Taking the first steps into vaping can be a daunting experience at times, there’s a vast amount of vape kits to choose from, vaping styles and thousands of different E Liquids. Then once you’ve settled on a vape kit and juice, many people have found that it irritates their throat and can cause coughing.
Many people assume that the E Liquid they purchased is of bad quality or the nicotine level is too high, though this could potentially be the case, it may just be that the PG/ VG ratio isn’t right for you.
Quitting smoking is frustrating at the best of times, and the last thing anyone wants is to then have a bad first time vaping experience. Unfortunately too many people end up going back to smoking. Our advice will always be to try different E Liquids with a variety of different VG/PG ratios and Nicotine levels. Also make sure that you are buying E Liquids from reputable E Liquid shops and try to avoid home-made/ DIY juices. They may be a lot cheaper but they are not manufactured in the same clean and safe environments as the professional companies make them.
What is in E Liquids?
If you are new to vaping or you're a current smoker looking to kick the habit and start leading a healthier lifestyle, then you may have started browsing online vape shops and forums to learn more about e-cigarettes and how they work. Whilst doing your research you may have come across the terms PG and VG but may not fully understand what they are and why they're in E Liquids.
Cigarettes are packed full of dangerous substances, in total there are at least 250 ingredients and chemicals in cigarettes that are known to be harmful, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia.
Though, when it comes to E Liquids they only contain three to four ingredients
- Vegetable Glycerine also known as VG
- Propylene Glycol also known as PG
- Food grade flavouring also known as Flavour Concentrates
- Nicotine (optional)
If you are new to vaping we would highly recommend taking the time to view Jumponthevapes A Beginners Guide to E Liquids.
Vegetable Glycerine and Propylene Glycol
The two main ingredients of E Liquid are Vegetable Glycerine (VG) and Propylene Glycol (PG), you’ll find both of these widely used in food and medicine.
Vegetable Glycerine is a clear liquid that is typically made from soybean, coconut or palm oils. It is odourless and has a mildly sweet taste and the consistency is like a sugar syrup.
Propylene Glycol is an ingredient in many cosmetic products but don't worry, the European and US food authorities have declared that it is safe for the use in foods that are consumed.
How does PG affect my vaping experience?
PG is not there just to bulk out your vape juice, it has two functions in your E Liquid. The first purpose of PG is to carry the flavour and nicotine. PG also helps to provide the ‘throat hit’ part of your vaping experience.
If you're an ex-smoker or even a smoker that wants to start vaping, you would likely want to go for an E Liquid with a high PG ratio. E Liquids with high PG will give you a more pronounced throat hit when you vape it, which is ideal to simulate the sensation of smoking. PG makes the density of the vapour to be more like the density of cigarette smoke. Vapers prefer this type of E Liquid as it allows them to continue enjoying the feeling of tobacco with none of the harmful chemicals or additives.
PG doesn't have any flavour, is also odourless and carries the flavour concentrates. It also carries flavour more effectively than VG, making it the most commonly used suspension fluid for flavour concentrates and nicotine.
What else is PG used for?
The propylene glycol market size is projected to reach $4.7 billion by 2024 and this isn't just because of it being used in E Liquids. The food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries are the largest market for the use of PG. Due to its chemical properties, it is also used in medicinal products such as injectable, oral and topical formulations.
Fun Fact: PG is used to create Fake Fog/ smoke that is used in Theatrical productions and also fire fighter training courses.
Is PG Safe?
PG has been classified as ‘Generally recognised as safe” by the FDA and WHO. As we have mentioned, PG is already used in food, beverages and the pharmaceutical industries. Both the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has approved it as a food additive. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) carried out an expert committee to review all of the available toxicology data in 2016, this was due to an EU member state request to reclassify PG as a potential respiratory irritant. After looking at all the evidence, the expert committee concluded that the available data were insufficient to warranty a classification of PG.
Some people who vape do tend to experience a slight annoyance from PG in E Liquid. Due to PG's moisture retaining effects, people can experience a dryness of mouth or throat and sometimes a tickly cough. This can simply be fixed by having a bottle of water handy. There's been no evidence to show that this is of any concern.
How does VG affect my vaping experience?
