When you buy vape juice, it’s likely that the two e-liquid ingredients you think about most are the flavors and the nicotine. What you might not realize, though, is that flavors and nicotine are actually the vast minority of what’s in any bottle of e-liquid. In fact, those two ingredients are about 15 percent of a vape juice’s recipe at the absolute most. So, what are you actually inhaling when you vape? In fact, two base ingredients – propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG) – comprise the majority of an e-liquid’s contents. When you vape, in other words, what you’re inhaling is mostly PG and VG – so it’s a good idea to know what those two key e-liquid ingredients are and how they affect your vaping experience.
What’s the difference between PG and VG, and how does your vaping experience change when you switch to a vape juice with a different VG/PG ratio? Let’s dig in.
Propylene glycol is a synthetic substance that’s slightly viscous and has no color, no scent and almost no taste. It’s one of the most common additives in cosmetics and skincare products, and it is also added to some foods and beverages. PG has been in use for so long that the United States Food and Drug Administration has given it the “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS) classification. That means it’s not known to be harmful in moderate amounts and is approved as an additive in many types of products.
Propylene glycol is produced synthetically in laboratories and may be derived from propylene oxide or obtained as a byproduct of biodiesel production. PG is derived from biodiesel, however, generally isn’t considered food grade and isn’t used for e-liquid.
Propylene glycol has several properties that make it useful as an additive in a wide variety of products.
As you have probably concluded from reading the above, PG’s properties make it an excellent choice as a base for e-liquid. It keeps the ingredients mixed together, carries flavors well and creates a visible cloud when it’s heated.
Vegetable glycerin is a viscous liquid that’s slightly thicker than PG. It has no scent, and its flavor is slightly sweet. Glycerin is a natural product that’s created when lye is mixed with oil. It’s possible to extract glycerin from any fat – including animal-based fats. In the vaping industry, we use the term “vegetable glycerin” to signify the fact that e-liquid companies only use glycerin from plant sources.
Vegetable glycerin is a natural product rather than a synthetic one. It’s a byproduct of the soapmaking process. When you mix lye with fat, the two products are soap and glycerin. Some of the glycerin is added back into the soap as a moisturizing ingredient, and the rest is used for other purposes.
VG and PG are both viscous liquids that are similar to alcohol in their molecular composition. For that reason, they have similar properties and are used for similar purposes. Like PG, VG is an effective emulsifier, humectant and solvent. The fact that VG is thicker than PG means that it performs a bit differently when it’s used in e-liquid. We’ll explain that in greater detail next.
Aside from the difference in performance when it’s used in e-liquid, VG differs from PG in two important ways.
Now that we’ve explained what VG and PG are, let’s learn a bit more about how VG vs. PG compare in the world of vaping. Most e-liquid contains both VG and PG, and it’s the balance of those two ingredients that affect how a vape juice performs. That’s why almost every e-liquid has its VG/PG ratio printed on the bottle. An e-liquid with a high VG/PG ratio contains more VG than PG, and an e-liquid with a low VG/PG ratio contains more PG than VG. E-liquids containing only VG or only PG also exist, but they aren’t common. You can also find e-liquid with a 50/50 VG/PG ratio, which balances the benefits of both liquids.
Let’s conclude the article by learning more about how high-VG vs. high-PG e-liquids compare.
As we mentioned above, VG is considerably thicker and more viscous than PG. Therefore, the higher an e-liquid’s VG/PG ratio is, the thicker the e-liquid will be. That contributes both to the primary benefit and the primary drawback of high-VG e-liquid. On one hand, the thickness means that you’ll get the biggest and most luxurious vapor clouds from an e-liquid with a high VG/PG ratio. That’s what makes high-VG e-liquids popular among people who use vaping devices designed for serious cloud chasing. With a high-VG e-liquid, you’ll enjoy huge vapor clouds that fill a room and hover in the air for ages. You’ll also enjoy a thick, creamy mouthfeel.
