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Blog / PG and VG Ratios Explained
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PG and VG Ratios Explained



People who are new to vaping may wonder, what are PG and VG? PG and VG are two of the major constituent ingredients of e-liquids.

Understanding their characteristics and how they work together can help vapers to find the right PG/VG ratio to suit their needs. PG/VG ratios alter many aspects of the vaping experience – from flavour, to the strength of the ‘throat hit’, to vapour density.

What is PG?

PG (propylene glycol) is a colourless, tasteless, alcohol solution. PG is generally regarded as being non-toxic in a variety of studies.1

It has a number of properties, including being a humectant (it helps keep things moist), a preservative and a solvent, which means it is used in a diverse range of consumer products, from cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals, to food flavourings. As it is also easy to vaporise, it is often found in aerosols, and in the e-liquids used in vaping devices.

What are the characteristics of PG (propylene glycol)?

  • PG provides the strong ‘throat hit’ that is often popular with vapers who were previously heavy smokers. The hit at the back of the throat helps to simulate the feeling of smoking a cigarette.
  • PG is generally a better carrier of nicotine than VG (vegetable glycerine), and, since it is virtually tasteless, it does not add to the flavour of your e-liquid like VG can.

What is VG?

Like PG, VG (vegetable glycerine) is a colourless, odourless alcohol solution. However, it is also sweet in taste and has a more viscous consistency. Like PG, VG is generally regarded as being non-toxic in a variety of studies.1

Outside of vaping, VG is used in a wide variety of pharmaceuticals and personal products, such as moisturisers, cosmetics and toothpaste.

What are the characteristics of VG (vegetable glycerine)?

  • Unlike PG, which is a thin solution, VG is thick and viscous – and flows best through vaping devices with large wick openings. If you want to use a high-VG e-liquid, this works best with very large sub-ohm tanks or rebuildable dripping atomisers.
  • VG produces more dense clouds of vapour. Whilst VG does not provide the ‘throat hit’ of PG, it does increase vapour production and helps vapers create vast plumes of dense vapour, which can help replicate the sensory experience of cigarette smoking. Thicker vapours are also popular with so-called ‘cloudchasers’ – who typically use high-level VG e-liquids.

VG or PG?

PG and VG both technically belong to the alcohol chemical class – but neither are intoxicating. They are classified as ‘sugar alcohols’ and are included in many consumable products.

Though they do have many similar properties, some of their characteristics are very distinct – and this means that having higher or lower levels of each in your e-liquid can fundamentally change your vaping experience.

Characteristic

PG

VG

Flavour
The distinctive taste of the solution

High

Low

Vapour
The level of diffused aerosol produced by the substance

Low

High

'Throat hit'
The sensation at the back of the throat produced by vaping, said to imitate the sensation of smoking

High

Low

Viscosity
The substance’s ‘thickness’

Low

High

Sweetness
The level of sugar or saccharin flavours present in the taste of the substance

Low

High

Build up
The amount of residue caused over time by using the substance

Low

High

Understanding VG and PG ratios

The level of PG and VG content of e-liquids are usually referred to as the PG/VG ratio.

In reference to e-liquids, the quantity is typically expressed in percentages, with PG first and then VG. Accordingly, an even mix of PG and VG would be expressed as a 50/50 e-liquid. Whereas, an e-liquid that is 70% PG and 30% VG would usually be described as a 70/30 e-liquid.

Why does the ratio of PG and VG in an e-cigarette or vaping device matter? E-liquids with different PG and VG ratios have distinct qualities – and this can alter the vaping experience.

A 100% PG e-liquid

A 100% PG e-liquid will deliver an intense ‘throat hit’ – and, as such, it could be considered a good choice if you’ve previously been a heavy smoker and are using vaping as a less harmful alternative, as it produces a much stronger and sharper sensation when inhaling.

If you’re using nicotine-based e-liquids, high PG liquids can suspend higher concentrations of nicotine. The lack of flavour of PG liquid itself also means that the flavours of your e-liquid will normally be less sweet than with a high-density VG solution.

Higher PG e-liquids are usually used with more basic ‘cigalike’-type vaping devices, which will become clogged if high VG ratios are used. These devices produce less vapour and will typically be used with a liquid containing a higher nicotine concentration.

A 50/50 ratio

A 50/50 ratio of PG and VG creates a measured vaping experience with a balance of flavour, a milder throat hit (than a high-PG ratio) and ample vapour on exhaling.

It is also a ratio that suits most kits and tanks, as 50/50 e-liquid is thick enough for use with a sub-ohm mod, but not so viscous that it will clog less powerful vaping devices.

The liquid delivers a throat hit on the inhale and clouds of vapour on the exhale.

A 30/70 ratio

Along with the 50/50, the 30/70 (PG/VG) ratio is one of the more commonly seen e-liquid ratios.

Thick and flavourful vapour with a light throat hit, 30/70 produces a smooth sensation when inhaling, with the addition of large clouds on the exhale. Due to the viscosity of the solution, when high levels of VG are used, it can clog smaller ‘pen-like’ vaping devices.

E-liquids with high VG ratios are better suited to RDA (rebuildable dripping atomiser) style vaping devices, as their open-deck design means that they will usually have no issues even with very high-viscosity e-liquids.

A 100% VG e-liquid

100% VG e-liquid provides a smooth inhale without a ‘throat hit’.

This is the ratio favoured by ‘cloudchasers’, as it creates large vapour clouds on the exhale. If you’re using a 100% VG e-liquid, a vaping device with large juice reservoirs, high power, high-surface-area coils, and large cotton wicks will be most effective.

Which ratio should I choose?

When it comes to e-liquid ratios, there is no ‘right’ answer. Getting the best results for you will be largely dependent on what vaping experience you’re looking for and the type of vaping system you’re using.

Whilst it is possible to understand the characteristics of different ratios, you may need to experiment to find the VG/PG ratio that suits you best.

When it comes to e-liquids, understanding how the PG/VG ratio will affect your vaping experience – and knowing the most suitable liquid for your device type will help you to choose.


1https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691517305112?via%3Dihub; https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/source/hsdb/174#section=Human-Health-Effects

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