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NET ~ What’s your method?

Continuing the discussion from Going To Italy:

For starters:
https://forum.e-liquid-recipes.com/c/e-liquids/net-creations-and-reviews

I know the information, concerning NET production, on some of the ELR threads here can get pretty long and exhausting. Perhaps some folks who are interested in producing their own NET would like a thread centered around individual procedure. :wink: So, have at it! All methods are welcome… bullet point or novel form. Folks have their own individual method that works for them… What’s yours?

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Here’s a bullet point version of how I perform PG macerations:

  • Combine 1 oz of tobacco in an 8oz jar with 150ml of PG or until you “top” the tobacco with PG.

  • Warm jar for 6 to 8 hours, between 125 to 150 degrees.

  • Place sealed jar in cool dark closet for at least 30 days (longer is better, esp. for cigar leaf).

  • Strain through coffee filter at least 3 times; low micron scientific filters (Grade 5) are best for final filter.

  • Mix at roughly 15% ratio with base mixture.

This process will yield enough extract to produce roughly 900 to 1000ml of finished NET eliquid, depending upon the strength of the extract.

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My forays into NET extractions being too recent to have formed much in the way of wisdom to be “taught”. As an interested student I am interested in others’ thoughts, impressions, opinions from direct experience:

Leaf Prep - Maximize surface area of leaf-bits, or is it better to leave leaf structures intact ?
I think increasing surface area is good - provided that adequate straining is later performed.

Maceration - Advisable to warm leaf-bits in solvent (if so, what temp), or to use room temps ?
Am presently trying both approaches with otherwise identical batches (C&D Red VA Ribbon).

Movement - Advisable to shake and/or vibrate macerating leaf-bits, or better just left alone ?
I think that if breaking down cell walls is indeed important, then such motions would seem OK.

Sanitation - What might possibly be done to avoid microbial activity in maceration, filtration, and storage ?
My approach is to filter with <= 2 Micron pore-size, discarding all pre-filter residues. Time passing is always an enemy (at all process stages), and cooler (above freezing point) storage temperatures make sense.

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Question about Solvents:

VG (Glycerol) as a macerating solvent is too viscous (at typical room temps) to be practical. Have read that very small amounts of Ethanol will reduce the viscosity of VG considerably. (If so), might the more polar Glycerol (having 3 hydroxyl groups, as compared 2 hydroxyl groups for PG) “outperform” PG as a solvent ? It may be that small amounts of Ethanol in a solution containing VG and leaf-bits might not behave the same.

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Questions about Coil Temperatures:

Decomposition temperatures of PG and VG and the boiling-point and decomposition of Nicotine over temperature being somewhat known and characterized, at what temps might various flavoring “sugars” in NET juice begin to decompose into other molecules ? Such events might likely dramatically affect flavor.

… between 100 and 200°C, water and volatile substances including flavour molecules loosely bound to the surface of the tobacco leaf are the first to be released through distillation and evaporation. Simple pectins and sugars in tobacco may also begin to decompose. Although the boiling point of nicotine is around 247°C, nicotine starts to vaporize and enter the aerosol at temperatures from 170 to 200°C. At 300 to 400°C, some tar components start to form from the breakdown of cellulose and other structural components of tobacco, but it is not until temperatures of more than 400°C that the main pyrolysis occurs. Leaf components such as amino acids and esters decompose between 400°C and 600°C …

Source: https://www.bat-science.com/groupms/sites/BAT_9GVJXS.nsf/vwPagesWebLive/DO9PRKRV

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Just an adaptation of @Kinnikinnick process;

I use only natural tobaccos, whole leaf mainly

Shred tobacco to a cigarette style constancy

Fill an 8oz mason jar to about 1-inch bellow lip of jar not over packed, fill the jar with PG until completely covering the tobacco with PG.

Seal jar with lid and ring

Warm water bath jar for 12 hours, not over 130 degrees F

Store in a dark place for 6 months

Strain through a stainless-steel mesh then a single coffee filter, final filter is through a Buchner system with a 2-3-micron scientific filter.

