You may have accidentally created e-liquids that feel harsh on your throat and wondered how it happened. Don't worry, you're not alone, and it's not a measure of your skill :P After years of mixing, we've learned about a few reasons you may not be aware of.
1) PG level too high
When calculating your VG:PG ratio, please note that almost all flavourings are almost aways based in PG, or mostly PG with some alcohol or VG. For the most part, you should be counting your flavouring amounts towards PG in your overall calculations. Not doing so underestimates the PG content and you could have quite a bit more PG than you intended. While PG is great for holding flavour, it will cause harshness if there is too much.
2) Alcohol Content Too High
A flammable symbol usually indicates the presence of alcohol in a flavouring, which can also cause some irritation that can subside with steeping. Using less of such flavours can help drastically.
3) Flavour - Nicotine Combinations
Some flavourings may vape perfectly fine until you add nicotine. What makes this one difficult to detect is the fact that not all people my be sensitive to a certain flavour-nic combination that is harsh to others. You'll only find out by trial and error. Having more flavours makes it harder to determine which flavouring is the culprit, so be systematic and eliminate one at a time.
4) Flavour - Flavour - Nicotine Combinations
This one is the most difficult to fix. You can have two flavourings, either one in the presence if nicotine being smooth, but then once the three (or more) are added together, they become harsh. You may have experienced this just by mixing two e-liquids in the same atomizer. As your recipes become more complex, this becomes exceedingly difficult to fix, but with enough effort you can find what works and what doesn't.
5) Poor Quality Nicotine
Poor quality nicotine can impart a peppery taste with harshness on the throat. If all the above checks out and even a simple PG/VG mix with nicotine is coming out harsh, then it may be your nicotine now causing the harshness. If you can make an eliquid with your nicotine that is not harsh, then you will need to explore the first 4 options to fix the harshness.
There's no easy way to know if your mix will come out harsh without making it, but as you come across mixes that don't work, take note. Figure out what works and what doesn't, then stick to the flavours that you can enjoy without any throat irritation or heavy lung feel. Try lowering percentages if you enjoy a flavour that causes the harshness, or avoid it entirely. Getting into DIY mixing is a process, and the better your approach, the more success you'll find. Good luck!
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