PG Vs VG in Vaping - What's The Difference

What Is PG & VG In E Juice?

Every morning, as I sit down to enjoy my morning’s first coffee (first of many), I thank my lucky stars for the miraculous technology that allows me to pair it with a delicious e-liquid of my choice and get the fog horns rolling like it’s wintertime…all completely self-loathing free.

I used to beat myself up during my 15+ year smoking career: the negative effects were obvious and my sense of self-preservation refused to let my conscience rest.

After vaping for a good six months, the improvement was undeniable. I’d done the research, I’d read the fine print on every bottle of e-liquid that I bought, cut down my nicotine and wham!

My conscience was clear and a bad habit had been transformed into a hobby, a guilt-free luxury and dessert any time of day at the same time.

Having lost no less than two family members to lung cancer and emphysema…smoking was a nightmare for me, it remains a nightmare for many.

By supporting vaping I’m trying to save future generations from the same.

E-liquids contain few enough ingredients for you to know exactly what you’re consuming (unlike smokes).

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and pull back the veil on those components so that you’re able to rest easy and thank your stars, like I do.

Standard Compliant E-juice Components

  • Nicotine (addictive, toxic in high doses but it’s an optional addition)
  • FDA approved Flavourants/sweeteners/colorants (not addictive, extremely small amounts, harmless when well sourced)
  • USP grade Vegetable Glycerine (not addictive, VG)
  • USP grade Propylene Glycol (not addictive, PG)

The last two components will, in some ratio, make up the bulk of your e-liquid.

They are, essentially, the bases that hold both flavour and nicotine in suspension and create the resultant vapour, through certain processes.

Depending on the ratio of these two components, you’ll experience a different vaping experience.

Different ratios will also affect the lifespan of your device, vape better with different devices and so on.

You’ll also find e-liquids containing almost 100% of either one…it’s essential you understand these components, their applications, sources, what they add to your vaping experience, their effect on your device and, of course, their potential side effects.

We will also refer to Mouth to Lung (MTL) and Direct to Lung (DTL & the style of vaping for sub ohm vaping). If you don’t know the difference you can read more in the below guide.

MTL vs DTL Guide – What’s the difference?

Let’s get started.

Propylene Glycol (Molecular Formula – C3H8O2)

Synthesis Appearance and Alternative Applications:

PG - Propylene Glycol VapingPropylene Glycol is a synthetic, organic compound. It is viscous, colourless, odourless and has a very faint sweet taste.

Because it’s a humectant, emulsifier, preservative and a solvent, it is added to a number of products such as food and tobacco, medicines (topical, oral, intravenous) as a base and to prevent dehydration.

  • You’ll find it in almost every product in your bathroom cabinet and possibly your kitchen too.
  • It’s used as a solvent in fragrances, it’s the main component in deodorant sticks.
  • It’s a cooling agent.
  • It’s used in safe antifreeze. But is not ‘anti-freeze’ as many have stated in the past.
  • It’s been used as a humectant and solvent in asthma inhalers since the 1950’s, although in that case it hasn’t been heated and will be less likely to irritate.

In fact, it’s applications are far too numerous to list.

How PG Differs From VG In Vaping:

Consistency and flavour

PG is thinner and less sweet. In fact…it will hardly contribute any sweetness to the taste of your e-juice.

Because it’s thinner, it requires less steeping, it holds particles (flavour/colour) in suspension easier and is a more effective solvent.

This is why home mixers might add a small amount of PG, even if they prefer a high VG vape.

Devices and vape styles:

Because of it consistency, it won’t be as hard on your coils and is definitely more suitable for low wattage devices such as standard vape pen style e-cigs and light, plus-ohm vaping.

However, because its less sweet than VG, manufacturers will often add sweeteners to a high PG juice so be aware.

Standard clearomisers and even the more advanced mouth to lung type tanks, will perform better with a an equal or higher PG ratio.

