PG vs. VG | Understanding the Differences

PG and VG are terms that may seem confusing to newcomers in vaping. PG (Propylene Glycol) and VG (Vegetable Glycerine) are ingredients that are combined with water, nicotine, and food flavorings to make e-juice or e-liquid. E-juice refers to the liquid that is used in electronic cigarettes for producing vapor and simulating smoking. Proper knowledge of PG vs. VG can improve your vaping experience greatly. 

PG/VG are odorless liquids which belong to the alcohol chemical class. Despite that name, they are not intoxicating. PG is a colorless and odorless liquid which is commonly used to carry flavors in food products. VG, on the other hand, is a thick, and sweet organic liquid made from vegetable oil. These two elements are considered safe by the FDA, hence they are used in skin products such as soap and lotions, and food additives. What is the difference between PG vs. VG? Let’s explore each in detail!

PG vs. VG

Both PG/VG are the base ingredients that hold the nicotine and flavors in suspension allowing e-cigarettes to produce vapor. How do PG and VG differ?

  • PG is thinner than VG. PG has a runny consistency while VG is thicker. Hence, PG is more easily absorbed by wicks and cartomizers than VG.
  • Gunk: due to its thick consistency, VG easily clogs vaporizers. VG tanks require more cleaning than those that use PG.
  • Throat hit: PG is a powerful humectant. Hence, it produces a throat hit similar to that of tobacco cigarettes. VG tends to have a lower throat hit compared to PG. Also, PG produces a more pure flavor than VG. Because of its sweet taste, VG makes e-liquid flavor difficult to detect.
  • Temperature resistance: VG based e-liquids are more temperature resistant than PG ones. This means that they require a higher wattage to reach the sweet spot.
  • Vapor production: High quantities of VG are suitable for cloud lovers. VG produces more vapor than PG because of its thick consistency. On the downside, too much vapor reduces the flavor.  
  • Atomizer friendliness: Due to its runniness and low density, PG is quickly absorbed by wicks, and it is less likely to gunk up the heating elements of your atomizer. Therefore, PG based atomizers require less cleaning. VG, on the other hand, is highly dense, less quickly absorbed, and it forms gunk quickly. VG based atomizers wear out quickly, and they require more cleaning and maintenance.
  • Allergic reactions: a small percentage of people are reported to have mild allergic reactions to PG such as skin rush. VG however, does not cause allergic reactions. 

What do different amounts of PG vs. VG mean?

Some users prefer 100% PG or VG in their e-liquids. However, some prefer a blend of both ingredients. Different quantities of PG and VG produce differing results for users. High PG concentration means more of a throat hit. For cloud lovers, more VG will give you huge fluffy clouds. What do differing amounts mean?

  • 80/20 (PG vs. VG): users using this blend get little vapor production, and a strong throat hit. This blend is very friendly to atomizers, and it does not wear out tanks quickly. 
  • 60/40 (PG vs. VG): this blend is suitable for users who prefer decent vapor with a noticeable, but not too overpowering throat hit.
  • 50/50 (PG vs. VG):  This blend can produce the most throat hit when combined with a high strength of nicotine. The clouds in this blend tend to be less dense due to high PG concentration. It gives a stronger cigarette feel than any other blend.
  • 40/60 (PG vs. VG): for noticeably larger clouds and a good throat hit, this blend is the best. It mimics the traditional cigarette. It gives users decent amounts of clouds to blow without destroying the flavor.
  • 20/80 (PG vs. VG):  high vapor production with very small throat hit. This blend is sweet smelling and sweet tasting. It produces dense clouds. However, it doesn’t wick well, and it is hard to taste the flavors. This blend is most suitable for those who drip their e-liquids using RDA.

Which is the appropriate amount for me?

There is no appropriate amount. In fact, the vaping community is divided into half when it comes to usage, due to the notable differences between PG/VG. The appropriate amount depends on personal preferences and the results that you are seeking. If you want a high throat hit, similar to that of smoking cigarettes, ensure that you use more PG. if you just love blowing huge puffs of fluffy clouds in the air, then VG is the best for you 

Which blends are suitable for which types of coils/builds/wattage?

Aside from desired effects, if you are a newbie, you should also consider the vape coils you will be using when choosing between the two. 

Top coil Clearomizers: Those that have atomizer heads at the top of the central stem rely on wicks to soak up liquids. Hence, thick e-liquids do not work well with them. They are generally suitable for PG based e-liquids. When they fail to wick well, flavor is affected. You can use them for 100% PG or the 80/20 PG/VG blend. 

Bottom coil: Coils have their wicks at the bottom of the central stem. Basically, they make gravity work for you. Their wicks do not have to suck the e-liquid up to the coil. 

Sub ohm tanks do well with high VG ratio e-juices. They support coils under one ohm in resistance. They are less resistant and have more extensive juice channels which allow more juice, even thick juice, on the wick. They also demand more heat.

