VG/PG ratio is one of the most important things that you’ll see printed on an e-liquid box or bottle when you buy from a company like Vape Juice. It has a great deal to do with the type of experience you’ll have with that e-liquid – and yet, it’s also a detail that many vapers ignore. If you simply buy e-liquid based on the flavor names that appeal to you, it’s possible that you might never achieve your ideal vaping experience. It’s time for us to change that. If you want every puff to be as perfect as it can be, you need to understand VG/PG ratio and how it applies to vapor thickness, flavor, throat hit and hardware compatibility. If this sounds complicated, take heart. While VG and PG are complex substances, the ways in which they affect an e-liquid aren’t difficult to understand at all. Let’s learn more.
What Are VG and PG?
The terms “VG” and “PG” are short for vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol respectively. You might not realize this, but nicotine and flavors comprise a very small percentage of what’s actually in a bottle of e-liquid. Nicotine and flavors actually come from the manufacturers in very concentrated forms; an e-liquid maker adds just a few drops of each to an entire bottle of e-liquid. To dilute those substances to their proper strengths, an e-liquid needs a carrier. VG and PG are the two carriers, and adjusting the ratio of the two changes the behavior of the e-liquid in many ways as mentioned above.
So, where do VG and PG come from? PG is a synthetic chemical that can come from several sources including plants and petroleum products. It’s even possible to make PG from glycerin. While PG can come from petroleum, you’re not likely to see petroleum-based PG in a vaping product because PG from petroleum often isn’t food grade and may have an “off” flavor.
VG, on the other hand, doesn’t require lab synthesis because it’s readily available; it’s a byproduct of the soapmaking industry. When you add lye to fat, you get soap and glycerin.
VG and PG have several similar properties. They’re both emulsifiers that help to keep the ingredients in a product from separating. They both attract moisture while inhibiting microbial growth, so they’re good for helping to keep products fresh and promoting a long shelf life. Both substances are so common that you probably already came into contact with both – perhaps every day – before you began vaping. The two liquids will affect your vaping experience in a major way, and much of that comes down to the difference in thickness between the two.
Propylene Glycol Explained
Between VG and PG, propylene glycol is the much thinner of the two liquids. In addition, PG has almost no smell or taste. In the early years of the vaping industry, virtually all of the e-liquids on the market used 100 percent PG and contained no VG at all. E-liquid makers didn’t start adding VG until later, when the demands of the market began to change.
These are the features that PG adds to an e-liquid.
- Since PG isn’t very viscous, it flows easily through small openings. Since the smallest vaping devices have small wick openings, those devices tend to work best with high-PG e-liquids.
- PG doesn’t alter the flavor of an e-liquid in the way that VG does. In a high-PG e-liquid, the flavor of the e-liquid tends to come through more clearly.
- PG promotes a stronger throat hit. People tend to find that a high-PG e-liquid produces a more cigarette-like throat hit on the inhale compared to a high-VG e-liquid.
- PG has a thin mouth feel and produces smaller vapor clouds that dissipate quickly. A high-PG e-liquid tends to generate relatively small vapor clouds.
Vegetable Glycerin Explained
Between VG and PG, VG is the thicker of the two liquids. In addition, compared to PG, VG has a stronger flavor of its own.
Propylene glycol is a very common ingredient in products such as foods, powdered drink mixes, deodorants and cosmetics. As such, it’s an ingredient that you encounter almost every day. For a small percentage of people, though, products with PG are problematic because those people have allergies or sensitivities to PG. E-liquid makers responded by creating e-liquids that used vegetable glycerin as a base rather than PG – and before long, companies were experimenting with e-liquids that used a variety of different VG/PG ratios.
These are the features that VG adds to an e-liquid.
- VG is very viscous and flows best through vaping equipment with large wick openings. People tend to prefer high-VG e-liquid if they use very large sub-ohm tanks or rebuildable dripping atomizers.
- VG alters the flavor of an e-liquid slightly because it tastes a little sweet. Although VG may interfere with the flavor profile of a vape juice somewhat, it often works well with juices that are supposed to have sweet flavor profiles.
- VG tends to reduce throat hit. That’s not a problem for most people who use high-VG e-liquids because those people also tend to use e-liquids that are very low in nicotine. Most of the people who use high-VG e-liquids vape for the flavor – not for the throat hit.
- VG has a thick, creamy mouthfeel and produces large vapor clouds that hang in the air. People who enjoy chasing clouds tend to use high-VG e-liquids.
What’s the Right VG/PG Ratio for Me?
So, how should VG/PG ratio factor into your e-liquid buying decisions? Simply remember these three-pointers.
- Most manufacturers choose the VG/PG ratios of their e-liquids. In that sense, if you have an e-liquid flavor that’s a personal favorite, you can’t really choose the VG/PG ratio and should instead choose equipment that works well with your preferred e-liquid.
- E-liquid manufacturers want to manufacture their products for the biggest customer bases possible, so they tend to choose VG/PG ratios that work with a wide variety of different vaping equipment.
- If you own a small vaping device designed for a mouth-to-lung inhaling style, seek out e-liquids containing 50 percent VG or less. Since a high-VG e-liquid tends to flow slowly through small wick openings, you need a lower-VG e-liquid for efficient wicking with your device.