What Are Shortfill E-Liquids? Everything You Need To Know…


If you live in the United Kingdom or Europe – and your vaping setup includes a sub-ohm tank or RDA – chances are that shortfill e-liquids are a part of your daily life. For those who live in the United States and other regions, though, the term might be unfamiliar.

Why might shortfill e-liquids matter to you?

Well, e-liquid makers in the United States haven’t been able to release new e-liquid flavors legally since 2016 without first submitting pre-market applications to the FDA. Since no e-liquid maker has submitted an application and had it approved yet, the U.S. vaping industry has remained stagnant for several years. In the U.K. and other regions, though, the industry remains vibrant and dynamic, and e-liquid makers have continued to release a steady flow of creative new flavors.

If you decide to shop at an overseas vendor like Vapester and learn more about what’s happening in the wider vaping community, you’re going to see a lot of shortfill e-liquids and will need to know what they are and how to use them. This is required information if you want to buy vape juice from the other side of the Atlantic, so let’s dive in.

The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) Is the Reason Why Shortfill E-Liquids Exist

While vaping regulations in the United States haven’t fully taken effect yet, the European Union has had regulations in place for the vaping industry for many years. The set of rules governing the industry is called the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), and it establishes limits for things like how large a vaping tank can be and how much nicotine an e-liquid can contain.

Among other things, the TPD limits the maximum strength of any e-liquid with nicotine to 20 mg/ml. The TPD is the reason why European vapers have never had to worry about underage vaping or whether it might be necessary to boycott the JUUL; until JUUL finally released lower-strength pods, the product’s incredibly high nicotine strength of 59 mg/ml made it illegal in the U.K. and E.U.

The reason why shortfill e-liquids exist is that the TPD also limits the bottle size of any e-liquid with nicotine to 10 ml. When the TPD was enacted, the bottle size limit made perfect sense because it helped to minimize the chance of accidental nicotine poisoning without inconveniencing vapers too greatly. In the age of the RDA and the mesh coil tank, though, 10 ml of e-liquid isn’t even a full day’s supply for some people.

Shortfill e-liquid allows vapers in the U.K. and E.U. to buy bigger bottles of e-liquid without violating the TPD bottle size limit.

What Are Shortfill E-Liquids?

A shortfill e-liquid is a large bottle of nicotine-free e-liquid that isn’t completely full. A 60 ml shortfill e-liquid bottle, for example, is usually sold under the name “50 ml shortfill” because it only contains 50 ml of e-liquid. You complete the bottle by adding 10 ml of e-liquid with nicotine.

If you buy a bottle of shortfill e-liquid on its own, you will receive nicotine-free e-liquid. Unless you want nicotine-free e-liquid, you must order a “nicotine shot” separately to complete the shortfill e-liquid. A nicotine shot is a 10 ml bottle of flavorless e-liquid that contains nicotine. The strength of a nicotine shot is usually 18 mg.

The reason why shortfill e-liquid bottles can be larger than 10 ml is that they contain no nicotine until you add it. Therefore, the TPD bottle size limit doesn’t apply. A bottle of nicotine-free e-liquid can be any size without violating the TPD.

How to Buy Shortfill E-Liquids

As mentioned above, you must buy at least one nicotine shot for every bottle of shortfill e-liquid that you buy if you want the e-liquid to contain nicotine. Sometimes, retailers include the nicotine shots for free to make the process easier for customers.

The most popular nicotine strength among shortfill e-liquid buyers is 3 mg, and the two most common shortfill bottle sizes are 60 and 120 ml. Remember that merchants often call those products “50 ml” and “100 ml” respectively, because that’s how much e-liquid the bottles contain before you add the nicotine shots.

  • To make a 60 ml bottle of e-liquid with a strength of 3 mg, add one 18 mg nicotine shot.
  • To make a 120 ml bottle of e-liquid with a strength of 3 mg, add two 18 mg nicotine shots.

How to Use Shortfill E-Liquids

When you receive your shortfill e-liquid purchase, you’ll have at least one e-liquid bottle and at least one nicotine shot. Before you use the e-liquid, you’ll need to combine those components.

  • Start by prying the nozzle top from the shortfill bottle. If you find the top difficult to remove, you can slide a butter knife under the seam at the edge of the cap and pry up gently.
  • Once the bottle is open, pour in the full contents of your one or two nicotine shots.
  • Replace the nozzle top and close the shortfill bottle.
  • Shake the shortfill bottle vigorously for several seconds to mix the contents fully.
  • Fill your tank and enjoy it!

Remember that a commercial e-liquid production facility uses dedicated machines to mix e-liquid ingredients so thoroughly that they remain suspended in the solution permanently. You should never have to worry about the flavors or nicotine separating out of the solution when you use a pre-mixed commercial e-liquid. When you mix a shortfill e-liquid, though, it isn’t really possible for your hands to duplicate the work that a machine would normally do. When you use shortfill e-liquids, in other words, it’s a good idea to give the bottle a quick shake each time you fill your tank.

Conclusion: Shortfill E-Liquid Is the Best Way to Experience E.U. and U.K. Vape Juice

We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief introduction to shortfill e-liquids. We conclude with the following thoughts:

  • Buying shortfill e-liquid is the most convenient way to experience the creative new flavors coming out of the United Kingdom and Europe.
  • If you prefer to use e-liquid with nicotine, you need at least one nicotine shot for every shortfill e-liquid bottle that you buy.
  • Shake your shortfill e-liquid bottles periodically to ensure that the nicotine remains evenly distributed throughout the bottle.

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