What is e-liquid? To put it simply, e-liquid, also known as vape liquid, vape juice, and e-juice, is the flavoured liquid that is placed into a vape device to create vapour. The vapour is produced when the device heats the liquid, and this is what you inhale when vaping. Many people expect vape liquids to be full of chemicals and assume the manufacturing process uses many ingredients; this is not the case. In the UK, e-liquids are made from a maximum of five components in compliance with the Tobacco Products Directive to ensure safety. These components are nicotine, vegetable glycerine (VG), propylene glycol (PG), flavourings and distilled water; many brands offer a nicotine-free option for those who wish to enjoy vaping but have never smoked before.
When you begin your vaping journey, you’ll need to choose a vape liquid that is suitable for you. However, it isn’t as simple as picking your favourite flavour; you will need to consider a few factors before you make your decision. In this guide, we’ll help you understand the different aspects of vape liquids so that you can find the right one for you.
What PG/VG Ratio Do You Need?
The exact ratio of your vape liquids components will differ, depending on the technique you use for vaping, whether you prefer MTL or DL. Before we get into the ratios suitable for the different hardware and styles of vaping, what are PG and VG?
- Propylene glycol – PG is a food-safe chemical that you’ll find in most consumable goods and plays a role in carrying the flavourings and nicotine to enable proper vapourisation. For those who MTL vape, which is the most popular method for vaping, you’ll need a vape liquid with a higher PG content. PG is more easily vapourised than VG, and you don’t require specialised devices to use e-liquids with a high PG ratio.
- Vegetable glycerine – VG is a derivative of plant oil, often used in the food industry as a sweetener and thickener. It is also used to carry the flavourings and nicotine to facilitate vapourisation. In vape liquids, VG is used to create large clouds of vapour, often seen being used for tricks in popular videos online, and requires specialised hardware to be used properly.
Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine also provide the throat hit, a term in the vaping industry that refers to the satisfying feeling at the back of your throat when you vape; many ex-smokers will recognise this from smoking. We’ve created a simple guide below for which ratios are suitable for the technique you use when vaping; for more information on vape liquids, check out Aquavape’s interesting article.
100% PG: Suitable for MTL vaping, this ratio will provide you with the best delivery of flavours and the most significant throat hit. However, this is an uncommon ratio that you are unlikely to find in most retailers.
70% PG / 30% VG: Suitable for MTL vaping, this ratio delivers a strong bite with a smaller vapour cloud. This ratio is also suitable for those using vape liquids with high levels of nicotine.
50% PG / 50% VG: An excellent starting ratio for those who are unsure which technique they will use. This ratio will provide you with a slight bite in the throat hit while producing a decent cloud on the exhale.
30% PG / 70% VG: Suitable for DL vaping, this ratio provides lots of vapour with very little throat hit. You can enjoy a smooth feeling while producing large clouds when you exhale. This ratio is better for those who want to use an e-liquid with low nicotine levels.
100% VG: Suitable for DL vaping, this ratio is typically only used for those with an allergy to PG or those interested in competitive cloud chasing. There is almost no throat hit with this ratio, and it requires specialised equipment to avoid issues with your hardware.
Choosing A Nicotine Strength
When you’re looking for the right vape liquid, choosing the right nicotine strength is vital. In the UK, the maximum allowed strength is 20mg, which you will also see written as 2%. The higher the milligrams or percentage you see on the bottles, the higher the nicotine content. There is a wide range of liquids to choose from, and e-liquids with more nicotine provide a more enhanced throat hit than those with less. If you are an ex-smoker or looking to give up cigarettes in favour of vaping, you need to consider how much you are used to smoking and begin with a nicotine strength that is similar to your experience.
- 20 or more cigarettes a day – 18mg to 20mg (1.8% to 2%)
- 15 cigarettes a day – 15mg (1.5%)
- 5 to 15 cigarettes a day – 10mg (1%)
- 1 to 5 cigarettes a day – 5mg (0.5%)
If you use the DL vaping technique, you will need a much lower nicotine strength, as vaping with this method can cause discomfort with higher levels. People using this style of vaping typically use vape liquids with nicotine levels between 3mg to 6mg.