Before we start, it is imperative to understand that when we talk about PG (Propylene Glycol) and VG (Vegetable Glycerin), they are not the same as Ethylene Glycol, which is a highly toxic liquid used in antifreeze.
Propylene Glycol is also used in some antifreeze preparations and is why it seems to get a bad rap. It is of very low toxicity, and most manufacturers of antifreeze usually use ethylene glycol due to its superior heat transfer properties compared to propylene glycol.
Propylene Glycol, found in numerous cosmetics and personal care products, and foods, has a very low level of toxicity. According to various government health agencies across the globe, it is (GRAS) generally recognized as safe for use in food.
According to a chemist, for more information, read the truth about Propylene Glycol to find out why it gets a bad name and why you shouldn’t be alarmed and should feel safe using it in your vape juice.
On the other hand, Vegetable Glycerin is a sugar alcohol derived from vegetable fats (Canola, Palm, or Vegetable Oils). It too is (GRAS) generally recognized as safe for use in food. It is also used by many for its purported health benefits, such as skin moisturizer, treatment for constipation, and boosting hydration levels in the body.
PG Propylene Glycol in vaping
Propylene Glycol plays an important, although not a vital, role in vaping. It essentially creates vapor clouds to mimic tobacco smoking. It also is a carrier for the flavors and nicotine, CBD, or THC present in vape juice, otherwise known as E-liquid or E-juice.
When the device coil/atomizer heats up, the propylene glycol infused with the flavorings and nicotine, CBD, or THC is also heated. It turns into a vapor-like cloud which is then inhaled to the mouth or lungs to provide the user with flavor and nicotine.
For a very few, propylene glycol may irritate the mouth or throat in high concentrations and is why vape juice manufacturers will add VG (vegetable glycerin) to rectify this issue, as most people are ok with vegetable glycerin.
Propylene glycol is vital in the vape experience as it provides a slight throat hit to mimic the tobacco smoking experience. Propylene glycol also is a much thinner liquid, so it is easier on a device’s coils/atomizers increasing the lifespan of those replacement parts.
VG Vegetable Glycerin in vaping
Vegetable Glycerin is used in all vape juices on the market today in various concentrations together with propylene glycol. It is a thicker liquid that provides more clouds/vapor when heated, and because of its viscosity, it tends to shorten the lifespan of coils/atomizers.
Vegetable Glycerin overall is more tolerated by users than propylene glycol. Still, because of its thickness, most devices don’t work well when used solely, and that is why vape juice manufacturers will add propylene glycol to it to achieve a best of both worlds experience.
Various VG/PG ratios in vape juice
Vape Juice manufacturers decided it was best to cater to different users’ needs and provide E-juice with varying balances of vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol.
By adding more vegetable glycerin compared to propylene glycol, they can offer the user a smoother vape experience with increased cloud production and less mouth or throat irritation; however, not all users (in fact, most don’t) get irritation from propylene glycol, so they may go with a vape juice that has higher propylene glycol content.
Popular Vape Juice Ratios
This vape juice with a high vegetable glycerin content will provide a smooth vape experience with minimal chances of irritation and little to no throat hit. With a high nicotine level, the user will experience more of a throat hit.
Higher VG means it will be on the thicker side and will be harder on your device’s coils/atomizers.
85VG/15PG should only be used by vapers who experience irritation when vaping juices with high levels of propylene glycol.
This vape juice still caters to people sensitive to propylene glycol; however, it adds a little more propylene glycol to thin the E-liquid out and make it easier on your device coils/atomizer.
This vape juice is a delicate balance of both vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol. Not suitable for people sensitive to PG; however, it provides the very best of both worlds, including throat hit, cloud production, and a thin vape juice that is easy on your device coils/atomizers.
50/50 is by far the most popular; however, recently, many people are moving towards high VG juices thinking they are more natural as they are derived from plants, whereas PG is a synthetic product obtained from the hydration of propylene oxide, which is derived from petroleum products.
They also believe VG-based juices to be safer, whereas there is no evidence of this, and both are equally considered safe and low toxic and are both used in cosmetics, personal care products, and food for human consumption.
What ratio of VG/PG should I choose for my vape juice?
It all comes down to tolerance, money, and overall experience. The best thing to do is start with a 50/50 vape juice and see how your body tolerates it. If you feel you are sensitive to it and you are experiencing mouth or throat irritation, move to a 75VG/25PG juice. If you still think you are sensitive to it, move to an 85VG/15PG E-juice.
If you are good with a 50/50 blend, you will save money on coils/atomizers for your device as it will prolong the lifespan considerably.
If you want to have good clouds, a smoother vape experience, and a juice that is easy on your device, opt for a 75VG/25PG. It’s basically trial and error until you find that sweet spot where you are enjoying vaping, you are spending as little as possible on parts, and you are not exhibiting sensitivity to the juice.
Just remember that Propylene Glycol is just as safe compared to vegetable glycerin when it comes to human consumption. Both of these liquids are essential for vaping. It just comes down to what ratio works best for you.
Tobacco smoke is made up of thousands of chemicals, including at least 70 known to cause cancer, so deciding on a VG/PG ratio based on health is a moot point. Choose the one that gives you the proper vape experience and saves you money.