I mix at roughly 7% combining different tobacco extracts to achieve different profiles.

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So far I only have attempted NET using one method. 28g tobacco (either pipe tobacco, cigars, or whole leaf), 150ml PG, half pint Ball jars. Grind or shred leaf as finely as possible. Put a lil tobacco in jar, cover with PG. Little more tobacco, little more PG. Repeat until all 28g and 150ml of PG are inside. Cover with upside down lid (so it’s metal on metal), ring, and tighten loosely. Sit jar in dark area (in a drawer). Wait.

Filter using coffee filters, then 2.0 micron paper filters. Start at 10% and work up or down from there, pending strength.

So far I haven’t fully finished an extraction yet. I keep putting off buying an Aeropress. Just from sampling, though, I’ve gotten really good results just from cold steeping. Longest one I have going now is right at 6 months steep time. I have two Dark Fired Kentucky blends that both have about the same time on them.

Soon I will work into experimenting with aging tobacco first before extraction. I want to get some solid Virginia blends known for improved quality with aging. Then age said blends for hopefully at least a year, then extract. I wonder if it would make a difference. Surely it would somewhat, I guess it just depends on if it’s that noticeable.

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My C&D Red Virginia Ribbon (room temperature only) maceration in a liberal amount of VG, in addition to the tobacco leaf-bits floating up to the top above the viscous VG for several weeks (despite being hand-shaken a bit every couple of days), ended up after a few weeks in a state where viscosity of the VG solvent dropped so low that it was clearly less viscous than PG (or the same tobacco cold-macerated in PG only). There was a very significant decrease in viscosity (at room temperatures). Nothing else (such as Ethanol) was added to the VG solvent. If it is true that VG (Glycerol) is not likely to chemically react with components of the tobacco leaves, how could/would the viscosity of the solvent (after a few weeks) drop so significantly otherwise ? What components within the tobacco leaves (macerating in the solution) might cause that ?

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Water would be my first guess.

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The viscosity became so low that it seemed (nearly) as low as water - but the tobacco was rather dry indeed, the VG was not (significantly, other than usual rather small amounts) contaminated with water, and they have been sealed in a mason-jar for ~40 days time. Nowhere for the VG to go. No way for external water to get in there. Could water have perhaps been formed as a chemical reaction-product ? Scratching my head otherwise (in terms of a source of water, if that is now present).

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VG viscosity decreases very fast with addition of water ( 1% makes a big difference). Guessing it may be hydrophilic and extracting humidity from the tobacco.
Might be something else entirely though, really just a guess.

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That information does (to a limited, but not higher, extent) comport with a couple of info sources found.

(At 20 *C), viscosity of 99% Glycerol and 1% Water (by weight) is ~1144 times higher than Water - as opposed to ~1403 times higher than Water for 100% Glycerol content. That equals an ~18.5% reduction.

One of the sources is the data found in Table 17 on (document) Page 10 (PDF page 9):
https://www.aciscience.org/docs/physical_properties_of_glycerine_and_its_solutions.pdf

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My method, and that works very well, is to copy @Kinnikinnick :grin:

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PG in aqueous solution (100g/Liter, 20 *C) does not seem to change much from neutral (pH 6-8 here).

Nicotine is said to be fairly strongly alkaline in solution (at least in aqueous solutions). I wonder if anybody may have experimented with using PG maceration solvent with some amount of Nicotine - where a (more) alkaline environment might possibly affect the resulting “extracts” from tobacco leaf-bits in macerations ?

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I haven’t… I’ve just used just plain old PG, VG, and EA.