Different e-juices require different wattage and temperature settings because flavorings vaporize at different temperatures. If you are after great flavor, you will need a variable wattage device. To enjoy the experience, it is advisable to always start at a low temperature and keep increasing it till you hit the sweet spot. As mentioned earlier, different flavors vaporize at different temperatures. One flavor might hit the sweet spot at 20W while another might hit it at 30W.

VG has a higher resistance to heat, so it basically requires high wattage. PG, on the other hand, is sensitive to heat and very high volts can make it taste burned. 

When is it appropriate to use which blend and ratio?

A one-size-fits-all approach might not be the best when vaping. You might want to get different results from your previous experience, and the PG/VG blend and ratio can help you achieve that. You can use varying ratios for:

Throat hit: if you are an ex-smoker or you just enjoy an intense throat hit, blends with high proportions of PG are the best for you 

Stealth vaping: to keep your vaping activity low-key, especially in public, high ratios of PG are the best. VG produces a lot of vapor and high ratios will draw attention to you.

Smoothness: VG is excellent for a smoother feeling on the throat and a thicker one in the mouth. However, using too much power to produce vapor might cause dry hits on your throat and ultimately destroy your device. 

Cloud chasing: since VG produces dense vapor when highly concentrated, higher ratios of VG are excellent when cloud chasing.  

These differences between PG and VG are essential for anyone who wants to enjoy vaping. Remember to consider ratios and blends to get the results you desire to get from vaping. Also, remember that wattage matters a lot. PG does not do well with very high wattage because it burns. VG requires high wattage, but if too high, your device might get damaged. Once you master these differences, each vaping experience will be enjoyable for you!

You may also like our article on Dripping vs. Tanks!

Caroline Sparks

Writer, Vaper, Advocate Have an idea? Comment below!

  • Norma says:

    Regarding the above comment – Allergic reactions: a small percentage of people are reported to have mild allergic reactions to PG such as skin rush. VG however, does not cause allergic reactions.
    FYI – for those like me with food allergies, particularly to soy, it is advisable to confirm the origins of the VG. Most is soy based. I DIY my liquid so I can acquire palm based VG.

  • Yolanda Villa says:

    I find the article to be balanced and accurate – which is why it is SO distressing that liquid vendors, including Mt. Baker, keep upping the VG proportions in available liquids and making it nearly impossible to find 80/20 PG to VG blends! Sidenote, it is also VERY distressing that nicotine levels of 2.4 percent and higher are also becoming nearly impossible to find!

  • Lisa Mullet says:

    Great article.

  • William says:

    Yeah! Both of those trends bother me as well. I prefer 50:50 PG/VG and 36 mg/ml nicotine.
    There is one statement in the article that stood out: “… if you just love blowing huge puffs of fluffy smoke clouds …”.

    They are NOT “smoke clouds”, they are “vapor clouds”. If you are getting smoke, then you are burning the juice – highly undesirable.

  • Donna McLaughlin says:

    Thank you for this enlightening article.

  • Larry says:

    Very helpful! This confirms why I prefer Max VG with just 3% nicotine. I use a sub ohm tank and vape at between 39 to 40 watts. I don’t want a harsh throat hit, I prefer a smooth sweet flavor, because I don’t want it to feel like i’m still smoking cigarettes. That was, after all, the reason I switched to vaping. The idea was to taper off and eventually quit, not stay stuck on stupid. I’m now in my 3rd year and life is much better these days.

  • Larry says:

    Correction: “This confirms why I prefer Max VG with just 3 mg/ml nicotine.”

  • Peter Ayliffe says:

    My first try at vaping gave me rashes and ugly sores all over. I don’t remember what blend PG:VG I used.
    I want to start again. Thing is, since last time, I have learned that I have Type 2 Diabetes. Could it be that juices contain sugar at a level that could have caused the rashes and sores?
    Any advice would be appreciated.

  • Gerry says:

    You didn’t mention “VG film” from the VG in e-liquids…

    After switching from “Max-VG” e-liquids to “70PG/30VG”…my home/car windows (and TV/laptop screens) stay MUCH cleaner…

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  • Michael Brindley says:

    I prefer more pg than vg!

  • Tom Monfort says:

    I hope anyone new to vaping and in the process of trying to quit smoking, will appreciate information like this in helping kick the habit. I started smoking when I was 15(1965) and was finally able to quit successfully last August. That’s almost 52 years of smoking tobacco, along with 40+ years of smoking the evil marijuana. All those years of smoking were rough on the throat, which was an obstacle to vaping. It didn’t take much to trigger coughing and trying to vape was difficult, as even a very small hit would make vaping almost an impossible alternative to smoking. Last August, I finally found the right combination of willpower, a very real realization of killing myself every time I lit up and what I had learned about VG vs PG, nicotine, a good MOD for controlling power/temperature and air flow, I quit smoking. VG and reduced added nicotine, are easier on the throat and MOD settings and airflow make a difference on flavor and taste. Most juice I use is 20% PG/80% VG with no nicotine and I use rebuildable tanks. I hope anyone trying to quit smoking through vaping, will get use sources like this blog to find what will work for you, now, and not take 50+ years to quit smoking.

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