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In this article, we clarify the concept of Propylene Glycol (PG) / Vegetable Glycerin (VG) to help you differentiate between the different e-liquids for your e-cigarette. 

You have probably noticed that the PG/VG rate is a value present for each e-liquid. Indeed, Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerin (VG) are part of the composition of e- liquids for electronic cigarettes. They can constitute up to 90% of an e-liquid mixture. These two substances make it possible to create the vapour which gives the illusion of the smoke of a cigarette, and they offer the sensation of “hit”, that is to say, the contraction of the throat as the vapour passes, which is more reminiscent of or less the cigarette.

Remember the term ” hit ” because it will be mentioned throughout the article.

1. What are Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin?

Propylene Glycol or PG

Propylene Glycol is a non-toxic food compound, even in repeated and prolonged exposure. It is a water-hungry molecule found in the cosmetics, food and medical industries.

For example, if you make a sandwich loaf with PG, it will stay soft for 5-6 days while without PG it will stay soft for 1-2 days.

In vaping, PG creates a fine vapour at low temperatures. It preserves the aroma and perfectly 

reproduces the tastes. Combined with nicotine, it is this component that will promote the “hit”. 

This sensation is generally sought by people who are new to vaping because it gives the impression of smoking a real cigarette.

Vegetable Glycerin or VG

Vegetable Glycerin is a compound of natural origin also used in the food industry and the pharmaceutical field. It is this liquid that creates the vapour that comes out of the electronic cigarette. Slightly sweet and oily, its taste brings sweetness to your vape and reduces the spicy side of Propylene Glycol. However, the hit is limited and the aromas will be slightly altered.

As you have understood, the PG/VG composition is one of the criteria to take into account when choosing your e-liquid for vaping. Now the question is which PG/VG rate is right for you?

2. How to choose the PG / VG rate for your electronic cigarette?

Each e-liquid has a higher or lower percentage of Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin, each providing specific properties.

The PG/VG level has a significant impact on the sensation felt when vaping.

This is why the choice of the proportion of PG / VG for your electronic cigarette depends on the one hand on your previous consumption of cigarettes and the other hand on the feeling that you want.

In the vaping world, the level of Propylene Glycol (PG) is always indicated before that of Vegetable Glycerin (VG). So when you hear about an 80/20 e-liquid it means that it contains 80% PG and 20% VG.

E-liquid with a high PG rate

It is a fluid e-liquid that offers a significant “hit” (contraction of the throat as the vapour passes through) and a satisfactory quantity of vapour. It is an ideal e-liquid base for beginners looking to retain the sensation of a classic cigarette.

Warning: a high PG dosage, associated with a high nicotine level (more than 12 mg), can cause tingling in the throat.

  • 100% PG: a very high throat hit and very little vapour
  • 80% PG / 20% VG: a high throat hit and low vapour
  • 70% PG / 30% VG: a well-felt hit in the throat and a higher vapour

E-liquid with a balanced PG and VG rate

It’s a good compromise that offers the best of both components: good restitution of aromas, a decent hit, generous vapour and low viscosity that prevents rapid clogging of the equipment.

  • 60% PG / 40% VG: a light hit but much more vapour
  • 50% PG / 50% VG: a perfect match between a soft hit and good vapour production
  • 40% PG / 60% VG: a very soft hit and greater vapour

E-liquid with a high VG rate

It is an e-liquid that produces a lot of vapour and perfectly simulates cigarette smoke. The vapour produced by the VG is dense and slowly dissipates into the air. However, the VG slightly distorts the aromas (sweet taste) and the “hit” is limited. This e-liquid is suitable for “sub-ohm” lovers (looking for large clouds that vape at high powers).

  • 30% PG / 70% VG: a very light hit and a very good vapour
  • 20% PG / 80% VG: minimum hit and very dense vapour
  • 10% PG / 90% VG: a very weak hit and large clouds of smoke
  • 100% VG: an almost non-existent hit and large clouds of smoke

In summary, if you prefer to favour “the hit”, choose a relatively high level of Propylene Glycol. However, if you want to reduce this sensation in the throat and have something softer, promote a higher level of Vegetable Glycerin.

A person who is new to the electronic cigarette will tend to choose a rate of 80/20 or 70/30 to reproduce the sensation of the classic cigarette. Little by little, with the repair of the mouth and the throat, this same person will decrease the level of PG and will choose a higher level of VG, to continue vaping without being obstructed.

Please note: you cannot use just any e-liquid with all models of electronic cigarettes. Indeed, depending on the level of Propylene glycol or Vegetable Glycerin, the vaper will be compatible or not. The PG/VG rate has a real impact on the choice of material.

How to choose an e-liquid according to your electronic cigarette?

It is important to know your equipment and the type of e-liquid suitable for your use. Indeed, most of the problems encountered with an electronic cigarette come from a liquid unsuitable for a material, which causes dry hits* and liquid leaks.

* Good to know: The dry hit corresponds to the lack of e-liquid in the clearomiser which is found to be poorly hydrated. As a result, the little liquid and the high temperatures cause an unpleasant taste and a very strong sensation in the throat.

  • With a  simple clearomizer

Favour the use of fluid liquids (rich in PG) to guarantee a good supply of cotton in e-liquid. Indeed, the use of a fatty liquid (more than 60% of VG) will cause problems of “dry hits” (lack of e-liquid in the clearomiser) which lead to a faster deterioration of the material and the vapour created will be more unpleasant to inhale.

  • With a sub-ohm  clearomizer

Ideal for vaping fatty liquids (rich in VG) without causing “dry hits”. The sub-ohm clearomizer is made with cotton that soaks easily thanks to large openings. Thus the steam produced is high and the air inlets are important. The use of fluids that are too thin (more than 60% PG) risks triggering considerable leaks.

  • With a rebuildable atomizer

It is suitable for fatty liquids (rich in VG) without any risk of a “dry hit”. However, it is possible to also vape fluid liquids by modifying their assembly and the amount of cotton.