Most vapers will only try one or two different types of vape hardware in their first weeks of vaping, but will try five or more different flavors of e-liquid before finding one that’s satisfying. Choosing a vape juice that works in your kit and tastes great can be difficult, but understanding what the ingredients are and what PG/VG ratios mean will help when you’re picking your next every-day flavor.
What are the main ingredients in e-liquid?
PG and VG are the main ingredients in vape juice and act as the carriers for flavorings and nicotine. E-liquids only contain PG, VG, flavoring elements, and usually (but not always) nicotine.
Do e-liquids ever contain other ingredients or additives?
While some products have been made or sold that contain other ingredients, Giant Vapes (at the time of publish) only sells nicotine e-liquids. The information we’re sharing here is specifically regarding nicotine/tobacco products and isn’t applicable to any other type of ‘vape product’ like CBD or other alternative products designed to be vaporized and inhaled.
In short, if an e-liquid has an ingredient that isn’t PG, VG, flavorings, and nicotine, it’s not an ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery system) product, and may not work in the same way as the e-liquids described here.
What is PG?
PG stands for Propylene Glycol, and it is one of the primary ingredients in e-liquid.
PG is a relatively tasteless, colorless, and odorless synthetic liquid (which means it’s made in a laboratory or industrial setting). It’s got a relatively thin consistency (close to, but thicker than water) and is a great carrier liquid, specifically for flavorings.
E-liquids are made with USP (US Pharmacopoeia) or pharmaceutical grade propylene glycol, which is highly purified. There are other grades of propylene glycol, including industrial-grade PG, which should never be used in consumable products, as lower grades of PG have contaminants that can be dangerous if consumed.
Aside from e-liquids, PG is used for many things. High-grade and USP grade PG is used in food as a preservative and antioxidant. You’ll find PG in cosmetics as well and in many pharmaceutical products. Eye drops frequently contain PG, and USP grade propylene glycol is used as a carrier liquid for injectable drugs that aren’t water-soluble as well as many pharmaceutical inhalers.
Lower-grade (industrial grade) PG is used to create theatrical smoke and fog, as well as in low-toxicity, environmentally friendly anti-freeze products, including most of the ones used to de-ice planes.
Isn’t anti-freeze toxic?
Yes, anti-freeze made with ethylene glycol is extremely toxic. Anti-freeze made with propylene glycol is an alternative product that is less toxic and more environmentally friendly.
What is VG?
VG stands for Vegetable Glycerin, or glycerol, and it’s another one of the main ingredients in e-liquid.
VG is a slightly sweet tasting, colorless liquid that’s got a thick consistency, compared to PG. While it doesn’t carry flavorings as well as PG does, VG provides denser vapor ‘clouds’ and a much smoother throat hit than PG.
Vegetable glycerin is a natural compound that’s derived from vegetables. Most VG is made from palm, soybean, or coconut, though a small number of VG manufacturers might get it from other plant sources. Glycerol can be made from animal products or synthetically as well, but it is specifically plant-derived VG (thus the ‘vegetable’ in the name) that’s used in e-liquids.
In addition to being used in e-liquid, VG can be found in sweeteners, beauty products, foods, medications, and even toothpaste. Like PG, VG is sometimes used to create ‘smoke’ effects for films and can be used to make non-toxic anti-freeze, as it freezes at a lower temperature than water. The VG used in e-liquids is, like PG, USP grade intended for use in pharmaceutical and consumable products
What does PG/VG Ratio mean for me?
PG/VG Ratio identifies what percentage of an e-liquid is made with PG, and what is VG – and that will help you identify how thick or thin the e-liquid is, to start with.
The easiest way to explain PG/VG Ratios is to give some examples:
Consistency: Very Thin
Throat Hit: Very Strong
Flavor Density: High
100% PG E-Liquids are not generally available today, though the first e-cigarettes did use all-PG blends. Because vape liquid at this consistency is so thin, it may leak through coils not designed specifically for it.
Consistency: Very Thin
Throat Hit: Strong
Flavor Density: High
70% PG E-liquids are also quite rare but can be found in some cases. These liquids are still thin and will seep through your coil wicking if used in most sub-ohm tanks, but can be very flavorful and provide a strong throat hit in some pod systems.
Throat Hit: Medium
Flavor Density: High
50/50 blends are the thinnest (highest PG) e-liquids that are commonly available. Too thin for use in most sub-ohm tanks, these e-liquids are optimal for use in pod systems and with tank systems that use coils of 1.0 ohm or higher. They provide lots of flavor and a reasonable throat hit when used in the appropriate vape system, and are ideal for low-wattage vape kits.
Throat Hit: Medium to Low
Flavor Density: Medium
70% VG E-liquids are the most commonly available today and are designed to perform well in sub-ohm tanks as well as most pod systems. These liquids are too thick for, or may not have enough flavor for, use in smaller devices or high-resistance tanks. Generally, a 70% VG e-liquid has a smooth throat hit and will provide plenty of flavor in any vape you’re using at 25W or higher.
Throat Hit: Low
Flavor Density: Low
100% VG E-liquids are uncommon; truly 100% VG e-liquids must use VG-based flavorings and nicotine, which limits the range of profiles available. These products are ideal for any vaper who has a PG sensitivity, as well as users who want the thickest clouds possible. 100% VG e-liquids may not wick as quickly as thinner blends, and will usually not be as flavorful as other e-liquids – though some vendors who specialize in 100% VG eliquids have found ways to break that rule!
There are e-liquids that come in 65% VG or 80% VG, of course, but those examples are an excellent starting point for understanding what that PG/VG ratio on your bottle means.
There are also exceptions to those guidelines – the nicotine strength, flavorings, and types of PG and VG used in each individual vape juice will impact the thickness and wicking time, vapor production, throat hit, and flavor saturation for every product.
Most e-liquids will have a listed PG/VG ratio of VG percentage on the bottle, so if there’s a flavor you know you like the consistency of, check out that flavor’s PG/VG ratio. Keep in mind that some manufacturers will list PG first, and others will list VG first – pay attention to the order!
You can also search by and sort products by their PG/VG ratio on our website.
What is Max VG?
Max VG is the manufacturer’s way of saying they have not added any PG to an e-liquid that isn’t part of the flavoring or nicotine base components. Essentially, a Max VG e-liquid is made with only VG, nicotine, and flavorings.
However, the percentage of nicotine and flavorings can be high, even in a Max VG blend. Nicotine base and flavorings are usually suspended in PG. Max VG e-liquids typically range from 95% VG to 70% VG, depending on the brand and flavor. If you see a product listed as Max VG and want to know the specific VG percentage, your best bet to find out how much PG is in the product is to contact the manufacturer directly.
Which PG/VG Ratio is right for me?
Now that you’re familiar with what PG and VG are, and what the different PG/VG Ratios mean, you’ll be able to better choose the e-juice that works best for you. The type of vape device you’re using, your preferred wattage settings, and what kind of throat hit you’re looking for will all be factors to consider when picking out an e-liquid that will taste good and provide a satisfying experience for you.
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DISCLAIMER: Please note that this information is general in nature. It may not apply to your specific ENDS product. This information is not intended to address every aspect of e-liquids or ENDS products. Certain products may require different or additional care. Review the safety and operating instructions and other information applicable to your particular product. Giant X LLC provides this information as a service to its customers and disclaims any liability for your use of or reliance upon the information provided herein.