PG vs. VG: Which Is Better?

April 29, 2022 5 min read




Propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerine (VG) are the two most important and plentiful substances in the entire world of vape juice. Although most of us tend to think of e-liquid primarily in terms of its flavour and nicotine content, the flavours and nicotine actually comprise just a small percentage of what you inhale when you vape. Everything else – more than 90 percent in most cases – is PG and VG.

If you want to have the best possible vaping experience, you need to understand how PG vs. VG compare, and you need to know how to select the right PG/VG ratio for your vaping device and personal preference. Those are the things you’re going to learn as you read this article. So, what are VG and PG? Let’s dig in.


What Are PG and VG?


Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine aren’t just the two most common substances in vape juice; they’re also two of the most useful chemicals in the world. Let’s learn a bit more about what PG and VG are and where you’re likely to find them in your daily life.

  • Propylene glycol is a lab-created chemical that’s usually synthesised from propylene oxide and has a variety of food, industrial and cosmetic uses. PG is an effective solvent and emulsifier. It can be used to carry flavours or active ingredients in a mixture, and it also helps to keep ingredients combined without separating. PG also has antimicrobial properties, and it’s an excellent retainer of moisture. You’ll find PG in medications, drink mixes, cosmetics, deodorants, inhalers and air fresheners.
  • Vegetable glycerine is a natural substance. It isn’t an oil, but it is derived from vegetable oil during the process of making vegetable-based soap. VG is a powerful moisturiser, and you’ll find it in many lotions, soaps, shampoos and other topical products for that reason. VG also has a flavour that’s somewhat sweet. Although it isn’t calorie free, you’ll find glycerine as an alternative sweetener in some foods because it has a lower glycaemic index than sugar. VG is also similar to PG in that it’s often used as a solvent and emulsifier.


How Do PG and VG Affect Your Vaping Experience?


Now that you know a bit more about what PG and VG are and where you’re likely to encounter them in your everyday life, let’s learn more about why you’re really here. How does a VG or PG base affect your vaping experience, and why might you want to choose a higher-PG or high-VG e-liquid? Here’s how a high-VG and high-PG vape compare to one another.

  • PG is the thinner of the two liquids, so it tends to produce smaller vapour clouds. The fact that PG is so thin makes PG-based e-liquids perfect for smaller vape pens and pod systems that have very narrow wick openings and higher coil resistances – but you wouldn’t want to use a high-PG e-liquid for cloud chasing. PG has no flavour of its own, so it’s an effective flavour carrier and works well as a base for e-liquids with complex flavour profiles. It also produces a stronger throat hit than VG, although a few people have reported that a high-PG e-liquid can cause a bit of a “dry mouth” sensation.
  • VG is significantly thicker than PG, and the fact that it is thicker gives a VG-based e-liquid much greater vapour production compared to a high-PG e-liquid. VG-based vape juices are very popular among those who use high-end vaping equipment designed for cloud chasing. Because of its thickness, high-VG e-liquid works best in vape tanks that have very large wick openings. VG has a slightly sweet flavour. Although the sweetness of VG can mask the subtle notes in e-liquids with complex flavour profiles, it can also enhance e-liquids with fruit, candy and dessert flavours. High-VG e-liquid tends not to produce a very strong throat hit.

When comparing PG vs. VG, it’s wise to imagine the features of the two liquids as existing on a sort of continuum. While 100-percent PG or VG e-liquids do exist, they aren’t common. It’s far more common for an e-liquid to use a blend of PG and VG, which is why an e-liquid usually has its PG/VG ratio specified on the package. By using PG and VG together, an e-liquid can have the benefits of both liquids. We’ll discuss PG/VG ratios in greater detail shortly.


How Safe Are PG and VG?


In 1973, the United States Food and Drug Administration added propylene glycol and glycerine to its list of substances that were considered “Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS).” The GRAS list covers food additives only, and it only applies when those additives are used in specific amounts and for specific purposes. Nevertheless, it may be helpful for you to know that PG and VG are both considered safe for human consumption.

Research into the safety of vaping is still ongoing and has so far focused primarily on how safe vaping is in general terms. Public Health England has estimated that vaping is about 95 percent safer than smoking tobacco. Though broad research into the safety of vaping must include PG and VG – since e-liquid contains more of those compounds than anything else – the research to date hasn’t focused on those compounds specifically.


What Is the Best PG/VG Ratio for Your Vaping Device?


Vape juice is available in a wide variety of different PG/VG ratios, with 50/50 e-liquid being the most popular ratio among owners of small vaping devices. In the past, most beginner-oriented vaping devices were optimised to provide the best possible experience with high-PG e-liquids. Today, though, modern pod systems have slightly wider wick openings to accommodate thicker e-liquids. If you use a pod system designed for mouth-to-lung inhaling, you’ll want an e-liquid with a high nicotine strength – and buying a higher-nicotine e-liquid almost always means that you’ll buy nicotine salt vape juice.

Nicotine salt e-liquid usually has a 50/50 PG/VG ratio, which gives it a good balance of vapour production, flavour quality and throat hit. An e-liquid with a PG/VG ratio of 50/50 is also thin enough to work well in most small vaping devices and viscous enough to work well in most larger vape tanks. Many lower-strength freebase nicotine e-liquids are also available with a 50/50 PG/VG ratio. If you’re not sure what to try, 50/50 vape juice is the perfect place to start because it combines the strong points of both PG and VG.

If big cloud production is your priority, you might prefer an e-liquid that’s capable of giving you a bit more vapour. If that’s the case, a higher-VG vape juice might be right for you. The more VG an e-liquid contains, the thicker and more luxurious your vapour clouds will become. Just remember, though, that an extremely thick vape juice requires an RDA or vape tank with very large wick openings. You may experience dry hits if you attempt to use a very thick e-liquid with a small mouth-to-lung vaping device.