PG Versus VG E-Liquid: How to Make the Choice

VG vs PG Aspen Valley Vapes

As if choosing from the thousands of different e-liquid flavors available wasn’t already hard enough, you also have to think about the amounts of VG and PG in your juice!

If you look at the label on just about any bottle of e-liquid, you’ll notice the acronyms VG and PG next to a number, usually printed as a ratio or percent. VG stands for vegetable glycerin, PG stands for propylene glycol, and they are both basic liquid ingredients used in nearly all e-liquid varieties.

PG vs VG E-Liquid

So, what does that mean to you?

As it turns out, an e-liquid’s PG to VG ratio tells you a lot about its flavor, consistency, and what kind of vapor it will produce. Many vapers have a preference for one over the other, and it’s one of the first things you should look at before deciding on a new flavor of juice.

In this post, we’ll give you a detailed look at both propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine and help you understand what makes high-PG and high-VG liquids unique. We’ll explain what propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are, how they work, and how to use the PG/VG ratio on e-liquid bottles to choose the kind of juice that’s right for you.

What You Can Learn from An E-liquid’s PG to VG Ratio

Despite what the media would have you think, the ingredients in most types of e-liquid are very simple. Most e-juice is made out of water, flavorings (natural or artificial), and a liquid base, and that liquid base is always either propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, or a combination of the two.

The flavor, texture, throat feel, and many other characteristics of an e-liquid are directly affected by the liquid base it’s made from. For example, an e-liquid that’s made mostly with PG is almost always going to be thinner, harsher, and more flavorful than one made made with mostly VG instead.

Most e-juices have some combination of both VG and PG, but some only have one or the other. The e-liquid will have more of the characteristics associated with PG or VG the higher the percentage is, so that an e-liquid that has 90% PG will be even harsher and more flavorful than one with only 60% PG.

Propylene Glycol (PG)

Propylene glycol is a thin, colorless, organic liquid that’s commonly used in pharmaceutical vaporizers used to administer inhaled medications (such as asthma inhalers). It’s also used in soaps, laundry detergents, and as a preservative in a variety of foods and drinks, including liquid sweeteners, ice cream, and soda.

PG is mostly tasteless which is why it’s known to produce the purest, best-tasting flavor. It is used as a base liquid ingredient in most e-liquids, and is commonly used in high-VG e-liquids to give them a thinner consistency and make them easier to vape.

Image courtesy of Com Salud on Flickr

Thickness

Propylene glycol has a thin, water-like consistency. Because of this, it easily absorbs into e-cigarette wicks and polyfill and has a low risk for build-up. However, this also means that e-liquids high in PG tend to get used up more quickly.

Flavor

Propylene glycol itself has little to no flavor, which allows it to absorb and carry flavorings very well without changing their taste. Compared to high-VG e-liquids, high-PG e-juice tends to have a more rich, pure, and full-bodied flavor.

Vapor

Since propylene glycol is more heat resistant than vegetable glycerine, e-liquids high in PG tend to produce less vapor.

Throat Feel

Propylene glycol has a strong “throat hit” that many vapers like, but some find unpleasant. E-liquids that have higher PG percentages tend to have a harsh throat feel that is similar to the throat sensation of smoking tobacco cigarettes.

Potential Issues

Because of its harsh throat hit, e-liquids high in propylene glycol can irritate and dry out your throat. Also, some vapers have complained of allergic reactions to PG, which can include a rash and a sore, tingly throat. These allergic reactions are not common, but if you experience any discomfort or allergic reactions you should stop using PG e-liquids and consider trying a high-VG e-juice variety instead.

Vegetable Glycerin (VG)

Image courtesy of Vanessa Porter

Vegetable glycerin is a clear, organic liquid that’s made from plant and vegetable oils. It is considered very safe for human consumption and is used as a sweetener in a variety of foods.

VG is also ingredient in many health and beauty products, including lotions, soaps, medicine capsules, and toothpaste. Cloud chasers often choose high-VG e-liquids for the large, dense clouds they produce.

Thickness

VG is very thick and viscous, which is why it tends to gum up e-cigarette tanks and coils. It’s important to clean your coils often when you use high-VG e-juice to keep your atomizer in good working condition.

The upside is that thicker, high-VG e-liquids don’t get used up as fast. They tend to last longer because the juice doesn’t flow through your atomizer as quickly as juice high in PG.

Flavor

Pure vegetable glycerin has a faint, slightly sweet flavor. This makes e-liquids high in VG taste sweeter, but it also tends to dull other flavors that are added to it. Because of this, most flavor-chasers avoid high-VG juice.

Vapor

People who vape high-VG e-liquids often do so because it’s the only way to get the biggest, thickest clouds. E-juice with a high percentage of VG tend to produce a significantly higher volume of vapor than high-PG e-liquids, and are a favorite for cloud chasers and competitive vapers.

Throat Feel

Vegetable glygerin has a smoother, lighter throat feel than PG, which makes it ideal for sub-ohm vaping. Because it’s not as harsh as PG, it’s easier to vape at higher temperatures.

Common Issues: E-liquids high in vegetable glycerin tend to gum up and cause blockages in tanks and atomizers. Because of this, high-VG e-liquids should not be used in certain types of tanks at all (the eGo and Innoken Iclear tanks are notorious for having this problem). It’s important to clean your tank and atomizer often when you vape a lot of VG to keep your e-cigarette working well.

How to Choose Between PG and VG Eliquids

Now that you know how to understand PG and VG labels on e-juice bottles, it’s time to go out and experiment. If you don’t have a clear preference already, try out several different e-liquids with different PG to VG ratios and get a feel for what you like best. Some e-liquid brands carry the same flavor of juice in varying PG/VG ratios, which makes it even easier to compare the differences.

Probably the most important thing to consider when deciding between PG and VG juice is whether you are chasing big flavor or big clouds. If you’re a flavor chaser, you should probably go with e-liquids that have a higher PG ratio, but if you’re a cloud chaser, you should look for high VG juice.

When it comes to picking out a new e-liquid, there’s no right or wrong answer. Neither PG nor VG is “better,” and you can get a great-tasting, satisfying vape out of both. It’s all about your unique preferences and what tastes good and feels right to you.

Picture Credit: http://vaping360.com/

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