Electronic Cigarettes E-Liquid or E-Juice.
PG (Propylene Glycol) and VG (Vegetable Glycerin).
PG and VG is the main ingredient of the electronic cigarettes e-liquid, in this articles will give you some information in regarding PG and VG.
What are PG and VG?
- PG and VG are the odorless liquids that are combined with flavor and nicotine to create e-juice.
- The two fluids have a different consistency to each other, and also have a different taste.
- They produce vapor when heated, which is allow them to be inhaled.
- They have distinct mouth and throat hit sensations when vaped.
- Most modern e-juice/e-liquid uses a combination of the two fluids, though the ratio can vary dramatically.
- Some vaping set-ups can only work with a certain level of PG and VG.
Choosing the wrong PG/VG ratio can put first-timers off so be careful to choose the right level for your electronic cigarettes equipment.
PROPYLENE GLYCOL (PG)
PG stands for Propylene Glycol, a petroleum by-product. The fluid has no odour or colour, and is less viscous than VG. In vaping it is used to provide a ‘throat hit’, which some users claim is similar to the sensation experienced when smoking tobacco. It also carries flavour more effectively than VG, meaning it’s the most commonly used suspension fluid for flavour concentrates and nicotine.
Thinner Consistency: Due to the fact that propylene glycol has a runny consistency, PG e-liquid is thinner than the VG variety, and is easily absorbed by the polyfill and cotton fabric inside cartomizers and wick tanks.
Does not affect flavor: Propylene glycol is a tasteless odorless substance, so it doesn’t alter the flavor of the e-liquid in any way.
Less Gunk: The low density of the juice also means that gunk doesn’t build up on the heating element of your vaporizer as fast as it does when thicker vegetable glycerin liquid is used.
Stronger throat hit: It’s also a powerful humectant, so while it will dry your mouth and throat if used consistently, PG also produces a stronger throat hit, similar to that of tobacco cigarettes.
Allergy Risk: On the down side, propylene glycol has been known to cause allergic reactions in some e-cig users. These can vary from minor reactions, like a tingling sensation in the throat, to serious irritations on various parts of the body. If you experience any unusual symptoms after vaping PG e-liquid, it’s best to stop using it immediately and switch to vegetable glycerin. Consult your doctor if necessary.
What is it used for?
Propylene Glycol can be found in various common household items, which is include:
- Beauty products, including make-up, shampoo and baby wipes.
- Asthma inhalers.
- Medical products used orally, injected or as topical formulations.
- Pet food.
What should I be aware of when vaping PG?
Some people find a high level of PG irritating to the throat. Allergies to PG are rare, but have been reported. If you find yourself coming out in a rash, or suffering other unpleasant reactions after using PG-based e-fluid, you should look at using 100% VG juice instead. Many vendors are starting to offer this as an option.
The most common side effects of using e-liquid containing propylene glycol are: sore throat, dry mouth and increased on thirsty. These symptoms usually last anywhere from a few days to a week as the body gets used to the propylene glycol. It is advised to drink more water and liquids then usual for the first few weeks of using your e-cigarette. Be aware that any unusual reactions could be side effects from quitting smoking, and not necessarily because of the PG.
VEGETABLE GLYCERIN (VG)
VG stands for Vegetable Glycerin. It is a natural chemical, derived from vegetable oil, so is safe for vegetarians. It is commonly used in e-liquid to give a ‘thick’ sensation to vapour. The hit from a high VG fluid is a lot smoother than with PG, making it more suitable for sub-ohm vaping. VG has a slightly sweet taste and is considerably thicker than PG. While nicotine and flavourings are commonly suspended in PG.
Have you seen images of vapers with large billowing stacks of vapor? They’re using a VG base for that effect.
Thicker: Vegetable glycerin is a considerably thicker solution, compared to propylene glycol. It has a slower absorption rate for wicks and cartomizers.
Sweeter: On its own, VG has a slight sweet taste which also makes the e-liquid sweeter and the flavors a little difficult to detect.
More gunk: Because of it’s thick consistency, VG tends to gunk up and clog vaporizers, requiring more cleaning.
Allergy Risk: While PG is know to give users a dry mouth, some vapers have complained about phlegm building up in their throat after using vegetable glycerin-based juices. Some vapers switch to VG due to allergies with PG. VG tends to be less allergenic.
Less throat hit: You also get less of a throat hit when using VG.
More vapor: On the upside, because of its thick consistency, VG e-liquids produce significantly more vapor and doesn’t cause allergic reactions or irritations as often as propylene glycol.
What is it used for?
Again, it can be found in numerous medical, food and personal care products:
- Sweetener as sugar replacement.
- Soap and hand cream.
- To provide thick gel for certain medicinal creams, capsule pills and jellies.
- Pet food.
- Toothpaste and other dental care products.
- Food such as baked goods, to increase moisture.
