Picture this: You’re looking at a bottle of e-juice and notice the expiration date on it was — well, a little while ago. You’d like to relax and vape, but the eternal question remains: Can e-juice go bad? Is the nicotine all gone? Would it make you sick? Would it just taste unpleasant?
Quick Answers: Depends on Environment
Given that there’s an expiration date, you would think the logical answer to those questions would be yes, but that isn’t exactly the case. Essentially, e-liquid expiration dates are the FDA’s best guess based on the composition of PG (propylene glycol), VG (vegetable glycerin), and nicotine (occasional). Most e-liquids have a shelf life of around two years, if they have been kept cool (below 104 degrees) and away from light and oxygen, which can degrade open e-juice. Bottom line, if you have kept your unopened bottle in your dark, air-conditioned kitchen pantry, you should be fine. If it’s been open in your hot, sunny car in Las Vegas, probably better to throw it away.
In expired e-juice, the liquid can sometimes get thicker or darker. Slight discoloration doesn’t necessarily mean that the e-juice is harmful, or the nicotine is gone. It’s natural for nicotine to darken or for some sediment to have gathered at the bottom. Give the bottle a shake. If the solids don’t dissolve, then it’s probably better to throw it out. If you decide your e-juice is good, you might find that it doesn’t feel as if there is as much nicotine present as the bottle measurements would indicate. It’s common for nicotine to lose some degree of strength over time.
How About the Taste?
This is one area where the phrase “It depends” is pretty much applicable. Certain flavors may break down rapidly than others and leave the expired vape juice tasting or smelling bitter, metallic, or just “off.” On the other hand, some e-juice flavors may taste and smell just fine after two years. Give the expired e-liquid a brief sniff. Does it smell fine? If so, then it’s likely to have suffered no damage, especially if it’s been kept under optimal conditions. If the liquid smells different than when you first bought it — i.e., the label says “Watermelon,” but your nose yells “Socks!” — then definitely pitch it. Better to be safe than sorry.
Vape in Safety
Bottom line, if you know your bottle has been kept on a dark shelf, if it’s passed the shake test, and smells just fine, then it’s probably a safe bet to vape away.