When you buy e-liquid, does the bottle material ever factor into your purchase decision? Today, most premium e-liquids ship in glass bottles. When people buy premium e-liquid, though, one of the first things that they often do is transfer it into plastic unicorn bottles.
If your favorite e-liquid maker suddenly switched from glass to plastic bottles, would you care?
Do you avoid allowing your e-liquid to touch plastic?
Do you think that using glass bottles is just a marketing tactic that “premium” e-liquid makers use to justify higher prices?
We investigated the differences between glass vs. plastic e-liquid bottles, and here’s what we found.
Plastic is probably the most convenient manufacturing material that exists. Plastic is cheap. It can take any form. It can be rigid or flexible. Plastic e-liquid bottles are easy to carry, and they don’t break when you drop them. A plastic bottle with a needle tip can fill any tank in a second or two — no matter how small the tank’s opening is.
Have you ever tried dripping with a glass eyedropper? Have you ever used a dropper to fill a tank and ended up with e-liquid on your mod and hands?
There is no question that plastic e-liquid bottles are more convenient and user friendly than glass bottles. If plastic wasn’t so convenient, you wouldn’t see unicorn bottles everywhere.
As e-liquid bottles get larger, glass becomes even less convenient. Most e-liquid companies that sell juice in 120 ml glass bottles don’t even bother including droppers, which means that you have to decant the juice into another container before you can actually use it. With plastic bottles, on the other hand, you’ll almost always receive a tip that allows you to drip or fill a tank directly from the bottle.
Flavor and Safety
When you buy e-liquid in a glass bottle, you know what you’re getting. With the exception of specialty products such as lead crystal, all glass is essentially the same. Plastic, on the other hand, comes in many different types. Some forms of plastic include the chemical BPA — an endocrine disruptor — that could potentially leech into e-liquid.
Have you ever wondered why you can rinse out a glass e-liquid bottle and reuse it — but the same isn’t true of plastic e-liquid bottles? Plastic is porous. E-liquid can actually enter the pores of a plastic bottle and become stuck inside them. You can rinse as much as you like, but once an e-liquid has been inside a plastic bottle, some of the e-liquid’s flavor will always remain.
Although no one has yet conducted an exhaustive study of the safety of plastic bottles for e-liquid storage, it is well known that plastic reacts with a wide array of chemicals while glass does not. If flavor quality and personal safety are important to you, glass is the natural choice.
Recycling and Environmental Concerns
You can recycle both glass and plastic, so you might assume that neither type of e-liquid bottle is harmful to the environment as long as you remember to recycle — but your assumption would actually be incorrect.
First, let’s look at glass. Glass doesn’t ever have to end up in a landfill because it doesn’t degrade in the recycling process. You can recycle glass as many times as you like. Glass companies actually prefer to use recycled glass because making products from recycled glass requires less energy than making new glass. If glass does end up in a landfill, it’ll take a very long time to biodegrade — but it won’t pollute the soil. Another point in favor of glass bottles is that they require less energy to produce than plastic bottles.
Have you ever noticed the “post-consumer” label on recycled plastic products? That label exists because plastic breaks down in the recycling process. In most cases, you can only recycle a plastic item and turn it into something useful once. Recycled plastic shoes and shirts aren’t actually particularly good for the environment because they can’t be recycled. They’ll eventually end up in landfills — and plastic in landfills is a major source of soil and groundwater pollution.
Steeping and Storage
As we mentioned above, plastic is more porous than glass. Since plastic exposes e-liquid to more air, moisture and light than glass, many people subjectively feel that glass does a better job of retaining an e-liquid’s original flavor. Glass doesn’t react with e-liquid, and it protects e-liquid from environmental effects.
If you steep your juice or buy e-liquid for long-term storage, the differences between glass and plastic e-liquid bottles become even more apparent. If you store e-liquid in a plastic bottle, the first thing you’ll notice is that the juice will quickly begin to change color. That’s oxidation. When nicotine comes into contact with air, it turns yellow and eventually brown.
The porous nature of plastic actually works both ways. Over time, a plastic e-liquid bottle will start to smell like the juice that’s inside it. If you have a pet, it’s important to remember that your furry friend’s nose is much more sensitive than yours. If your e-liquid smells good enough to eat, you need to keep your bottles well out of reach.
If you steep your e-liquid, the choice between plastic and glass bottles may not have an obvious answer. On one hand, glass is the more chemically inert solution for long-term e-liquid storage. On the other hand, any changes that take place in the flavor of the e-liquid will happen much more slowly if you use glass bottles. Steeping happens more quickly if you use plastic bottles, but long-term storage in a plastic bottle also means that more leeching and chemical intermingling could take place.
Join the Discussion
Glass e-liquid bottles are stylish, chemically inert, infinitely recyclable and better for the environment — and for reduction of fossil fuel usage — than plastic bottles. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to resist the convenience of a good old unicorn bottle. Which side of the fence are you on? Leave your comments below!