VG is a natural chemical, derived from vegetable oils. VG is a clear liquid that is typically made from soybean, coconut or palm oils. VG is odourless and has a mildly sweet taste and the consistency is like a sugar syrup. VG is produced by heating triglyceride-rich vegetable fats, such as palm, soy and coconut oils under pressure or together with a strong alkali. This results in the glycerine to split away from the fatty acids and mix with water to form an odourless, sweet tasting syrup like liquid.
VG is used in E Liquid to create a thicker vapour, it has a slightly sweet taste and is considerably thicker than PG. Vegetable Glycerine provides a much smoother throat hit than Propylene Glycol, making it more suitable for sub-ohm vaping. The increased thickness of VG means it can reduce the life of your vape coils quicker than PG based juice.
What else is VG used for?
VG is very similar to PG in the way that it is used outside of the E Liquid market. Due to its sweetness, it's role as a solvent and the fact that it's a preservative, it makes it a perfect option to be used in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. The most common pharmaceutical products that VG appears in are cough syrups, ointments and creams.
It is also used in cosmetic products and there has been a massive increase in sales of VG during the Covid 19 pandemic due to it being one of the main ingredients in Hand sanitizer.
Is VG Safe?
Once again VG is very similar to PG and it has also been tested to see whether it is safe to use. VG has been classified as ‘Generally recognised as safe” by the FDA and WHO. Both the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has approved it as a food additive. VG is not classified as harmful under European CLP regulation for oral, dermal or inhalation routes of administration. VG shows very little toxicity and very high doses; greatly in excess of anything possible by vaping, can be tolerated without any issue.
As with PG, the most common side effects of vaping high VG E Liquid are dry mouth, sore throat, and increased thirst. Just be sure to drink plenty of water and take a break from vaping if necessary.
5 Key Differences Between PG and VG for Vapers
We've discussed VG and PG in depth and we can see there are a lot of similarities between them. However there are also several key differences. These become important when you’re considering how much of each you want in your vape juice.
Here are the five key points to consider when you’re making your choice.
VG Improves Vapour Production
With a higher VG ratio, you will sacrifice getting a stronger throat hit but the benefit is you will be able to create denser, thicker vapour. People who prefer a larger amount of vapour are referred to as cloud chasers. This is also called sub ohm vaping.
If you're new to vaping and have recently quit smoking, you probably won't be too bothered by this as this won't necessarily help with kicking the habit. This is why many beginners tend to go for a 50/50 mix.
Vaping isn’t all about the vapour though, many people prefer to have a more discreet device that doesn’t pump out thick clouds. Disposable vapes are very popular at the moment, they come in Salt Nicotine form and only release a small amount of vapour as the device primarily focuses on providing you the nicotine hit to soothe your cravings.
PG Wicks More Efficiently Than VG
When you're picking your E Liquid you also need to consider what wicks better. Within your coil is the cotton which soaks the E Liquid up and depending on the VG/PG ratio, some will soak into the wick quicker than others.
VG is much thicker than pg which means it takes longer for it to soak into the wick and reach the coil. This can interrupt your vaping experience as every time you inhale on your device, the E Liquid in the wick is depleted each time. When you take the next inhale, if your wick hasn’t re-soaked, you’ll get a “dry hit'' which tastes really nasty. A dry hit is essentially you inhaling from a dry cotton.
As PG is a lot thinner than VG, your wick is re-soaked a lot quicker and there is less chance of you facing a dry hit. If you go with a standard high PG ratio this would be a 50/50 mix and they are typically supplied in a 10ml bottle. TPD Regulations allow for nicotine in 10ml bottles, and the usual nicotine strengths you'll find is 3mg, 6mg, 12mg and 18mg for Freebase Nicotine E Liquids. You can also buy Salt Nicotine E Liquids which can come in 5mg, 10mg and 20mg. If you do choose to vape a high PG E Liquid, due to the nicotine strength you will also end up not vaping as much as you would if you had a sub ohm tank.
If you want to stick with a high VG E Liquid, we would recommend buying a sub ohm tank as these are designed for the best vaping experience with high VG E Liquid. These devices have larger portholes and more effective wicking, so you won’t run into the same problems. A very popular tank currently is the Geekvape Zeus Sub Ohm Vape Tank.
PG provides a Stronger Throat Hit
One important thing to consider when picking your E Liquid is will it provide a strong throat hit. It may sound strange to someone new to vaping but a strong throat hit is very popular as it gives you a similar feeling to smoking. An E Liquid with a strong throat hit is good for ex smokers who are taking up vaping. It makes the feeling of vaping more like the feeling of smoking, which can ease the transition for new users.
