VG vs PG - Understanding the Difference Between Vegetable Glycerine and Propylene Glycol for Vaping
Each year, millions continue to smoke, despite the dangers and lack of awareness of what's in a cigarette.
We know from medical research they include thousands of dangerous toxins and cause illnesses ranging from a cough and breathing issues to extreme cases of lung cancer.
In contrast, vaping, which is seen as a better alternative, is much clearer about the ingredients in each bottle. You can find them detailed on any e-liquid bottle from a respected manufacturer. Two of the most important ingredients you will see and not be aware of initially are VG and PG, labelled as percentages.
Without Vegetable Glycerine (VG) and Propylene Glycol (PG), there would be no vapour. So, what’s the difference between the two and how do they dictate the experience? Let’s take a closer look and compare.
VG and PG Explained
Acting as the carriers for nicotine and flavour, VG and PG play a vital role in any e-liquid, making up the majority of vape juice, with only a fraction set aside for sweeteners, water and nicotine. Both VG and PG have their uses - providing a different flavour, strength and texture to create a unique experience depending on the ratio.
Vegetable Glycerine is an alcohol-based liquid, typically made from palm oil, soybean or coconut. Much thicker than PG, with a higher ratio of VG at 70% or above, expect larger clouds and sweeter-tasting e-liquids when combined with a higher-powered vape device. Propylene Glycol on the other hand is awarded the title of an organic compound because of its carbon particles. Acting like VG as a colourless liquid, it has much less of a sweet taste (practically zero) and is classed as a mild food additive.
A man-made synthetic product, PG tends to be of a thinner consistency when compared to its counterpart VG. For vapers, PG holds in the flavour and provides the ‘throat hit’ ex-smokers crave. When you exhale, you’ll produce a smaller amount of visible vapour.
Is it Safe to Vape VG and PG?
Generally, both VG and PG are substances deemed safe and are used in a wide variety of pharmaceutical and food products. However, it’s important to know that PG isn’t suitable for everybody. In fact, like nuts, shellfish or wheat, an allergic reaction to PG is possible. Though symptoms and reactions may not be as extreme as the life-threatening anaphylactic shock associated with certain allergies, your reaction to PG may still cause some irritation. Reactions related to PG allergies are reported to include:
- Sinus problems
- Numbness to the face
- Itchy rash, as well as a burning or scratching sensation in your throat
It might seem reasonable to think inhaling the vapour through your mouth increases moistness. However, while you might be inhaling a liquid-based vapour, PG retains a lot of its moisture. Therefore, if you vape an e-liquid that has a high PG content frequently, you may end up with a dry throat.
The only concerns that are well documented are the thickness of VG liquid leading to occasional sore and dry throat issues, plus dehydration. With that in mind, we advise you to keep topped up with water!
If you’ve been experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, then it may be time to switch e-liquids. A straightforward solution could be trying purely 100% VG-based e-liquids.
What's the Best PG/VG Ratio for Vaping?
Is it better to go with a 70% VG and 30% PG vape juice, or a balanced 50/50 split e-liquid? That’s entirely up to you and completely depends on what you hope to get in terms of inhalation from your vape kit. For example, beginner vapers giving up smoking seek a similar sensation, without additional health issues. For most, a greater ratio of PG is the first step. A Sub-Ohm coil will fare better with a high VG e-liquid and a high PG vape juice or 50/50 is best vaped alongside a higher resistance coil and a low wattage device.
