When I picked up vaping my knowledge about e-liquids was limited to knowing the name of the e-liquid flavour. I took pride into how many flavours I owned and bragged about how many I had tasted till one fateful day a fellow vaping enthusiast brought it all crashing down. I clearly remember his question “This is a great flavour! What percentage of PG and VG has it got?” The question had me stumped! The only PG I was aware of was when you go to the movies and it says “PG” and VG? Let’s not even discuss what VG made me think of. Suffice to say I was thoroughly and utterly embarrassed.

Thus started my journey to seek knowledge about 2 main ingredients of e-liquid. I am sharing it all below so that it’ll save someone else from encountering the same embarrassing situation I did:

The composition of an e-liquid 

To understand what PG and VG are we first have to understand the composition of an e-liquid.  Although e-liquids are sold by different companies under different brand names and flavour names they all have somewhat the same composition i.e.  Nicotine, PG (propylene glycol), VG (vegetable glycerin) and flavouring. Nicotine quantity can vary according to e-liquid brand but let’s assume its 10%, 10% is flavouring and the remaining and whopping 80% is an amalgamation of PG and VG in various ratios.

50% PG 50% VG bottle with stick man jumping over

PG and VG play the role of diluting the flavouring and nicotine. Their individual percentage in the remaining 80% depends and vastly varies according to personal preferences.  Design your own E-Liquid mix now

What is PG (propylene glycol)?

Contrary to my belief that propylene glycol has to be something combustible (read about it in chemistry class, vague details, a long time ago), it turns out that it isn’t. It is, however, a petroleum by-product, it is a colourless and odourless clear liquid. The main role of PG in e-liquid is to mimic that “throat hit” or that ticklish feeling you get at the back of your throat when you take a deep drag on a cigarette. For some people (excluding yours truly) this is a big NO NO! They simply can’t tolerate it in their vapes. For some, it’s a key ingredient that makes vaping on par with smoking.     

What is VG (vegetable glycerin)

VG is also a colourless, odourless liquid. As apparent from the name, its organic oil extracted from plants such as coconut, soy and palm mixed together to form vegetable glycerin. Vegetable’s glycerin’s role in e-liquids is a multifaceted one. VG is responsible for producing the thick plume of vapour (not to be confused with smoke from cigarettes) and bestowing a sweet taste to the e-liquid. 

Mixing ratios of propylene glycol & vegetable glycerin to get different results

Alright so by now it must be obvious that variation in PG and VG quantities can produce some totally groovy results. Let’s explore some possibilities:

VG Vs PG Ratio chart

Is VG & PG safe for consumption?

Last but certainly not least the topic of VG or PG being safe for consumption! FDA has cleared both for consumption and deems them safe. Both VG and PG are used as an ingredient in a variety of food.

Let’s discuss VG first. Since it’s organic, a higher concentration of Vegetable Glycerin doesn’t have any health threatening side effects. The most it can do is cause cotton mouth aka dry mouth feeling which leads to dehydration and makes you thirsty more often.

Propylene Glycol is known to cause an allergic reaction in a small percentage of people. The most common manifestation of the allergic reaction is a skin rash.

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