WHAT ARE E-LIQUIDS? (And Why You Should Care)


Some users call it e-juice, others call it vape juice or e-liquid. Whatever they call it its one and the same. And, in case you’ve been wondering what they mean, we got you covered. Stay put and hold tight.

Let’s dive in.

E-liquid is the fluid present in vaporizers. It is normally heated between 200 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit to form the vapour that is inhaled while vaping. Vape juice is a mixture that contains a PG or VG base, water, food grade flavourings, and nicotine. However, the e-liquid may be with or without nicotine.

Vaping without nicotine? Yeah, sure. Actually, some vapers especially those who want to quit smoking, use nicotine-free vaping during the weaning off phase. Now, that you know what e-liquids are, let’s look at its components.

First, PG and VG base.

What are PG and VG?

PG and VG are short forms for Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin. Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin are the odourless liquids that are mixed with nicotine and flavour to create e-liquids.

A PG or VG base acts as a carrier that holds the nicotine and flavouring in suspension. Hence, they are distributed evenly throughout the liquid. Technically, both PG and VG are termed as alcohols. But, they’re in the sub-group of sugar alcohols thus not intoxicating as pure alcohols.

In fact, PG and VG are included in many consumable products. Both PG and VG have different tastes and distinct throat and mouth sensations while vaping.

Today, they can both be mixed in the same e-liquid with a varying PG: VG ratio.

Propylene Glycol

The chemical structure for Propylene Glycol is:

Propylene Glycol symbol

Propylene glycol is a petroleum by-product that has no odour or colour. It is the most commonly used nicotine and food grade flavouring suspension since it carries flavour more effectively.

Besides, unlike Vegetable Glycerin, PG doesn’t affect the taste of the flavour. Most users claim that PG provides a perfect ‘throat hit’. In other words, the users say that using PG as the base provides a similar sensation to that of smoking tobacco.

On the downside, there have been reported cases where users experienced an allergic reaction after using a propylene glycol base. Others areas where propylene glycol can be found include:

  • Pet food(except for cat food)
  • Oral hygiene products like toothpaste
  • Cosmetic and beauty products

Vegetable Glycerin

You can illustrate Vegetable glycerin as:

Vegetable Glycerol Symbol

Like its name says Vegetable Glycerin is derived from vegetable oils. No wonder, it’s the top choice for vegetarians. VG is thicker and more viscous than Propylene glycol.

Plus, it has a taste that is slightly sweeter taste. Vegetable glycol has a smoother throat hit and is the best choice for vape virgins (those starting out). Due, to its viscous nature, VG produces bigger and thicker vape clouds than PG.

Since VG is a natural chemical it is found in various foods, beauty and healthcare products like: 

  • Baked foods. To increase moisture content. 
  • Pet food 
  • Soap and hand cream 
  • Food addictive as a replacement for sugar
  • Beauty and cosmetic products
  • Dental care products

What is the difference between Propylene Glycol e-liquids and Vegetable Glycerin e-liquids?

Let’s start with the most popular –PG e-liquids.

PG E-liquids

  • Doesn’t affect the flavour. Since PG is an odourless and tasteless base it has no effect on the flavour of the e-liquid whatsoever. However, using Pg e-liquids consistently over time can cause dehydration. For instance, some users have reported having a dry throat after using PG e-liquids. 
  • Thin and less viscous. PG has a thinner consistency than VG that allows it to be quickly absorbed by the wax or cotton in the atomizers. 
  • Less residue and gunk. PG provides the cleanest vaping experience due to its less viscous nature. It is absorbed quickly and hence doesn’t clog up the atomizers. 
  • Better throat hit. Vaping with PG e-liquids creates a sensation that comes close to that of smoking tobacco cigarettes. 
  • Health risk. Propylene glycol may cause allergic reactions. It can cause serious irritation all over and minor cases of a tingling throat sensation. Now, let’s check out VG e-liquids. VG E-liquids 
  • Impacts the flavour. VG has a sweet taste on its own. This sweetness makes it harder to detect the flavours.
  • Thick and more viscous. Due to its highly viscous nature, VG is absorbed in a slower rate than PG e-liquids. 
  • Residue and clogging. VG e-liquids aren’t absorbed easily thus tend to cause a build-up that clogs the coils and vaporizers. 
  • Less throat hit. VG has a smooth but weaker throat hit than PG. As result, it lacks the kick-back sensation.
  • Health risk. Although some users have reported phlegm building up their throat, VG e-liquids is more health-friendly and less allergic than PG.
  • Bigger vapour clouds. Vegetable glycerin e-liquids produce bigger and thicker vapour clouds due to its thick nature.