I’m fairly set in my method of maceration for NET… but, this sounds like a good class project for someone. :wink:

Perhaps the little “Flavor Buddies” in leaf-bits will get a whiff of that good old Nicotine, and elect to pop out of their shells in order to go for a pleasureful dip in the Propylene Glycol pool, thus “spreading the wealth” ? :yum:

A process I have neglected to apply to most all of my macerations is the plant cell wall breakdown, “freeze/thaw” method. It seems to me, if one were to place the tobacco in whatever solvent and then freeze and thaw the maceration about 4 or 5 times, this would perhaps aid in breaking down of the leaf. :thinking:

I guess I depend on the slow/easy heating process to help break down the cell walls of the tobacco. :wink:

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Found some interesting and somewhat informative sources describing plant cell walls:

Arranged into layers of cellulose microfibers embedded in a matrix of pectin and hemicellulose, the cell wall is 0.2 μm thick and completely coats the outside of the plant … the porosity of the matrix permits soluble factors to diffuse across the cell wall and interact with receptors on the plant plasma membrane. However, the cell wall is a selective filter that is more impermeable than the matrices surrounding animal cells. Whereas water and ions diffuse freely in cell walls, diffusion of particles with a diameter greater than ≈4 nm, including proteins with a molecular weight less than 20,000, is reduced. This is one of the reasons that plant hormones are small, water-soluble molecules.

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It acts as a selectively permeable membrane by allowing the entry of small molecules to pass through it … The cell wall is semi-permeable. It allows passage of substances with the size of 30-60 kD.


Source: https://cdn1.byjus.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Cell-Wall-new.jpg

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Plant cell walls vary from 0.1 to several µm in thickness. …

The pH is an important factor governing the transport of molecules through cell walls.

It appears that things are not quite so simple - tobacco also has something called “secondary cell walls”.

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The phenomena that I have noted - when early on in a (~125 *F) beginning warming phase of maceration, the leaf-bits seem to become a bit “crispy” (noticed when stirring) for a few hours early on, which then goes away as the leaf-bits appear to “soften” again - (may be) the process of warm PG solvent initially entering the plant-cell “vacuoles”, swelling the cell structure volumes from inside, followed by pressure equalization.

Plant cells additionally possess large, fluid-filled vesicles called vacuoles within their cytoplasm. Vacuoles typically compose about 30 percent of a cell’s volume, but they can fill as much as 90 percent of the intracellular space.

It appears that (in vivo, when alive) the pH inside vacuoles is around 100 times more acidic than the pH inside the cell around the vacuoles:


Source: http://croptechnology.unl.edu/Image/tsterlin/CellAb-pHincell_lg.jpg

Typical pH values for the plant cell cytoplasm are about 7.5, while the extracellular and vacuolar spaces are about 5.5.

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Most plant cells contain one or more membrane-bound vesicles called vacuoles. Within the vacuole is the cell sap, a water solution of salts and sugars kept at high concentration by the active transport of ions through permeases in the vacuole membrane. Proton pumps also maintain high concentrations of protons in the vacuole interior. These high concentrations cause the entry, via osmosis, of water into the vacuole, which in turn expands the vacuole and generates a hydrostatic pressure, called turgor, that presses the cell membrane against the cell wall. Turgor is the cause of rigidity in living plant tissue. In the mature plant cell, as much as 90 percent of cell volume may be taken up by a single vacuole; immature cells typically contain several smaller vacuoles.

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If my speculation about the reason for the (temporarily) “crispy” leaf-bits is accurate, then it might possibly be that (if vacuoles do “burst”) intracellular pH might decrease (possibly contributing to initial “crispiness”) ?

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Got a question for you not tobacco related sorry. Saw someone heating Strawberries and PG in a pot and calling it a NET. Is that true or dangerous? @Kinnikinnick I think you might be an expert on this one.

I recently tried a mixed fruit extract in VG/PGA and another jar in PG. I sampled the VG/PGA extract. It was quite odd, similar to caramelized sugar. It was unpleasant to be sure, not very berry like, and a super coil killer.

I haven’t tried the PG extract, but I am not very confident. I think if I cared to do it all over again, I would attempt a quick wash ethanol extract and evaporate all the ethanol off, transferring the remaining solid to something like PG and VG. Whatever it takes to avoid extracting the sugars.

Now I have a jar full of berries in VG/PGA that I need to figure out what to do with. Maybe ice cream topping or something…

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Mainly because you didnt remove the sugars I would suspect.

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Are you familiar with a sugar extraction method other than freeze filtering? I would be potentially curious to attempt.

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