Less than 18 months ago there were very few UK producers of e-cig liquid, so when April 2014 hit, our decision on whether we were going to enter this sector came and the question we asked was - “how on earth would we separate ourselves from the competition?”
Today's vapers are looking for something different, you cannot simply do what everyone else is doing, so that’s why we decided on being the first British manufactured e-liquid to sell a 10ml bottle for £1. It would not be a promotion or a limited offer. If we were selling for a pound, we were doing so forever.
The second challenge we faced was who to partner with for our raw ingredients. Obviously we cannot mention any names but we use a flavour house that has been in the industry for over 20 years, who operate to the strictest regulations and quality controls. Our nicotine supplier is based in the UK and so is our PG, VG and De-Ionised water suppliers. This makes us an entirely British product. Nothing that goes into our e-liquid is sourced from outside of the UK.
The third challenge we faced was that it's all well and good selling e-liquid at £1 but how could we make it the best liquid possible and how would we convince customers that it was so good. Our 15 launch flavours were in development for over 3 months by our chief flavour engineer Andy. The challenge for him was recording all of his data, he often made over 100 samples of just one flavour before we all felt the flavour was correct. Andy built a bespoke system that not only records all the data and feedback, but also produces production sheets in seconds, its now as simple as following a cake recipe when it comes to producing our e-liquids.
The final challenge was setting up the right production environment and making sure that we purchased the right equipment. Anyone can produce cheap e-liquid, but we wanted to do it with the correct equipment and in the correct environment. So here is what we did:
We installed a 6 x 3m soft wall ISO Class 8 clean room facility. We purchased Tyvek full body suites, hairnets, face masks, gloves, shoe covers and goggles providing the right environment and minimising the chance of any contamination.
As there are two parts to the production process (Premix & Dispensing), we needed two solutions. Solution 1 for the premix:
- We installed a bespoke system that does not use pumps as these can contaminate the juice, nor does it use air to draw the liquid. Our raw ingredients only ever come into contact with food grade silicon and 316-grade stainless steel reducing any risk of possible contamination.
- We mix by weight not by volume. This serves for higher levels of accuracy when it comes to mixing. All of our raw ingredients are purchased by weight not by volume, which gave us the knowledge this was the best way to do it.
The second solution for dispensing was to install the following equipment:
- A vacuum pump liquid filling machine for producing smaller production runs. This machine fills but requires hand operation when it comes to the nibing, capping and labelling.
- We also purchased a fully automated machine that sorts the bottles, fills them, nibs, caps and even labels them. This machine has a capacity of 4800 bottles per hour. This is used for any production runs of over 100 bottles. The filling process on this only uses peristaltic pumps, which once again ensures that the liquid does no come into contact with anything but silicon.
The set up was a long process, however one that we are very proud of. Wherever possible the equipment used in our production facility is either stainless steel or silicon making it the most hygienic facility possible.
How is £1 achievable?
Now you're probably thinking, “they have had all of that expense of setting up an e-liquid production facility and are only charging £1 per bottle?” Well you are right, our facility did cost a fortune to set up. However, because our operation is automated and so efficient, we do not require a huge workforce to produce large quantities of bottled e-liquid, in fact we can produce 4800 bottles per hour with two operators, keeping our costs extremely low. Also because we purchase our raw materials in huge volumes we benefit from huge discounts from our suppliers meaning that we can pass the savings on.
We may not be the only efficient operation in the country but we are an operation that is prepared to accept a lower margin but still give the guarantee that only the best ingredients are used and assembled in the right environment.
We hope you enjoy our UK e-liquids and we welcome any feedback.