These e cig tanks are generally ‘plus-ohm’ devices, meaning that the coil resistance will be above 1.0Ohm. If you try and use a high PG eliquid with a sub ohm tank you may find you get a lot of leaking.

This is due to both PG being a thinner consistency and the larger coils on sub ohm tank wicking the ejuice too fast.

Recommended PG/VG Ratio For Plus Ohm / Mouth To Lung E Cig Tanks

  • PG 50/VG 50 – This is one of the better performers for tanks such as the Endura T18, T20, Endura T22 and Aspire K2. Not limited to these of course, it goes for all devices that are similar. This will produce good flavour and decent vapour production.
  • PG 40/VG 60 – This ratio is a popular one and will work fine in the above as well as the latest MTL e cig tanks such as the Aspire Nautilus 2.

You will also be OK with a higher PG ratio but most e juice brands today produce a minimum of 50PG/50VG. You can check out some of our recommended ejuice brands here.

The throat hit provided may be favourable for cigarette quitters but there’s more to it than that, see the side effects section.

The vapour it produces dissipates far quicker than VG, almost instantaneously, therefore the lung feel is far less rich and satisfying and the vapour production far lower.

PG is totally unsuitable for cloud chasing so don’t bother if that’s the effect you are looking for.

Side Effects And Safety:

You’ll find Propylene Glycol in just about every synthetic or processed consumable in your home and while it is regarded as safe by the FDA, there are certain concerns for users.

While it’s unlikely you’ll be allergic, you may still be sensitive or intolerant to PG and may experience any one of a long list of effects.

There have been claims that PG converts into a class 2B carcinogen (Propylene Oxide) at higher temps, we believe these claims to be largely propaganda: check out this link to learn why.

Humectant

While a humectant will prevent dehydration in foodstuffs and other produce, when inhaled through a vaping device, it has the opposite effect.

It draws out water through your lungs, mouth, salivary glands and wherever it passes. In other words, part of the vapour you see on exhale is your body’s own moisture, being expelled through the effect of this humectant.

It’s perfectly safe, provided you stay hydrated by drinking lots of extra water.

Allergen, pulmonary and general Irritant

Those with an actual allergy to PG will experience a burning, itching, stinging or rash when PG makes skin contact so it’s important that you check this.

Side effects in allergic, sensitive or intolerant vapers will result in one of the following…

  • itching
  • tinnitus
  • throat itch, dryness or pain (what some consider to be a favorable throat hit, is in fact a minor throat irritation)
  • cough
  • chest tightening (particularly in asthmatics)
  • rashes, hives, pimples
  • burning/stinging eyes and nose

Disinfectant and Antibacterial Properties:

In other words, PG could help you guard agains infections in the mouth, throat, lungs and bronchial tracts and it’s quite harmless, provided you are tolerant.

Vegetable Glycerine (C3H8O3)

Synthesis Appearance and Alternative Applications:

VG Vegetable GlycerinVegetable Glycerine or Glycerol is a viscous, colourless, odourless liquid that has a delicious sweet flavour and is completely non-toxic.

It’s an organic plant oil derivative (palm, coconut, soy etc.) that is extracted via hydrolysis.

You’ll find it in many of the same applications as you’d find PG. Because it’s plant derived and less toxic, it would be more commonly used in health products and it’s far safer.

  • It’s also a humectant and because of it’s consistency it’s better suited for moisturizing applications like soap and lip gloss.
  • It’s humectant properties also allow it to aid in the delivery of active ingredients…because it holds water, which is the perfect solvent for skin or internal absorption. That’s why it’s used in oral and topical gel capsules and many lotions.
  • Used as a burn remedy

Once again, applications are far too numerous to list

How It Differs From PG In Vaping:

Consistency and flavour

It’s a thicker liquid and therefore not as easy a solvent…however, with steeping, this can be remedied.

It’s sweeter in flavour adds to the enjoyment factor and means that the manufacturer won’t necessarily need to add artificial sweeteners (a good thing!).

