Any time you shop for an e-liquid, you'll likely see a label that says something like this: '50/50', 'High VG', '70/30 VG/PG', or similar.
But what exactly do these numbers and letters mean? And which should you be using with your vape?
Sit tight because we're about to tell you everything you need to know about VG and PG, the two key ingredients in vape juice.
What is VG?
VG, or Vegetable Glycerin, is a thick, syrup-like, clear liquid that is derived from vegetable fats from soybean, coconut or palm oils. It is used in e-liquids as it produces large amounts of vapour when heated. VG has a slightly sweet taste and a milder throat hit than PG.
Other uses of Vegetable Glycerin:
- In foods as a sweetener
- As an ingredient in ice cream and frozen yoghurt to prevent ice crystals forming
- As an ingredient in pharmaceuticals such as anaesthetics and cough medicine
- In toothpaste to prevent it drying out in the tube
- In makeup and moisturisers
What is PG?
PG, or Propylene Glycol, is a thin, clear liquid that is derived from petroleum. It is used in e-liquids as it carries flavour well and produces a strong throat hit when you vape.
Other uses of Propylene Glycol:
- In baked goods to keep them moist
- As a solvent in medicines
- In hair care products and moisturisers because it attracts moisture from the air
- In smoke machines at concerts
- As a non-toxic alternative to antifreeze
The different PG and VG ratios
So, how do the different ratios of PG and VG impact your vape? Here are the characteristics of three common e-liquid formulations.
50% VG 50% PG
50/50 e-liquid contains an equal ratio of VG and PG. Because PG is thinner than VG and easier to vapourise, a 50/50 e-liquid doesn't require much power to turn into vapour. It is also great for providing powerful and satisfying flavours as well as a noticeable throat hit. 50/50 e-liquids such as nic salts are often the first port of call for new vapers making the transition from smoking.
Suitable for: low-powered vape devices including pod kits and vape pens designed for Mouth-To-Lung (MTL) vaping.
Throat hit: strong.
Nicotine strength: 50/50 e-liquids are available in a range of nicotine strengths ranging from 0mg to 20mg nicotine.
Examples: if you're a fan of freebase nicotine e-liquid, why not try the IVG Classics range of 50/50 e-liquids, available with 6mg, 12mg, or 18mg of nicotine. Prefer nic salts? Donut King 50% VG nic salts are a good choice, as are Just Juice Exotic Fruits. Or, if you're looking for a bigger bottle of nicotine-free 50/50 PG/VG e-liquid, try the Geek 100ml shortfills
As the name suggests, high VG e-liquids contain a greater proportion of VG than PG - usually 70% VG or more. The thick, syrupy nature of Vegetable Glycerin means that high VG e-liquids are more viscous, more likely to clog your coils with gunk, and require higher powered setups to turn into vapour. However, if you're interested in sub-ohm vaping, high VG e-liquids will become your best friend because they perform well with sub-ohm vapes and provide huge clouds of vapour for Direct-To-Lung vaping.
Throat hit: mild.
Nicotine strength: e-liquids with a large proportion of VG tend to be nicotine-free or have a lower nicotine strength. Many high VG e-liquids are shortfills - nicotine-free bottles of vape juice that have space at the top to add a nic shot to achieve your desired nicotine strength. It's important to keep your nicotine strength low in a high VG e-liquid because these are vapourised at a rapid rate, causing you to consume more nicotine than you would in a 50/50 e-liquid.
Examples: some of our favourite high VG shortfills at the moment include the Dinner Lady Moments range with 70% VG and the BLNDR Smoothie shortfills with 70% VG. Want to try an e-liquid with even more VG? Sample Wick Liquor Miyako or the Just Jam Sponge series, both with an impressive 80% VG.
Less common than the previous formulations, high PG e-liquids (also called PG-based e-liquids) contain more Propylene Glycol than Vegetable Glycerin to provide the strongest throat hits and most potent flavours.
Suitable for: pod kits and vape pens.
Throat hit: very strong - can leave vapers with a dry mouth or some soreness.
Nicotine strength: ranges up to 20mg nicotine strength.
Which VG/PG ratio is best for me?
If you're trying to quit smoking...
For ex-smokers, a 50/50 or high PG e-liquid is a great choice. With the satisfying throat hit that mimics that of smoking a cigarette and the formulation that supports MTL vaping, these vape juices are the logical next step for anyone transitioning from smoking to vaping.
If you want to chase clouds...
For cloud chasing vapers (anyone who wants to blow big clouds of vapour), a high VG vape juice is a must. The greater proportion of VG in this e-liquid facilitates those big vape clouds that many vapers enjoy. In contrast, any vape juice with 50% PG or more will struggle to offer enough vapour production to satisfy cloud chasers.
If you prefer flavour over vapour...
If you're a vaper who enjoys getting the best flavours from your e-liquid, the good news is that you can choose any type of vape juice. While high PG ratios have traditionally been considered the obvious choice for flavour chasing because tasteless PG better carries flavour than VG, many flavour chasers are now opting for blends high in VG. With greater amounts of vapour, you can enjoy the best flavours. It all comes down to personal preferences!
If you dislike a strong throat hit...
While a noticeable throat hit may be a draw for some vapers, others find it uncomfortable and irritating. If you want a smoother vaping experience, choose an e-liquid with 70% or more VG - these are less harsh on the throat.
If you prefer quick wicking...
One of the benefits of using a high PG e-juice in your vape is that the lower viscosity of PG means that it soaks into the wick faster. As a result, you can vape frequently with a lower risk of those nasty dry hits that occur when the wick isn't sufficiently saturated with e-liquid.
Still confused about PG and VG ratios? Here's a quick recap.
High Vegetable Glycerin (VG): big vapour clouds, smooth throat hit, ideal for sub-ohm vapes and Direct-To-Lung vaping.
High Propylene Glycol (PG): less vapour, more flavour, stronger throat hit, better for pod kits and Mouth-To-Lung vaping.
The PG VG ratio you choose is entirely down to personal preference. There's no single right way to vape, so why not try a few different e-liquids and vaping devices to figure out what's right for you?