What Is VG & PG?

Vegetable Glycerin & Propylene Glycol
- What Are They?

One of those often looked over parts of e-liquid is also one of the most important. It’s easy to get wrapped up in choosing between a lemon meringue with a pastry base or butterscotch and cream but before you do that - let’s look at the other ingredients. Those little numbers on the bottle have a huge part to play in how you experience your vape, representing PG and VG respectively. They affect everything from flavour and throat hit to cloud production and nicotine hit. So, it’s about time we went back to basics and had a look at just what PG and VG are, what they do and how those ratios differ.

What Are PG And VG?

Both PG and VG are going to become a common part of your vaping vocabulary if you’re just starting out. PG stands for propylene glycol, a thin, odorless and flavourless liquid. VG on the other hand is the acronym for vegetable glycerin. VG is slightly thicker in consistency and has a mildly sweet flavour to it. They’re the two main ingredients in vaping liquids and when combined perform the job of creating vapour, carrying flavour and dictate how strong (or mild) your throat hit is. The PG:VG ratio will be written on your e-liquid bottle and different ratios will give slightly different effects and work with different kinds of vape kits.

PG's Job In Your E-Liquid

PG’s main job in e-liquid is to carry flavour. As mentioned, it’s thinner than VG which means that flavours meld and mix into it better, allowing for a more potent and complex flavour profile to come through. It also serves to give what we refer to as the “throat hit.” If you’re a transitioning smoker, it’s likely you’re used to that slightly dry and scratchy feeling when you inhale. PG offers that same kind of sensation which often helps smokers make the switch a little more easily.

Due to having a thin consistency (especially in comparison to VG), e-liquids with a higher PG content usually give off less vapour and require less heat and power to evaporate. Generally speaking, most people find that a 50% PG e-liquid is enough to give a decent throat hit, good flavour and a modest amount of vapour. You can get e-liquids with more PG in them if you’re looking for a more potent throat hit too.

What VG Is Doing For You?

Where PG is mainly there for flavour and throat hit, VG helps to make for a mild inhale and big, fluffy clouds. Like PG, VG is also classified chemically as an alcohol. As it’s a lot thicker than PG, it takes more power to vaporise which in turn is why you get so much more vapour with high VG e-liquids. Generally, we’d classify a “high VG e-liquid” as anything with 70% or more vegetable glycerin. Some bottles go as high as 90% VG though you’ll find a significant drop off in flavour at this point due to having such a low volume of the flavour-carrying PG mixed in.

Depending on how much VG you have, you’ll find flavour intensity is quite variable. Vapers using high VG e-liquids usually find a 70% VG level is about right for a mild to no throat hit while still delivering a rich flavour.


Knowing E-liquids are always packaged and sold in child-proof bottles to keep little fingers out of your juice. There are a few things to consider yourself when it comes to e-liquids too. Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin on their own are “generally recognised as safe” - which makes sense given you’ll find them in plenty of household goods. Vegetable glycerin is used as a binding agent in things containing both water and oils - like hand cream for example. You’ll also find it in food too from sweets to tinned food. PG is one of the ingredients used in asthma inhalers (it helps carry medicine as well as your vape flavour) but you’ll also find it in things like ice cream as a flavour enhancer there too.

The main thing to be aware of when it comes to e-liquid safety is nicotine. Your skin absorbs a high quantity of whatever you put on it. This applies to e-liquids too. While it’s unusual for PG and VG to irritate your skin, nicotine can be absorbed through topical application as well as inhalation. If you’re using a stronger nicotine strength e-liquid and happen to spill it on your hands (or make a mess when you’re adding a nic shot to your shortfill) wash your hands immediately. Give it a few minutes and see how you feel, if you have a light-headed “nic rush” sensation it should pass within a few minutes. Take a break from vaping and make sure your vape and work surfaces are clear of any residual e-liquid and nicotine too.

Knowing how to store your e-liquids correctly is vital to ensure that it doesn't fall into the wrong hands as well as preserving the flavour and lifespan of your juice bottles.


A Note On PG And Dryness

PG can be a little more drying than VG. If you notice you’re getting a very dry throat, make sure you’re drinking a lot of water throughout the day. If you still find issues with this, you may want to try a higher VG e-liquid instead.

Things To Be Aware Of When Vaping

When it comes to PG:VG ratios, there are a few basic things to remember. While using the incorrect kind of ratio won’t do any lasting damage, it’s certainly not going to give you the most enjoyable experience.

50/50 E-Liquids (Including Nic-Salts)

When you’re starting off with vaping, it’s quite likely you’ll have used a 50:50 freebase e-liquid or a 50:50 nic salt e-liquid. This ratio is usually recommended to people with higher smoking habits.

