What Every New Vaper Needs to Know About E-Juice
If you’ve been reading our Guide for New Vapers in order, you now know enough about the hardware, or vape gear, it’s time to look at the ‘fuel’ that powers the whole thing: the all-important e-juice. There are various types of e-liquid, some more suitable for particular set-ups than others. In this section we’ll look at what e-juice is made of, and the various types on offer. We’ll also dispel some of the common myths and scare-stories, and tell you exactly what you need to be aware of when buying your first bottle of juice.
What IS e-Juice?
E-juice, also known as ‘e-liquid’, is simply the liquid that is converted into vapor by your vaping equipment. It consists of four key elements: PG, VG, nicotine and flavoring. The ratio of PG and VG varies, and this has an important impact on mouth and throat sensations when vaped. Some vaping set-ups only work properly with certain levels of PG or VG. You can buy E-juice in a vast range of flavors, each with varying levels of nicotine, and without nicotine. These are usually purchased online or from dedicated vaping shops, though some experienced vapers make their own homebrew e-liquid. E-juice is poured into the tank or clearomizer/cartomizer, where it is then heated by the battery and atomizer and converted into vapor to be inhaled. Now let’s look at the elements in more detail.
PG & VG - What Are They?
PG and VG are the clear, odorless liquids that form the bulk of all e-juice. The two liquids have a very different consistency, and each provide distinct mouth and throat sensations when vaped. When heated, they produce vapor that can be inhaled, making them an ideal solution to carry nicotine and flavoring. All modern e-liquid uses one of these liquids, with the vast majority using varying ratios of both. Most people find 100% PG e-juice too rough on the throat, and for that reason it’s popularity is miniscule in comparison to what is referred to as MAX VG e-juice. It’s vital to choose the correct PG/VG ratio for your vaping equipment and your vaping ‘desires’, as the wrong type can provide an unsatisfactory vape, damage your equipment, and at the very least, provide a vape experience you won’t find satisfying. Finding the right e-juice for you is probably the most important endeavor you will take on as a new Vaper.
PG is the abbreviation for Propylene Glycol. This a petroleum by-product with no color or scent, and has a thin, watery consistency. PG is an important ingredient in plus ohm vaping, as these smaller coils typically require a thinner liquid. Most Cig-A-Likes and pre-filled cartridges use high PG e-liquid, but with modern plus-ohm juice, it’s more common to find a ratio of 50/50 PG and VG. PG is also known as the ‘flavor carrier‘ in a PG/VG solution, whereas VG is known as the ‘cloud maker‘. As a flavor carrier, PG holds more of the flavoring in the solution and is the reason some high PG e-liquids hit more powerfully, and the flavor intensity is so much stronger.
Throat Hit – When vaped, PG provides a noticeable ‘throat hit’. Many vapers feel this is similar to that experienced when smoking tobacco. Ex-smokers often crave this ‘kick’, and may prefer juice with high levels of PG.
Flavor – PG is a better carrier for flavor than VG so any taste will feel more vibrant in a PG-based ejuice.
Stealth Vaping – PG produces less vapor when exhaled, so if you want to keep your vaping low-key, you may want to choose a juice with higher PG.
Studies – The FDA has described PG as “generally recognized as safe” as a food additive. Most studies of PG so far haven’t looked at it in vapor form, though an experiment in 1947 decreed that inhaling PG was ‘completely harmless’.
Anti-Freeze – There have been ill-informed claims that PG is a dangerous substance used in anti-freeze. This is incorrect. They are mistakenly referring to ethyl glycol, – a toxic chemical which is not used in vaping.
Pets – PG is safe for human but can harm cats, with links to Heinz body anaemia. Be especially careful when vaping around your pet cat, especially with high PG e-ejuice.
Allergic – A small number of people find PG is an irritant, causes rashes or similar reactions. This is rare but if you think it affects you, move towards 100% VG juice. It isn’t as common as mixed blends but some vendors do offer this.
