Understanding the Catalysts Behind Throat Hit, Flavour, and Cloud Size
If you’ve researched electronic cigarettes for any length of time, I’m willing to bet that you’ve heard about PG and VG…
And if you’re relatively new to e-cigs, I’ll also bet that you’re still a bit in the dark on what both are and why they’re relevant to the vaping community.
In this article, I’m going to give you the nuts-and-bolts rundown of what both PG and VG are, along with what makes each different and unique and how they contribute to your overall vaping experience.
What is PG and VG?
PG and VG are both ingredients found in e-juice (the liquid you vape when “smoking” an electronic cigarette). E-juices can contain one or both types of ingredients in a variety of different ratios (more on this in a bit).
Propylene glycol (PG)
Propylene glycol is an organic glycerol made when water reacts with propylene oxide. It’s used in a wide variety of different consumer products, ranging from food products to pharmaceutical products.
When stored at room temperature, PG becomes a clear, colourless, viscous liquid and is able to mix with other e-liquid ingredients (i.e. nicotine, flavouring, etc.). When heated, PG becomes a vapour, making it an ideal component for vaping.
Vegetable glycerin (VG)
Vegetable glycerin is a somewhat viscous liquid extracted from plant-based oils (like coconut oil and palm oil). When combined with water at high temperatures, VG is absorbed by the water and is transformed into food grade VG – the kind found in e-liquid, food products, and cosmetic products.
As a base ingredient for e-juice, VG acts similar to PG with a few key differences…
The Differences Between PG and VG
When judging the overall quality of an e-juice, three key factors are considered: throat hit, flavour, and cloud size.
Throat hit is the amount of kick felt in the back of your throat when you vape on an electronic cigarette (similar to the throat hit felt when smoking a tobacco cigarette).
- PG-based e-juices will have a stronger throat hit, which make them ideal for people who are just coming off of using regular cigarettes. However, they’re more prone to causing dry mouth and throat.
- VG-based e-juices have a much weaker throat hit, but they are significantly smoother than PG liquids and don’t aggravate the throat nearly as much.
Flavour in the case of PG and VG is measured by the intensity and sweetness of the e-liquid in question.
- PG-based e-juices result in a less intense flavour profile and tend to be less sweet. PG is often found in traditional cigarette flavours like tobacco and menthol.
- VG-based e-juices have a significantly sweeter and more intense flavour profile, making them ideal for use in fruit and dessert-based e-liquids.
Cloud size is the amount of vapour produced with each exhale. Depending on the ingredients, the vapour cloud will either be smaller and thinner or larger and thicker.
- PG-based e-juices produce small, thin vapour clouds, ideal for vaping in public areas where you don’t want to draw a lot of attention to yourself.
- VG-based e-juices can produce very thick and large vapour clouds, ideal for performing cool smoke tricks (if that’s what you’re into) or for a smoother vaping experience.
Mixing PG and VG Together
Many e-liquids don’t stick to one ingredient exclusively. Instead, they use a combination of PG and VG at varying ratios depending on the experience they want their customers to have.
Different PG/VG ratios have different effects when vaped. Below, you’ll find a list of the most common PG/VG ratios and their properties:
- 100% PG = Very strong throat hit with very minimal vapour production and a less intense flavour profile.
- 70/30% PG/VG = A stronger throat hit with a milder flavour profile and minimal vapour production.
- 50/50% PG/VG = A very balanced vaping experience; thicker vapour clouds with a stronger flavour profile and moderate throat hit.
- 30/70% PG/VG = A softer throat hit (but still noticeable) with an intense and smooth flavour profile and larger and thicker vapour clouds.
- 100% VG = An almost non-existent throat hit with a very intense and smooth flavour profile and super thick and enormous vapour clouds.
*Note: Different ratios are also available. Use the above list to help you determine what profile to expect with each.
*Note: It’s important to note here that some people are sensitive to products containing propylene glycol (PG). However, most don’t realize they’re sensitive to it until they begin vaping. This is because symptoms tend to appear after sustained exposure to larger concentrations of PG (as is the case with e-liquids).
The most common symptoms that occur as a result of PG sensitivity include:
- Mouth ulcers
- Sore/itchy throat
- Increased coughing
While most reactions aren’t severe, it’s important that you stop using an e-liquid immediately after experiencing any of the symptoms above.
But that doesn’t mean you have to stop vaping altogether.
Instead, you most likely need to switch from PG-based e-liquids to VG-based e-liquids. For the first couple of weeks, use a 100% VG e-liquid. Then, you may try a blend that contains more VG than PG (like a 70/30 VG/PG).
But if the symptoms return, revert back to the 100% VG and stick with it.
Which Is the Best?
PG or VG? That is the question…
The answer is it depends. Ultimately, you’re the judge of which is best. It all depends on which ingredient you enjoy more. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Some vapers prefer the strong throat kick PG provides and don’t mind the milder flavour profile or thinner vapour clouds. Others prefer the thick vapour clouds and more intense flavour profile of VG liquids and don’t mind the weak throat hit.
The only way for you to know for sure is to try them both (at varying ratios) and decide for yourself. But hey… that’s part of the fun of vaping in the first place!
Enjoy, and let me know if you have any questions!