There are two common ingredients in e-liquid and that is Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerine (VG). These form the base of the e-liquid, to which the flavour concentrate is added and optionally nicotine.
Commonly, e-liquid will be made up from a combination of both PG and VG and the ratio is usually stated on the bottle. In rare cases, e-liquid can be 100% VG which is typically vaped by those with an allergy to PG but this is uncommon.
But what is Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerine? We explain the differences between them and the benefits of each, to help you know which ratio to choose for your e-liquid.
What is Propylene Glycol (PG)?
Propylene Glycol is a clear, colourless and odourless synthetic liquid that has a thinner consistency than VG. It is a common ingredient in many foods and products that you use on a daily basis such as toothpaste, soft drinks, bread and dairy products where it is used as an antioxidant, moisture preserver and stabilizer.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified propylene glycol as “generally recognized as safe” and is acceptable for use in food, drugs and cosmetics. It is also used in fog machines to create artificial stage smoke.
In e-liquid, propylene glycol is used to dilute flavouring and in some cases nicotine. It is flavourless liquid so it doesn’t alter the taste of the e-liquid, and produces a much stronger ‘throat-hit’ than VG, mimicking the sensation of smoking. You will rarely see an e-liquid with a higher PG ratio of 70 as the vape becomes too harsh.
Thanks to its thinner consistency, PG heavy e-liquid is far less likely to clog up coils on standard tank devices, like the Aspire Nautilus 2, than VG heavy e-liquid. They also absorb into the wick better, resulting in less chance of a ‘dry-puff’ where the coil is heated up before enough e-liquid has been absorbed causing a nasty burnt taste.
PG Sensitivity and Allergies
In rare cases, people can have sensitivity or allergies to PG, so they choose to vape pure VG-base e-liquid. If you experience any unusual symptoms or irritations stop vaping immediately and consult your doctor if necessary.
If you have just made the switch to vaping, it is likely vaping e-liquid with PG in will cause a dry mouth and sore throat so it is important to stay hydrated. Some people may experience a cough, which will subside within a few weeks.
The Benefits of a Higher PG Ratio
- Stronger throat hit
- Does not affect the e-liquid flavour
- Less likely to clog up your coils than VG
- Absorbs into the wick faster
The Disadvantages of a Higher PG Ratio
- Too much PG makes vaping harsh
- Less cloud production
- Rare cases of sensitivity and allergies
What is Vegetable Glycerine (VG)?
Vegetable Glycerine is a natural chemical extracted from vegetable oils which, like PG, is colourless and odourless. It is commonly used in food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products for several reasons. In food, VG provides a sweet taste and can stop ice-crystals forming in frozen foods such as ice cream.
VG has a thicker consistency than PG and has a slightly sweet taste which can have a small effect on the taste of the e-liquid. It produces more vapour than PG and has a smoother throat hit, making it ideal for ‘cloud-chasing’ with a sub-ohm device. Although the thicker liquid makes it slow to absorb into the wick and can clog up standard tank devices, sub-ohm tanks and rebuildable atomizers are better adapted to this viscous liquid.
The Benefits of a Higher VG Ratio
- Less of an allergen than PG
- Produces more vapour, perfect for sub-ohm devices
- Less of a throat-hit
The Disadvantages of a Higher VG Ratio
- Slower to absorb into a wick
- Likely to clog up standard coils
- Slightly sweet taste which affects e-liquid taste
What are the differences between PG and VG in e-liquid?
In e-liquid PG and VG perform the same function, diluting flavouring and nicotine. Essentially:
- Higher-PG maximises the flavour of the e-liquid and gives more of a ‘throat-hit’, perfect for those who have recently switched from smoking.
- Higher-VG produces much denser, thicker clouds and has a smoother, less irritable ‘throat-hit’.
- Higher-VG e-liquid is thicker and works best on sub-ohm devices, whereas higher-PG e-liquid is thinner but too much can be harsh to inhale.
Which PG/VG ratio is right for me?
The ratio of PG to VG in e-liquid is down to personal preference. Read through the advantages and disadvantages of each one above and see which one suits your style of vaping the best.
You will find a lot of e-liquids tend to have a ratio of 50/50, meaning half of the base is PG and the other half VG. This is what we recommend for those just starting out vaping once you’ve tried, adjust the ratio from there. Our Decadent Vapours Premixed E-Liquid range is this ratio as we find it suits most vapers, providing enough flavour and the right amount of ‘throat-hit’ without being too harsh or clogging the coil.
If you are looking into using sub-ohm devices and want to create a huge cloud of vapour, then you’re better off using an e-liquid that is high-VG. This will produce the most vapour and is smoother to vape, which is ideal for DTL inhales.
Some may find different PG/VG ratios work well with different flavour types, for instance, the sweetness and full-bodied thick vape of VG compliment the custardy sweet dessert flavours whilst PG brings out the best in fruit and tobacco flavours.