Symptoms – Dry mouth, sore throat and increased thirst are some common minor side effects of PG, particularly for new vapers. Be sure drink more water than usual when vaping PG-based juice, especially for the first few weeks of vaping. Read this article on Dehyration
VG is short for Vegetable Glycerin. It is safe for vegetarians as it’s a natural chemical, derived from vegetable oil. e-Juice containing high levels of VG usually require a sub ohm tank, as this liquid is thick and viscous and can block up smaller tanks. Don’t be confused by terms such as High VG, Max VG, and PG-Free. Most PG-Free e-juice has the viscosity of a 50:50 PG/VG e-liquid, and 70% VG / 30% PG e-juice is considered High VG and can be used in some plus-ohm vaping environments, while MAX VG is considered to be 90-100% VG e-juice and is usually very thick. Lastly, using a high VG e-juice means you will vape through more e-juice than you will with 50:50 or high PG formulas, but the payoff is considered worth the extra consumption. Temperature Control vape gear can also help reduce e-liquid consumption by allowing for lower wattage settings while maintaining warmer vapor, a desired effect.
Smoothness – VG gives a thick mouthfeel sensation to when vaping. The throat hit from high VG ejuice is much smoother than that from PG, meaning it is best suited for sub-ohm vaping. The flavor is slightly muted compared to PG, but this is resolved by using high battery power to produce more vapor and more taste, along with more modern and sophisticated ways in creating e-juice recipes.
Clouds – Some experienced vapers engage in ‘cloud-chasing’. This is where vapers compete to produce thick, dense clouds of vaper. If this appeals to you then high VG juice is the best option.
Studies – VG is widely regarded as one of the most harmless substances on earth. It has low toxicity when consumed, and little chance of irritation to the skin or eye. A 2008 study looking at inhaling VG also found minimal risks. More and more Vapers are beginning to discover the benefits of higher VG e-juice for all types of vaping, except in the cig-alike battery/cartomizer.
Allergies – The risk of being allergic to VG is extremely rare. If you are allergic to coconut oil or palm oil then there may be some issues, but this is relatively uncommon.
Symptoms – Common side effects of vaping high VG e-liquid is a dry mouth and increased thirst. Drink plenty of water and take a break from vaping when needed. Read this article about vaping and dehydration.
What Is Nicotine:
Nicotine is a substance extracted (mostly) from the tobacco plant, and for the purposes of vaping it is suspended in a PG solution. It acts as both stimulant and relaxant, and is regarded as both physically and psychologically addictive. Nicotine is not a carcinogen, and in e-juice comes without the dangerous substances in cigarettes, such as tar, and is a less harmful way to control your nicotine habit. Tobacco consists of 43 known carcinogens, e-juice with nicotine comes with zero carcinogens. E-liquid can be bought without nicotine but it is usually sold with a range of strengths, such as 3mg and 6mg (low), 12mg and 16mg (medium) and 24mg (high). It should be noted that when Vapers use a High VG e-liquid and sub-ohm tanks with medium-high wattage vaping instruments, the need for high nicotine strengths is eliminated. Most Vapers using this type of vape gear need no more than 6mg and 3mg of nicotine to get their nicotine ‘fix’, while working down to zero-nic e-liquids is much easier to attain. More and more Vapers are moving toward zero-nic e-juice while still enjoying the hand-to-mouth sensation and the delicious flavors of many e-liquids. Just because you use nicotine in your e-liquid to stop smoking cigarettes, you can easily move to lower and lower nicotine strengths until you are vaping e liquid with no nicotine.
What Do I Need To Know About Nicotine:
Harsh – Liquid nicotine can be harsh and peppery, meaning the higher you go the more it will change the taste of your liquid. This harshness also helps to provide a sharp throat kick, which can be useful for ex-smokers trying vaping for the first time.
Throat Hit – High nicotine can give a powerful throat hit, which is something many ex-smokers crave. However, juice with a high level of PG can also provide a satisfying throat hit.
Heavy Smoker – If you smoke heavily, it might be tempting to go for the high nicotine. Be aware that vaping is a very different from smoking and this might not be necessary if you find the correct balance between PG and VG on your vaping set-up.
Usage – If you vape heavily, taking a rapid series of draws like with cigarettes, the quick dose of high nicotine could cause you to feel sick and dizzy. Most users vape more casually, taking a draw more sporadically, only when they desire it. This latter method works best with a low level of nicotine. Many experienced vapers have reduced their nicotine intake over time, preferring juice with low, or even zero, nicotine.
