How to Decide on the Perfect PG VG Ratio for Your E Cig
So you’ve figured out your electronic cigarette setup and you’re ready to pick out your e cig juices; great job making it this far! You might be looking at different e juice vendors and reading about the different ingredients. You’re probably familiar with our good friend nicotine, and you probably know what food grade flavorings are, but you might be asking yourself: “What the heck is this propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin nonsense?! I don’t even know what this is and I have to decide what PG VG ratio I want! Are they even safe? What PG VG ratio is best for my current vaping set up? What magic is this?”
First of all, it’s not magic. Second of all, don’t worry! Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin might look like big and scary words, but in reality they’re relatively harmless, and they both have a lot of common everyday uses, even outside of the wonderful world of vaping. We’ll go over what these compounds are, and how to decide which ratio is perfect for you based on your personal preferences and your e cig set up.
Propylene Glycol (PG) Unmasked
If you’ve ever used an inhaler, or known someone who has used one, then you’re already familiar with propylene glycol (most commonly referred to as PG in the vaping community). PG is the non-medical suspension agent used in inhalers, and it’s also used as a sanitizing agent in hospitals. PG is a very thin liquid with a low viscosity. It’s an organic compound that’s colorless, almost completely tasteless, used as a preservative, and can be found in a lot of FDA approved oral and topical medications. And don’ t worry, there’s no evidence of PG being carcinogenic, so you can feel safe vaping it.
Vegetable Glycerin (VG) Unmasked
Vegetable Glycerin (lovingly referred to as VG), is a pretty thick liquid with a high viscosity. It’s an organic compound commonly used in foods (as a sweetening agent), medications, soaps, and cosmetic products. If you’ve washed your hands with soap and/or ate any food food containing corn syrup, you’ve already had some interactions with VG.
Now that I know what PG and VG are, what PG VG ratio should I choose?
Your choice depends on what you’ll be using to vape your e cig juice with and your personal preferences. PG and VG have a few different vaping properties that will weigh into your decision. Let’s explore these factors.
Different E Cig Setup Requirements
- Clearomizers, Dripping Atomizers, and RDAs are pretty flexible and will probably work with any PG VG ratio that you choose. There aren’t any limitations, so your choice will boil down to personal preference.
- Cartomizers and Carto Tanks are a bit more finicky and typically do better with either 100% PG e juice or a PG VG blend. Cartomizers have a thick poly-fill that surrounds the heating element. The poly-fill needs to absorb the e juice in order to work properly. If you’re using a tank, the e juice also needs to be able to be absorbed through the holes punched into the cartomizer.
- With a pre-punched carto, I’ve found from personal experience, that a 100% PG e cig juice to a 50/50 PG VG ratio works best. However, if you’re willing to spend a little extra time priming and/or slotting your cartomizers, you can use up to a 100% VG ratio as well; it just requires a little bit of extra work.
Personal Preference Factors
So now that you know about any e cig device limitations, let’s look into the other factors that will weigh into your decision. Are you more interested in flavor or vapor production? Are you looking for a stronger or smoother throat hit? How hot do you like to vape? Do you have any PG sensitivities?
Vapor and Flavor
100% VG will give you those big sexy fluffy clouds of vapor, but might mute the flavor, making it less intense for your taste-buds. 100% PG concentration will give you better flavor, but the clouds will be less voluptuous. If you’re looking for a balance between the two, you’ll probably want a mixture of both. Remember, more PG=more flavor, and more VG=bigger clouds.
Throat-Hit (or Lack Thereof)
If you’re missing that punch to the back of your throat that cigarettes used to give you, you might want to get a higher PG concentration since VG tends to vape as smooth as a baby’s behind. PG helps deliver that oh so familiar throat-hit and might help stave off those pesky cigarette cravings. However, if you’re looking for a ride smoother than a German luxury car, you’ll probably want a higher ratio of VG. If you’re looking for a balance between the two, choose a mixture of both. Just remember, more PG=more throat hit, and more VG=less throat hit.
Turning up the Heat
If you’re looking to really turn up the dial on your volts or watts, VG has a higher resistance to heat, so you can really crank it up! PG is a bit more sensitive to heat, so the taste of higher PG based liquids might taste burned if you’re vaping at higher volts/watts.
Allergies and Sensitivities
A small segment of the vaping population are allergic and/or have a sensitivity to PG. It’s common to have a bit of a sore throat and cough a little when you first start vaping, but if your symptoms persist and are more severe (sore or swollen mouth, gums, and/or back of throat), you might want to consider moving to a 100% VG e juice. If you need to move to a 100% VG e juice, but your set up requires thinner e juice, you can always ask your favorite e juice vendor to cut the VG with some distilled water, or even add your own distilled water at home (if you add the distilled water yourself, this will reduce the concentration of flavor in your e cig juice).
E Juice Longevity
100% VG e juices might not last as long as 100% PG e juices, or e juices containing some PG. Remember how we mentioned PG is a sanitizing agent? Since PG is a preservative, it helps to keep contaminants from festering in your e juices. VG, while great for people who want more vapor, like higher vaping temperature, and for people with a PG sensitivity, does not have these same anti bacterial properties. So if possible, even if it’s only 5-10%, use some PG in your liquids to lengthen their shelf-life. If you’re allergic, or flat out refuse, no worries! After you’ve steeped your e cig juices and they’ve reached the desired taste, keep your 100% VG e juices in the refrigerator to keep them fresh, and throw them out if they start to taste funky.
Adding it all Up
Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin are both perfectly safe substances that are used everyday! Now that you know the differences between PG and VG, all you have to do is decide what you want out of your vaping experience. Figure out the limitations (if any) of your device. Decide if you want more flavor (more PG) or more vapor (VG). If you want to feel the vapor hit the back of your throat like a ton of bricks, use more PG. If you want a smoother experience, use more VG. If you like to vape at higher volts/watts, use more VG. If you vape at lower temperatures, use more PG. And finally, if your allergic, or sensitive, to PG, do yourself a favor and use either 100% VG, or use VG that’s been cut with some distilled water. But most importantly, have fun and vape on!
PG Safety Pro-Tip: PG is typically harmless for humans, but dogs and cats (especially cats) are sensitive to propylene glycol and can get really sick from inhaling or ingesting pg. If you have an animal, make sure you don’t blow it in their faces. Vape in an open area of the house with the door open, so you don’t hot-box your fuzzy lil’ friends.