If you are new to vaping and don’t want to come off as a total cloud bro, knowledge about the stuff you smoke is important. So if you are wondering why your vape is scratching your throat as if a wild cat is on the loose, then may be it is time you understood the what makes up 95% of your e juice – PG and VG.
PROPYLENE GLYCOL (PG)
The first question that comes to mind is what is PG? Is it even safe for inhaling? Will I get cancer by inhaling PG? Or some other disease? Isn’t this stuff basically anti-freeze? Thankfully, nothing of the sort.
PG is generally safe to inhale, which is why it is one of several solvents used in asthma nebulizers. According to the FDA, long term use of propylene glycol, even in large amounts, is generally recognized as safe . It should be noted that this notion is made for consuming PG orally. In a CDC review of available research on the chemical, they noted a study by Robertson, et al, that found “continuous exposure to concentrations of propylene glycol … caused no adverse effects on the respiratory system.”
Propylene glycol is a favored carrier for suspending natural and artificial flavors in vape juice due to it’s low viscosity, ready availability, and of course, that on it’s own, it’s relatively tasteless. You can expect that for all intents and purposes, every e-juice on the market includes PG because very few flavorings are available in other carriers.
PG is a petroleum by-product, but let us not jump to conclusions here. It is completely safe to inhale and will not blow you up. PG has no color or smell; it is a clear liquid that is used as a blending agent for e-liquid or vape juice. When compared to Vegetable Glycerin (VG), PG is less viscous but has a stronger throat hit and gives off a better taste of the flavor. It carries the flavor really well and gives you a mouthful of whatever juicy flavor you use.
For many vapers, the pronounced throat hit of high PG eJuice is desirable. Former cigarette smokers who crave for vape juice that hit’s like an unfiltered cigarette, a high PG ratio will give a real kick! Having said that, it can also help hardcore smoker transition to the vaping experience without missing out on the tobacco hit.
Another great advantage of PG is it’s relatively low viscosity. This means that the liquid more readily flows – think about the difference between pouring a glass of milk and a hefty dose of maple syrup. If you are the type of vaper/smoker who likes to drag for a good few seconds, exhale, and go for it again, then you need an e-liquid that quickly absorbs in the cotton wick to avoid a complete burnout hit to the throat. If you burn off the liquid quicker than it can replenish from the tank, then you will experience what is known as pure trauma in the realm of vaping – a dry hit.
Vegetable Glycerin (VG)
The organic glycerin is a compound we consume in numerous food products and sweets on a daily basis. Extracted from vegetable oil, VG is a completely safe for oral ingestion. The ingredient is what makes the vape cloud thick and sweet. That’s right – the rich and dense clouds we love are all thanks to VG.
The throat hit from VG is much smoother compared to a PG hit. For this reason, many DIY e liquid makers choose to dilute their mixture with a larger amount of VG. It slides down the throat seemingly easier without causing unwanted irritation to the vaper. This makes VG more suitable for beginners or people looking for a smooth vaping experience. If you cannot handle the scratchy throat hit of PG, then you should probably choose an e-liquid that has higher VG content for a smoother and sweeter experience.
It is important to note that the risk of being allergic to vegetable glycerin is very low, making it a useful alternative for people who have issues when vaping e-juice containing PG. However, if you are prone to natural oil allergies, then it is best to consult a general physician before switching to vaping. Diabetics could possibly experience problems with metabolizing VG.
Moreover, for people who want a thick and rich cloud to experiment with vaping tricks, a higher VG content is recommended. If you are allergic to palm oil or coconut oil then VG could prove a problem, but this is relatively uncommon. In almost all cases, VG has limited ill effects and is relatively safe to use.
So, Which VG/PG Ratio Is Best?
The VG/PG ratio is exactly what it’s name suggests – the balance between VG and PG content in e liquid. Vapers have unlimited choice in which ratio to choose and it can be daunting for new comers to make an informed decision for his or her vaping needs.
This simple answer is that the ideal ratio comes down to personal preference and the type of vaping setup you are using. In general, former smokers may enjoy higher PG content and experienced vapers will enjoy higher VG content. This is intrinsically related to the two methods of vaping and the two types of vaping setups: MTL (mouth to lung) and DL (direct lung) inhalation.
MTL, Old School Vaping – Pick High PG e Liquid
MTL describes a method of vaping where the vaper first inhales a cloud of vapor into his mouth, and then inhales again to bring the vapor into his lungs. This method simulates the way most people inhale cigarettes, colloquially known as “shotgunning”. In general, tanks designed for MTL use have a small coil surface area and run at high resistance. This means that fast flowing ejuice is necessary to adequately saturate the coil at all times.
MTL vaping is most commonly associated with new converts who are former smokers who want to replicate the feel of a cigarette. Combined with the same methodology of inhalation, a high PG vape juice is ideal. MTL vapers should look to purchase ejuice that’s mixed at anywhere from 50/50 VG/PG, all the way to 0/100 (or 100% PG).
DL, Sub-Ohm Cloud Vaping – Pick High VG e Liquid
DL is an innovation in vaping that took place over the past 4 years where vapor is inhaled directly from the vape mod into the user’s lungs. This delivers a powerful burst of flavor, nicotine, and big clouds. Many say this innovation makes vaping a more pleasurable way to consume nicotine as opposed to cigarettes because the sensation of flavor is so strong.
DL vape tanks are designed with massive juice reservoirs, high power and high surface area coils, and large cotton wicks to generate incredible clouds of vapor. For this reason, propylene glycol’s low viscosity is not so critical. This hardware can support thick VG to deliver the maximum amount of clouds.
Because temperatures and vapor production capability is higher in DL vape tanks, many vapers opt for the smooth throat hit of VG dominant e juice. Ideal VG/PG ratios in this range include 80/20 and 70/30.
There’s a lot to learn when stepping into the world of vaping. However, a small bit of knowledge on the constituent chemicals in your vape juice can guide you to make informed purchase decisions on the best VG/PG ratio for your vape. With the ideal ratio in your vape tank, you can get the best vaping experience tailored to you!