Anyone getting into vaping will typically pre-occupy themselves on two things in particular: 1. their hardware and 2. the e-liquid; in particular, the flavours and levels of nicotine in the case of the latter.
After a few months’ vaping experience, attention shifts to more specific details such as the impact of variable wattage and voltage, and some users might even scale up to higher performance devices like mods.
In the case of e-liquids, one often ignored consideration by beginners (and even some experienced vapers) is the “base” of the e-juice – vegetable glycerine (VG), propylene glycol (PG), or a mixture of the two.
That is a mistake because selecting the proper PG/VG blend is central to your vaping experience in terms of flavour, throat hit and cloud production.
This guide is to illustrate the possibilities – and why they matter a big deal.
Characteristics of PG and VG
An e-liquid’s base plays two major roles. It “carries” the other ingredients in the vape juice, and also has a huge bearing on the flavour, vapour produced, and throat hit.
Unless you are one of those who preoccupy themselves with the terms and conditions section, the boring details about these two ingredients aren’t compulsory for most vapers to read through. Both bases are largely deemed safe and commonly used in an array of consumable products.
The one major health caveat to be aware of is the fact that a small number of people are allergic to propylene glycol, and interaction with it could spark symptoms such as stomach upsets, rashes and hives.
PG may also cause throat irritation in some individuals, and the reasons for this will become apparent in a jiffy.
In such instances, the option for these users is to switch to a VG juice.
PG and VG both have their distinct characteristics which have a direct effect on the vaping experience – and a major one at that:
● Propylene Glycol
PG is a synthetic non-toxic liquid which is runny (thin) in nature with no natural flavour, an element that makes it a great carrier of flavours present in an e-liquid. Due to its non-natural ingredients, it also boasts a longer shelf life.
PG packs a strong punch (throat hit) and this is largely why you may experience some throat irritation if it is concentrated.
It has a higher temperature resistance, meaning it requires a higher voltage in order to create clouds. Therefore, with PG, there is less vapour being inhaled, and consecutively, thinner clouds being exhaled. And if the voltage isn’t regulated properly, there is the possibility of a burnt taste.
● Vegetable Glycerine
VG is a natural substance which is thicker and harbours a naturally sweet flavour. Due to its organic nature, it has a shorter shelf life.
When used as a base for e-juice, VG creates thicker and denser vapour, although it has less of a throat hit compared to PG.
This makes it a smoother vape on the inhale, with huge clouds on the exhale.
Common PG/VG Ratios and Ideal Uses
A mix of the two does more than simply bring out the best of both worlds.
What you will realise over time is that different PG/VG ratios work best for different families of flavours, not to mention the type of device.
You will also discover that juice high in VG blended with several flavours takes more time to steep. As well, you will find that a lot of “interesting” flavours and most high-nicotine concentrates are not available in a VG-based e-liquid.
This all has to do with the inherent properties.
As far as the e-liquid ratios go, here are the possibilities available to you:
100% VG: (Max VG): 100% VG is most ideal in two situations – competitive cloud chasing or for people allergic to PG. There’s virtually zero throat hit, and the sweet VG obviously alters the flavour while also posing a device maintenance issue since it gums on coils, wicks and other equipment components.
80% VG/20% PG: (80/20): Also has little throat hit but guarantees voluminous clouds. It is at this level that the sweetness of VG begins to noticeably affect flavours. It is also the point where high VG content can start becoming a concern with regard to gunk build-up on your wicks and coils.
70% VG/30% PG: (70/30): If you are interested in large clouds but still fancy a little throat hit, this is the level to go for. It is smooth on the inhale without overpowering and big plumes on the exhale. This is the spot that most users find offers them the best of both worlds.
60% VG/40% PG (60/40): Another popular ratio, this mixture provides a perfect balance between large clouds and flavour saturation.
50% VG/50% PG: (50/50): This blend has a perceptible, but not harsh, throat hit, along with quality exhales. It used to be the industry standard before it was overtaken by 70/30. A perfect level to start with.
20% VG/80% PG: (20/80): This ratio has an increased throat hit with just a whiff of clouds. Common with users who used to be heavy smokers or anyone who fancies a good nicotine hit with a little VG to balance it out.
100% PG: (Max PG): Used to be quite popular some time back, but now not so much. This flavour ratio is not for everyone. It has the strongest throat hit which can be too sharp for most people. The amount of vapour produced is also noticeably meagre.
And there you have it.
Again, if you are just starting out and want to try out the different combinations, the best place to start is the 50/50 baseline or 70VG/30PG. Then move on from there.