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What is the Difference Between PG and VG e-Liquid?

Friday, 13 September 2019

When it comes to e-liquid, two common terms often crop up: VG and PG. This may be confusing to people who are new to vaping, but knowledge of what these acronyms mean can significantly enhance your vaping experience. Continue reading our easy-to-read guide on everything you need to know about the difference between PG and VG e-liquids. Navigate through the post using the table of contents below: 

Table of Contents:

  • What are PG and VG?
  • What is Propylene Glycol (PG)?
  • What is Vegetable Glycerin (VG)?
  • What PG/VG ratio should I use?
  • PG vs VG: Which is best?
  • What equipment do I need?

 

Photo credit: hurricanehank / Shutterstock

 

What is PG and VG?

PG and VG are odourless liquids that are combined with flavour, and sometimes nicotine, to create an e-liquid. They belong to the alcohol chemical class, but they are not intoxicating – they are deemed “sugar alcohols” which are included in many consumable products, such as toothpaste, medical products or baked goods to increase moisture. But, once they are heated in a vaping device, they produce a vapour which allows them to be inhaled.

Despite this, PG and VG have different consistency to each other and slightly different tastes. High-PG e-liquids are thinner in consistency, provide a stronger throat hit and are best for mouth-to-lung devices as these thin liquids can easily be vaporised by the low power mouth-to-lung batteries.

High VG e-liquids are thicker, provide a smoother throat hit and are best for direct-to-lung devices as these thicker liquids need a higher level or power to vaporise properly.

You can often tell the difference between the two when vaping, as they produce two different – and distinct – mouth and throat sensations. Thus, beware that choosing the wrong PG and VG ratio can put off first-time vapers, so pay careful attention to choose the right level for your vape device. Most modern e-liquids use a combination of PG and VG, but the ratio can vary quite dramatically so be sure to check this before making a purchase.

 

For instance, the percentage or ratio is usually listed as follows:

“70% VG” or “70/30 VG/PG” or “70 VG/30 PG”

 

What is Propylene Glycol (PG)?

Propylene glycol – most commonly referred to as PG – is the most popular of the two. It is used in e-liquids in order to provide a stronger lung and throat hit, which some users claim is similar to the sensation experienced when smoking tobacco cigarettes. Therefore, the higher the PG ratio, the better it is for first-time vapers who are looking to quit smoking.

High-PG e-liquid has a thinner, more “runny” consistency than its VG counterpart, which makes it easier to be absorbed by cotton fabric inside wick tanks. This is also advantageous to vapers, as the low density of the liquid doesn’t build up on the heating element as fast as thicker VG.

High-PG e-liquids are said to be more flavoursome than its VG counterpart, making it the most commonly used fluid for flavour concentrates and nicotine.

What should I be aware of when vaping PG?

A common side effect of vaping high-PG is that it is irritating to the throat as it dries your mouth and throat if used consistently – this is normal. This is why it is advisable to drink more water than usual for the first few weeks of using your e-cigarette device, whilst your body gets used to it. If you are sufficiently hydrated, these symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a week but be aware of any unusual reactions.

However, propylene glycol has been known to cause more severe allergic reactions to some e-cigarette users. The symptoms vary, including:

  • Dry throat
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen gums
  • Skin problems – such as rashes, hives etc
  • Sinus problems

So, if you find yourself coming out in a rash or experiencing other side effects after using a PG-based e-liquid, you may be allergy to PG. If you experience any unusual symptoms, it is advisable to stop using it immediately. But, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. You can still enjoy vaping, but you must make a few changes to your vaping style by switching to high-VG e-liquids instead.

 

RELATED: What Happens When You Stop Smoking and Start Vaping?

 

Photo credit: Rommel Canlas / Shutterstock

 

What is Vegetable Glycerin (VG)?

Vegetable glycerin – more commonly known as VG – is a natural chemical derived from vegetable oils, meaning it is perfectly safe for vegetarians.

This type is commonly used in e-liquids to create a thicker solution, which ensures it has a slower absorption rate for wicks. As a result of its thicker consistency, VG e-liquids produce significantly more vapour and smoke clouds. This provides a much smoother throat hit in comparison to PG, making it more suitable for sub-ohm vaping. However, this has its downside too, as it can clog up vapourisers easily, meaning it requires more cleaning.

In comparison to PG, higher VG e-liquid has a sweeter taste which makes the e-liquid sweeter. However, this can make flavours more difficult to detect.

What should I be aware of when vaping VG?

The increased thickness of VG means it can reduce the life of atomisers quicker than high-PG e-liquids. This is because e-liquids with a high VG ratio can clog up coils and not work well in some vape tanks. Older products are particularly susceptible, particularly models that use smaller coils such as clearomisers.

As with PG, the most common side effects of vaping high-VG e-liquid is that it can cause dehydration. As a result, ensure you drink plenty of water and take a break from vaping if necessary.

 

RELATED: How to Choose a Nicotine Strength

 

What PG/VG ratio is best?

Unfortunately, there is no one-answer-fits-all for this question. Which ratio to use is entirely dependent on the user’s preference and which kind of vaping experience they favour. Most vapers use various levels of PG and VG for different purposes, such as:

  • Throat hit

If you favour a sharp throat hit when vaping, you’ll prefer a high-PG e-liquid. This is especially popular among ex-smokers, as it creates a hit at the back of the throat, similar to that of a tobacco cigarette.

  • Smoothness

High-VG e-liquid gives a much smoother feeling on the throat, which gives a more substantial ‘thicker’ feel.

  • Stealth vaping

If you would like to conceal vaping in public by producing minimal smoke, high-PG is the best way to go. This ensures that less vapour is produced when exhaled, and hence producing considerably less smoke than high-VG e-liquids.

  • Cloudchasing

Cloudchasing involves exhaling dense clouds of vapour. This is becoming increasingly popular over the world, with some people taking part in competitions to see who can produce the largest cloud. If this appeals to you, high-VG e-liquids are the option for you – the higher the better.

 

RELATED: Vaping Tricks: How to Blow Smoke Rings and More

 

PG vs VG: An overview

 

What equipment do I need?

It’s not just as simple as deciding on a high-VG or PG e-liquid and hoping it works, it all comes down to your equipment. If it isn’t suitable for the job, it can result in issues such as throat irritation or wicking problems.

Here at Vapourcore, we advise the following:

  • Clearomisers

The clearomiser is one of the most common styles of tanks for vaping. Often, these take higher resistance coils which are vaped below 15 watts.

Clearomisers are not generally suitable for high-VG e-liquids, as their coils simply cannot cope with the thicker fluid, which can result in unpleasant dry hits of burning cotton. Therefore, we advise using high-PG fluid or a 50/50 ratio when using this kind of tank.

  • Sub-ohm tanks

Sub-ohm tanks take a lot more power than standard clearomisers and are designed to deal well with high-VG liquids.

Please note: As these tanks require more power and higher battery strength, this type of vape tank can use up e-liquid much faster than other vape devices.

  • Rebuildables

If you prefer to make your own coils, there is a lot more flexibility on your PG and VG ratio. This is dependent on the coils you use and the shape you opt for, but this method ensures you don’t have to worry as much about your cotton wicking properly.

As mentioned previously, the type of ratio you go for is down to personal preference, but the norm for coil resistances of prebuilt coils is the same for rebuildables too – sub-ohm coils for high-VG, higher resistance coils for 50/50 or high-PG e-liquids.

 

RELATED: Vaping Wire Guide: Coil Building for Beginners

 

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