Sub-Ohm – You need to be careful with your nicotine intake when sub-ohm vaping. As well increasing the amount of VG, you will usually need to reduce the level of nicotine. A sub-ohm vape is more powerful than standard vaping, meaning you consume more juice in a single hit -leading to a risk of mild nicotine overdose. Sub-ohm e-juice usually has 0mg, 3mg or 6mg levels of nicotine. It is not advised to use higher nicotine juice in a sub-ohm tank.
Poison – Nicotine is widely seen as a dangerous poison, and while it should be treated with caution, there is evidence that this is overstated. For decades, the lethal dose for adults has been set at 30-60mg but a recent 2013 study amended this limit to 500-1000mg. This is far beyond the level of nicotine in a typical bottle of e-liquid. Regardless, it is still a poison, so be sure to keep all items containing nicotine out of reach of pets and children.
Nausea – Inhaling too much nicotine can cause sickness and dizziness. The best solution, much like when someone has too much caffeine or alcohol, is to stop your consumption, wait for the nausea to pass, and be sure to reduce your nicotine level the next time. Don’t worry, the effects of vaping too much nicotine are so obvious, it’s practically impossible to go beyond the stage of mild nausea.
Side-effects – As well as being addictive, nicotine has other side effects. It has been shown to raise heart rate, elevate blood pressure and is not recommended during pregnancy. Alternatively, like caffeine it has beneficial effects on attention, memory and motor skills.
What Is Flavoring:
Flavoring is what makes your tastes so good. Some people extract flavors themselves, but this is a complex and often expensive process. Most people buy their flavors from major companies such as Flavor Art, TPA, Flavorah and more. Most flavorings from these companies were originally designed to be added to food but inventive vapers soon realised they could also be used in vaping. The range of flavors is vast, covering everything from strawberry, coffee and even bacon. Ejuice companies make their signature recipes from these flavors, blending various flavors at very specific ratios to create their fluids.
What Do I Need To Know About Flavoring:
Artificial – Almost all flavor concentrates are artificially created in laboratories. You can buy natural oils but these are often more expensive and not always suitable for vaping. Most concentrates are artificial but have the exact same chemical make-up as natural flavors, and many brands are creating delicious eliquid with organic and/or natural flavorings.
PG – Most concentrates are suspended in PG as this works as the best carrier. However, some companies offer a range of flavors suspended in VG, for vapers looking to create 100% VG juice.
Additives – Much like standard cooking, ejuice recipes often make use of additives to add a unique taste and mouthfeel to the juice. These include malic acid (sour) distilled water, sweeteners such as sucralose and ethyl maltol, and many more. These are particularly important when it comes to making DIY juice, which we will look at in more detail in a future article.
Popcorn Lung – A recent media scare story covered ‘popcorn lung’ in vaping. This is a lung disease first discovered in workers at a Missouri pop plant in 2000. It was caused by over-exposure to a substance called ‘diacetyl’, which can be found in many dessert-based flavors used in vaping. However, these risks are overstated. Indeed, a typical tobacco cigarette contains over 100 times diacetyl than in the equivalent vape, and has been proven to have minimal risk of causing popcorn lung in users. For more information read here. If you are still concerned about diacetyl, many companies state on their packaging whether they contain diacetyl or not.
While the components that make up e-juice are small in number, particularly when compared to tobacco, there are subtle variations which can have a major impact on your vaping experience. In this guide, we have provided you with the basic knowledge of all the factors beginners should be aware of. In our next section, we will look at your options in more detail, making fully-researched suggestions for all types of vaping needs.
Finally, when it comes to e-juice we strongly suggest trying as many varieties, including flavors, as you can. Go to your local shop and ask to try out juice suitable for plus and sub ohm vaping. Try different levels of nicotine and all the different flavors on offers. The choices are endless and everyone’s palate is different, so try as many types of e-liquid as possible. And when you finally hit that eureka moment and discover your perfect juice? You’ll never look back!
Spinfuel is known for its comprehensive e-liquid reviews, feel free to explore our reviews at your leisure, to guide you toward certain brands, flavors, and more.