When it comes to e-juice, there are three main headliners: VG, PG, and nicotine.
To the Johnny-come-lately, the first two particularly can be foggy. But if you are getting into vaping, understanding these two ingredients will change your vaping experience for good.
Let’s take you to school.
- Vegetable Glycerine
VG is a natural chemical extracted from vegetable oils, in particular, soy, palm oil, and coconut oil.
It used to be the main base for e liquids back in the day, but PG has become more popular in the modern offerings.
Characteristics of Vegetable Glycerine
- Relatively viscous (It’s thicker than PG)
- Slightly sweet to the taste
- Creates denser clouds
- Smoother throat hit (hence ideal for sub-ohming)
- Harder to clean
Let’s break these down in more detail.
As a base, vegetable glycerine is not as popular as propylene glycol. Its high viscosity makes it the go-to base for vapers who fancy thicker and denser plumes of vapor (aka sub-ohm vaping).
VG has a pre-existing sweetness and distant flavor, and the fact that it delivers less throat hit makes it is easier on your throat.
Its inherent flavor and sweet taste mean the added flavoring (the fourth ingredient in e-liquid) has to be diluted a bit in most cases, and the end product (e-liquid) ends up being sweeter.
When comparing the flavor intensity of both vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol, you find that flavors in VG don’t ‘pop’. They tend to be duller because VG is not a good carrier of flavor as PG, and this is traced to its gooeyness.
Another downside associated with VG is its ability to build up gunk around coils and the inside walls of your e-liquid tank. Again, this is due to the high density of VG and consistency.
It seems this thickness is VG’s Achilles heel because VG-based e liquid requires more power and longer time to hit optimum vaping temperature.
This is why after refilling, it’s advisable to give your VG e-juice a little more time to be absorbed into the coil and wick before you start vaping in the case of devices that make use of polyfill and wick materials. This helps prevent dry hits.
In terms of cloud production, though, VG is the holy grail.
Applications of VG
VG has found use in food, medical and personal care products, including:
- As an additive in baked products to increase moisture
- A sweetener (sugar replacement)
- Pet food
- Toothpaste and dental care products
- Soap and hand cream
- Beauty products like deodorant, aftershave, bubble bath, mousse and make-up
- To add thick gel for some medicinal creams, jellies and capsule pills
- Propylene Glycol
PG is another ingredient used in e liquids.
Unlike the natural-based VG, propylene glycol is a synthetic product derived from either vegetable sources, petroleum or natural gas.
However, it is a Generally Recognised As Safe (GRAS) food ingredient meaning it is generally deemed safe as a food additive.
This is the e liquid component that is responsible for the throat hit. It gives vapers that satisfaction attributed to tobacco cigarettes.
PG is also a better carrier of flavor compared to VG, making it a popular suspension choice for nicotine and flavor concentrates.
Characteristics of Propylene Glycol
- Thin and runny
- Zero flavor
- No color or odor
- Easily absorbed by wick material
- Easy to clean from atomizers
Propylene glycol is less viscous than vegetable glycerine which makes it easier to handle during refills. The low viscosity also means it doesn’t build up in your coils and tank and makes for easier cleaning.
As well, the fact that it’s as runny as water means your wicks and polyfill fabric find it easier to absorb.
In terms of actual vaping, what PG brings to the table is acting as a good flavor carrier. The higher the PG in a vape juice, the more flavourful the juice, although too much of it can make a vape too harsh.
As long as it is not overwhelmed by VG, though (say 50% PG vs. 50% VG) it should bring out the tones in the flavor nicely.
PG is tasteless and has no odor so it does not impact flavor. As noted above, it is also responsible for the throat hit, a trait that makes it the go-to e-liquid for smokers switching to vaping.
In short, opt for a PG-based e-liquid if you want a more intense flavor and stronger hit in your vape.
On the downside, PG falls short on the vapor production category, so this is not the juice you want if you want to engage in some cloud chasing.
Propylene glycol may cause an allergic reaction in some people which could manifest in the form of minor throat inflammation, skin irritation or rash. If this is you, it is advisable to suspend immediately, allow sufficient time to recover, before switching to a VG-based e-juice.
Applications of PG
PG is used in many common household items, including:
- Nicotine inhalers
- Pet food (with the exception of cat food)
- Toothpaste and other dental hygiene products
- Medical products – oral or topical
- Beauty products like baby wipes, shampoo, and make-up
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