How Do I Choose The Best VG/PG Ratio In My E-liquids?
Since it arrived in the UK circa 2007, vaping has become one of the most popular alternatives to smoking cigarettes. This is thanks to the fact that e-cigarettes share many properties with traditional cigarettes, including satisfying nicotine cravings and oral fixation through hand-to-mouth action (no jokes please 😉).
The success of your vaping journey will depend upon you choosing the right e-liquid for your taste and lifestyle. Here, we delve into the science behind e-liquid ratios, explaining how you can choose the best PG/VG ratio to deliver the most pleasurable vaping experience for you.
What is e-liquid?
E-liquid, also called vape liquid or vape juice, is the substance that is vaporised in e-cigarettes. As a vapour, it delivers a hit of nicotine and delicious flavour that satisfies cravings. E-liquids come in a variety of different formats depending on their recipe, with properties that vary to suit different vaping styles. To find out more about the ingredients in our e-liquid, check out our blog.
What is the difference between PG and VG E-liquid?
Two of the four vital components needed to make an effective e-liquid, propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerol (VG), have very different properties. The amount of either ingredient used in an e-liquid recipe can determine the type of e-liquid produced, and even influence the maximum nicotine level available and the type of device you need to vape it properly.
Most e-liquids use a balanced combination of VG and PG, as VG is not an effective carrier agent by itself.
Propylene Glycol (PG)
Propylene glycol is a clear, tasteless and colourless base material used in many common products, including inhalers. It’s a popular choice for e-liquids because it is a very effective carrier for flavourings and nicotine - that means it helps things mix together properly when we blend our e-liquids. PG is thinner in consistency than VG and produces far less vapour when heated.
Is PG safe to consume?
PG is completely safe for human consumption. Several international standards agencies have attested to the safety of PG, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Food Standards Agency (FSA) of the United Kingdom has also approved the use of PG, and it is commonly found as a food additive. Propylene glycol has been recognised as safe for oral, dermal, and inhalation administration by the European CLP.
There have been no documented health problems associated with breathing PG vapour. However, due to its hygroscopic (moisture absorption) nature, new vapers may feel throat and mouth dryness. It should also be noted that certain people are extremely sensitive to propylene glycol, with research indicating that prolonged contact can cause respiratory discomfort. If you are sensitive to PG, the best VG/PG ratio for you will tend towards higher percentages of VG. In fact, you may find 100% VG a better vaping experience in such cases. In conclusion, PG is safe for human consumption unless you are allergic to it, in which case it will typically present with identifiable symptoms.
Vegetable Glycerol (VG)
Vegetable glycerol is a clear, slightly sweet and colourless base material that is used in a massive range of products, from food to hand sanitiser. VG is perfect for e-liquids as it helps to create bigger and bolder flavours. It is very thick in consistency and can produce huge vape clouds.
Almost every e-liquid will contain both PG and VG, with differing amounts used by different products depending on their individual recipes. Finding the best VG/PG ratio will depend on various factors, including the availability of products and the vaping experience you want to enjoy.
When choosing your desired e-liquid, you’ll most likely be deciding between two typical camps – those with a balanced or higher volume of propylene glycol (PG) or those with a higher volume of vegetable glycerine (VG).
Is VG safe for human consumption?
According to the WHO and the FDA, VG is completely safe for human consumption, even at high concentrations. The UK's FSA has authorised VG as a food ingredient, and the European CLP standard defines it as 'not hazardous or poisonous for dermal, oral, or inhalation routes of administration'.
Research on the toxicity of inhaling aerosolised glycerol concluded in 2008 that VG has no significant health impact. People who are allergic to plant oils, on the other hand, should avoid smoking e-juice.
Balanced or PG-heavy e-liquids, often referred to as 50-50 e-liquids (because they contain a balanced PG/VG ratio), offer the broadest range of nicotine strengths (0mg-20mg) and tend to be thinner in consistency, much like PG itself.
While these e-liquids produce less vapour than those with a higher volume of VG, they still offer an excellent flavour experience thanks to PG’s properties as a carrier agent. Therefore, for some vapers, the best PG/VG ratio for flavour will be perfectly balanced between the two ingredients.
E-liquids that have a higher ratio of VG in their recipe are most commonly referred to as High-VG or simply ‘HVG’ e-liquids. The most common ratio for these products is 70% VG to 30% PG; however, our LiQuid HVG range is blended to 80% VG to deliver even bigger clouds and a smooth hit!
Because they have a lower available % of PG in their recipes, HVG liquids tend to only be available in lower nicotine strengths like 3mg or 6mg at most. This is partly down to manufacturing restrictions and VG being a poor carrier agent, but primarily due to the massive amount of vapour produced; inhaling so much at a higher strength like 18mg would be quite unpleasant for the user!
What’s the best PG/VG ratio?
