Do you have a lot of old bottles of e-liquid you know you’ll never use? Maybe you’ve been able to cut down to a 0% nicotine juice, or you just don’t like the taste of your e-liquid and no-one else wants it. So how do you dispose of old e-liquid or even e-liquid bottles you don’t want anymore? Are there environmental or legal factors you should consider? Read on to find out how to dispose of your old juices and bottles.
Let’s be honest, most of us put old empty or half-used e-liquid bottles in the trash. And with all the hype about microplastics in the ocean, this might not be the best idea. Obviously, the more bottles you can re-use, the better. This is not only cheaper (especially if you make your own flavors), it’s better for the environment. So, what are the options when disposing of your old e-liquids and bottles?
How To Dispose Of Excess Vape Juice
I’ll give you the best answer right from the start. If you want to know how I came to this conclusion, all you need to do is read on. But if you have a half-filled plastic bottle of e-juice that you want to get rid of, this is the way to do it:
- Step 1: Throwing away your e-juice? Have a bag of sawdust, kitty-litter, biodegradable paper towels or toilet paper, or something which can absorb the juice on hand (even a used diaper). Why? The chance that a kid or wild animal is going to go through your trash, find a bottle of old e-juice and drink it is pretty slim, but it’s a crazy world out there. And it’s always better to keep the bottle for re-use. If you really don’t want to, there’s no law that says you can’t throw a full bottle of e-liquid into the trash, although if it’s a large quantity of high nicotine juice, waste-disposal control might get in touch if they find it. This freedom-to-throw doesn’t apply to cartridges though, which I find strange. More about that later.
- Step 2: Pour the e-juice into the absorbent material. Use toilet paper or a cotton wad to get the majority of the oil out of the bottle, as this makes cleaning it easier. Then just throw the oil-soaked materials in the trash.
- Step 3: Use a bowl of hot, sudsy water and soak the opened bottle, separated drip nozzle, and cap. Getting the nozzle clean takes a little patience. I use a blunt needle to push small pieces of soapy paper napkins through the hole. Rinse every section with hot water a few times.
- Step 4: You will probably still be able to smell the old e-juice. Oil is tough to shift. My trick is to fill one-third of the bottle with vinegar (it doesn’t matter what type, but flavored vinegar will just replace one odor with another). Then half-fill the cap with bicarbonate of soda (not baking powder). Quickly screw on the cap and shake the bottle. The reaction is pretty intense, so don’t be tempted to overfill the bottle with vinegar. Keep shaking until the fizz stops. Empty, rinse with hot water, and the smell of the e-juice should be gone. If not, just do the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda treatment again. If you don’t have vinegar, use lemon juice. If you don’t have bicarbonate of soda, fill the bottle with vinegar or lemon juice to the brim and leave overnight before washing with soapy, hot water and rinsing. The acid will break down the oil.
- Step 5: Make sure the bottle is dry before putting it aside for reuse.
You might think that the contents of one, tiny bottle of e-juice isn’t going to make much of a difference to the nicotine concentration in wastewater. But a lot of people use vapes. So if everyone pours nicotine into the drain, eventually someone will carry out a study and find out that there’s too much nicotine going through the water recycling system.
That’s when laws start being made to prevent people from doing it. It’s also never a good idea to pour any kind of oil down the drain as oil sticks to the inside of the drain and, as time goes by, other things stick to the oil and you get big lumps of grease and gunge which stop the flow.
So by not emptying any oil, including e-liquid, down the sink, the toilet or the bathtub, you might save yourself a few dollars further down the line.
What Is The Best Way To Get All Vape Juice Out?
Vape juice is oil-based and difficult to get out from a vape juice bottle. The best way to get all vape juice out of plastic bottles is to use hot water and soap suds, or other detergents that emulsify fats, together with a cloth or small bottle brush.