That's not to say that everybody enjoys it, again this comes down to personal preference. High VG E Liquids have a much smoother feeling on your throat. Long term vapers do tend to move away from high PG flavours as they no longer require a strong throat hit as they no longer require the smoking sensation. If you do find that High PG E Liquids are irritating your throat we would recommend swapping over to see whether this improves your vaping experience.
Some People are Sensitive to VG and PG
As we mentioned earlier, some people do tend to have different reactions to the PG and VG ingredients in E Liquids, which is why people need to experiment with different flavours and ratios to see what best suits you. Some people are sensitive or even allergic to PG.
Some people do find that PG can irritate their Throat, some are even allergic but this is quite rare. Remember that many food, beverages and pharmaceutical products contain PG and at some point in your life you have consumed PG before. When it comes to vaping PG can just irritate you but it’s still something to keep in mind if you’re first trying vaping. If you do find that you're not getting along with a high PG E Liquid, you should experiment with other flavours and ratios.
If you are new to vaping you should also bear in mind that when you first start to vape you probably will start coughing, this is due to your body doing something it's never done before. Very similar to when you smoke for the first time, you're going to end up coughing, it's a very normal thing so don't panic. Most people find that after a couple of days they no longer cough when vaping.
PG Carries Flavour Better
We touched on this slightly earlier but yes PG is a better ingredient for carrying the flavour. That's not to say that VG doesn't, there are still thousands of delicious VG based vape juices out there but there is a subtle difference with PG based E Liquids. VG is a sweet ingredient which can alter flavours slightly but PG is near tasteless which means it carries the full flavour of all the flavour concentrates in your juice.
If you were to get the same flavour in different ratios and compared them you would be able to notice a slight difference. For some people this is very important, once you get used to vaping you'll be able to decide what type of E Liquid is best for you.
When vaping high VG juice, you will inhale a lot more vapour, this also means there's more vapour to taste. Experienced E Liquid manufactures are aware of the different flavour effects for both high VG and PG flavours and that's why recipes are created specifically for each type of E Liquid.
What’s the best PG/VG ratio?
So now you know more about PG and VG based E Liquids, the question you're probably asking is which ratio is right for you?
PG or Propylene Glycol, and VG or Vegetable Glycerine are present in all vape juices. The E Liquid ratio determines your vaping experience. A higher PG content will give you a more potent ‘throat hit’ while a higher VG content will produce thicker clouds and smoother but less potent ‘throat hit.’
For a smoother hit and experience, you should choose a higher VG ratio as it is naturally sweet, does not give any ‘throat hit', causes fewer allergies, and yields killer clouds.
We can't tell you what your desired ratio is, it completely comes down to personal preference. Many people want to mimic the sensation of smoking and want a stronger throat hit or maybe you're someone that loves a thick cloud vapour and prefers sub ohm vaping. Once you've figured out what you prefer you'll be able to make a decision on what you would like to try. Though most people venturing into vaping try both and experience vapers tend to have multiple devices and switch between the two.
Standard PG/ VG ratios for high VG E Liquids is 70 % VG and 30% PG but there are many vape juices that come in 80/20. High PG E Liquids are a ratio of 50/50 VG/PG this offers a nice balance of the benefits of each ingredient, so it keeps most vapers happy.
The best advice we can give you is to try some E Liquids in the standard high VG range and see how you get along with it. You might find wicking problems with the vape juice, if this happens, you can switch to a higher PG blend (50/50) better suited to your equipment.
Don't give up, you’ll find your ratio!
We've discussed a lot here and it may all sound very daunting and complicated but let's summarise it. All you need to do is experiment and try different flavours.
If you're looking to start vaping then it means that you want to quit smoking and start leading a healthier lifestyle. When shopping for new flavours we would recommend checking out our UK vape deals and finding yourself a bargain, we have a great selection of 50/50 E Liquids and 70/30 E Liquids. You can use our handy filter system on the left hand side to easily pick ratios, flavours and strengths. We've customized this to help you find your desired flavours quicker.
Finding the right flavour and ratio is all personal reference, if one doesn't work for you, simply move on to another type. Just explore the options and experiment a little; you’ll find something that satisfies you in no time.