The fact that VG has a sweet flavor means that it tends to enhance e-liquids with sweet flavor profiles. A high-VG blend is always a perfect complement for a dessert, candy or beverage vape juice. Using a high-VG blend for a sweet e-liquid allows it to taste very sweet even if it has no – or very little – added sucralose. Thus, a high-VG blend can make it possible to create a sweet vape juice that’s still very coil friendly. Many people also find that the sweetness of VG helps to mask the sensation of throat hit, thus making a high-VG e-liquid very smooth and easy to inhale.
The thickness of a high-VG e-liquid can also be a drawback if you use an entry-level vaping device such as a very small vape pen starter kit. The smallest vaping devices are designed to give the best performance with e-liquids that aren’t too viscous. If you use a high-VG e-liquid with a very small vaping device, you may experience harsh “dry hits.” With small vaping devices, it’s generally best to use an e-liquid containing at least 50 percent PG.
Because PG is such an effective solvent, it’s also a great flavor carrier. In fact, many of the flavors concentrate used in e-liquid production use PG as a base, which makes them perfect for adding directly to e-liquid. When you use a high-PG e-liquid, you’ll enjoy a clear flavor definition. The sweetness of VG, in comparison, can tend to make subtle flavors difficult to taste. Because PG doesn’t have the sweetness of VG, some people feel that it produces a stronger and more assertive throat hit. For those reasons, you might enjoy a high-VG e-liquid if you prefer complex flavor blends or enjoy savory flavors like tobacco.
If you use a very small vaping device like an entry-level vape pen or a pod system, you may find that high-PG e-liquid works best with your device because of its low viscosity. In a vaping device designed for maximum convenience and portability, the openings that the e-liquid must travel through to reach the atomizer coil are often very small. The smaller those holes are, the thinner your e-liquid should be in order to avoid dry hits.
Although the thinness of high-PG e-liquid can be a benefit for those who use very small vaping devices, it can also be a drawback if you use a more powerful vaping device designed for cloud chasing. That’s because a high-PG e-liquid produces smaller, thinner vapor clouds that dissipate from the air quickly. High-PG e-liquid is a perfect choice for discreet vaping, but it’s not the best option if you love big clouds.
There are a number of different PG/VG ratios available to suite different vaping syles and kits. Here are the most popular choices.
This is the most popular ratio with most vapers as it provides a perfect balance of flavour, throat hit and vapour production. At the Electronic Cigarette Company we stock a huge selection of 50/50 e-liquids.
This ratio is most commonly used in shortfill e-liquid and is much thicker than 50/50. This is due to the higher VG content. This e-liquid produces larger clouds of vapour and a quality flavour when paired with low resistance coils for Direct-Lung vaping.
This 80/20 VG:VG e-liquid creates even bigger clouds of vapour than 70/30 e-liquid while still providing enough flavour and throat hit when used with high powered mod kits.
Although we do not stock and vape juice with a 100/0 VG/PG ratio, you can create your own DIY Kit Vape Juice
Not every e-liquid is suitable or compatible with any vape kit. it is important to find the right ratio to suit your kit and vaping style.
If taste is the main characteristic you are looking for, the safest option is 50/50 e-liquid. This is because it delivers a well balance vape with great flavour for both MTL and DL vaping. A high VG e-liquid would still deliver a nice flavour when sub-ohm vaping but with a low powered MTL vape the flavour will be minimal.
The throat hit differs depending on the amount of PV. High VG e-liquid will have a smoother throat hit. This is more suited to sub-ohm vaping the hit from 50/50 e-liquid can be too harsh when vaping at higher wattages.
The higher the VG the bigger the cloud of vapour. If you are a cloud chaser, a vape juice with the highest amount of VG is the go-to. 50/50 e-liquid can still produce a fair amount of vapour but compare to 80/20 or 70/30 vape juice it doesn’t compete.
One of the most important factors is the coil. High resistance coils are designed for mouth-to-lung vaping. Anything higher than 60/40 VG:PG will be too thick for the coil to absorb. This can lead to dry hits and eventually the coil burning out.
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