Best eliquid, PG and VG explained
Best eliquid for ecig coils and harsh PG and smooth VG ingredients explained
There's no one simple answer as to which e-liquid will be the best for you and your e-cigarette type and brand, but if you take the time to get the gist of this general guide you should achieve optimum flavour and performance sooner, and avoid too many trials and errors.
If you're new to vaping, we understand it's very confusing, but hopefully this page will help you.
You may need to have some patience to experiment with different flavours, and if you have a variable voltage/wattage or temperature control device, you will find that more or less power or heat is required to get the best out of any particular eliquid. When you get it just right, that's called the 'sweet spot'.
Different e-liquids will taste different depending on the coils you're using. You may be disappointed with the flavour in one of your tanks, but it may taste great if you have other type you can try it with.
If you don't know what a coil or atomizer head is and if you don't know which coil you have, look at it closely (you may need a magnifying glass) as it is usually written on them in very small writing. You'll be looking for something like 1.8Ω.
Buy a small amount to try first because eliquid is non returnable.
See also our This will tell you about things like adjusting the airflow control, any power settings you might have, the style of the mouthpiece, and more, and how these things can affect the taste and the flavour of your e-liquid.
Coils of 1.5 ohm - 2.5 ohm (Ω)
If you're just getting to grips with vaping, and you're using a standard type of coil, it's ideal to start with a 70% PG eliquid. This blend is thinner than those with more VG content and will allow for more discreet vaping as it produces less vapour, plus it's less likely to clog your coil as quickly.
Please note, due to the European TPD regulations due to take effect on 20th May 2017, this range is likely to reduce drastically due to the costs involved by the manufacturers concerned with registering each and every flavour, blend and nicotine strength.
You can also use thicker 50% VG eliquid which will give you more vapour, however, if you don't have a variable power device you're advised to select from the Vapemate flavours first as the UFA Vape juices (in 0mg, 3mg, and 6mg) are thicker and better when the power is increased.
Some of the 50/50 flavours, especially the UFA eliquids in low nicotine strengths don't have a lot of flavour at 10W but amazing flavour at higher wattage. Please bear in mind a variable device is recommended with these flavours.
Coils of 0.5 ohm - 1.0 ohm
Generally suited with anything from the thicker 50% VG right through to 75% VG, and in some cases even higher VG. Start with 50% VG and use that as a guide, buy just a small amount until you know how your coil is performing with this type of juice.
Coils of 0.4 ohm and lower
You really need to be looking at the thicker (and dearer) juices at this level to avoid leaks and performance issues. The amount of VG will usually need to be anything from 60% - 90% VG.
Remember, if you're not a sub-Ohm vaper, you may well be disappointed if you buy some of the more expensive thicker VG eliquids because they're designed for sub-Ohm coils and greater power output, and more heat. It's likely you won't experience the full flavour and complexity with the likes of a standard 1.8 Ohm coil, and you may wonder what all the hype is about.
The higher PG liquids usually have a sharper throat hit. That ‘kick’ at the back of the throat is stronger in eliquids that have more PG than VG, although of course it depends on the nicotine strength you choose.
eLiquid with a higher VG content tends to provide a smoother vape and diminished throat hit. VG doesn't carry the flavour quite as well as PG but but this can be countered by using more power to produce more vapour.
70% PG / 30% VG - this blend is higher in PG and it's best for those who enjoy a more intense flavour and throat hit with low to moderate vapour clouds
50% PG / 50% VG - the middle ground between throat hit and vapour
70% VG / 30% PG - VG gives a smoother inhale with a lot more vapour
0mg / 0% - zero nicotine content, vaping for enjoyment not nicotine addiction
3mg / 0.3% - either for very light smokers or for dripping with high VG liquid
6mg / 0.6% - for low level smokers of light cigarettes
12mg / 1.2% - for low level smokers of standard cigarettes
18mg / 1.8% - for 20 a day smokers of standard cigarettes
If you have a device with adjustable airflow, it helps to bear in mind the following:
- Greater airflow = more clouds (more vapour)
- Less airflow = fewer clouds (less vapour) = more flavour
With lesser airflow you are inhaling a greater concentration of vapourised liquid. When you increase the air flowing through it increases the volume of the vapour and usually diminishes the flavour.
Sub ohm vaping
If you’re using sub ohm coils (coils of less than 1.0 ohm) remember you’re very likely to want to use low nicotine strength e-liquid with a reasonable amount of VG. Bear in mind, the greater the nicotine strength and the more PG in your liquid is likely to hit far too hard for most vapers.
Useful links to our pre-mixed e-liquid
Avoid dry hits
When you're using cotton coils, it's very important to ensure the coil is thoroughly saturated in e-liquid to avoid dry hits (to avoid the cotton inside the coil getting burnt). The burning releases unhealthy chemicals, a bit like burnt toast, and although different chemicals are produced/released, neither are considered good and should be avoided.
Main ingredients in e-liquid
You will find different e-liquid manufacturers have different ingredients and mix ratios in their products.
The most common base ingredients in e-liquid are propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerine (VG).
You will find that some e-cig manufacturers may use one or the other exclusively, while many manufacturers will use a combination of the two.
All the e-liquids on our website are a mix of PG and VG, the ratios for which are stated against each and every product.
