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PG vs VG E-Liquids, What Does It Mean?

What’s the difference between PG e-liquids and VG e-liquids?

If you’re getting into the art of vaping, you’ve probably heard the phrase “PG/VG” a few times already. I bet you’re wondering, “What the hell is this stuff any way?” Skeptics of the vaping world will tell you that e­-juice is a dangerous mix of chemicals, and that even professionals can’t tell you what’s really in it. Well you can rest assured that these claims are nothing but unfounded propaganda. We vapers know exactly what’s in our juice, and by the end of this article, so will you.

PG E-Juice

Let’s start with something that sounds unfamiliar, PG. PG is shorthand for propylene glycol. Sounds scary right? Almost like something you wouldn’t want to put in your body. Well chances are you’ve already unknowingly ingested it. PG is found in ice cream, soda, frosting and even Fireball Whiskey, among other things. It is a viscous colorless liquid which is nearly odorless but possesses a faintly sweet taste. Propylene glycol is used as a humectant, solvent, and preservative in food and for tobacco products.


The number one argument against PG is that it’s an active ingredient in antifreeze. This is true. PG helps lower the freezing temperature of water, so it’s an obvious choice as an additive to antifreeze. While antifreeze is incredibly toxic, PG itself is virtually harmless. In fact, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified PG under the “Generally Recognized As Safe” designation. Thanks to its versatility, PG is used in everything from dog food, to deodorant, and even baby wipes.


Since PG is essentially flavorless, the flavor that is eventually added to it comes across strong and clear. E-­juice containing PG has a thinner, less viscous consistency than what is referred to as max VG. The thinner consistency is also helpful in keeping atomizers clean and free from build up while making sure there is a constant flow of juice being absorbed by the cotton or other polyfill material inside the coil.

VG E-Juice

Now on to something that sounds recognizable, VG, also known as vegetable glycerin or glycerol. Glycerol can be either synthetic, or derived from plants (usually soybeans or palm) or animals. In the case of e-­liquid, it is a natural chemical, derived from vegetable oil. Like PG, VG is used in many common everyday products, such as artificial sweetener, soap, toothpaste, and even baked goods. VG has a very thick, heavy consistency and a naturally sweet taste. While flavor can be somewhat diluted in high VG blends, the cloud production is unmatched by juice that is high in PG. When an e­liquid is labeled as “max VG,” this means that  it is most likely at least 70% VG. When a product is labeled “100% VG,” it will be PG free. Although max or 100% VG blends are popular among “cloud chasers” or people using their vape to show off tricks, those of us interested in the more standard form of vaping are usually better off with a blend of PG/VG. Since VG is much thicker and more viscous, it tends to clog and gunk up atomizers, making it necessary to clean them regularly.

What else is in e-juice?

So other than PG/VG, what else is in this stuff? What makes it taste like chocolate covered strawberries or unfiltered non­menthol cigarettes? Well if you’ve ever eaten food before, chances are you’ve ingested the stuff. Just like the food you eat, e-­liquid uses three different forms of flavoring. Natural flavoring, artificial flavoring, and a combination of the two. Basically, the same stuff that makes your cereal taste like cinnamon and apples is what gives your vapor delicious flavor


The final (and optional) ingredient is nicotine. Depending on the brand, you can get your e­-liquid with as much or as little nicotine as you like. With levels as low as zero or 3mg/ml, for light/non­smokers, all the way up to 32mg/ml and sometimes maybe even higher, for the heaviest of smokers. The choice is yours, but let’s not forget smokers, that the goal should be to ween yourself down to as little nicotine as possible.

While vaping is significantly less toxic and harmful than traditional cigarettes, nicotine is still a toxic and addictive chemical. It’s always a good idea to keep in mind the signs of a nicotine overdose while using an e-­liquid that is very high in nicotine. Potential signs of a nicotine overdose include – rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, confusion and potentially seizures leading to coma and death. Yikes! Sounds pretty terrifying. Don’t worry too much, the chances of having a nicotine overdose are miniscule, as most cases of nicotine poisoning are due to accidental over ingestion of nicotine. That means DO NOT DRINK your e­liquid, I don’t care how delicious it smells, or how perfectly they’ve captured the taste of a mojito! It’s also a good idea to keep your juice out of reach of pets and little ones, remember, they don’t know it’s not candy, it’s up to you to be the adult.

So that’s it. Just a few ingredients, most of which (if not all), you’re already putting into your body on a regular basis. So there’s no need to panic. Just sit back, load up your tank, drip on your mod, and get lost in a cloud.