In the world of vaping, PG and VG form the building blocks for life itself. Without these two essential components, there would be no e-liquid, no throat hit, and no sub-ohm vaping.
Despite being essential to the fabric of the vaping universe, there is a lot of confusion about VG and PG. New and experienced vapers alike can always learn more about PG VG ratios, after all, they form the base of every e-liquid on the market.
Don’t trawl the internet to find answers to your burning questions, just keep reading. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about PG VG.
What are PG and VG?
‘What is vape juice?’ is one of the most common questions that vapers ask us. To understand everything e-liquid, you have to understand VG and PG.
All e-liquids start with a base that is comprised of VG and PG. The only exception is 100% VG e-liquid, which is not popular among the majority of vapers. We’ll talk more in-depth about 100% VG liquid later.
VG and PG each have some similar and unique qualities. Vapers can emphasize or subdue these qualities with different ratios. Standard ratios include 50VG:50PG, 60VG:40PG, and 70:VG30PG.
Confused yet? You’re not alone. E-liquids can be complicated, but it pays to understand what substances you are consuming. Let’s take a more in-depth look at both ingredients.
PG (Propylene Glycol)
What is PG?
PG stands for propylene glycol. Believe it or not, propylene glycol is a by-product of petroleum. Although this is the main source of PG, some manufacturers create synthetic PG in laboratories. Others derive it from propylene oxide or source it as a by-product from biodiesel production.
It is an odorless and colorless liquid, and it is a less viscous liquid than VG. When we talk about viscosity, we are referring to the thickness and stickiness of the substance. This plays an important part in how e-liquids react to vape devices and more specifically coils.
PG is also mildly sweet, which is why high PG E-liquids work best with dessert or candy flavorings.
What is PG used for?
The amount of products that propylene glycol goes into might surprise you. It is a regular in the pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetics industries.
- Other oral hygiene items
- Oral, injectable, and topical medical formulations
- A range of pet foods (not including cat food)
- Baby wipes
- Make-up items
- Nicotine inhaler
It acts as a preservative, which is why it is popular in the food and medicinal industries. It has virtually no taste, so it functions as a stealthy, highly-effective addition to popcorn, some types of bread, soft drinks, ready meals, and more.
PG is an emulsifier, meaning it encourages the ingredients in a mixture to blend together. In high-PG e-liquid, the ingredients are mixed together far better and the result is an intricate, cohesive flavor profile.
High-PG mixtures are far less likely to dry out. Propylene glycol traps and attracts moisture, which also helps to retain the qualities in the mixture. Shelf-stable foods, moisturizers, and higher PG e-liquids all benefit from this feature.
In the vaping industry, propylene glycol is known for its benefits as a solvent. Other compounds (like flavorings) dissolve into PG; in other words, PG is an excellent carrier of flavor. Of all e-liquid ingredients, PG is the go-to option for people who want immense flavors. It also promises an impactful throat hit, which is a big plus point for new vapers who miss the feeling of smoking traditional cigarettes.
High PG e-liquids also benefit from reduced microbial growth. When liquid has PG concentrations above 20%, it inhibits the growth and proliferation of most microbes and fungi. This stops your vape juice from degrading, or ‘going off’.
Is PG safe?
It is important to note that the PG inside your e-liquid is not a by-product of bio-diesel production. This kind of PG is not considered to be food grade, therefore it is not safe. The food grade label tells us whether a material is safe for human consumption. Instead, the PG inside liquid is made in laboratories.
In 1973, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeled propylene glycol as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). To attain this label, competent scientists must come to the conclusion that the substance is not harmful for the intended use.
What should I be aware of when using PG?
It is generally accepted that around 1 in 10 people have a sensitivity to propylene glycol. In 2018, the American Contact Dermatitis Society (ACDS) even named it Allergen of the Year!
PG sensitivity symptoms include a sore throat, a new rash, coughing, a tingling sensation in your mouth and throat, and dermatitis around the mouth and lips. To combat this problem, vapers can reduce the amount of PG they consume. In some cases, vapers have to remove the ingredient entirely and settle for high-VG ratios.
VG (Vegetable Glycerine)
What is VG?
VG stands for vegetable glycerine. Unlike PG VG is a natural product. It is a by-product of soapmaking, which shows that the vaping world is full of innovation. When fat and lye combine, the result is vegetable glycerin and soap. Who would have thought?
Vegetable glycerin is sweet, and it is far more viscous than PG. This thicker liquid is ideal for sub-ohm vaping, which requires coils that have wider holes. High VG concentrations work with sub-ohm devices to create a smoother throat hit and dense vape clouds.
What is VG used for?
Like propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine goes into many more products than just e-juice.