The warmer the bottle, the more easy it is to drain a bottle of vape juice. It’s a good idea to let the bottle drain onto absorbent material and leave the separate pieces (bottle, nozzle, cap) to sit for a few hours, preferably overnight.
Obviously, the less oil left in the bottle, the easier it is to clean. Once you’ve drained the visible oil, there will still be a thin, invisible layer sticking to practically every surface. This is where you need hot water, a soapy emulsifying agent which surrounds the oil molecules and detaches them from the surface of the bottle, and a bit of patience.
Without your shaking the bottle or wiping the inside surfaces, the emulsifying reaction alone isn’t strong enough; just leaving the bottles in the washing up bowl overnight won’t do the job half as well as a few minutes of physical cleaning.
Use plenty of soap and make sure the water is hot. Keep a small, soft cloth just for cleaning your bottles and a blunt needle to push soapy paper-towel pieces through the nozzle.
How To Dispose Of Empty Vape Juice Bottles
There’s no law that says you can’t put your empty vape juice bottles in the trash, just make sure you place them in the recyclable plastic trash. In a perfect world we would all buy larger glass bottles and decant them into smaller glass bottles, or at least into multi-use BPA-free plastic ones. But if you haven’t got to that stage yet, what about the following ideas?
- Make more e-juices: The reason most vape users don’t throw away their old bottles is because they are always experimenting with new flavors.
- Pocket-sized versions: If you make your own, or buy in bulk, the last thing you want to do is put a huge bottle of vape oil in your weekend bag. Border control might have something to say about that, too. So just decant from the bigger bottle into the smaller one. I know, an obvious tip, but worth mentioning.
- Pass them on: Know someone who makes their own e-liquids? They’ll be happy to take yours off your hands. If you have enough of them they might even be willing to give you a freebie in return.
- Makeup essentials: The nozzle on e-liquid bottles means these are handy for your handbag. Face cream is too thick, but eye serums, night oils, or even a few milliliters of your favorite perfumes can all be decanted into a thoroughly cleaned e-juice bottle.
- Foodies: As most e-liquid bottles are made from food grade plastics, once cleaned they are a great way of taking along your own tabasco! Or give everyone their own selection of fruit or vegetable coulis and let them decorate their own plates.
- Crafties: These tiny bottles are good for storing small quantities of expensive pigments or the tiniest beads – you’ll have to throw away the nozzle. If you know a potter who likes to apply detailed glazes, ask them if they want your old bottles and leave the nozzles on.
And did you know your old e-juice can be useful? Got a problem with pests in the garden? Mix your old vape oil with four to ten times its volume of another cooking oil. This will make the nicotine content much less concentrated, so it won’t affect other wildlife. Keep this mixture in a bottle in the garden shed.
When you have an aphid problem, or whitefly, or any other sap-sucking pests on your plants, mix a portion of your oil with the same amount of water in a spray bottle shake the bottle, and spray it directly onto the bugs. The oil blocks their breathing apparatus and they’ll die. Alternatively, if you have very low or no nicotine e-juices that smell good, use them to polish up wood furniture. Squeaky hinges or a rusty bicycle chain? Old vape oils will work for those, too!
Are E-Liquid Bottles Recyclable?
Plastic and glass e-liquid bottles are recyclable. Vaping is less polluting than cigarette smoking, but still produces plentiful waste products. E-liquid bottles should be placed in recyclable trash. Tossing them in the regular trash means they become landfill or are incinerated, releasing toxins into the air.
We are seeing more and more e-liquid manufacturers providing glass bottles and refusing to supply plastic ones, as these are easier to recycle and produce fewer toxins on the production line. Of course, if you throw an old glass or plastic e-liquid bottle in the regular, non-recycle trash, that’s not recycling but adding to the waste disposal problem. The plastics used to store vape juices are food-grade and recyclable. Let’s look at some pretty shocking statistics. If the average town has a population of 20,000, and one in twenty use a vape, that’s 1,000 people. If they use 10 ml of juice a week and buy their e-liquids in 5 ml bottles, that’s 2,000 empty 5ml bottles a week. Doesn’t sound so bad, right?
