Last updated on March 7th, 2018
What is the Difference Between Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin? Does PG or VG Affect Your Vaping Experience?
E-Cigarette liquids, (also called, e-liquid, e-juice or vapejuice) have 2 main ingredients beside flavorings and nicotine. They are Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerin (VG). Their ratio within e-liquids can make a difference in your vaping experience.
What is not commonly known is that both ingredients are FDA approved and are regularly used in food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products. Both VG and PG are considered harmless and safe to ingest. They are not “oils” as many would have you believe, because they are both water soluble.
- Propylene Glycol was first approved in 1950 and then again in 1959 by the FDA for use in hospitals as an air disinfectant. Propylene Glycol is used in many food products – from beer to gummy bears. It's also a common ingredient in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
- Vegetable Glycerin is similar to PG in that it is a clear, odorless natural organic compound that is a carbohydrate. This eco-friendly product is also called “glycerol” USP (United States Pharmacopeia). VG is made from pure vegetable oil, which comes from palm and/or coconut oil. It’s used in the manufacture of medicines, cosmetics, beauty products and toiletries like soaps, shampoos and toothpastes.
Why are PG and VG used in E-liquids?
- Propylene Glycol (PG) is commonly used in electronic cigarettes as a base carrier for all the other ingredients. It is also a humectant which means it keeps everything moist and well lubricated. PG is also responsible for giving you a “throat hit” similar to smoking a cigarette.
- Vegetable Glycerin (VG) has a naturally sweet taste. When used in e-liquids Vegetable Glycerin enhances the flavors and greatly improves vapor production!
A few ejuice companies such as Mt. Baker Vapor and Virgin Vapor organic ejuices let you design your own eliquids. That means you can choose your own PG/VG ratios as well as the intensity of your eliquid flavors. Kai's Virgin Vapor is the only ejuice company I know of where the Max VG choice (their Absolute Line) is actually 100% VG. You'll find that even the top selling companies only offer up to 80% VG.
How Does PG and VG Affect Vaping Ecigs?
There are several reasons why vapers favor different PG/VG ratios, or no PG at all.
- The Best Features of Propylene Glycol
As mentioned earlier, Propylene Glycol is known for creating the “throat hit” desired by many former cigarette smokers. Because it is tasteless, it doesn’t interfere with the flavor of your eliquid. The thin viscosity of the liquid won’t clog your atomizer so you can vape longer without having to replace it.
- Downsides of Propylene Glycol
Some people (about 3% or 4% of the population) are allergic to Propylene Glycol. They may experience a rash, or vaping with eliquids containing PG simply makes them cough.
- The Best Features of Vegetable Glycerin
Vegetable Glycerin is known for creating great clouds of vapor and provides a smoother vaping experience with less harshness. If you want those major clouds and don’t need a significant throat hit, choose a mixture that has more VG. If you use a vaporizer designed for sub-ohm vaping, you really need to use Max VG eliquids.
- Downsides of Vegetable Glycerin
An e-juice mixture that has more VG than PG is thicker in density and can clog your Clearomizer Tank faster than you can say “Cloudchaser” and more easily than a 50/50 mixture. If you’re not a fan of cleaning your tank, or if you want your atomizer coils to last longer; choose a thinner ejuice mixture with more PG than VG.
Also remember, Vegetable Glycerin has a naturally sweet taste that does affect the flavor of your vape.
What’s the Best Ratio of PG to VG?
Many e-cigarette companies will happily disclose the ratio of propylene glycol to vegetable glycerin. Some keep it a closely guarded secret.
Before you begin trying out every Cartomizer or e-juice flavor on the market use these guidelines:
- Not all eliquids are alike. Some that are made by the most reputable companies such as those I've mentioned here, are made with 100% pure US made ingredients and flavors. Many other eliquids are still made in China and it will be reflected in the price as well as the taste.
- Do your homework by visiting e-cigarette websites and reading trusted reviews (like those found here on Cloud Nine)!
- Don’t be shy about testing your own PG to VG ratio’s. Try ordering a few custom e-liquids. They’re worth some trial and error. Starting out with a 50/50 blend of PG to VG. Some e-liquid companies like Vaporfi and Mt. Baker Vapor also lets you add extra shots of flavor so you can create the perfect vape for your particular taste.
- One note about both Mt. Baker Vapor and Virgin Vapor. Because all of their ejuices are freshly prepared, I recommend you let it sit for day or more with the lid open. This is called “steeping” and it really does bring the flavor to it’s peak. Of course, all eliquid bottles should be stored away from children and pets even though the companies featured in this article sell their products with child-proof lids.
- To wrap it up, just remember more Propylene Glycol or PG means a thinner eliquid, more flavor and a stronger throat hit. An eliquid mixture that has more Vegetable Glycerin or VG will be thicker, sweeter and will give you greater vapor production. Both ingredients are approved for safe ingestion by the FDA!