When choosing the right VG/PG ratio for you, it can be helpful to experiment with different products until you find the best option. It’s all down to personal preference, but here are a few things to consider when making your choice:
An important factor when choosing your e-liquid preference is taste, so you should pick the best PG/VG ratio to deliver the level of flavour you want. This can differ hugely from person to person. Both 50-50 and HVG e-liquids should offer a strong flavour if the products are high quality, but you can expect a bolder experience from HVGs owing largely to the extra vapour they produce, which allows more flavour to pass over the tongue.
Every vaper is looking for a different type of hit, depending on the type of vaping experience they want. Those who are using their device as a replacement for cigarettes will probably want that slightly harsh ‘back of the throat’ hit - similar to what you’ll get when smoking.
If this is the case, you’ll want to go for a higher nicotine strength 50-50 or PG-heavy e-liquid. Of course, you will still get a ‘hit’ from the high-VG variant, it’s just a little softer and smoother – ideal for the ‘cloud chasers’ and those vaping for fun.
A vape juice with a greater VG content results in a smoother throat hit because of the sticky and oily quality of VG, and many vapers prefer this. However, because VG is sweet, the flavour of vape juice with high VG content tends to be crowded. In other circumstances, the flavour is completely lost since VG is not a good carrier agent. If the best PG/VG ratio for contains a high VG content, resolve the issue of lost flavour by boosting the power of your vaping device to generate more vapour and intensify the flavour. However, it is critical to remember the power level (wattage or voltage) at which your coils are built to operate so that you do not destroy them by operating with too much power, either!
The best route to take if you’re a cloud chaser trying to achieve bigger vape clouds on exhalation is to make sure you aim for a high-VG e-liquid. The higher the VG, the bigger and better the clouds. Here at LiQuid, we also make high-VG nicotine free e-liquids in our short fill range for those looking to limit their intake but still enjoy a bold vaping experience.
If you're out and about in public, high PG e-liquids will deliver the best VG/PG ratio to keep your vaping inconspicuous. Higher PG/VG ratio vapes are ideal for low-key cloud chasers who like to stay hidden, even when they vape at their favourite hangout! However, regardless of how much of an attention seeker you are, keep in mind that it is unlawful to use vaporizers in some public spaces or indoors without first obtaining permission from the property owner.
A high VG juice is ideal for vapers who want large, thick clouds of vapour. A VG/PG ratio of around 80:20 or 70:30 will provide massive volumes of thick clouds. However, a high concentration of VG is not suited for all types of e-cigarettes since it can easily clog the wick or coil, and cause the device to malfunction. Sub-ohm vaping is great for high VG concentrations. If you discover that your vape juice is excessively thick, add some deionized water to thin it down.
Device type and coils
The type of vaping device you own will have a significant impact on the best PG/VG ratio to use. Because PG vaporises at low temperatures, e-liquids with high PG concentrations perform best with low wattage devices. VG, on the other hand, is a viscous liquid that absorbs the wick slowly. It is also prone to generating blockages or jams in mesh coils. As a result, high VG concentrations work best with high wattage or sub-ohm vapes.
PG vaporises faster than VG and also absorbs more quickly into the wick. This is why you're less likely to get a nasty-tasting "dry puff" while using PG e-liquid, although it can still happen if your vape coil isn't fully bathed with liquid before vaping or for other reasons. If you can't wait a few seconds between puffs, high VG isn't for you. Because it has a higher viscosity, it takes longer to reach and absorb into the wick than PG.
To address the issue of VG soaking into a wick slowly, current atomisers and sub-ohm tanks include wider portholes for quicker absorption. This delivers a nice vaping experience without the dry hits that certain VG fluids may provide.
Finding the best PG/VG ratios
When it comes to e-liquids, the PG/VG ratio may make or break the product. E-liquid contains a variety of substances, including flavourings, nicotine, and PG and VG in variable amounts. Nicotine typically combines best when it is dissolved in a mixture of one or both fluids. Flavours also play a key part in making your vaping experience pleasurable; PG delivers more of the flavour through the vapour clouds.
Different brands have different approaches to finding the answer to the question, “What’s the best PG/VG ratio?”. The best ratio always depends on the end result they wish to create for users.While there may be many possible combinations, the most common ratios you are likely to encounter are:
- 50/50 – this is the most common ratio used, ideal for basic vaping devices like the EDGE Pro with atomiser resistance levels between 1.0 ohms and 2.0 ohms.
- 70VG/30PG – designed for use with atomisers below 1.0 ohms. This is a common HVG blend formed to produce more vapour when sub-ohm vaping.
- 80VG/20PG – perfect for sub-ohm devices, but particularly effective with coils rated at 0.5 ohms or below. Our own HVG ranges use this formula.
It’s entirely your decision which is the best VG/PG ratio for you, and hopefully, after reading our guide, you’ll have more of an idea of what suits your preference. We have plenty of options for you to explore in our range, and even more information for you to discover in our blog section!