E-liquid is a big part of the vaping experience. In fact, your choice of E-juice has just as much to do with the quality of your experience as the device you’re using! Without a high quality E-liquid, you’re probably not going to be satisfied – regardless of how nice your electronic cigarette is or of how many settings-options it has to make your vape better.
So before you can expect to get the most out of your electronic cigarettes, you’re going to need to spend some time learning about how to choose the best E-liquid for you – and one of the first things that’s important to understand is the difference between VG and PG E-liquid.
What is PG (Propylene Glycol)?
Wikipedia says this about Propylene Glycol…
“Propylene glycol, also called propane-1,2-diol, is an organic compound with the chemical formula C3H8O2. It is a viscous colourless liquid which is nearly odourless but possesses a faintly sweet taste. Chemically it is classed as a diol and is miscible with a broad range of solvents, including water, acetone, and chloroform.” Source – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propylene_glycol
PG is designated by the FDA as a product that is ‘Generally Recognized As Safe’. It’s used in many pharmaceutical personal care products, and provides a ‘throat hit’ for E-cig users that’s said to be similar to that experienced by tobacco smokers. It’s found in pet food, baby wipes, make-up, shampoo, and asthma inhalers.
PG is the most commonly used E-liquid base. It’s useful because it’s easily absorbed by cartomizer wicks, and it’s less likely to build up on the heating element due to its low density.
The downside to PG-based E-liquid is that some people are allergic to it. People who experience any kind of allergic reaction while using PG-based E-liquids usually switch to VG.
What is VG (Vegetable Glycerin)?
An article on globalhealingcenter.com says this about Vegetable Glycerin…
“Vegetable glycerin, or glycerol, is a clear, odorless liquid produced from plant oils, typically palm oil, soy, or coconut oil.” Source – http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/what-is-vegetable-glycerin/
VG is an alternative E-liquid base that’s a bit thicker than Propylene Glycol. It’s also less tasteless, and produces a slightly ‘sweet’ taste that can alter the flavor of the E-liquid that it’s used in. It’s a natural chemical that’s made from vegetable oil (usually palm or coconut oil), so it’s vegetarian safe and provides a smoother throat hit than PG. Some common uses for the product outside of vaping include…
- Baked goods
- Gel for capsule pills and jellies
- Sweetener/sugar replacer
- Pet food
Information! It’s regarded by the FDA to be ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’, and is considered a ‘very benign substance’. It has an extremely low toxicity when consumed, and is much less likely to produce any kind of allergic reaction.
What are the most important differences between PG and VG?
The biggest difference between these two components can probably be found in their consistency. PG is thinner, while VG is thicker. VG, for example, may be more likely to clog up your clearomizer. But then again, it’s less likely to leak due to its increased thickness – so there’s definitely a tradeoff.
PG is also tasteless, while VG has a slightly ‘sweeter’ taste that can alter the flavor of the E-liquid.
When it comes to vapor production, you definitely get more for your money with VG. 100% VG E-liquids produce the most vapor of any PG/VG combination. So if billowing clouds are what you’re after, then Vegetable Glycerin is the base for you.
If, however, a light vape and a clean taste are more important to you than billowing vapor clouds, then PG might actually be more appealing. Since it’s tasteless, flavors also seem to be a bit more ‘crisp’ when used with this base.
If it’s a throat hit that you’re after, then PG is going to be the base to go with. Vapers who want an experience similar to smoking, for example, will probably be more satisfied with the PG base than they would be with VG. VG has a super-smooth feel when vaping, and provides very little to no throat hit whatsoever.
Can you mix PG and VG together?
Yes, you can – and not surprisingly, this is probably the most common option. Many E-liquids are made from a mixture of PG and VG. This is called a PG/VG ratio. Finding the perfect ratio for you will probably involve some trial-and-error, but this is usually the route that will allow you to discover the perfect vape for your tastes and preferences.
When getting started with E-cigs, it’s recommended to start with a 50/50 ratio at first. You can then increase one or the other slightly as you begin to recognize what you do and don’t like in your E-liquid. For example – if you want more of a throat hit, you should go with a blend that contains more PG than VG. If you want bigger clouds, then you should go with a ratio that contains more VG, and so on.
Which base is better?
This is a difficult question to answer, because both PG and VG have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. This truly is a matter of personal preference. It could be said that a 100% VG blend might not always be desirable because it can have a tendency to clog up your atomizer – but atomizers can also be cleaned when this happens.
The biggest complaint with PG is probably the fact that it doesn’t produce as much vapor. But then again, the amount of vapor isn’t necessarily going to affect the flavor or the quality of how it tastes – so really, unless you specifically want bigger clouds, you might not even consider the lesser vapor production a problem.
How to choose the perfect E-liquid for you
Finding the perfect PG/VG blend might take a little bit of research and taste-testing – but, as a general rule, here are some suggestions that might help you to nail-down the perfect vaping ratio for you.
- A 50/50 PG/VG blend will give you quality vapor clouds and a softer throat hit.
- A 70/30 PG/VG blend will deliver less vapor than the 50/50 blend, but will also deliver a better throat hit.
- If you want bigger vapor clouds and less throat hit, then a 30/70 PG/VG blend might be better suited to your tastes.
- If you want a super-strong throat hit and clear flavors, and don’t care that much about huge clouds of vapor, then a 100% PG E-liquid or an 80/20 PG/VG blend would probably be the best option for you.
- If you want a super-smooth vape, very little throat hit, and huge clouds of vaper at the expense of a ‘super clear taste’, then a 100% VG or a 20/80 PG/VG blend will probably be better for you.
Is there any reason to avoid either one of these options?
Both bases have their own upsides and downsides – but there still might be reasons to avoid one or the other in some cases. The most common reason for why someone would want to avoid Propylene Glycol is probably due to an allergy of some kind. People who try PG, but experience an allergic reaction to it, typically vape 100% VG solutions to solve the problem.
The biggest reasons for wanting to avoid Vegetable Glycerin, on the other hand, are probably the thickness and the fact that it produces no throat hit to speak of. Ex-smokers simply might be dissatisfied by the lack of a throat hit, especially if they’re suffering from cigarette withdrawals.
The thickness of a VG-based E-liquid can also be problematic for some vapers because it may require them to have to clean their devices more often. If this gets to be a bother, then you may find yourself avoiding blends that are high in VG and favoring more PG-based E-liquids instead.
Remember that vaping takes some time and testing to get right. If you buy an E-liquid and don’t end up liking it, please don’t give up! I’ve vaped some truly terrible E-liquids in my time – but I’ve also tasted E-liquids that I couldn’t put down because they were so good!
Finding what works right for you is half the battle – and the PG/VG ratio question is one of the first and most important to deal with, because it’ll really set the tone for the rest of your experience.
So please don’t give up if you have one or two bad experiences. Remember that it takes time to find the perfect vape. If you have a bad experience with an E-juice that you don’t like, just buy another E-liquid or two and keep experimenting. Eventually, by switching brands, base ratios, nicotine levels, and flavors, you’ll find the perfect E-liquid for you!