In a major city like New York with a population of roughly 8.5 million, that’s a staggering 850,000 empty 5 ml bottles per week. The population of the U.S. is over 325 million. Or more than three million 5 ml bottles … per … week. That’s 169.000.000 plastic bottles a year. And that’s a low estimate, too. And, of course, doesn’t include anywhere outside of the U.S. What would happen if everyone emptied old juices down the drain and threw the bottles in the regular trash…?
How To Dispose Of E-Cig Cartridges
E-cigarettes have three parts: the cartridge that holds the e-juice, a heating element, and a lithium ion battery. All of these are hazardous waste, but not many people are aware that cartridges need to be carefully disposed of. As we saw in the previous section, the sheer numbers of vape users mean a lot of potential waste products. They might not be blowing carbon monoxide into the air, together with millions of other chemicals, but they are responsible for large amounts of nicotine and plastic. So, according to hazardous waste recommendations, how do you dispose of your e-cig cartridges?
- Step 1: You have to drain the cartridge of excess juice before you dispose of it. However, this only applies to nicotine-containing juices, and not nicotine-free ones. The reasoning behind this requirement is that wildlife or children may pick up a discarded cartridge and swallow it. So first, rinse the cartridge using running water via the opened rubber plug.
- Step 2: Now place the cartridge on an absorbent, biodegradable material to soak up any remaining oil.
- Step 3: You are also required to wrap the cartridge in a biodegradable, absorbent material before putting it in the trash. This is to soak up any remnants of nicotine you may have missed.
- Step 4: Seal the plug. The seal of an e-cartridge or e-pod should never be left open when disposing of it.
- Step 5: Throw it in the regular, non-recyclable trash.
E-cigarette cartridges are simple to use and, when you compare prices, incredibly cheap. But they have multiple components and often don’t offer a zero-nicotine version (more specifically with the Juul e-cigarette). What’s more, e-cartridges are more likely to use nicotine salts which have a much higher percentage of nicotine within a very small amount of liquid. It is therefore important (and in the U.S. obligatory) to rinse every cartridge before throwing it away so that no-one or nothing else will be poisoned should they swallow it.
Are E-Cig Cartridges Recyclable?
An e-cig cartridge contains non-plastic components, so if placed in recyclable plastic trash the waste disposal plant will have to remove the e-cig cartridge to the landfill or incineration container. E-cig cartridges or pods are not currently recyclable and account for substantial waste due to their popularity.
Do you think that by putting your e-cartridge into the plastic recyclable can you’re doing some good? Wrong. All you’re doing is ‘wishcycling’. When your trash arrives at the sorting depot, someone will have to fish it out and put it in the right container. If you put too many in there, and if your trash has been marked out for testing, that might mean a nasty letter and a fine.
Especially if you haven’t rinsed your e-cig cartridge or pod properly beforehand. This is probably the biggest problem with the easy functionality of a cartridge vape. The components are so cheap there’s no value in dismantling them for recycling. I suppose the best way to solve this problem is to use your e-cig on the move, and have a tank vape at home. Some people have figured out how to refill closed-system cartridges like the Juul pod, while other e-cigarettes are providing refillable pods, like Suorin.
If you want to be completely environmentally-friendly, don’t vape. But it’s worth considering how we can at minimum reduce vape-related waste. And we should also be aware of the legal requirements when getting rid of cartridges or pods.
Opt for larger glass bottles, only use pods and cartridges when a tank is too clunky to bring with you, try to cut down nicotine levels, and follow the right procedures when getting rid of old oils, bottles, and cartridges. If you’ve been browsing my site at all, you’ll know I always wrap up with a link to my recommended vape gear page.
This doesn’t just help me; it’s been created to help you, too. I’ve added all types of vaping devices, liquids and accessories all of which have been tried and tested by yours truly. It’s worth taking a look.