The world of vaping has a lot of jargon. There is no shortage of terminology is not easily ascertained without visiting a vape shop, which is increasingly difficult in the Covid-19 era, or a Google search is one reason why prefilled devices like vape pods and disposables have dominated the market. While vaping is more accessible than ever because of simplified devices, there are still some key concepts that are important to understand.
But vaping is not as mysterious as it seems and any former smoker can navigate the selection of devices on the market with just a bit of information. Better still, devices are becoming increasingly user friendly as technology is refined and manufacturers attempt to create easier to use devices.
But can no matter how easy devices become or how long lasting coils and pods grow, what you put in your device matters most. Which means it is in your best interest to be conversant in a couple concepts and are familiar with two abbreviations: PG and VG.
NIC SALT ELIQUIDS
Almost all vape juices contain a mix of vegetable glycerin (VG), propylene glycol (PG), nicotine and flavor. There are nicotine free eliquids but the vast majority do contain nicotine. There are two primary forms of nicotine: freebase and nicotine salts.
Understanding nicotine levels and nic salts is at least as important as understanding PG/VG ratios. For more information on nicotine salts, check out our feature: Intro to Nic Salts. Basically, nicotine salts are created when regular eliquid nicotine processed with benzoic acid. This reduces the pH level. A lower pH level means that more nicotine salts can be added to a given eliquid and it will still remain tolerable. Where regular nicotine gets awfully harsh by 24mg/ml strength, nic salts remain smooth at twice that level.
A few companies, Mr Salt-E in particular, experimented with lower nicotine nic salts. But these initiatives quickly fizzled out. In bottled eliquids, the vast majority of nic salts are sold in a 25 or 35mg/ml nic strength and a 50mg/ml strength.
Most nic salt eliquids use a 50/50 blend of PG and VG. So what in the world do PG and VG mean?
Now we're going to delve into how different ratios of VG and PG impact the vaping experience. Nic salts utilize 50/50 blends as the priority is smoothness and vape pods are generally more powerful than the original generation of cigalikes which use high-PG eliquids. There are exceptions, VGod uses a 70% VG mix and many will use 60 percent.
VEGETABLE GLYCERIN (VG)
VG can be viewed as the creator of clouds. When you vape a juice made with a high content of vegetable glycerin, you'll notice that the liquid is a little thicker and more viscous. Vegetable glycerin gives you a milder throat hit and flavor, so newer vapers might not prefer high-VG e-juices.
Higher VG content in an eliquid adds thickness to the actual eliquid and results in more vapor produced. This is why more powerful devices, especially subohm tanks, are used to vape this style of eliquid. Large ports are built into the coils to make sure the more viscous high VG formulas are still able to permeate the area around the heating element. This makes high-VG juices ideal for vapers who use mods or are into sub-ohm vaping (vaping with coils that are less than 1 ohm). Companies like Transistor, Beard and Cuttwood made their name with creative eliquids with a higher percentage of VG.
The flip side of the coin is that high-VG eliquids (60 percent or greater), will be too thick to vape with full efficiency in a classic ecig, cigalike or cartomier. It is simply too thick to effectively penetrate the wicking material and the temperature ramp up speed is not sufficient to generate massive clouds. People didn’t decide to vape larger box mods for fun. It does take lower resistance coils and higher wattage to effectively take advantage of the properties of high-VG eliquid.
PROPYLENE GLYCOL (PG)
If you are a former smoker looking for throat hits, chest burn and clearer flavor, you probably want an eliquid with more propylene glycol (PG). It is noticeably less thick and viscous than vegetable glycerin, which means it will fill your cartomizer more quickly.
An e-juice with a high content of propylene glycol is guaranteed to give you a more powerful throat hit than high-VG vape juice. If you're a smoker and you want a throat hit that feels like you're smoking a cigarette, you should vape an e-juice that is made up with a majority of propylene glycol. Flavor chasers sometimes prefer propylene glycol because it creates an intensely concentrated flavor. You'll get less vapor with higher PG formulas.
Nic salts essentially split the difference between the high-PG eliquids of cigalikes and high-VG eliquids that serve as box mod fuel. The reason is simple. Nic salts are designed for discrete mouth to lung vaping but their main selling point is smoothness.