The features of a 50:50 blend:

  • Thinner in consistency, easier to vaporise in lower powered kits
  • Give a stronger throat hit
  • Are suited to higher nicotine levels (both freebase and nic salts)
  • Flavourful thanks to the even ratio
  • Less vapour making them a more subtle option if you’re vaping when you’re out

High VG E-Liquids

High VG e-liquids typically constitute anything of 70% VG or more. Many people move onto this kind of ratio if they’ve been vaping a while though if you had a social or light smoking habit, you may have started off with one of these.

Key things to note about high VG e-liquids:

  • Thicker in consistency due to having a higher quantity of VG (the thicker of the two) meaning they work in higher powered kits and tanks.
  • Give little to no throat hit
  • High VG e-liquids aren’t really suited to nic salt e-liquids. When you’re using a higher powered kit the nic hit can be too strong to be enjoyable.
  • You can choose whether flavour or vapour is more important based on the variable ratios. For more flavour, pick something like a 30:70 ratio, for more vapour a 20:80.
  • No matter the ratio you go for, when used in a Sub Ohm kit these e-liquids produce much more vapour than 50:50 e-liquids.

Which Ratio Is Right For Me?

If you need one of more of the following:

  • A high nicotine level
  • Want to be able to vape in the same way you’d smoke (inhaling vapour into your mouth then into your lungs)
  • A stronger throat hit sensation
  • Less vapour for a more subtle vaping experience

You’ll want a 50:50 e-liquid with either a salt nicotine or freebase nicotine. If you’re not sure which nicotine level is best - we’ve got a whole guide on choosing the right nicotine level for you too.

On the other hand, if you want any of these:

  • A lower nicotine level
  • Would like to try direct to lung vaping with a more powerful kit
  • Prefer a mild throat hit
  • Want much bigger clouds

Try a higher VG ratio, 35:65 or 30:70 is a good place to start. You can get these ratios in pre-mixed 10ml bottles but you might also want to consider a shortfill. Shortfills are more cost effective and you can control how much nicotine goes into them too. Adding a single nic shot to a 50ml bottle will give you a light nicotine level of 3mg, or you can add two nic shots for a 6mg strength.

Which Kit Do You Need?

If you’ve just started vaping, the best place to start is with your e-liquid rather than just choosing a kit you like the look of. By this stage (hopefully) you’re more clear on what kind of ratio and nicotine strength you’d like to use.

If you’re looking to use a 50:50 e-liquid with a higher nicotine level (including nic salts) you’ll want a simple mouth to lung kit. We’d recommend something like a vape pen or a pod kit with a coil that’s 1.0ohm or more in resistance.

  • Most pod kits and vape pens are made for mouth to lung vaping, which emulates the inhalation style you’d use when smoking.
  • They’ll have less power. This is important to factor in as too much power with a high PG level and high nicotine level will give a very strong throat hit and too hard a nicotine rush.
  • Mouth to lung kits are more discreet and won’t produce as much vapour.

An extra note on mouth to lung kits:

If the coil in the tank is of 1.0ohm in resistance or more, you’ll need to stick to 50:50 e-liquids for the best experience. PG is thin and easily evaporated but VG is much thicker which means it needs more heat and power to evaporate. If you use a high VG e-liquid in a mouth to lung kit, it’ll gunk up your coil and won’t give you much flavour, vapour or nic hit.

If you’re looking to use a higher VG e-liquid you’ll be best off with a vape pen or simple box mod kit that has a Sub Ohm coil (less than 1.0ohm in resistance).

  • You can still use 50:50 e-liquids in Sub Ohm vape pens if you’d like, just make sure you’re using a lower nicotine level (we’d recommend a maximum of 6mg). Bear in mind the throat hit will be stronger with a Sub Ohm pen and more PG.
  • Higher VG e-liquids with a Sub Ohm vape pen will give a smooth inhale and much more vapour.
  • You’ll have more options regarding ratio. While 50:50 e-liquids are standard for mouth to lung kits, when you use a Sub Ohm vape pen, you can try everything from 60% VG up to 90% VG to see what suits you.

An extra note on Sub Ohm kits and high VG e-liquids:

With more power comes a harder hit, so when you’re using high VG e-liquids, make sure you’re dropping your nicotine level too. If you’re finding the throat hit is too harsh even when you’re using an e-liquid with low PG levels, it may be the nicotine. We don’t recommend using nic salts in a 50:50 ratio in these kits - stick to regular nicotine with a 3mg or 6mg strength at most. Anything stronger than that is likely to give you too much of a nicotine rush which can make you feel unwell.

*Check out our clear and simple Beginners Vaping Guide and find out how to choose your first vape kit and e-liquid.

www.vapesuperstore.co.uk contains general information about vaping and vapour products. The information provided is not medical advice, and should not be relied upon unless explicity cited. We do not make any warranties surrounding the health benefits, reliability and accuracy of written copy across all pages on our website, including blog content and content posted on social media.

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