What is the difference between VG and PG and which mix is right for me?
What is VG and PG?
VG is short for Vegetable Glycerin. It is a natural product extracted from vegetable oils, however it is water-soluble and NOT an oil itself. Outside of vaping it's found in many common household products like toothpaste and skin cream. Food products like bakery items and syrups can also contain VG. In e-liquids its primary function is to thicken the liquid and help produce a vapour that is smooth and dense. It's an almost totally benign substance and considered safe to inhale.
PG is short for Propylene Glycol which is a petroleum by-product. You could be a little worried reading that, but it's the final structure and properties of the product that matter, not where it's derived from. Like VG, PG is water-soluble and non-toxic. It can be found in products like inhalers, baby wipes and medicines. In e-liquids its primary function is to thin the liquid, produce vapour and add throat feeling as you inhale. Again, it's considered safe to inhale.
True allergic reactions to either PG or VG are very rare, but mild sensitivities to either substance are slightly more common.
VG and PG ratios in e-liquids
Almost all e-liquids contain a mix of both PG and VG called a 'Ratio', usually expressed as 50/50, 80/20, 60/40 etc. This can be confusing as different products may use the first number to represent either VG or PG. However it's increasingly becoming the industry standard that the VG will be expressed first, so a 70/30 mix will have base ingredients of 70% VG and 30% PG. There are reasons that manufacturers use different ratios that we will explore a little later on, but it's important to know what you are buying so you can be sure it will work for you and your vaping device.
The benefits of VG and PG
Using a blend of both in an e-liquid means we can get the benefits that VG and PG both bring to the mix. The number one benefit is being able to control the viscosity. VG is very thick and 'gloopy' while PG is very thin and watery. By mixing them together we can have an e-liquid that is the right consistency for a vaping device to work well and give a nice full saturated vape without flooding. Another benefit is being able to control how the vapour feels as we inhale. VG gives a very smooth sensation which could be desirable for some, but for someone who has recently stopped smoking it may feel like 'just breathing in air'. PG on the other hand has a more rough feel on the throat and is much closer to the sensation of inhaling cigarette smoke. By combining the two we can achieve a vapour that we can feel as we inhale but is still smooth.
Why do VG/PG ratios vary in different e-liquids?
There's a few reasons, the amount of VG in e-liquids has generally changed as devices have been modified and improved. When low powered 'cig-a-like' devices were the only option the amount of PG in e-liquids was much higher. Those devices would not cope with a thick e-liquid and they produced very little vapour, so a high PG amount was needed for them to wick the liquid and produce a satisfying vape experience. Today most e-liquids fall into two camps: 50/50 blends for 'mouth to lung' vaping, and ratios with higher VG content for 'direct to lung' vaping. Mouth to lung is where you'll usually find the higher nicotine levels and nicotine salt e-liquids. In modern MTL tanks, pod systems, and pens, a 50/50 mix is almost always the perfect blend for most people. For direct to lung inhaling most will prefer a smoother feeling, and its why higher VG liquids have become so popular. DTL tanks are being designed with this in mind and have much larger wicking ports to allow the use of a much higher VG ratio.
Which mix is right for me?
The answer can be both simple and complicated! The simple answer is that if you vape MTL (mouth-to-lung) then 50/50 is the right choice and if you vape DTL (direct-to-lung) then a higher VG ratio will be more suitable. That is a good place to start, but there are no rules and there's always going to be a personal preference element. If there's one important thing to learn as a vaper it's that no two people are the same. We've met people that prefer a DTL vape with 50/50 e-liquids and MTL vapers that prefer a higher VG ratio. The only thing you need to know is whether your vaping device can function correctly using that ratio. That could depend on how hard and how often you take a puff, not just the design of the device, so there will be an element of 'try it and see' when you are experimenting with different mixes.
There are however some things you can consider before trying a higher VG ratio to what you usually use.
- High VG e-liquids tend to clog up coil heads quicker, reducing the life of your replacements.
- High VG e-liquids will not work at all in some devices leading to 'dry hits' and burnt wicking.
- High VG e-liquids will feel much smoother to vape, and this can make them better for people that find vaping gives them a sore throat.
- High VG e-liquids will produce a thick, dense vapour. This can be desirable or undesirable depending on the situation you are in.
- High VG vapour will not dissipate quickly and the vapour will hang in the room for much longer.
- High VG e-liquids are often recommended for people who find they are sensitive to PG.
- 50/50 e-liquids will wick easily in any common device
- 50/50 e-liquids will give you good coil life
- 50/50 e-liquids might be too rough on the throat for some people, especially for 'direct to lung' vaping
- 50/50 e-liquids create a less dense vapour that will dissipate quicker and is ideal for vaping in public places, but not ideal for those who like to see a big vapour cloud when they exhale.
High PG liquids are rare these days, with modern devices there really is no demand for anything higher than a 50/50 balance of PG and VG.
Different VG/PG mixes have their own advantages and disadvantages. Some vapers like to use different mixes at different times or with different devices and flavours. Tobaccos, fruits, and drink flavours often work well with a higher PG liquid. Flavours with cream, custard and yogurt tend to work well with higher VG as the thicker, sweeter, and smoother feeling adds to the overall sensation.
Have fun experimenting and we hope you enjoy our High VG range as much as we do.
My Vape Box Team