What Is In Vape Juice?

By James Powley

There are plenty of different types of vape devices available, from box mods to vape pens, and the variety of vapes is exceeded only by the wide selection of vape juices that are available. Users may find that even within one brand of e-liquid, variations in ingredients and flavourings can lead to several versions of vape juice.

All vapes use vape juice, also known as e-juice, e-liquid, and vape liquid. The juice is essential for creating the vapour from which vaping takes its name. Simply put, without vape juice, a vape device cannot function, and without a vape device to correctly heat it, vape juice will remain a liquid. So, what’s in vape juice? Find out with our simple guide.

E-liquid Ingredients

As for the actual ingredients that make up your e-juice, the base ingredients are relatively simple — propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), flavourings and usually, nicotine. Not all e-juices will contain nicotine and some users may choose to vape using nicotine-free juice. Let’s take a closer look at each of these ingredients and why their ratios are so important.

Ingredient: Nicotine

E-juice typically contains nicotine and comes in a range of different nicotine strengths, Nicotine strengths are typically expressed as a percentage or in milligrams per millilitre (mg). For example, 9mg is equivalent to 0.9%. In the UK, the maximum concentration of nicotine in e-liquids is 20mg/ml (2%). In most cases, a brand will offer the same juice flavourings at varying nicotine strengths between 0 and 18mg/ml.

Ingredient: PG & VG (Propylene Glycol & Vegetable Glycerine)

PG and VG are arguably the most important e-liquid ingredients. Together, they provide the base of the juice, with each ingredient serving an important role:

  • Vegetable Glycerine (VG) is derived from plants. It has a slightly sweet taste, is colorless; usually, higher percentages of VG in the e-liquid means more vapour vapour is produced.
  • Propylene Glycol (PG) is a synthetic substance which, similar to VG, has a slightly sweet taste and is odourless. PG is thinner than VG and is used to enhance the flavour of the e-liquid. A higher percentage of PG also produces a greater ‘throat hit’.
  • There are a variety of ratios of PG and VG, but ratios like 50:50 or 70VG:30PG are the most common. While it is possible to vape 100% PG or VG, a 100% VG vape juice would be extremely thick, which could clog vape coils and cause issues with the device. A 100% PG juice, on the other hand, would be thinner, which can also cause issues with devices, leading to over-saturation of wicks, leaking, and spit-back.

    Another thing to consider when choosing PG/VG ratios is your type of vape. For DTL (direct to lung) devices, which can use sub-ohm coils, a higher VG concentration is recommended as it facilitates large vapour production — using a high PG ratio may result in a vapour that is too harsh to be inhaled. PG and VG are crucial ingredients in an e-liquid, so finding the right ratio is a priority for many vapers.

    Vape Juice Flavourings

    Flavourings are added to vape juices to give different tastes to the resulting vapour. There are a wide range of flavours available, from standard tobacco to fruit. Vape juice flavourings can be either natural (usually referring to flavours derived from plants) or artificial. If you’re unsure if your vape flavouring is natural or artificial, check the ingredients list or contact the manufacturer.

    Other E-liquid Ingredients

    Some ingredients are not allowed to be added to e-liquid. These include colourings, caffeine and taurine.

    Vaping Alternatives

    For those seeking an alternative to smoking that doesn’t use vape juice, there is heated tobacco. Heated tobacco products such as IQOS don’t use liquids. Instead, they heat real tobacco leaf in pre-filled sticks called HEETS, which allows for the release of nicotine-containing vapour without burning or creating smoke or ash. Learn more about IQOS right here.

    Last Updated: 22nd November 2021

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