- Hand cream
- Pet food
- Bubble bath
- Personal care products like aftershave and deodorant
- Oral hygiene products like toothpaste
- Baked goods
- Products that need sweeteners
Although vegetable glycerin is made from vegetable oils, it shares a lot of the same properties as propylene glycol. Both e-liquid ingredients have a molecular composition that is similar to alcohol, so they function in similar ways. Like PG VG also emulsifies ingredients and retains moisture.
However, VG fluids are far thicker, so they do have a few unique properties.
Vegetable glycerine is an alternative for people who suffer from PG sensitivities. A 100% VG ratio e-liquid might not be ideal (especially for vapers who want an intense throat hit) but it is preferable to some of the worse symptoms of PG sensitivity.
As we’ve already learned, vegetable glycerin is sweet. It is actually sweeter than propylene glycol and, even better, it’s calorie-free! It is no wonder that manufacturers use VG to complement baked goods, candy, and dessert-flavored vape juice.
Is VG safe?
In short, yes! Luckily for vapers, there is very little evidence that links VG to harmful side effects or long-term illnesses.
Most researchers have reached the same conclusion: vegetable glycerin is safe for human consumption. The FDA classified it among the sugar alcohols as a caloric macronutrient, but that’s far more than vapers need to know. For the purpose of vaping e-liquids, all you need to know is that it’s ‘generally recognized as safe.’
On top of that, we have our own common sense to fall back on. Vegetable glycerine is a popular ingredient in lots of popular day-to-day products, so it is unlikely to cause catastrophic side effects. Otherwise, we would have heard about it, especially in the vaping community where it is one of the two integral e-liquid ingredients.
What should I be aware of when using VG?
There is a very low chance of being allergic to VG fluids, but you still need to be aware of the potential problems. If you are sensitive to coconut oil or palm oil, it might be a good idea to avoid higher VG liquids. At the very least, you could choose a high PG ratio to make your vaping experience more comfortable.
Another thing to note is that diabetics can sometimes struggle to metabolize VG. When we look at the concentration and amount of vegetable glycerine in even high VG liquids, we can see that this won’t be a problem. As always, it’s just important to be aware of the facts before you start consuming a new substance.
Can I Mix PG and VG?
Yes! In fact, PG and VG are the main components of e-liquid. You can have an e-liquid that contains just VG PG, or both ingredients alongside nicotine and flavorings. Vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol are emulsifiers, so they encourage each other (as well as any nicotine and flavorings that are in the e-liquid) to combine.
If we’re talking about DIY vape juice, that’s a whole new can of worms. You can buy both substances wholesale and create your own e-liquid, but there’s much more to it than just that. You need to be aware of the pitfalls, as well as tips and tricks from experienced fellow vapers.
How to Find the Best PG/VG Ratio?
Now that you know all about each individual ingredient, you need to understand how they work together.
The best PG VG ratio is subjective. Some vape juices have high VG content, whereas others have high PG content. As well as ratios, you need to think about styles of vaping, vaping devices, and your desired outcome. Do you want a slightly sweet taste? How about an immense throat hit? DTL vaping, anyone?
Let’s jump in.
What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of a High VG/PG Ratio?
High VG e-liquids are extremely common; in fact, you are much more likely to find a high VG ratio than a high PG ratio. That must be for a reason, right?
VG produces a lot of the qualities that vapers look for. Beginner, intermediate, and experienced vapers appreciate the benefits that come with higher VG liquids.
High-VG Is Best for Clouds
If you have thought about branching out from standard starter kits, you will have heard of sub-ohm devices. The name sub-ohm refers to the compatible coils: these kinds of devices are suitable for coils that have a resistance below one ohm.
Sub-ohm coils create dense vape clouds. We recommend choosing a high-VG juice to get the best clouds possible. Coils that have a resistance above one ohm will struggle to manage VG fluids. This is due to the extremely viscous nature of the substance.
Unfortunately, you can only expect a subtle throat hit from e-liquids that are suitable for sub-ohm vapers.
In terms of the VG ratio, you shouldn’t go any lower than 60VG:40VG. 70VG:30PG and 80VG:20PG are much more common amongst sub-ohm vapers, but some even forgo PG entirely and opt for a 100% VG ratio. Of course, if there’s no PG in your liquid you might notice a distinct lack of flavor, or even just a duller taste sensation.
High-VG Is Best for DTL Vaping
Your style of vaping can have a massive impact on your vaping experience. DTL (Direct-To-Lung) vaping is the second most popular option.
For people who are accustomed to smoking tobacco, DTL vaping might not be the best choice. It is an alternative to the ever-popular MTL vaping, and it is suitable for sub-ohm devices and vapers.
To have a DTL vape hit, you need to take a slow, steady drag on your device. It should take you around five seconds to inhale enough vapor. Pull the vapor straight into your lungs. When the vapor hits your lungs, you can inhale and enjoy dense clouds.
Some tips for DTL vaping:
- Be careful not to take short, sharp drags. If you do, you won’t be able to draw the vapor into your lungs and create immense clouds.
