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What Is Short-fill E-Liquid?

Published April 1st 2019
If you’ve recently switched to vaping, it’s likely you’ve encountered an overwhelming and entirely new language. One of those words you’ll come across is a ‘short-fill’. In this article we’re going to help clear up exactly what a short-fill is so you can make a more informed decision.
Before diving into exactly what short-fills are, it will be helpful to outline a brief history of how short-fills came to prominence in the first place. Everything will end up making a lot more sense!

Prior to May 2016, the vape industry was highly unregulated and any vape juice could be sold at any concentration of nicotine without any real policies or regulations – laws simply did not exist in the industry.

old style vape juice

An old-school 30ml bottle of vape juice at 3mg


The most prominent juices sold prior to May 2016 were 30ml bottles at 3mg nicotine strength for an average of about £15 per bottle. The industry was booming and vape shops were opening left right and centre. However, on 20 May 2016, a new regulation came into power known as the Tobacco Products Directive ('TPD') that changed everything.

Simply put, the TPD implemented regulations that can be boiled down to two main points:
  1. Nicotine-containing liquids must not exceed 10ml; and

  2. Nicotine-containing liquids must undergo a series of appropriate (and expensive) tests.
These newly required tests proved extremely costly. At the time a single test may have cost a manufacturer up to £10,000. This cost was not only for each nicotine strength of a given juice, but also each variation of that juice. For example, a single juice that was available in multiple VG/PG ratios (vape juice ingredients) would also have to be tested at each equivalent nicotine strength for each of those ratios.

As you can imagine, many manufacturers have anywhere between 20-100 different juices in their catalogue and testing each of these would prove extremely costly. In order to accommodate for this new regulation change, the industry came up with a different solution – this is where short-fills come in.

How Short-fills Overcame Regulation


As the TPD only concerned itself with nicotine-containing liquids the industry had two choices. Manufacturers could either:
  1. Continue to produce all juices with varying degrees of nicotine at the new 10ml limit and pay for the tests required for each nicotine-containing liquid; or

  2. Produce vape juices at 0mg and circumvent the new costly fees altogether.
The majority of the industry adopted the second option. Instead of testing every single juice at every single variation in a manufacturers catalogue, manufacturers continued to produce larger bottles at 0mg.

Okay so everyone is now producing big bottles at 0mg.
But I need nicotine! What about the nicotine?!


In order to still be able to accommodate for the market’s nicotine demand, an add-on product was created to mix into the zero nicotine juices. This add-on product is a generic and flavourless juice that contains the maximum amount of nicotine permitted under the TPD and has become known as a 'nicotine shot'.

Nicotine shots are essentially the orange squash of the vape world. Just replace orange squash with flavourless and concentrated nicotine. You mix the concentrated nicotine shot into a larger zero nicotine juice and you get a diluted overall nicotine strength.

short-fill nicotine shot

A widely used nicotine shot.


By relying on nicotine shots to get the desired amount of nicotine into vape juices, manufacturers only had to pay for the single nicotine shot test under the TPD.

What are Short-fills?


A short-fill is most commonly a 60ml bottle that contains only 50ml of actual flavoured juice at zero nicotine. This leaves a gap of 10ml in the bottle – i.e. the bottle has not been filled to the brim thus, it is a 'short-fill'.

This then gives the user an opportunity to mix in a concentrated nicotine shot in order to produce an overall volume of 60ml at a more diluted nicotine concentration than the highly concentrated nicotine shot.

Feel free to check out our nicotine shot calculator for exact measurements.

What about Higher Strengths of Nicotine?


While this solution worked to overcome regulations for users of 3mg vape juice, it was not quite a blanket solution for the higher concentrations of nicotine that some users prefer. This is because if a user preferred for example, a 12mg juice, that user would have to add much more than a single nicotine shot to that 50ml zero nicotine juice in order to achieve the desired nicotine strength. As you can imagine, this would heavily dilute the flavour and would no longer produce an enjoyable experience.

This means that in the current market, short-fills tend to only be available to users who want a maximum of 6mg vape juice. Starting with a base volume of 20ml at 0mg, a user only needs to add a single nicotine shot in order to achieve their desired strength of 6mg.

However, in the event that a user starts with a base volume of 100ml for example, that user would then have to add four nicotine shots in order to achieve an overall concentration of 6mg – thus heavily diluting the flavour.

This means that for strengths above 6mg, it is recommended that you stick to the smaller 10ml bottles. While they may be more expensive per ML, this is only a reflection of the fact that they have had to undergo strict testing under the TPD regulation as they contain nicotine.

However, there is a new alternative to the common 10ml vape juice which is beginning to take the market by storm. Stay tuned, we'll be covering that soon.
Written by IndeJuice Editorial

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What is E-Liquid?