The base liquid is used to produce the vapour that looks like smoke and it acts as a delivery agent to carry the flavour and the nicotine.
There are 3 main groups of ingredients:
- Base liquid (PG and/or VG)
- Flavourings (natural and artificial)
Expect to find some preservatives and/or stabilisers in e-liquid generally, especially if you're not buying a high quality brand, although Red Vape, one of the brands we stock, clearly list their ingredients and these additives do not feature.
Why choose propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine?
Here’s a quick summary of propylene glycol versus vegetable glycerine:
Propylene glycol (PG)
Propylene glycol provides the best throat hit and it’s thinner than vegetable glycerine. It doesn’t make quite such thick vapour, but it doesn’t leave behind as much residue as VG. This means the atomiser or coil head (the bit that gets hot and heats up the liquid) doesn’t have to work so hard so it tends to last longer.
Because PG is thinner than VG, it is often the preferred e-liquid to be used with tank-style e-cigarettes. Examples of tank cigs are the eGo C, the Joyetech eCab, Kanger EVOD, etc - they all have a tank you fill with liquid and they work with an atomizer head or a coil head inside them. It is ok to use VG in tank-style e-cigs but a 100% VG liquid is far more likely to clog the coil head and reduce its life or need more cleaning.
Although you will find e-liquids referred to as PG (as we do), it is most likely that they have a VG content too, anything from 15 - 50%, depending on the manufacturer and the particular flavour (each flavour is likely to have slightly different quantities).
Propylene glycol tends to be more popular but it very much comes down to personal preferences.
Please see the important notes further down the page because some people will not be able to tolerate PG.
Vegetable glycerine (VG)
VG makes for a sweeter vape which creates more vapour and it has a thicker consistency. The advantage of using vegetable glycerine as the predominant base in e-liquid is because as it has a thicker composition it makes for a denser and more realistic-looking vapour.
VG tends to have a sweeter taste but generally delivers less of the ‘throat-hit’ than PG-based liquids. Users who like a thicker vapour may prefer VG-based liquids but ensure your kit is ok with VG, because tank-style kits with a coil head or atomizer head can to clog much faster on liquid with a high content of VG. Tanks should generally be ok with 50/50 70/30 etc.
VG, being thicker, does mean it's less prone to leaking.
So as with many things, there are advantages and disadvantages, the thickness of vegetable glycerine is also its weakness. When vegetable glycerine comes in contact with the heating element in the e-cigarette it leaves behind a residue, which means more cleaning and shorter life of components such as the atomizer head or coil head.
Please see the important notes further down the page because some people will not be able to tolerate VG.
New users please note
If you’re new to electronic cigarettes you will probably soon realise that getting the right e-liquid is a matter of trial and error. One person’s favourite may not be another's. The same flavours will vary from one manufacturer to another, and different batches for that matter, and there are other factors including the kit being used that can affect your vaping experience including of course the ratio of PG and VG.
Choosing your preferred e-liquid flavour and strength isn’t difficult, just be aware you may not get it right first time. We recommend smaller quantities in the first instance.
What is propylene glycol in e-cigs?
Propylene glycol is a colourless, virtually odourless, clear viscous liquid with a faintly sweet taste. Propylene glycol comes in different grades of forms. In one form it’s used in pharmaceuticals for example, and in another it has industrial uses in antifreeze and de-icer. Pharmaceutical-grade is its purest form, and food-grade is one step below that.
The propylene glycol that’s in e-cigarette e-liquids is the form that’s generally recognised as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration and along with being in our pharmaceutical formulations, toiletries, cosmetics, food and soft drinks etc. It's also used in disco smoke in nightclubs.
Important information about propylene glycol side effects in e-cigs
Propylene glycol is a humectant which is a word for something that attracts moisture. This means it can make your throat dry, and it could leave it feeling sore. Propylene glycol is converted to lactic acid in the body and this could cause muscle ache in some people. The majority of people find that drinking more water or fluids helps to flush the lactic acid through the body more quickly. The sore throat should disappear on its own within a day or two if sufficient fluids are taken.
Some people could have an allergy to propylene glycol. Allergy symptoms can include sweating, rash, diarrhoea and a dry, irritated or sore throat. If you think you’re suffering from any of these symptoms discontinue use and try a vegetable glycerine-based e-liquid.
What is vegetable glycerine in e-cigs?
Vegetable glycerine is used in much the same way as propylene glycol above, to increase the vapour produced by the electronic cigarette. It too is a colourless, virtually odourless, sweet-tasting viscous liquid and has similar uses, ie pharmaceutical formulations, personal care products, cosmetics, and it's in our food and drinks.
Important information about vegetable glycerine side effects in e-cigs
The most common side effect of inhaling e-liquid containing vegetable glycerine is a dry mouth, sore throat, and increased thirst. If these symptoms are experienced they will usually only last a few days as the body gets used to the vegetable glycerine. As per propylene glycol, these symptoms can be helped by drinking more water and liquids whilst you get used to your e-cigarette and its e-liquid.
Unfortunately, there will be people unable to tolerate the PG and VG ingredients in e-liquid and if after trying either one for a few days you find that unpleasant side effects persist, discontinue use.