What Is Shortfill E-Liquid?

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If you live in Europe and want to live The Vape Life to its fullest potential, “shortfill e-liquid” is a term that absolutely needs to be a part of your vocabulary. That’s especially true if you’re a new vaper because, when you buy your first vaping device in Europe or the United Kingdom, it’s entirely possible that you’ll buy that device from a vape shop that carries almost nothing but shortfill e-liquid.

If you don’t know what you’re buying, you could end up vaping an e-liquid that’s nicotine free and wondering why you can’t do anything to get your nicotine cravings under control.

In this article, we’re going to help you out by defining what shortfill e-liquid is. We’re also going to explain how to use shortfill e-liquid and discuss a bit of the background that led to the creation of shortfill vape juice. Let’s get started!

What Is Shortfill E-Liquid?

Shortfill e-liquid is vape juice that’s sold in a large container – typically 60 ml or bigger – with empty space for at least 10 ml of additional e-liquid. Shortfill e-liquid has no nicotine, which means it isn’t ready to use when you initially buy it unless using nicotine-free vape juice is actually your goal.

You’ll need to add nicotine to the bottle yourself. Bottles of flavorless nicotine designed for use with shortfill e-liquid are called nicotine shots, and a vape shop that sells shortfill e-liquid will always have nicotine shots available.

For reasons we’ll explain in a moment, shortfill vape juice is sold only in nations that follow the restrictions put forth in the Tobacco Products Directive. Those include the nations of the European Union as well as the United Kingdom.

Why Do Companies Make Shortfill E-Liquid?

At first glance, using shortfill e-liquid may seem like a rather convoluted way to vape. Why would you want to buy your vape juice and your nicotine separately when you could just buy them pre-mixed in a single bottle? The answer is that the Tobacco Products Directive includes a restriction limiting the size of any bottle of e-liquid with nicotine to a maximum capacity of 10 ml.

That restriction, however, doesn’t apply to shortfill e-liquid because the nicotine is sold separately. Therefore, a bottle of shortfill vape juice can be as large as the manufacturer wants it to be, and it’s still completely legal to sell in the EU and UK.

Why should you care if your e-liquid comes in a single large bottle or several small ones? If you use a high-power vaping device, you’ll care because it’s a matter of convenience. With a sub-ohm vape mod, you can easily use more than 10 ml of e-liquid in a single day. If you buy pre-mixed e-liquid with nicotine, you could end up going through 7-10 small bottles of vape juice in a week.

That’s very inconvenient, and it’ll also create a lot of plastic waste. Do you want to carry several small bottles of e-liquid every time you leave the house, or would you rather have just one bottle? That’s why shortfill vape juice exists, and it’s the reason why so many people buy it.

How to Buy Shortfill E-Liquid

The first thing you need to know about buying shortfill e-liquid is that it isn’t necessarily the right choice for all types of vaping hardware. That’s because the strength of shortfill e-liquid is typically 3 mg/ml after the nicotine has been added.

That’s the most popular nicotine strength among those who use large sub-ohm vape mods. The people who use those devices, though, are usually more experienced vapers. If you’re new to vaping, there’s a good chance that you’re using a small device such as a pod system. In that case, you’re probably better off buying higher-strength nicotine salt vape juice in smaller bottles.

If you decide that shortfill e-liquid is the right choice for you, the most important thing to know is that the e-liquid will have no nicotine unless you add it yourself. Therefore, you’ll need to buy at least one nicotine shot. Vape shops that sell shortfill e-liquid almost always have nicotine shots available as well.

A nicotine shot usually contains 10 ml of flavorless e-liquid with a nicotine strength of 18 mg/ml.

  • If you have a 60 ml shortfill bottle, you should buy one nicotine shot.
  • If you have a 120 ml shortfill bottle, you should buy two nicotine shots.

In both of the above scenarios, your e-liquid will have a final strength of 3 mg/ml after you’ve added the nicotine shot(s).

How Do You Use Shortfill E-Liquid?

Before you can use a bottle of shortfill e-liquid, you’ll need to add the nicotine. To do that, follow these steps.

  • Open the bottle of shortfill e-liquid and pry off the nozzle at the top of the bottle. You can do that by putting your fingernail – or a tool – under the rim of the nozzle and prying gently until the nozzle comes loose.
  • Add one or two nicotine shots to the bottle. The bottle should now be completely full.
  • Replace the nozzle and close the bottle tightly.
  • Shake the bottle vigorously for several seconds to ensure even distribution of the nicotine. The shortfill e-liquid is now ready to use.

One difference between shortfill e-liquid and pre-mixed vape juice is that shaking a bottle manually doesn’t mix the ingredients with the same efficiency as an industrial mixing machine. Therefore, the nicotine may separate out of the solution over time. It’s a good idea to shake the bottle for a few seconds each time you refill your tank.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Shortfill E-Liquid?

Shortfill e-liquid does have one potential downside. The drawback is that nicotine shots are flavorless and may therefore dilute the flavor of your e-liquid. Some vape juice makers compensate for that fact by using higher flavor concentrations for their shortfill e-liquids.

Flavor is something that’s individual to each vape juice company, though, so all manufacturers may not follow exactly the same protocols for their shortfill products. If you find that the flavor of a given shortfill e-liquid seems a little muted, you should try a different brand instead or simply buy the e-liquid pre-mixed in 10 ml bottles if they’re available.