- Use high VG e-liquids for DTL drags. A liquid that contains a high VG/PG ratio will be more palatable for long drags, especially when you consider how harsh the throat hit could be.
- There are no rules against it, but we don’t recommend switching straight from cigarettes to DTL vaping. Of the two vaping styles, this one has the steeper learning curve.
High-VG Is Best for Smoothness and Sweetness
Do you enjoy sweet sensations? If the VG ratio of an e-liquid is above 60 or 70%, you are more likely to satisfy your sweet tooth.
This ingredient is made from vegetable oils, which are naturally sweet. PG does have a sweet tinge to it, but nowhere near as much as VG.
High-VG Is Not Great for Smaller Vape Kits
When you are thinking about the VG ratio of your e-liquid, you need to consider how compatible it will be with your vape kit.
As we’ve already learned, high VG e-liquids are suitable for sub-ohm kits. These types of kits utilize a higher wattage than standard kits. The lower the ohms, the higher the wattage. The higher the wattage, the bigger the clouds! When vape devices use a lot of wattage, the coils become extremely hot and vaporize more e-liquid. Sub-ohm vapers might find that they use more vape juice than their friends, but they also get to experience thicker clouds.
Low-wattage devices tend to be big and bulky. After all, they need more power. In contrast, high-wattage devices tend to be smaller. Smaller devices like pen-style kits, beginner-friendly kits, and pod devices usually can’t accommodate e-liquids that contain a lot of VG.
What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of a Low VG/PG Ratio?
Almost every e-liquid contains PG, and for good reason. This substance has a lot of positive qualities than can improve your e-juice.
High-PG Is Best for Flavor Definition and Throat Hit
In the battle of PG VG, PG wins the flavor round. This substance acts as a solvent, meaning other substances dissolve into it. Even the most intricate flavor profiles shine through in high PG e-liquids, making it the go-to choice for people who appreciate bold taste sensations. If you have your heart set on vape juices that combine lots of flavors (like Lemon Tart, Strawberry Fizz, and Fruit Medley) you should choose the max PG option.
Higher PG e-liquids also have a far superior throat hit than other mixtures. The throat hit is reminiscent of the throat hit that comes from smoking tobacco in a standard cigarette. This is one of the reasons why ex-smokers love high PG VG blends.
High-PG Is Best for MTL Vaping
There are only two styles of vaping, and MTL (Mouth-To-Lung) is the most popular. If you are a smoker or a new vaper, you probably already take MTL drags without realizing it.
To take a MTL drag, take a short puff on your vaping device. When all the vapor is in your mouth, inhale it into your lungs. Some people refer to this stage as swallowing the vapor.
In terms of vaping experience, MTL vaping is better for people who need intense throat hits.
Some tips for MTL vaping:
- Remember, even though this style of vaping requires shorter drags than DTL vaping, they still need to be consistent. Inconsistent drags can interrupt the flow of your breathing, which will leave you coughing and spluttering.
- For the best MTL hit, use high-PG e-liquids. Propylene glycol amplifies the taste experience as a whole, which makes it the ultimate option for vapers who want to push their limits.
- To experience an even more impactful throat hit, try experimenting with nicotine strengths. Like PG, nicotine also increases the impact of throat hits.
High-PG Is Best for Smaller Vape Kits
Smaller vape kits are typically high-power and low-wattage. When you use a small vape kit, you can take short, sharp puffs to get the immense throat hit you desire. Of course, choosing a vape juice that has a higher concentration of propylene glycol will only increase the impact.
High-PG Is Not Great for Cloud Chasing
If you are a certified cloud chaser, you need to avoid e-liquids that contain high levels of PG. This low-density substance only promises small, discrete cloud production.
Of course, this can be seen as a benefit. Many modern vapers invest in conspicuous devices because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves. Although the benefits of switching from smoking to vaping are widely known, there is still a lot of misinformation about vaping. It is not uncommon for vapers to be criticized for their choices, so sometimes it’s just simpler to switch devices and produce fewer clouds.
Pen-style kits, pod kits, and beginner kits are just a few of the types of devices that are suitable for high-PG liquids. Vapers can take sneaky drags on these devices and drop them back into their pocket, briefcase, or purse without attracting a glance.
There you have it! We realize that this is a lot to absorb, but PG VG information is one of the building blocks of vaping. Now you know where both substances come from, what results they create, and how to be a smart consumer.
The ideal VG/PG ratio is just around the corner. With all this information fresh in your brain, you can make informed choices about cloud production, nicotine strengths, vaping devices, and, of course, e-liquid. You never know, this could be the push that you needed to quit tobacco smoking.
Whatever you end up doing, remember that it takes time to learn the essentials. Don’t be discouraged if your e-liquid isn’t quite right. Keep experimenting, and circle back to this article if you’re feeling confused.