One of the most enjoyable aspects of vaping is trying new e-liquids and experiencing new flavours but there are things that should to be considered when choosing an e-liquid other than just the flavour. The nicotine level and the PG/VG ratio. There can often be a certain amount of trial and error for a lot of people to find the most suitable e-liquids for them and the device they have chosen. But armed with a little knowledge you will be better equipped to make a more informed decision next time you buy some e-liquid.
Propylene glycol and Vegetable glycerin (PG/VG) are the two main ingredients of e-liquids, together they create the base liquid that carries the flavourings and nicotine. They are usually expressed as a ratio such as 50/50 or 70/30 on e-liquid bottles. But you will often find liquids described as 70% VG or 50% VG, it is safe to assume that if a liquid is 70% VG then it will contain 30% PG in it’s base ingredients.
VG has a much thicker consistency than PG, VG is like a thick syrup and PG is closer to water. By combining the two together manufacturers can create a consistency that will work well in a vaping device. Very thick liquids will work fine in a dripper but many tanks may struggle to wick quickly enough. PG is also a much better flavour carrier, liquids with a higher PG ratio will usually have a more intense flavour especially in lower powered devices that produce less vapour overall. VG will also create much thicker and denser vapour than PG.
The term ‘throat hit’ is the term we use to describe the feeling as the vapour hits the back of our throat when we vape, it is undesirable to some and an essential part of vaping for others. A great deal of that throat hit comes from the PG in the liquid. 50% or higher amount of PG will create a feeling that is far closer to smoking than a 70% VG liquid, for someone who’s just making the switch from smoking the feeling of inhaling a vapour that is closely replicating the sensation of smoking can be important, for others they might be seeking the smoothest vape they can with very little throat hit.
So which ratio is right for you? The two most common ratios are 50/50 and 70/30. As a general rule 50/50 will offer an experience that is more like smoking. You will experience a throat hit similar to smoking, the vapour produced will look similar to the smoke from a cigarette and a liquid that has 50% VG will usually wick and taste better in most pod systems and typical mouth to lung, lower power ‘smoking replacement’ type devices. Liquids with a 70% VG will offer little throat hit and will feel very smooth when you inhale, the vapour produced will be denser and greater in volume and to get the best from many higher VG liquids you will need a dripper or sub-tank with larger coils and larger wicking ports for the liquid to pass through that are typically designed for a direct to lung style of vaping.
Nicotine strengths are available from 1.5mg to 20mg (the maximum strength allowed by UK law) and most commonly supplied as 3mg, 6mg, 12mg and 18mg. It would be easy to suggest that the more you smoked the higher nicotine level you will need when you switch. There is some truth in that statement but it is not quite as simple as that for a few reasons. Not all vaping devices create the same amount of vapour, the more vapour you are inhaling with each draw on your vaping device, the more nicotine you will be absorbing, and maybe obviously, the more time you spend vaping the more nicotine you will be inhaling. Put simply the amount of e-liquid you get through in a day will have a large effect on the right amount of nicotine you will need in the liquid to replace the nicotine you got through smoking.
The standard starting point recommendations are a 50/50 liquid in either 12mg or 18mg nicotine for pod systems, mouth to lung tanks and other lower powered, medium vapour producing devices. This will give you an experience that is very close to smoking. 70/30 liquid in 3mg or 6mg is the standard choice for most sub-tanks, drippers and any higher powered device designed to produce a lot of vapour. This will give you the smooth and cloudy vape that most direct to lung vapers prefer.