High-VG vs. High-PG E-Liquid: What’s the Difference?

April 29, 2022 6 min read

Propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerine (VG) are two things that you’re going to encounter every time you vape because virtually every vape juice on the planet contains both of those liquids. If you look closely at the labels on the bottles of e-liquid that you buy, though, you’re going to notice something interesting. A bottle of e-liquid usually has its VG/PG ratio printed on the label, and different brands of vape juice often have different VG/PG ratios.

Why would VG/PG ratios differ from one e-liquid to the next? Are there any reasons why you should look for high-VG or high-PG e-liquids? What are VG and PG, anyway? Read on, because those are the things that you’re going to learn from reading this article.

What Is Propylene Glycol (PG)?

Propylene glycol is a synthetic substance that is one of the world’s most versatile and useful compounds. In industry, PG is used in the production of plastics. Food-grade PG is also an ingredient in many of the things that you ingest or put on your skin every day. PG is an emulsifier and stabilizer. It attracts and retains moisture. It even inhibits microbial growth. Those properties make PG an important ingredient in an enormous variety of products.

  • Because PG traps moisture, it’s a common ingredient in eyedrops and lotions.
  • PG’s ability to keep ingredients emulsified makes it common in liquid food products like sweeteners and syrups. It’s also a common base for liquid medications.
  • Since PG inhibits microbial growth, it’s added to shelf-stable foods to prevent those foods from spoiling.
  • PG is a common base for liquid flavour concentrates.

The reason why e-liquid contains PG and VG is because liquid nicotine and flavour concentrates are extremely strong in their undiluted forms. Those substances have to be diluted before they can be used to make an e-liquid. In a bottle of e-liquid, only about 5-10 percent of the contents on average are nicotine and flavours; the rest is VG and PG. Since PG is an excellent carrier of flavours – and because it vaporizes and creates a visible cloud at a relatively low temperature – it’s perfect as a base for e-liquid.

When vaping was first invented, PG was the only e-liquid base. Companies began using VG later because it has a few benefits that we’ll discuss shortly.

What Is Vegetable Glycerine (VG)?

Vegetable glycerine is a substance that’s created naturally in the process of soapmaking. The basic soapmaking process involves mixing fat with lye, which triggers a chemical reaction resulting in the creation of soap and glycerine. Since people require a lot of soap, there’s plenty of glycerine to go around – which is a good thing, because it’s a very useful compound. In addition to vegetable fat, animal tallow can also be used to make soap. In vaping, we use the term “vegetable glycerine” to signify the fact that the glycerine used to make e-liquid is plant based.

VG has many of the same properties as PG. It is a good emulsifier and carrier of flavours. It retains moisture and inhibits microbial growth, so it can keep shelf-stable foods from spoiling or going stale. Like PG, VG is likely in many of the things that you eat, drink and use on your skin every day.

VG, however, differs from PG in two significant ways – and you can find e-liquid with a wide variety of different VG/PG ratios because of those differences.

  • Compared to PG – which has very little flavour of its own – VG is somewhat sweet. It is actually used as a sweetener in some foods.
  • VG is significantly thicker and more viscous than PG.

What Are the Benefits of a High-VG E-Liquid?

The thickness of VG is one of the reasons why e-liquid companies started adding it to vape juice. Almost immediately after vaping became popular, people began looking for ways to get bigger vapour clouds. Companies began adding small amounts of VG to their e-liquids, and when talking about their favourite vape juices, enthusiasts would compare the “cloud production” of the various products. VG caught on very quickly as an e-liquid ingredient and has remained popular ever since.

Because VG is thicker than PG, it creates larger and thicker clouds that hang in the air for a while after they’re exhaled. The thickness of VG also gives high-VG e-liquid a full, creamy mouth feel. The more VG an e-liquid has, the more those properties are accentuated.

An additional benefit of VG is that it can enhance the sweetness of e-liquids. An e-liquid with a sweet flavour profile will taste even sweeter if it contains a high percentage of VG.

High-VG e-liquid does have a potential downside, though, in that an e-liquid with a very high amount of VG – a VG/PG ratio well past 50/50, in other words – requires vaping equipment designed to work with thick vape juices. Using a high-VG e-liquid means that you’ll need to have a tank with large wick holes to accommodate the thick liquid and a mod capable of operating at high wattage levels.

As you’re about to learn, you shouldn’t normally have to worry about whether a given e-liquid will work with your vaping equipment because most e-liquids aren’t so thick that they require specialised mods and tanks. We’ll explain that in greater detail shortly. First, though, let’s learn about the benefits that PG brings to an e-liquid.

What Are the Benefits of a High-PG E-Liquid?

Because PG is very thin, a high-PG e-liquid doesn’t create the full, thick vapour clouds that you’ll get with a high-VG e-liquid. However, the thinness of PG is important for users of very small vaping devices because the smallest vaping devices require thin e-liquids. A high-PG e-liquid flows efficiently through the wicking system of a small vaping device and works reliably without ever causing dry hits.

An additional benefit of PG is that, since it has very little flavour of its own, it allows the flavour of an e-liquid to come through more clearly. The fact that VG is sweet means that it can enhance an e-liquid with a sweet flavour profile. However, it can also make the subtle flavour notes in a complex vape juice difficult to taste. In a high-PG e-liquid, you won’t have that problem; all of the e-liquid’s flavour notes will come through clearly.

The one drawback of high-PG e-liquids is that, just like high-VG e-liquids, they don’t work well with all types of vaping equipment. An e-liquid with an extremely high amount of PG will be very thin, and that will cause it to flow too quickly through a large tank with wide wick openings. If your vape tank leaks constantly – and you’re using an e-liquid with a VG/PG ratio skewed heavily in favour of PG – you should consider buying a thicker vape juice.

You Can Have a Great Vaping Experience Without Worrying About VG/PG Ratio

If you’re feeling a little confused right now about the VG/PG ratio of vape juice and how that information pertains to your vaping experience, here’s the good news. Most of the time, VG/PG ratio isn’t really something that you need to think about. That’s because most e-liquid makers use a VG/PG ratio of about 50/50. Using a balanced blend of VG and PG allows the benefits of both compounds to be present in an e-liquid.

In addition, an e-liquid with a VG/PG ratio of about 50/50 will work very well with almost any vape tank or other vaping device on the market. Vaping devices and tanks come in all different sizes and power levels, so it’s in a vape juice maker’s best interest to create products that work with the widest possible range of hardware.

If you want to learn as much as possible about the factors that affect your vaping experience, understanding the VG/PG ratio of e-liquid will help you along the road toward finding your perfect vape juice. If you don’t want to worry about VG/PG ratios when buying vape juice, though, there’s no need to worry because it’s almost certain that whatever e-liquid you buy will work perfectly with the vaping equipment that you’re currently using.