- Beauty products, such as make-up, mousse, bubble bath, aftershave, and deodorant.
What should I be aware of when using VG?
The increased thickness of VG means it can reduce the life of atomisers quicker than PG-based juice. High VG liquids clog up coils more rapidly, and will not work well, if at all, in certain tanks. Older products are especially susceptible, particularly models that use smaller coils such as clearomizers. The Nautilus range, Innokin iclears and eGo tanks are some of the more well-known tanks that are known to have difficulties dealing with high VG fluid.
The most common side effect of vaping high VG e-liquid is a dry mouth, sore throat, and increased thirst. Again, be sure to drink plenty of water and take a break from vaping if necessary.
Does PG or VG safer to inhale?
Both VG and PG are used in a variety of foods that you consume on a daily basis, and are deemed safe by the FDA. However, in some small cases, people have experienced allergic reactions to propylene glycol; the most common is skin rash.
What PG/VG ratio should I use?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this. It depends on the kind of vaping experience you prefer. Many people use various levels of PG and VG for different purposes:
- Smoothness – High VG fluid tends to give a much smoother feeling on the throat, with a more substantial ‘thicker’ mouthfeel. The flavour is slightly muted in VG fluids, but this can be countered by using more power to produce more vapour. Be careful to stay within the voltage/wattage limits of your atomiser, or you risk dry hits, or even damaging your equipment.
- Throat Hit – If you enjoy a sharp throat hit when vaping then you’ll prefer a high PG vape. The ‘kick’ at the back of the throat, is something many ex-smokers crave, and PG (along with the nicotine) provides more of this than VG. PG carries flavour marginally better than VG, so the flavour will be slightly improved.
- Stealth Vaping – If you want to keep your vaping lowkey in public then high PG is the way to go. Less vapour is produced when exhaled, making this ideal for the less ostentatious vaping enthusiast. However, you should always apply common sense. Vaping in certain places, such as waiting rooms and on public transport, is often outlawed and is simply bad manners. As vaping is relatively new, we have a duty to be aware of public opinion and behave responsibly.
Cloudchasing – A growing trend in vaping circles is ‘cloudchasing‘. This simply involves exhaling dense clouds of vapour, the thicker the better. There are even competitive events based around this activity, where the person producing the biggest clouds wins. If this appeals then high VG is the only option – the higher the better.
It is not as simple as deciding on a high VG or PG fluid and hoping for the best. It all comes down to your electronic cigarettes equipment. If it isn’t suitable for the job, it can lead to unpleasant throat irritation or wicking problems resulting in dry hits.
- Clearomizer Tanks – The clearomizer is one of the most common styles of tanks for vaping e-cigarettes, and include the Mini Nautilus and the Kanger Protank. These take coils in the 1.2-2.5 ohms range, and are usually vaped below 15w. These are not generally suitable for high VG fluids, as their coils cannot cope well with thick gloopy fluid and can lead to unpleasant dry hits of burning cotton. It is advised to use high PG fluid, or a 50/50 ratio, when using this kind of tank.
- Sub-Ohm Tanks – These tanks include the Aspire Atlantis and Kanger Subtank among others. They can take a lot more power than standard clearomizers and are designed to deal well with high VG e-juice. Vaping at this increased battery strength uses up e-fluid a lot quicker than with, so you’ll find your juice going down quicker than with high PG fluids. If you want to know more about this, check our detailed guide to sub-ohm vaping, and some essential advice on battery safety.
- RDA/Drippers – If you prefer to use a dripper you have a lot more flexibility on your fluid ratio. It still depends on what strength coil you use – sub-ohm coils for high VG, higher ohms coils for high PG – but you don’t have to worry as much about your cotton wicking properly. As ever, the ratio boils down to personal preference, but the norm for dripping tends to be a 30/70 PG/VG mix.
Tips for PG/VG DIY E-Liquid
The best way to find your PG/VG ‘sweet spot’ to experiment by making your own e-liquid. It’s surprisingly easy to do, and very cost-effective. We will look at this in more detail in a future article, but here are some key things to be aware of:
- Steeping – If you make high VG juice, you might find this will take longer to steep. This is especially relevant to complex multi-flavour recipes. Single-flavour recipes using a high PG ratio will often take less to steep, and sometimes be ready immediately. You can read more about this in our detailed guide to steeping e-juice.
- Flavourings And Nicotine – The majority of flavour concentrates and nicotine available are suspended in PG. It’s important to factor this in when making high VG e-juice as the higher the % of nicotine and flavour, the more the VG level drops. It is possible to buy nicotine and flavourings suspended in VG but this is not yet widespread.
- Thinning Juice – If you have made juice with a high VG ratio, your coil might have problems with wicking the thick gloopy fluid. The solution is to add some distilled water to your juice to help thin it out. This will help the cotton absorb the fluid quicker.