PG vs VG: What they are and how to use them
PG (Propylene Glycol) vs. VG (Vegetable Glycerin)
PG and VG are two of the most common terms tied to e-juices. It may sound complex to a newbie, but with adequate knowledge of the subject, one can vastly improve their vaping experience. We present here an easy guide to cover the topic of PG/VG e-liquids.
What are PG and VG?
PG and VG can be defined as follow:
- They are odorless liquids which act as a base compound and are mixed with flavor and nicotine to form e-juices.
- Chemically, they are alcohols in nature but are not intoxicating when vaped.
- When heated, they produce dense vapors.
- They are not oils, hence do not cause complications like lipoid pneumonia when inhaled.
- They differ in consistency and taste.
- They cause distinctive sensations in the mouth and throat when vaped.
- Most e-juices consist of both PG and VG with varying ratios and combinations.
- A few vaping setups require a specific PG/VG ratio to work as expected.
One should be careful to choose the correct PG/VG ratio, as it greatly affects the taste and consequently the overall vaping pleasure.
Let us continue and look at each of them in further detail.
Propylene Glycol (PG)
What exactly is it?
Propylene Glycol basically is a petroleum by-product. It is tasteless/odorless, colorless and has lesser viscosity compared to VG. It acts as a suspension liquid for various flavors and nicotine, when compared to VG, it can contain more and better flavor concentrations. According to many users, vaping PG produces similar throat sensations to smoking tobacco.
Is it safe?
The FDA has approved PG to be in ‘safe to consume’ list of products. Although there are no extensive studies on the matter yet, a long-term experiment made in 1947 has deemed this chemical ‘completely harmless’ for inhaling purposes.
In 2010, a study was made to monitor the effects of PGEs (a combination of propylene glycol and glycol ethers) and the results showed an increased risk of conceiving respiratory and immune disorders, eczema and hay fever (especially in infants). However, the culprit was realized to be the glycol ethers, and not PG itself.
Baseless claims about PG being a toxic chemical used in anti-freeze substances have been roaming around. However, it is a scientific fact that two kinds of anti-freeze exist; toxic and non-toxic, and the toxic one is not combined in vaping e-juices.
Even though PG is considered safe for human consumption, it can cause Heinz body anemia in cats, therefore users should be careful while vaping in presence of one. Conclusively speaking, the evidence proves PG to be safe for inhaling, but more studies on this can be worthwhile for long-term benefits.
What should I be aware of when vaping PG?
Rare cases of allergies connected to vaping PG have been reported, including complaints of throat irritation. If you encounter any allergy by vaping PG, you should consider using e-juices with a higher ratio of VG in it.
A common side-effect of vaping PG based liquids is dehydration, which causes dry mouth and throat. It can easily be countered by drinking lots of water and keeping the body well hydrated. This side-effect eventually softens and disappears once the body gets used to propylene glycol. However, keep in mind that many side-effects maybe be caused by quitting cigarettes and not by PG itself.
Vegetable Glycerin (VG)
What exactly is it?
Vegetable Glycerin is a naturally occurring chemical extracted from vegetable oils. Producing thick vapor with sweet taste are one of its appreciable traits. It is more viscous than PG and provides a smoother throat sensation. It is an equal alternative for users who want to avoid PG for one reason or the other.
Is it safe?
The FDA has approved VG to be in ‘safe to consume’ list of products, and is considered to be an extremely mild substance for human consumption and is often used in food and medicine. It is rated by the SIDS assessment profile to have minor toxicity and potential to cause allergies or irritations. However, like in the case of PG, there are a few studies to prove any facts and figures related to human consumption of VG.
A study in 2008 assured minimal risks of inhaling aerosolized glycerol. Although allergic circumstances are almost non-existent in VG vaping, people allergic to palm or coconut oil may experience minor issues. Diabetics may also face problems with digestion of VG, but the low quantity involved in vaping may not be problematic.
What should I be aware of when vaping PG?
The high viscosity of VG may curtail the useful life of an atomizer unit, where the coil may get clogged. This effects the clearomizer type coils, and Nautilus and eGo tanks the most.
Talking about side-effects of vaping a VG based juice, dehydration may be a pickle and can be countered by drinking lots of water till the body gets used to VG intake.
Key differences between PG and VG for vapers
There are both differences and similarities between the two types based on each one’s chemistry and applications. Knowledge of these differences and similarities is important when choosing the correct PG/VG ratio for your vaping fancy. Below are five key points to help make your choice:
- PG gives a stronger throat hit
PG is considered to give more of a ‘cigarette-like’ feel. This can prove to be helpful for those trying to quit tobacco smoking, as vaping; with a general consensus, is way less harmful. However, the throat hit may be uncomfortable for some users, where VG comes into play, which has a much smoother sensation in both the mouth and throat. According to statistics, many vapers eventually transit to higher VG content juices when throat hit is no longer sought after.
- VG improves vapor production
A highly enjoyable inhale/exhale action due to thick vapor is a major factor, and VG is known to produce thicker and denser clouds as compared to PG, hence uplifting the sensation of smoking. This makes the ‘cloud-chasers’ opt for liquids with higher VG content.
Beginner-friendly e-juices are generally of a 40 to 60 % VG ratio so as to keep the benefits of both PG and VG for the best vape experience.
- PG wicks more efficiently than VG
A major drawback of VG is the speed with which it is soaked up by the wick. As compared to PG, VG is a lot thicker, making it difficult for the wick to pull the liquid and heat it into vapors. This can cause numerous problems.
When drawing a puff, the e-juice is expended from the wick and more is soaked from the tank. In the next draw, if the wick is not properly soaked again, a dry puff will be experienced by the user which has a formidable taste. When talking about VG, which is thicker and more difficult to absorb, this problem is more likely to occur. However, in modern sub-ohm tanks; which have efficient wicking systems, this glitch can be avoided even with thick liquids.
- PG carries better flavor
Generally, PG is better at delivering flavors more effectively than VG. This is due to VG being slightly sweet which hinders and tampers with the flavor itself. The difference is notable when the same flavor is smoked in different PG/VG ratios. However, the contrast really doesn’t matter much, and can only be felt when making a direct comparison.
The matter can be compensated with a VG liquid by boosting up the flavor with a variable wattage vape mod, or otherwise just stick to your good old PG liquid!
- Some people are sensitive to PG
Allergic reactions are more likely to occur while using PG liquids, especially throat related ones. If faced with such reactions, the best advice is to use higher VG content solutions. When choosing to use this liquid, keep in mind to pair it up with a suited atomizer unit (like the Aspire Cleito or Anyvape Fury).
Coughing is most likely to happen in the case of virgin lungs. It does not mean one is allergic to PG e-juices, and coughing will eventually subside with time. It is after that you can decide if PG or VG is better for you in terms of health.
The text clarified the basic differences and similarities between PG and VG. Both have their own pros and cons, and it is for you to decide what might suit you the best. It’s always wise to use a 50/50 PG/VG ratio in the beginning, and calibrate this ratio to decide the most efficient mix for yourself. Keep in mind the atomizer specifications when trying out different ratios.
Sharp flavor oriented e-juices, including tobacco, fruits, and beverage ones, should be consumed in PG variants; whereas flavors like cream, custard and yogurt are better off in the VG variants. With some trial and error experimentation, you can come up with various ratios and flavors that can keep your vaping experience alive forever!