Devices and vape styles:

While it’s pretty much too heavy for the smaller coils of low wattage, plus ohm devices…it’s perfect for sub-ohm vaping at a high wattage.

VG is also responsible for a more wholesome, creamy and heavy vapour. Plus, because of that thick, heavy vapour…it’s your only choice for serious cloud-chasing and vape tricks.

If you use a high VG juice, generally 70VG+ with a smaller mouth to lung e cig tank you may find you get repeated dry hits. This is due to VG being a thicker e-liquid.

The smaller coils can have a hard time ‘wicking’. This is vaper talk for how efficiently the cotton/coil can take on the e juice. Think of it like running water through a sieve and then syrup. OK.. Maybe an extreme and strange choice of liquids but it’s simply to highlight what is happening with your PG/VG liquids. One passes through quicker than the other.

So keep all that in mind buying e liquid. If you have an intolerance to PG you can check out our post on where to buy 100%VG e liquids.

Recommended PG/VG Ratio For Sub Ohm / Direct To Lung E Cig Tanks

  • PG 40/VG 60 – This ratio has been mention above for the MTL tanks. It can also be used in sub ohm devices. Although some may prefer to start at the next PG/VG ratio.
  • PG 30/VG 70 – This is one of the most common ratios for sub ohm devices and works well to provide a smooth throat hit and satisfying clouds.
  • PG 20/VG 80 – This ratio will provide a super smooth vape with dense clouds. Vapers that use lower resistance coils may choose this kind of ratio for the smoothness it provides. Like the PG 30/ VG 70 this is also the choice for higher wattage vapers.
  • PG 10/VG 90 & 100%VG – These are only recommended for coils that are capable of wicking thicker juices. These are also the choice for vapers that have a PG allergy.

Side Effects And Safety:

Vegetable Glycerin or Glycerol is likely the safer of the two common bases in your e-juice.

It’s completely non-toxic, naturally derived, hypoallergenic …but just make sure that it’s USP grade, the same with your PG.

Humectant:

Once again, the water vapour you see on exhale is absorbed from your own body by the VG, so for goodness sake…stay hydrated.

Any negative effects such as dry mouth or sore throat will be a direct result of the dehydration caused by VG’s humectant properties and can be easily avoided by drinking water.

The Verdict

Put it this way…both PG and VG have their benefits when it comes to vaping, depending on your vape style and device.

I, personally, am so intolerant to PG that my lungs completely seize up with anything more than 20% PG: that said, I thoroughly enjoy many 80VG/20PG juices, so the idea is to find your sweet spot and the mix that’s just right for you.

My first experience with a vape pen sent me straight back to cigarettes for a further 2 years…I’d coughed, my throat itched and the vapour production didn’t match the thick plumes from my Camels.

I later discovered that it had been a 90% PG juice. Picking up a sub-ohm device and a bottle of 80%VG liquid, I soon discovered the real meaning of PLUMES, delicious flavor and a sense of well-being and improved health and fitness I would never have known whilst smoking…face it, vaping kicks ass.

So…hold yourself accountable, be prepared to back up your actions with a good argument, know your stuff and please, vape safe…let’s uplift the lives of future generations.

Any question? Please ask in the comment section below!

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Laura-ann Burgess
Greetings Vapers! I’m a 34 year old writer, editor and massive vaping enthusiast based in the beautiful Helderberg region in South Africa. My passion for vaping has steadily grown in the past 4 years since I started vaping in earnest (as has my scorn for smoking). See, I tried vaping years before that but returned to cancer sticks after a bad experience (PG sensitivity). When I finally got back on the vaping train I decided to make it my business to educate beginners and vapers in general, so that they don’t jump to the conclusions that I did. I visualise a world without cigarettes…not just for health reasons: I’m tired of picking thousands of cigarette butts up off my lawn every morning, tossed over the wall by passers by. I can’t believe I used to be one of those people!

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