mls in a 30ml bottle. This comes out to $0.117 cents per bottle which is almost 5 cents MORE per 30mls!