At this point the ranks of vapers have grown into the 100’s of thousands, if not more. And that’s just in the United States. With all of this growth has come a huge number of vendors. As we shop around and take the time to try out new brands for our electronic cigarette reviews we see a wide gap in pricing. It’s hard for a vaper to put a set figure on just how much an e juice should cost. Is that low priced juice a good deal, or is the more expensive option really better?
To start let’s recap the 4 main ingredients in e juice to see what their base costs are. Remember that we haven’t surveyed every vendor, nor do we mix e juice ourselves, so these are close approximations based on research and large quantity purchases of each key ingredient. We are assuming that the end mix measures out to: 40% PG, 40% VG, 10% flavoring and 10% nicotine, resulting in a medium level of nicotine and a 50/50 PG to VG ratio.:
Propylene glycol– E juices with more PG give more throat hit. Propylene glycol can be bought in bulk from $8/gallon up to around $20/gallon depending upon who you purchase it from. Let’s go with the average and call it $14/gallon or about $0.02 per 15 ml vial (assuming your end mix is 40% PG).
Vegetable glycerin– VG is known for producing clouds of vapor, but with less throat hit. Food grade vegetable glycerin goes for anywhere between $12/gallon and $30/gallon. The average being $21/gallon or about $0.03 per 15 ml vial (assuming your mix is 40% VG).
Food grade flavoring– This is where pricing is hard to pin down. There are a ton of places to buy food quality flavors. The better e juice brands will be using the more expensive options. Pricing puts most flavors in the $20/gallon to $70/gallon range. The average comes to $45/gallon or about $0.02 per 15 ml vial (assuming that 10% of your mix is flavoring).
Liquid nicotine– Prices for liquid nicotine run a wide range. The end cost depends upon where you buy it from, the nicotine concentration level that your purchase and then how much you dilute the product down during the mixing process. 100mg liquid nicotine is readily available for around $100 per liter bringing the cost to $0.15 for 15ml.
So, our rough estimate of the cost of mixing materials for a 15 ml bottle of e juice is:
$0.02 + $0.03 + $0.02 + $0.15 = $0.22
Based upon our math the actual ingredients in a 15ml bottle of e juice run cost about $0.22. We are happy to round this up to an even $0.25 for the sake or round numbers. Keep in mind that the bottles the juices are sold in, rent on a warehouse or brick and mortar store, website costs, shipping costs, employee/payroll costs, insurance, etc. must be factored in to the end cost as these are part of every manufacturer’s overhead. The actual cost of a 15ml bottle of e juice is in fact much higher than a quarter. Then they need to up the price a bit more so that they can make some profit, e juice manufacturers are businesses after all.
As with any product the larger and more established brands charge more for their e juice. It’s not unheard of for a vendor to ask for up to $25 for a 15 ml vial. A local brick and mortar near us sells their “premium” juices for that much for 10ml vials. In our humble opinion, this is just too much. While it is worthwhile to pay more for quality no one wants to feel like they were ripped off. On the other end of the spectrum we see some online retailers selling their juices for as low as $2 for a 15ml vial. This is probably too low. It may be a new brand trying to get their name out there, but we still don’t touch juices that cost this little. In our minds the juice is likely made of lower quality ingredients, and quite possibly in a lesser equipped facility by staff that may not be fully trained. To us, pricing should be in the middle. Standard 15ml bottles of e juice that run anywhere from $5 to $10, and $10 to $15 30ml bottles are fairly priced to us.
If you are ever in doubt as to whether you are paying too much we suggest shopping around. Start by looking at some of the bigger names like Mount Baker (currently $6 for 15ml and $11 for 30ml bottles) or Vapor 4 Life (currently selling 30ml bottles for $12.50). Anything in this range is a good buy in our opinion. While you are researching you will want to look for reviews on the juices themselves. You can find these online on sites like ours. You can also ask around or hop on forums like E Cig Forum or even Reddit. You have to take the information with a grain of salt, but forums can be great places to discover new brands of juice.