Vape juice, commonly referred to as e-Liquid, is the substance that is used to refill vape devices. These juices contain three main ingredients: vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol and flavourings. Nicotine can also be added but is optional and dependant on user preference.

What categories or types of Vape Juice are there?

Vape juice comes in four main forms: Shortfills, Regular 10mls, Nicotine Salts and Concentrates. Whilst the former is generally regarded as the default choice for vapers who enjoy a lower nicotine vape juice, Regular 10mls and Nicotine Salts both cater primarily for those looking to switch over from smoking due to their ability to contain high amounts of nicotine.

What are Shortfill E-Liquids?

By default, short fills come as zero nicotine e-liquids and are not filled to the brim of the bottle – hence their names. This leaves just enough room for one or sometimes two nicotine shots (if required by the user). By adopting this approach, e-liquid manufacturers are able to lower their compliance costs by only testing the separate nicotine shot that they can then bundle into packages with all available flavours. Otherwise, if manufacturers pre-mixed their nicotine into all their flavours, they would be obliged to have all flavours tested as they would then all be 'nicotine-containing compounds' – which is what the compliance regulation seeks to regulate through testing.

What are Regular 10ml E-Liquids?

By contrast, Regular 10mls do not require the addition of nicotine as these e-liquids come pre-mixed with nicotine. Because of this, the law requires all eliquids that are pre-mixed with nicotine to be limited to a maximum capacity of 10ml and a maximum nicotine concentration of 20mg. Whilst this generally results in a more expensive end product, it comes with the added benefit of a wide variety of nicotine strengths all the way up to 20mg. Achieving such a high strength is not possible with shortfills due to the nature of dilution when starting off with a 20mg nicotine shot.

What are Nicotine Salt E-Liquids?

Similar to Regular 10mls, Nicotine Salts are also required to be tested on a per strength and per flavour basis as they come pre-mixed with nicotine. This again generally leads to a higher cost per millilitre for nicotine salts. However, unlike Regular 10mls that utilise the freebase nicotine compound, nicotine salts are unique in their use of an additional salt molecule that is attached to the nicotine molecule. This chemical difference in the nicotine compound results in a much smoother and softer inhale with Nicotine Salt eliquids when compared directly with Regular 10mls or Shortfills that have been mixed with a freebase nicotine shot.

What are Concentrate E-Liquids?

Unlike the above types of e-liquids, concentrates do not generally contain any VG whatsoever. This is because concentrates are a mixture of your desired flavour concentrates usually suspended in PG. It is then up to the user to use their own VG/PG mixture to bring the concentrates up to the desired VG/PG ratio. Whilst this may seem laborious, the intended purpose of concentrates is for hobbyists and more advanced vapers who tend to prefer lower resistance coils that use a lot of e-juice in a short space of time. For this type of vaping, concentrates are more cost effective.

Which Nicotine Strength E-Liquid should you choose?

Your choice of e-Liquid is highly dependent on your objective. If you have recently switched over from smoking a pack a day, we would generally recommend starting with either Nicotine Salts or Regular 10mls at a nicotine concentration of 15-20mg. Along with the best vape starter kit device, this should be a smooth transition and is most likely to satisfy your nicotine concentration.

If you are looking to lower your nicotine intake having already switched over from smoking, or if you were not a heavy smoker to begin with, we would recommend looking into shortfill e-Liquids that start off at 0mg and can be increased to 3mg or sometimes 6mg with a nicotine shot.

Which Brand of E-Liquid is right for you?

We have a range of over 7,000 e-liquids, a large variety to add to your shopping cart with Free UK delivery and free nicotine shots. As well as the best and most popular brands such as Nasty Juice, IVG E-Liquids, Dinner Lady, and Vampire Vape, our vape juice types range from high nicotine to nicotine free.

Shop for your best bottle of new e-liquid here at IndeJuice the home of independent e-liquids. Our products cannot be beat on price and liquid sold on IndeJuice is checked to ensure that it is TPD Compliant and each bottle is checked on a per bottle basis for quality at our site.

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We also have a large collection of salts brand to choose from and concentrates if you prefer to mix and make your own vape juice using a pg or vg kit. Product and accessories information can be found be found underneath the product image and will show all available results you may be looking for prior to adding to cart.

If you would like to filter by juices types make sure you know the VG/PG blend that you prefer your juices mixed at and the relevant nicotine strength if higher than zero nicotine. As vaping is entirely different to smoking and vapes are different to the conventional cigarette it is important that you are sure of your nicotine need prior to hitting the buy button as all liquids are different are produced or made uniquely.

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