In contrast, as you get used to the vaping experience, many gradually move away from a higher PG ratio to VG. This is because you get used to a different consistency, denser and richer vapour, as well as an alternating technique direct into the lungs. Ideally, you'll want to find an e-liquid that includes a ratio of at least 50% PG initially should you seek the stronger throat hit. The higher the VG ratio the more cloud and smoother texture you’ll get. Here is a useful rundown of combinations for a beginner or experienced vaper:
100% PG Disadvantages:
- On a low wattage, it's a challenge to burn through the coil, creating enough vapour
- Barely any cloud, plus may feel too similar to smoking
60% PG or Higher Advantages:
- You get a great throat hit, while still achieving mild vapour clouds
- Best adjustment early on for ex-smokers
- The wicks absorb PG much quicker than the thicker VG liquid
60% PG or Higher Disadvantages:
- Potentially leads to hydration issues
- Can still cause a harsh throat hit
70% VG and 30% PG Advantages:
- Large clouds but with an improved smoother throat hit
- Fewer dry throat or coughing issues than if you focused on greater PG
- Perfect for Sub-Ohm vaping
70% VG and 30% PG Disadvantages:
- Difficult for ex-smokers to adjust initially
- Still has a significantly thicker texture
100% VG Advantages:
- Great for anyone with PG allergies
- The consistency of the liquid is denser with high VG, creating thicker and more voluminous clouds
- Ideal for those cloud chasing, when paired with the right cloud-chasing kit
- E-liquids have longer evaporation due to density
100% VG Disadvantages:
- On a high power setting, you will use more e-liquid or shortfill and the battery consumes faster
- The thicker texture will likely clog the coils
VG: The Ideal Choice for Cloud Chasers
Now you know all the key details about the difference between VG and PG, you need to get the right device. But this is only easy if you know what to look for. Each device has a power wattage maximum, which determines what sort of ratio of PG or VG is suitable. For instance, if you like vaping for the cloud-chasing aspect, you’ll need a powerful device with high watts. In contrast, those who want the perfect 50/50 blend of VG and PG would be best suited to lower-wattage products. This is because too much PG on a high wattage can burn through the flavour. The same theory applies to those who vape with nicotine-salt e-liquids. Ideally, you want a sub-ohm device because the tanks are bigger and can support cloud chasing with greater ease.
PG: The Ideal Choice for Former Smokers
On the other end of the scale, leaning towards a higher PG ratio is ideal for those looking to quit smoking.
That’s because it’s the closest you’ll get in terms of similarity. The thinner the liquid on a smaller device, the better the flavour.
This will mean you’ll enjoy the intense e-liquids and have a thinner substance too. A great option to get a smooth nicotine hit is by choosing a suitable nic salt e-liquid.
If you want to find out more about nic salts, read here.
For appearance and comfort, those looking to give up smoking and turn to vape will seek a familiar feeling. A device similar in shape and draw will tick the right boxes. For example, many turn to pens because of their simple design. Think the opposite of sub-ohm tanks - less bulky, but more compact. That way you can vape with ease, keeping your coil clean because the substance of higher PG is less dense and even less likely to get clogged. The drawback is also similar to smoking, so you get the flavours you bought. A win-win for vaping beginners.
Bonus Tips for Achieving Maximum Flavour
- Add a few drops of water to your coil to prevent thicker VG from clogging your device. This is every vapers' nightmare!
- Check your airflow adjustment matches your preference. Think more airflow for more vapour - and less airflow for an increased throat hit.
- Keep your e-liquid in a dark space for a few hours or overnight to ensure the blend of PG and VG is just right before vaping.
- Pick a suitable coil, and keep it clean and manageable for premium flavours.
- Mix up the choices of e-liquid to avoid vaper’s tongue. The same bland flavour over and over is not desirable.
- Alter the temperature and wattage to find the optimum performance.
Verdict - Mixing PG & VG Get Our Vote
You’ll find that many e-liquids will have a mixture of both PG and VG. If you’re not allergic to PG, a higher ratio of PG will provide the throat hit that you might be craving as an ex-smoker. It also creates a stronger flavour profile from the e-liquid flavour you choose.
On the other side of the debate, the addition of predominantly VG will add density and visible size to the cloud of vapour you exhale. A higher ratio will be naturally sweeter and smoother on the throat. However, the majority these days go with a balanced 50/50 approach to combine the different features of both.
There is no definitive answer whether a higher ratio of one or the other is best for every vaper, as we all have different preferences. What’s certain is opting for a higher ratio of either PG or VG can define the e-liquid experience. Using the try-and-test method with not just the vape juice but your preferred vape style is our recommendation. For any further guidance, the Pure E-Liquids team is happy to help.
Each year, millions continue to smoke, despite the dangers and lack of awareness of what's in a cigarette. We know from medical research they include thousands of dangerous toxins and cause illnesses ranging from a cough and breathing issues to extreme cases of lung cancer.