Vaping liquids are a lot of fun to explore, as they come in many different flavours to suit a variety of tastes.
You may be into fruit flavours, enjoy exotic flavours that taste like dessert, be more of an alcohol flavoured vapour, or prefer to go old school and vape sweet tobacco liquid.
But what are vaping liquids made up of, and how do you know you have the right one for your e-cigarette? Here is everything you need to know.
You may have heard people talking about PG and VG ratios, and wonder what they are – PG and VG are odourless liquids combined with flavour and nicotine to create e-juice (although some liquids contain no nicotine).
They both belong to the alcohol chemical class – but don’t have the same effect drinking a pint of beer may have.
They produce vapour when they’re heated, which allows them to be inhaled, and have a different consistency to each other, along with a slightly different taste.
When vaped, they produce distinct mouth and throat sensations, which is why vapers like to switch up the PG to VG ratio in their liquids.
Most modern liquids use a combination of the two liquids, and some vaping setups only work with a certain level of PG and VG.
It’s important for first-time vapers to use liquid with the correct ratio for their setup, as the wrong consistency will result in a vape that’s not enjoyable and can put people off.
Propylene Glycol (PG)
This fluid is a petroleum by-product, and has no odour or colour.
It’s used in vaping to provide a ‘throat hit’, which some say is similar to the sensation they got when smoking tobacco.
The liquid is more effective than VG at carrying flavour, which is why it’s more commonly used as a suspension fluid for flavour concentrates and nicotine.
Studies such as the research carried out by the Food and Cosmetics Toxicology science journal have shown that PG is safe to ingest orally – however, such research looks at the liquid being consumed, rather than used as an aerosol.
The most recent experiment on the safety of inhaling PG in the way vapours do was carried out back in 1947, and concluded that the act was ‘completely harmless’.
Although PG is generally regarded as safe for humans, it can cause harm to pets – as it has been linked to Heinz body anaemia in cats.
This means that you should be careful when vaping PG around your cat, if you have one.
The side effects people can experience when using PG liquid are dry mouth, sore throat and increased thirst.
These symptoms can last between a few days and a week as the body adjusts – so it’s advised to drink more water and liquids for the first few weeks of using an e-cigarette.
Vegetable Glycerine (VG)
This liquid is a natural chemical derived from vegetable oil – which makes it safe for vegetarians.
Its use in e-liquid is to give a thicker sensation to vapour.
The fluid has a slightly sweet taste and is much thicker than PG.
A hit from high VG fluids is much smoother than with PG, which makes it more suitable for those with sub-ohm vapes.
VG is used widely in food and medicine, which would suggest it’s safe for humans.
There is a limited risk of being allergic to vegetable glycerin, although those who are allergic to palm oil or coconut oil could encounter problems.
Certain e-cigarette tanks aren’t compatible with high-VG liquids, as they clog up coils more rapidly and can reduce the life of atomisers more quickly than PG-based juice.
If your vape is quite old, or uses a clearomiser, avoid using liquid with a high VG content.
People who vape high VG e-liquid may experience a dry mouth, sore throat and increased thirst – so drink plenty of water and take breaks while your body adjusts.
What type of liquid should I use?
The answer depends on what type of vape you have and the sort of vaping experience you prefer.
If you’re not sure which setup is right for your vaping setup, head to your nearest vape shop and ask a member of staff – you can also often try liquids before you buy.
Many people use varying levels of PG and VG to get different effects.
To get a throat hit – a kick at the back of the throat which ex-smokers crave – use a high PG liquid, containing nicotine, as you’ll get this effect, along with a slightly improved flavour.
For a smooth flavour – use a high VG liquid to get a smoother feeling on the throat. If the flavour feels muted, use more power to produce more vapour – but don’t push your atomiser beyond its voltage and wattage limits, as this is what leads to dry hits and damaging equipment.
For stealth vaping – high PG liquids produce less vapour when exhaled, which can keep vaping low key. However, bear in mind UK laws – vaping in public places such as waiting rooms and on public transport is banned.
Cloudchasers – use as high a VG level as possible to produce dense clouds of vapour. There are cloud competitions based around producing big clouds from your vape.
Which tank is best for me?
Clearomizer tanks usually take coils between 1.2 and 2.5 ohms, and are commonly vaped below 15w.
These aren’t good for high VG fluids, as they can lead to dry hits.
Use high PG fluid, or a 50/50 ratio, with these tanks.
Examples: Aspire Nautilus, Kanger Protank
Sub-ohm tanks – These are designed to deal well with high VG juice, and can take more power than standard clearomizers.
Juice will disappear more quickly than with high PG fluids, as vapers are using an increased battery strength.
Examples: Aspire Atlantis, Kanger Subtank
RDA/Drippers – Drippers provide more flexibility when it comes to e-liquid ratio.
Coils should be considered – sub-ohm coils are best for high VG, and higher ohms coils for high PG.
It depends on personal preference, but a standard rule to go by for these is a 30/70 PG/VG ratio.