How to Choose E-Liquid: The Definitive Guide
If you’re new to the world of vaping, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the huge selection of e-juice available to fill your device. In fact, there are literally hundreds of different juice suppliers. From DIY home brewers, to local mom-and-pop shops, all the way up to multi-national e-liquid companies.
Which option is right for you and how do you choose the right e-liquid for your setup? Here are some important factors to consider:
Only Reputable E-Juice Companies
All e-liquid is made up of the same four ingredients: propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), nicotine and added flavoring. But are they all created equal? You can risk it with cheaply produced Chinese imports or substandard DIY home brews, but we strongly suggest you don’t. Instead, look for a high quality, American-made e-liquid with only USP-grade PG/VG and laboratory-grade nicotine.
The USP (United States Pharmacopeia) is the official public safety authority for pharmaceuticals. This includes all prescription and over–the–counter medicines, dietary supplements and food ingredients manufactured or sold in the United States.
The USP sets the standard for purity, strength, quality, and consistency on all of these consumer products, and they’re critical to public health. USP standards are used and recognized in more than 130 countries. Bypassing them means that you’re more likely to be exposed to harmful contaminants or toxins in your e-liquid.
Importers and DIYers can also use USP-grade ingredients, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that their products are up-to-par. Clean facilities, laboratory procedures and good manufacturing practices are all important aspects in producing consistent, safe, high-quality e-liquid. Would you prefer to have your e-juice mixed in a lab by a trained chemist, or by an unqualified enthusiast in their basement? Look for reputable American suppliers that follow strict protocols!
* All e-liquid featured on Cig Buyer.com is USP-grade and produced in a lab.
What’s the Difference Between PG & VG?
E-juice consists of a propylene glycol (PG) and / or vegetable glycerin (VG) base with nicotine and added flavoring. The first step is finding a quality supplier using USP-grade ingredients. Then, it’s time to decide which PG/VG combination will create the perfect and most satisfying vape.
PG and VG have slightly different qualities so it’s important to understand how they’ll affect your experience. You’ll find e-liquids with various PG/VG ratios, so here’s what makes each of these ingredients unique:
PG (Propylene Glycol) Qualities
PG is the most commonly used base ingredient in e-juice. It’s used in thousands of consumer products, is FDA-approved and widely considered safe. PG is very thin and tasteless and is known for producing an excellent throat hit. That’s the burning sensation in the back of your throat when you take a drag – similar to a real cigarette.
Because it doesn’t have any taste, it doesn’t affect the e-liquid flavoring. This is why people often associate it with more flavorful and accurate-tasting vapes. In addition, it’s thinner quality means that it’s more easily absorbed by the polyfill inside e-cigarette cartomizers. The low density also means that it won’t build up on the heating element or wicks as fast as VG-rich e-liquids.
On the downside, PG doesn’t produce quite as much vapor as VG. Unfortunately, a small percentage of people have mild allergic reactions to propylene glycol, such as rash or upset stomach. If that’s the case,you may be forced to choose VG as an alternative.
High PG Overview
- Strong throat hit
- Crisp and accurate flavors
- Less gunk / build up
- Lower vapor production
- May cause allergic reactions
VG (Vegetable Glycerin) Qualities
Like PG, vegetable glycerin (or vegetable glycerol) is FDA approved and widely considered safe. But rather than being chemically produced in a lab it’s 100% natural – derived from vegetable / plant oils. Because of it’s thicker nature, VG tends to produce thicker and more satisfying clouds of vapor than PG-based e-liquids. It’s thicker quality also means that it will build up more quickly on your vaping gear, requiring more frequent cleaning and maintenance.
Unlike PG which is odorless and tasteless, vegetable glycerin has a slightly sweet aftertaste. Depending on who you ask, VG may or may not impact the overall flavor. Although it’s usually overpowered by the other ingredients used in the mix, it may slightly alter the intended taste of your e-juice. However, most people don’t notice.
High VG Overview
- Excellent vapor production
- Option for those with PG allergies
- Quicker build up / more cleaning
- Softer throat hit
- Less accurate flavor
Which PG/VG Ratio is Best for Me?
You’ll find e-juice in a variety of different PG/VG ratios – 50/50, 60/40, 80/20 and 100% PG or 100% VG. If you prefer more flavor and a stronger throat hit, then higher-PG e-liquid will probably suit you well. If you prefer more vapor and less throat hit, then VG will offer a more satisfying experience.
The only way you’ll know which PG/VG ratio is right for you is to experiment. If you’re unsure, start out with a decent mix of both (ie: 50/50 or 60/40 PG/VG). This way you’ll get the best of both worlds.
If you feel like you’re lacking flavor – up the amount of PG. If the vapor seems weak, try more VG. By making small adjustments with each batch, eventually you’ll find perfect PG/VG mix.
Other Factors to Consider – Flavor & Nicotine
There are literally hundreds, if not THOUSANDS, of e-liquid flavors. Just like determining the right PG/VG mix, you’ll need to do some experimentation to figure out which flavors are the most appealing. Just because you really enjoy coffee, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll enjoy vaping coffee flavors.
Many companies offer trial sizes. We strongly suggest that you try out a few different varieties to determine which ones are the most desirable. Eventually you’ll form some preferences (sweet, spicy, fruity, etc.) that will help you in the decision making process. Once you find a few options you like, you can stick with them or look for similar varieties that could also be appealing.
In regards to nicotine, you can often determine how much you need by evaluating the cigarettes you smoked prior to vaping. Heavy smokers who smoke full-flavored cigarettes often need 24mg or higher to satisfy their needs. Not only will more nicotine satisfy stronger cravings, but it also generates a deeper and more satisfying throat hit. This helps to replicate the feel a full-flavored cigarette.
Moderate smokers with milder cravings should consider 12mg or 18mg, and light smokers usually prefer 3mg or 6mg. One of the beautiful things about e-cigs is your ability to lower your nicotine level (and consumption) over time.
Experimentation Never Ends…
Once you’ve found a reputable e-juice supplier you can trust, it’s up to you to find the right flavor. Yes, you may get lucky on your first try. But for most, experimenting with different companies, flavors and PG/VG blends may be necessary to create the ideal experience.
Keep in mind that there are thousands of options, and that your preferences are likely to change over time. The experimentation process never ends for many vapers. VARIETY… it’s just one more thing that make e-cigarettes and vaping great!