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by , 09-12-2009 at 07:28 AM (2715 Views)
(Please see comments for more recent thoughts on this topic)...

The recurring fascination that some members have with getting their hands on pure nicotine is understandable. The manufacturer who I would most trust prices 500 mL of 99+% nicotine (remainder water) at around $800. The math is pretty simple: For $800, ten liters of 50 mg/mL e-liquid mixing concentrate could be produced. This could be diluted down to 20 liters of a 25 mg/mL e-liquid. Someone vaping 2.5 mL/day of this 25 mg e-liquid would have better than a 20 year supply.

It's been said before and I'll say it again. Pure nicotine is dynamite. It wants to kill you and just needs a single opportunity. A drop fallen from the cap, a bit left in a pipette, a carelessly disposed of paper towel. Someone has to handle our trash after all. Got kids? Take that "one drop can be lethal" rule, and cut it back considerably. As somebody said on one of the threads, "FFS, why does this keep coming up?"

When we purchase flavored e-liquids, we pay for the recipe. That's fair enough. But I'll say this, because it is true: There is no recipe in play when it comes to e-liquid concentrate containing essentially PG and nicotine. There is no "art" to it. Pricing nicotine concentrates on par with flavored e-liquids is ridiculous. (Unless the flavored liquids themselves are reasonably priced).

There, I've said it. DIY nicotine concentrates anywhere from 36 mg up to the 75 mg I've seen or heard of are priced ridiculously, due largely to the small volumes (30 mL) generally seen coupled with the common lack of higher volume pricing. You're going to pay more for lower volumes (30 mL), and that's natural. Being constrained to only purchasing 30 mL unit sizes, that smacks of "something under the porch don't smell right". If I only want 30 mL, sure, I'll pay more for the smaller unit, but why limit me to the 30 mL unit size? Wait.. Don't answer, I already know why.

So let's talk about a fair price. First of all, you're looking for volume, so thanks but no thanks to all the suppliers who seem to think that 30 mL is a good idea as the largest volume they sell per unit.

I've made no secret that I've recently become a fan of myfreedomsmoke.com. Chris sells a 48 mg concentrate (currently in volumes up to 500 mL @ $185) that I titrated out to within 5% of the labeled concentration. Truth be told, with a total nicotine content of 24 grams / 500 mL, there's about $38 worth of nicotine in there. He's probably paying around a 100% markup, and it's fair for him to charge around a 100% markup (gets you awfully close to the price he's charging). You could take that 500 mL of 48 mg he sells and make 667 mL of 36 mg liquid. Your cost per 30 mL would be around $8.00. Vaping for a year for $185 ($15/month, $0.50/day), sounds OK to me. Chris isn't the only supplier out there who will sell in units that last for more than a week or so, but generally suppliers who do sell higher unit volumes seem to be the exception to the rule. Do you hear me, TW? (to pick a poster-child for the "sell small" rule).

In short, for concentrates, think in terms of dollars per gram of nicotine. For me, the sweet spot is at 500 mL. Pay no more than $8.00 per gram of nicotine when you're up at 500 mL.

If you can buy 500 mL of 50 mg/mL for $200, you're getting 0.05g/mL * 500 mL or 25 grams for $200. The price per gram of nicotine is then $200/25g, or $8.00/gram. Go for it.

How about 500 mL of 36 mg/mL for $169? You're getting 0.036 g/mL * 500 mL or 18 grams for $169. The price per gram of nicotine is then $169/18, or 9.39/gram. Not as good a deal for the money.

This is, of course, my opinion, and other opinions may differ.
mobiusvapours likes this.

Updated 09-19-2009 at 04:09 AM by DVap (Took a better look at the issues.)



  1. KevinG's Avatar
    Using the pricing of nicotine as your only cost constraint is absolutely insane.

    We for example just started selling 30ml bottles of our liquid (the "unknown" you sampled) for $19.95 and I can tell you the markup isn't that high.

