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Reverse Engineering a commercial E-Liquid

Discussion in 'DIY E-Liquid' started by Kusie, Mar 6, 2018.

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  1. Kusie

    Kusie Senior Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 21, 2017
    Hi all,

    when I started vaping I ordered lots of different e-liquids from an internet shop just to try different things. One of those mixtures really stayed with me and I really like it to this day even if I started make my own juice with base and flavorings. But I´m not willing to pay 4 Euros for 10 ml liquid any more... so I tried to re-create the liquid with some flavours I ordered that I THOUGHT might be close, but I failed miserably. Already contacted the shop, the liquid will not be available as a concentrated aroma version, they do not share the recipe since the liquid is manufactured for them by a commercial factory and they just put their name on it. So it COULD be that it´s just a re-branded version of a liqid from a major eliquid company sold by them under a different name or a completely new recipe... who knows.

    I´m lost. It seems to me it´s impossible to know all the available flavorings .. Is there ANY chance to reverse engineer a commercial e liquid?
    Btw, it´s this one (German shop):
    Mojito, 3,45 €

    Edit: I already tried around 6 commercially availabe Mojito flavorings for DIY but none of them is the right one...

    • Optimistic Optimistic x 1
  2. zoiDman

    zoiDman My -0^10 = Nothing at All* ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Apr 16, 2010
    When I switched to e-Cigarettes, I was lucky to find an ADV pretty much right off the start. Tasty Vapor's TastyFinger.

    And since I was kinda into DIY already, by adding Flavorings or Sweetener to make Retail e-Liquids Stronger and or Sweeter, I decided to Clone TastyFinger. I mean... How Hard could it possibly Be?


    I spend 1/2 of 2010 and most of 2011 doing Dozens and Dozens and Dozens (and Dozens) of work-ups. It was Maddening. And became a Borderline Compulsion. I had full box of 3-x-5 Cards with Recipes and Cryptic Batch Codes like 17F or 21AB written on Blue Painters Tape on too many 30ml Glass Bottles to count.

    I would get Soooo Cloooose at times. So Very Agonizingly Close. Only to Add or Subtract a Flavoring or Change a Percentage which would then push it away from where it should be.

    I Finally Got It. It was a Absolute 1:1 Clone. And a Very Complex Multi-Flavor Recipe.

    My Advise is if you want to Clone a Complex Retail e-Liquid is to have Realistic Goals. Because you might be able to get it Close relatively quickly. But going the Last Mile can be Murder.

    BTW - Even if I told someone the Individual Flavors needed to Clone TastyFinger (which I won't), without their respective Percentages, you would only be about 40% Closer to making it.

    The Percentages are what can make the Last Mile so Tough.
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  3. bombastinator

    bombastinator Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Sep 12, 2010
    MN USA
    They may not taste exactly the same, but if they’re any good you could still vape them and not worry about it. Just a thought.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  4. stols001

    stols001 Mistress of the Dark Nicotinic Arts Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    May 30, 2017
    Tucson, AZ
    I am glad I was not "wedded" to one particular juice when I started DIY, because I think cloning them is pretty tough. You may be able to find a "recipe" that closely matches it, either on the DIY forum here or a separate place that has many recipes stored. I think a 1:1 clone is almost impossible unless a vendor graciously discloses their "special blend" which I would see almost NO motivation for them to do.... I mean, it's kind of like being a Professional Cake baker, selling cakes at a premium. Are they going to tell you how to do it yourself? Probably not.

    With that said, you may very well still be able to create your own juices that you enjoy. Most of my concoctions don't taste anything like commercial juices taste to me now, they taste overflavored and oversweetened, sometimes harsh.

    I'd suggest trying so DIY on its own merits, as you slowly learn flavors you may be able to get yourself closer to the "juice" you desire, even if it's not a 1:1 clone of the juice itself, but you may still enjoy it.

