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What Is Short-fill E-Liquid?

Published 1 April 2019, Updated 2 May 2024

What Is Short-fill E-Liquid?

Shortfill e-liquid is a term used to describe a vape juice that has less liquid inside the bottle than the capacity of the container itself. The main reason for the existence of shortfills is the regulatory environment in the United Kingdom, which prohibits nicotine containing liquids above 10ml. Shortfills circumvent this regulation by providing nicotine free liquid that can be increased in nicotine strength through the addition of 10ml nicotine shots.

Shortfill e-liquids have become an increasingly popular option amongst vapers in recent years. As their name suggests, shortfills are large bottles of e-liquid that come without nicotine included. Vapers can then add their own nicotine shots to create their ideal nicotine strength.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about shortfill e-liquids, including:

  • What are shortfill e-liquids and where did they come from
  • The different sizes and varieties available
  • How to mix and prepare shortfills
  • The advantages they offer compared to normal e-juice
  • How to calculate nicotine content levels and tailor the vape to your needs
  • The importance of VG/PG ratios
  • What vape kits are compatible with shortfill liquids
  • The vast range of flavours and customisation options
  • How regulations impacted the growth of shortfills

So whether you’re new to shortfills or looking to get more out of your vaping experience, read on to discover everything these innovative liquids have to offer.

What Are Shortfill E-Liquids?

Shortfill e-liquid is a term used to describe a vape juice that has less liquid inside the bottle than the capacity of the container itself. Shortfill e-liquids first emerged around 2016/2017 as a response to new regulations on nicotine-containing e-liquids.

The EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) imposed strict limits on the size of nicotine e-liquid bottles, restricting them to just 10ml. This posed a major inconvenience for sub-ohm and high-wattage vapers, who can easily get through 10ml of juice per day.

Enter shortfills - Bigger bottles of zero-nicotine e-liquid, designed to be mixed with separate nicotine shots. By separating out the nicotine, shortfills provided a clever way for vapers to continue buying larger, more cost-effective volumes of juice.

The name “shortfill” refers to the fact these bottles are not completely topped up. There is enough space left for adding nicotine shots, typically 10ml in a 60ml bottle or 20ml in a 100ml bottle.

So in summary, shortfills offer vapers:

  • Nicotine-free e-liquid in larger, cost-effective volumes
  • Flexibility to add nicotine shots to your preferred strength
  • A way to meet TPD regulations whilst accommodating high-usage vapers

How Regulations Led to Shortfill Innovation

The TPD came into effect in May 2017, imposing major restrictions on nicotine e-liquids across Europe:

  • Max bottle size limited to 10ml
  • Max nicotine strength of 20mg/ml
  • New safety caps and warnings required

This posed a headache for sub-ohm vapers getting through 30-50ml per day. It would be inconvenient and costly buying lots of tiny 10ml bottles.

Cue ingenious vendors and e-liquid manufacturers quickly devising a solution - nicotine-free “shortfills” that dodged the size limits.

Adding a separate nic shot then allowed vapers to reach their desired strength without breaking any rules.

So in a sense, strict regulations gave birth to the shortfill concept. And the rest is vaping history!

Sizes and Varieties of Shortfill E-Liquids

Shortfill e-liquids are available in a wide range of bottle sizes, usually from 30ml up to a hefty 200ml.

However, the most common size is 50ml of actual e-liquid inside a 60ml bottle. This leaves a handy 10ml space for adding one 10ml nicotine shot.

Other typical sizes include:

  • 30ml shortfill in 50ml bottle
  • 80ml shortfill in 100ml bottle
  • 100ml shortfill in 120ml bottle

As you can imagine, those larger shortfill bottles are aimed squarely at sub-ohm and high-wattage direct-to-lung (DTL) vapers. These advanced setups guzzle e-liquid at an astonishing rate, so bigger volumes are essential.

Shortfills also come in a variety of VG/PG ratios to suit different vaping needs:

  • 70VG/30PG - For direct-to-lung sub-ohm kits
  • 60VG/40PG - A good middle ground for most modern setups
  • 50VG/50PG - Better suited to lower-powered mouth-to-lung kits

ZNow let’s look at actually preparing and mixing shortfills.

How to Mix and Prepare Shortfill E-Liquids

Mixing shortfill e-liquids is a quick and simple process. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Select your shortfill bottle in your preferred size and flavour. Try shaking the bottle first to mix the existing liquid.
  2. Choose your nicotine shots. These are typically sold in 10ml or 20ml bottles. We’ll cover nicotine options shortly.
  3. Open the shortfill bottle and add your desired number of nicotine shots. One shot in a 60ml shortfill makes 3mg strength. Two nic shots makes 6mg.
  4. Securely close the bottle and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds. This ensures thorough mixing.
  5. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes so the liquid can settle.
  6. Shake once more then leave overnight for the flavours to fully blend.