    Consider the cost of nicotine at $1.6/g
    Consider the cost of the raw material (I know it's cheap)
    Consider the cost of the bottle
    Consider the cost of the dropper
    Consider the cost of the CRC
    Consider the cost of the labor (bottling, labeling, shrink banding, etc)

    In our case consider the cost of the lab testing of the raw material and batches. In our case our PG and Glycerin/Glycerol is 50 gallon drums so the raw material tests (FID and MS) are a marginal cost. The nicotine although we ran it on MS we could in theory rely on sigma-aldrich as they are a reputable source. At a minimum though every batch has to have an FID and MS of which I'm sure you know the cost. If we did batches of 100L granted the cost is marginal, but we are only doing batches of 10-15L or so.

    So to summarize, while I agree that bulk liquid should be cheap I don't think the 30ml costs are unreasonable especially if lab testing is involved. At the end of the day while we provide a service, [B][U]we still run a business[/U][/B]
  2. DVap's Avatar
    I've probably not thought through enough of the considerations, and as I don't sell liquids, I'll admit to having the luxury of not having to think these things through completely.

    Honestly, I had a company in mind who prices quite ambitiously (and I believe we pay for their hype) when I was writing up this entry, and perhaps to have one company in mind while painting other companies with the same brush isn't completely fair.

    It's reasonable, having given it more thought, that some suppliers might settle on 30 mL as their largest unit, simply for the perfectly sensible reason that they've found that 30 mL is what *most* customers are comfortable buying.

    So for that fringe like me who wants high volume to "stock up" for whatever reason, it's missing the point to criticize the decision to sell at a certain smaller volume based only on a set of criteria that doesn't consider the bulk of the sales that suppliers rely on, which probably are the 30 mL and below sizes.

    It's not unreasonable that a supplier might set up a volume based price schedule where the largest volume (of course) is the best bargain. We see it all the time when we buy groceries. I'll make one up right now that isn't too out of line with what we might see:

    500 mL: 200$
    and for every halving of the volume below 500 mL, the price is approx 60 percent of the price for the 2X volume item.

    This would give us:

    500 mL: $200
    250 mL: $120
    125 mL: $72
    60 mL: $43
    30 mL: $22
    15 mL: $13
    10 mL: $10

    Looking at it this way, I must say $20 for 30 mL, especially with the kind of laboratory work you are having done, is quite reasonable.

    I guess I could just edit these considerations into the parent post, but I'd rather not edit myself to that degree as if I'm whitewashing myself to cover my less than well-thought out moments. Instead I'll just edit in a quick (please see comments for more recent thoughts on this topic).
  3. I Stelfer I's Avatar
    KevinG, where do you get 50 gallon drums? I can only find it in 55 gallon drums.
  4. DVap's Avatar
    Was probably a rounded figure..

    it's hit or miss whether a poster will come back read the comments in another's blog, so don't be surprised if you don't get an answer here.
  5. I Stelfer I's Avatar
    5 gallons is alot to round lol plus its harder to have to reach over to the "0" key rather than hitting the same key twice
  6. KevinG's Avatar
    Actually we pay by the weight, not by the gallon so it could very well be a 55 gallon drum.
  7. KevinG's Avatar
    Just looked at it for you just in case it helps

    PG Drum is 480 lbs.
    Glycerin Drum is 570 lbs.

    PG has a specific gravity of 1.036
    Glycerin has a specific gravity of 1.236

    ((480/2.2)/1.036) = 210.60L (55.63 Gallons)

    ((570/2.2)/1.236) = 209.62L (55.38 Gallons)

    So you are in fact correct, both drums are 55G
  8. I Stelfer I's Avatar
    I also looked into getting a 55 gallon drum of PG but I would never use it all. Just for the cost its very good. What is it in E-liquid that oxidizes and turns pink? Because if its not the PG then if might still be cost effective to buy the 55 G drum
  9. uzzaperez's Avatar
    Question: The problem with long term storage of nic concentrates is that the solution is PG or VG that goes bad, right? Would 100mg PGA solution be a solution?

    An 80/20 VG/100mg PGA mix would be a vapable 20mg/ml mix right? Doesn't PGA store well for many years? Would this be a workable solution for long term storage of nic concentrate or am I way off base?
  10. DVap's Avatar
    Sorry it took so long to find your post. I don't really see the stability problem as involving PG or VG, it's the nicotine that's subject to slow oxidation.

    I think 80/20 VG/alcohol as a vaping base would be a bit on the harsh side (for me), but it's within the realm of reason. When I do occasionally add alcohol, I stick to 10% myself.