    Without a recipe though, I could see it becoming an exercise in despair.... :( I don't mean that in a mean way, but you may wind up with a ton of experiments that just don't work. So maybe start your own experiments, slowly and surely and find something that you can enjoy...

    • Like Like x 2
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  5. dc99

    dc99 Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Aug 17, 2014
    While its not impossible it is hard and time consuming. A lot of times you can wind up with something better than the original. You have to be realistic in that even with something that sounds as simple as mojito you have no idea which flavor brand they used let alone which flavors. I normally start with the base first and then once I feel that its close I work on the accents. If you know your flavors really well its not impossible.
    • Agree Agree x 2
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  6. corn flakes

    corn flakes Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 29, 2014
    Brant County Canada
    It took me 15 months to crack my favorite juice.

    It can be done. It just takes lots of time and money.
    • Like Like x 2
  7. mackman

    mackman Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Aug 19, 2013
    • Useful Useful x 3
  8. DaveP

    DaveP PV Master & Musician ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    May 22, 2010
    Central GA
    Through DIY I found that I like simple mixes better than complex mixes. The more complex the mix the more likely it will clog your wicks and coils. Surprisingly, I found that I enjoy plain old Nic, PG, and VG unflavored mixes more than I expected.

    Cloning a mix will probably be a fun activity, but plan on spending lots of time and money to start off (as Zoidman said). Try to determine the individual flavors you detect and how heavy those flavors are in the mix. Its as much about percentages as it is about which flavorings are in the mix. Once you have an idea about which flavorings are included, try them in various combinations in small batches. Once you set up DIY at home your juice cost will drop dramatically. You'll save more than enough money on juice the first year to pay for everything needed for DIY.

    Rely on the trials of others if you can find DIY examples of those who have tried to replicate the mix. Having an established starting point can shorten the search for the exact clone.

    Good luck! Below are some examples made by others.

    Mojito E-Juice Recipes - 99Juices

    Made a pretty good mojito flavored juice. Thought I'd share the recipe. • r/DIY_eJuice
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  9. Kusie

    Kusie Senior Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 21, 2017
    Thanks for all the links and hints - what makes my quest especially challenging is that it´s a "house brand" ... if it was a mix from a known manufacturer like FA or TPA I´d probably have a chance that someone else has a recipe to clone it, but i´d have to start from scratch... unfortunately I neither have the time nor money to go for a years long quest just to create the perfect 100% clone... to be honest that would not be worth the effort. Maybe time to move on and put my mind at ease.

    • Like Like x 1
  10. gpjoe

    gpjoe Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Oct 30, 2013
    Yeah, same here. There is a juice I LOVE - Vape Dudes Paul Bunyan. It is described as a nutty graham vanilla with banana, custard, and cream - very similar to Cuttwood Boss Reserve. I have tried mixing those flavors in different percentages and failed miserably - every time.

    It seems to me that I am better off (and less wasteful) using other folks recipes. Problem is that nobody has even heard of Paul Bunyan, much less trying to clone it.

    I finally found a recipe for something called Banana Ice Cream that includes cheesecake graham crust, banana, vanilla custard, and cream. I added some Acetal Pyrazine to get a nutty note and it's not bad at all, just not quite the same. I figure I'm getting closer and need to fiddle with the recipe a bit.

    Point is - go to some of the recipe sites linked to above and find some popular recipes that are close, maybe missing a flavor or two, and play around with small batches.

    I'm already resigned to the fact that I will never have the time or persistence to clone a juice and just look for recipes that are close to the flavor profile I want.
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  11. adl

    adl Senior Member ECF Veteran

    Sep 1, 2011
    I made my first flavored mix today. It is very close to what I was buying from a B&M. I only put about 5% flavoring which is probably less than what they use. It was a simple recipe with only 2 flavorings, but I am pleased with the results. I upped the nic level a little bit and reversed the PG/VG ratio. I'm looking forward to finishing off the commercial version so I will have a 60ml bottle that is already labeled. :)
    • Like Like x 3
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