And there you have it - your shortfill is now ready to vape and enjoy!

How Much Nicotine Should I Add to Shortfills?

You should add between half a 10ml shot and two 10ml shots depending on your bottle size and desired strength. For 50ml e-liquids, add half a shot for 1.5mg and a full 18mg nicotine shot for 3mg. For 100ml shortfill e-liquids, add one shot for 1.5mg and two shots for 3mg.

For light nicotine in sub-ohm kits, add between 1-2 nic shots to your e-liquid depending on the size of your short fill bottle. Other vape juice types such as freebase 10mls and nic salts are more suitable for medium and high nicotine above 3mg, or if you're using a MTL vape device.

Need to calculate the number of nic shots to add? Use our trusted shortfill nic shot calculator for precise measurements.

Which Nicotine Shots Should I Use For My Shortfill?

The two main nicotine shot options are freebase and salt nicotine. The benefits of each are listed below.

  1. Freebase Nicotine Shots: Offer a stronger throat hit, Work well with high-VG juices, and Cheaper than nic salts.
  2. Nicotine Salt Shots: Super smooth throat hit, Ideal for high-nicotine concentrations, and Enhances flavour.

The option you choose depends on your device, preferred nicotine level, vaping style and tolerance to throat hit.

Now let’s review why shortfills have become such a hit with vapers.

What Devices Are Shortfill E-Liquids Suitable For?

Shortfill e-liquids are primarily designed for serious sub-ohm hardware and high-wattage direct-to-lung kits. These advanced setups require high VG ratios to produce thick, rich vapour along with intense flavour delivery.

Typical shortfill-friendly devices include:

  • Dual battery mods
  • High wattage sub-ohm tanks
  • RDAs and RTAs
  • Squonk mods
  • Pod mods with sub-ohm coil options

Conversely, shortfills may not suit:

  • Low powered pod systems
  • Closed pod devices
  • Cigalikes
  • Old-style beginner ecigs with narrow airflow

For those types of devices, a 50/50 e-liquid will provide a better vaping experience.

What is VG/PG in Shortfills?

VG/PG is a term used to refer to the ratio of vegetable glycerin (VG) to propylene glycol (PG) inside an e-liquid. This ratio determines several factors in your vaping experience including density of vapour production and intensity of flavour.

Higher VG ratios deliver:

  • Smoother, denser vapour
  • Reduced throat hit
  • Enhanced flavour
  • Thicker liquid

Higher PG ratios provide:

  • Increased throat hit
  • Greater wicking ability
  • More pronounced flavours
  • Thinner liquid

Most shortfills are formulated with a 70VG/30PG ratio. This thick, high-VG blend maximises both vapour production and flavour - perfect for sub-ohm vaping.

The high VG ratio also means shortfill liquids may not wick efficiently in lower-powered devices. For those, a 50/50 liquid is preferable.

The Benefits of Using Shortfill E-Liquids

Below are the four main benefits of shortfill e-liquids:

  1. More Value for Money: Shortfills provide exceptional value compared to normal 10ml bottles of ready-mixed e-liquid. Short-fill e-liquids effectively halve the cost per ml of juice, which is a huge saving for any serious vaper.
  2. Convenience and Portability: Instead of lugging around multiple tiny 10ml bottles, you can fill up a single shortfill bottle with your desired nic shots and carry that one bottle instead. Short fill bottles consolidate your e-liquid into one easy-to-manage bottle. Much more convenient!
  3. Customise Nicotine to Your Needs: The real beauty of shortfills lies in their customisability. You can add as few or as many nic shots as you want to create your perfect nicotine strength. Whether you want a gentle 3mg or a satisfying 6mg, shortfills put you in control.
  4. Recreate Your Favourite Eliquids: Can’t find your beloved nicotine-containing e-liquid in a 10ml bottle? No problem! Many vapers recreate discontinued or hard-to-find juices using shortfills. Just find a similar flavour, add your nicotine shot, and you’ve replicated that winning recipe.

Should I Try Shortfill E-Liquids?

If you vape frequently and want to maximize both flavour and value from your e-juice, shortfills are an excellent option. Below is a summary of six key benefits offered by shortfill e-liquids:

  1. Exceptional value for money - around half the cost per ml of normal juice
  2. Convenience and portability - your entire e-liquid supply in one bottle
  3. Total control over nicotine - add as many shots as you want
  4. Huge choice of flavours - from fruity to dessert and menthol options
  5. Further customisation through special additive shots
  6. High VG ratios cater perfectly to sub-ohm and high power kits
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