PG vs VG: What Are They — and Which Juice to Pick
New to vaping and wondering what PG and VG are, and which might be best for you? We’ve got the lowdown.
Vaping is all about finding what's right for you, so you enjoy the experience. If you're a smoker, vapes can help you to finally quit cigarettes and resist the temptation to go back to the harmful habit. The process starts with getting the kind of e-cigarette that's ideal for you, like an easy-to-use vape pen. Then, you need to look at the various types of e-liquid to see which one might be a match for you.
But where to start? There are several types of e-liquid, and the most common are VG (Vegetable Glycerin) and PG (Propylene Glycol) each with its own qualities and characteristics. Some people prefer VG over PG but knowing something about both types will help you make the right choice because lots of people choose incorrectly and then wonder why they don't like vaping and go back to smoking — and that's a real shame. Let's explore both e-liquid options, so you can find out for yourself what each one is and which might be best for you.
PG vs VG
While it may have a chemically sounding name — and you'd be forgiven for thinking it's something used to fuel a rocket — propylene glycol is a common substance found in lots of food and other products you’ll find around the home. They include bread and dairy items, soft drinks, soups, popcorn, fast foods and an array of other foods and drinks too long to list here.
The reason for adding propylene glycol to such products is because it acts as an antioxidant, thereby helping to prolong the life of food and drinks on shop shelves. It also helps to preserve moisture and prevents foods from drying out and becoming hard and inedible. PG also acts as an anti-caking agent, preventing food from forming clumps in packaging. It’s a dough-strengthener, keeping bread in shape, and an emulsifier that stops components like vinegar and oil in dressings from separating. It has many other uses and applications, including improving the texture of food, so it looks and tastes better.
There's almost no taste from PG. It's slightly thicker than water and is colourless and synthetic. This makes PG an ideal ingredient for use in e-liquid because it doesn't interfere with the flavours and provides the kind of base that's suitable for mixing all the elements — including nicotine — together.
Vegetable glycerin is made using plant oils and also has widespread use in the food industry, and various medications, such as cough syrup. It sweetens as well as moistens food products and helps oils and water to mix. Vegetable glycerin is commonly added to such frozen food items as ice cream, yoghurt and desserts, to stop ice crystals from developing and damaging the products.
Its properties are slightly syrupy in consistency, with a sweet taste and almost no smell. Again, this makes VG ideal for use as an e-liquid base and gives it an individual characteristic that some vapers like, compared to propylene glycol and even other forms of e-liquid, such as nic salts.
How Do VG and PG Differ in E-Liquid?
Vapers like VG and PG for different reasons. One of the primary ones for people making the change from cigarettes to vapes is having an experience that's somewhat similar to smoking — and this is what PG e-juice delivers. It gives vapes a stronger throat hit and makes vaping more pleasurable, in the process slashing the risk of a return to smoking.
But if you're not so concerned about the throat hit and improved flavour from your e-liquid is more your thing, you'd be better off going for VG. It's also responsible for big cloud production, which is important for some people — but perhaps not so much for those who are just starting with vaping.
Some vapers find they get an altogether smoother vaping experience with PG, however — especially with wicking. This is where the e-liquid in your tank soaks the wick. Each time you take a puff, the liquid is drained from the wick and turned into vapour. The remaining liquid in the tank then replaces the used e-liquid, soaking the wick again. How long this takes depends on whether you're using VG or PG.
VG is more viscous, or thicker in consistency, than PG, so it takes longer to re-soak the wick. If you're vaping without any liquid, you're not going to have a nice time, getting an unpleasant "dry puff" instead. PG, on the other hand, soaks the wick after each puff almost instantly, allowing you to carry on vaping without interruption. But this usually only happens with basic tanks, while with more sophisticated models (especially sub-ohm devices), it may not be such an issue.
VG and PG: Mixing It Up
Most e-liquids come with different percentages and ratios of VG and PG, which gives you the best of both vaping experiences, albeit sometimes with more of one than the other. What should you look for?
If you see e-liquid bottles with "50/50" on them, it means they’ve got equal amounts of PG and VG, as well as a level of nicotine and a flavour. Others might be a 60/40 blend, giving you slightly more PG than VG, which is good for creating lots of vapour and big clouds while also getting more flavour. Or you might like to try a 70/30 mix, providing more PG and a good throat hit, improved taste and great vapour production.
So which one is right for you: VG or PG? It all depends, on your taste expectations and other personal preferences — including any desire you may have to blow big clouds and astound everyone. As we've seen, some people are somewhat sensitive to PG — including the strong throat hit — and find that VG provides a more enjoyable vaping experience. Other vapers are the complete opposite.
The key to discovering which is best for you lies in experimentation, so try some combinations of e-liquid ratios and see what you think. Along the way, you'll find something you like — or you may love the variety of choices that vaping provides.
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