How to choose between PG and VG E-liquids

The debate of which is better between PG and VG e-liquid still lingers on. In fact, users in the vaping community are still evenly divided. Generally, if you ’re going for strong hits PG e-liquids is the best option for you.

VG vs PG ratio chart

Similarly, for less throat hits, bigger vape clouds, and more flavour VG e-liquid is the ultimate bet. Haven’t found your sweet spot yet? Try making your own e-liquid. It’s easy and very economical.

Check out this detailed DIY e-liquid guide. Nevertheless, here are a few tips you should consider:

  • Steeping. An e-liquid with high VG takes longer to steep especially for multi-flavoured recipes. If you want your e-liquid to steep faster consider a single flavoured recipe with high PG. 
  • Thickness. High VG e-liquids are thick and highly viscous. Thus, it is difficult for the cotton or wax in the atomizer to absorb it quickly. As a result, the coils are clogged and may have trouble wicking the e-liquid. To reduce the thickness of the e-liquid, add water to the e-juice. Probably, a drop per every 10 ML. 
  • Food grade flavouring. Flavour concentrates are mostly suspended in PG. In the rare cases where the flavours are added to VG, it should be done carefully. More importantly, you should note that the more flavour is added, the more the VG level drops. 
  • Hybrid base. In case you’re looking for a non-flavoured e-liquid for less, consider mixing PG and VG in different ratios. You can have the right throat hits and avoid leaking with only the base liquids and a few plastic bottles. Actually, there is no specific PG: VG ratio you should use. It just depends on your preferred vaping experience. For example, here is what many people look out for while deciding their PG: VG ratio
  •  Cloud chasing. Have you come across people exhaling big vape clouds? Those people were using VG e-liquids. In most cases, users looking for big and dense vape clouds prefer high VG e-liquids. 
  • Throat hits. Formers smokers who are looking for that a strong throat hit will go for high PG e-liquids. PG suspension carries and distributes nicotine and flavours better than VG bases. 
  • Low-key vaping. For those who like to stay clear of attention in public while vaping, PG is the best option. The vape clouds produced by PG e-liquids are much smaller and hard to notice. On the other hand, it is good to behave yourself and avoid smoking in public places.
  • Smoothness. High VG e-juices give a smoother sensation and a thicker feeling in the mouth. Although that smoothness is a bit weak in PG e-liquids, you can counter it by adding more power. More power for more vapour. But, you need to stay within the recommended power range to avoid damaging your device and dry hits.

Still, choosing your PG: VG isn’t as simple as it sounds. You’ll need equipment that is most suitable for the job. Failure to which you’ll risk wicking problems and even dry throat hits.

Here, both tanks and coils play a big part in vaping and are directly affected by e-liquids. Let’s look at how e-liquids impact them and which devices are most suited for either PG or VG.

  • Sub-Ohm Tanks – These are the type of tanks designed to deal with high VG e-liquids. Take the Mesh Pro series tank for instance. They can take a lot more power than standard clearomizers. Consequently, they possess high battery strength and they are able to absorb thick vaping juices much faster.Freemax Mesh Pro Tank
  • Clearomizers – These are most common and much smaller than sub-ohm tanks. They include the Aspire Nautilus tank series. Although they’re vaped below 15 watts, clearomizers have higher resistance coils. As a result, they can’t cope with high VG e-juices and can lead to dry hits. 
  • Rebuildable coils –This refers to home-made coils. Rebuildable coils give you more flexibility on your PG: VG ratio. Thus, you don’t have to worry about your cotton wicking properly. Overall high resistance coils work for PG and sub-ohm coils are recommended for VG e-liquids.

Conclusion

For an awesome vaping experience, an understanding of e-liquids and how they are crucial for every user. It helps you find your sweet spot and keep your vaping e-equipment safe all at the same time. When you want a great throat hit you know that’s PG e-juice. For enormous vaping clouds, you go for VG e-liquids. In addition, you should keep in mind which equipment to set up for each of the e-liquids.


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