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PROPYLENE GLYCOL AND VEGETABLE GLYCERIN

PG vs. VG: Understanding the Difference Between Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin

Regardless of which liquid you choose, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are the two main things you’ll be vaping. As well as finding out what the two ingredients – called PG and VG for short – actually are, there is another crucial issue for vapers: finding the right PG/VG ratio to suit your vaping preferences. The good news is that both PG and VG are widely used chemicals that are generally considered to be safe, and finding the right ratio for your preferences is fairly straightforward once you learn the key characteristics of different PG/VG mixes. So here’s everything you need to know about PG and VG.

What is Propylene Glycol (PG)?

Propylene glycol is a colorless and slightly viscous liquid, which has almost no taste and no odor. Technically it’s an alcohol, and has the chemical name propane-1,2-diol. It’s generally recognized as safe by the FDA, and is used in a huge range of ordinary consumer products thanks to its useful properties.

It helps foods and medicines retain moisture, it’s a good solvent, it’s used to soften and smooth moisturizers and other creams, it’s used as a cheap source of carbohydrates (and a moisture-retainer) in dog food, and it’s used for its moisture-retaining and softening qualities (and as a preservative) in cosmetics. It’s used in so many things that this doesn’t even cover everything – pretty much everyone, vaper or not, consumes PG.

For vapers, PG has an important role in e-juice for a few reasons. The main reason it’s used is that it can produce a vapor easily, and it’s used in theatrical fog machines for the same reason. That’s not all, though: it’s almost odorless and tasteless nature means that it’s generally excellent at carrying flavorings, and when inhaled it produces a “throat hit” reminiscent of smoking a cigarette. In comparison to VG, it’s also less viscous, which is important when you’re thinking about how easily PG e-liquids will soak into your wicks.

What is Vegetable Glycerin (VG)?

Vegetable glycerin is a colorless, viscous liquid with no odor but a fairly sweet taste. Chemically, like PG, VG is another alcohol, and it’s technical name is propane-1,2,3-triol. Technically glycerin is a term for high-purity glycerol, and the “vegetable” part just tells you where it comes from. Like PG, VG is generally recognized as safe for ingestion by the FDA.

VG has tons of uses. It’s used in pharmaceutical creams and cosmetics because it imparts the same soothing, softening skin-feel as PG does (and it helps them retain moisture), it’s used as a solvent, it helps to keep baked foods moist, it’s used in many applications for its sweetness and it has many, many other uses. Again, you’ll come into contact with VG whether you vape or not.

For vapers, the most important qualities of VG are its ability to produce a vapor and its solvent properties. Unlike PG, it doesn’t produce a throat hit, but it creates a much thicker, denser vapor. The sweetness of VG means that it’s not as good as PG at carrying flavors, but in many mixes this extra sweetness can improve the flavor. Finally, VG is much more viscous than PG, which means it doesn’t soak into wicks as effectively.

What is a PG/VG Ratio?

Vapers have to consider the properties of a propylene glycol-vegetable glycerin mix when we’re choosing e-juice, because almost all of them contain a mixture of both ingredients. The “PG/VG ratio” of an e-juice is just what it sounds like: a measure of how much PG and how much VG are in the e-juice, relative to each other. So a 50/50 PG/VG ratio e-liquid contains 50 % PG and 50 % VG, and a 30/70 PG/VG ratio e-liquid contains 30 % PG and 70 % VG.

Although the order usually goes propylene glycol/vegetable glycerin, in some cases the ratio is quoted the other way around, a VG/PG ratio. So if this is the case, a 30/70 mix will contain 30 % VG and 70 % PG. This could easily get confusing, but thankfully most of the time when somebody writes down a ratio, they’ll specify which order it’s in, and some even write 30 VG/70 PG to make it absolutely clear.

A Guide to Choosing Your PG/VG Ratio

So now you know a little bit about PG and VG and how PG/VG ratios are expressed, the big question is which PG/VG ratio is right for you.

This isn’t too difficult to work out, but there are still quite a few things to consider, such as vapor production, throat hit, wicking ability and flavor. We’ll take a look at each of these in turn to help you make your choice.

Cloud-Chasing or Stealth Vaping?

Today, many vapers opt for higher-VG mixes for one simple reason: it produces a lot more vapor. For the “cloud chasers,” who are looking for maximum vapor production, higher-VG mixes are the only way to vape. In comparison, the vapor production from PG is thin and fairly weak. Even though it’s still enough to satisfy a new vaper, after making the switch many gravitate towards higher-VG mixes.

But there’s another side to the whole issue. Puffing out huge clouds is all well and good in the comfort of your own home, but tipping the PG/VG ratio too far towards VG can draw attention to yourself when you’re vaping out in public. Many vapers prefer something a bit more discreet for public situations, and in these cases higher-PG juices are better – you’ll still puff out some vapor, but it won’t be too attention-grabbing, especially if you hold it in a little before exhaling.

This brings us to the related topic of stealth vaping. This is like taking discreet vaping to the extreme, so you almost completely hide the fact that you’re vaping. Taking small puffs, holding the vapor in for a while before exhaling and exhaling directly downwards or through your nose makes the vapor you exhale much less noticeable, if visible at all.

Some vapers use this technique as a way to vape when they otherwise wouldn’t be allowed to, and while you may want to do this, we don’t really recommend it for etiquette purposes. It’s useful if you don’t want to draw attention to yourself even though you’re allowed to vape, but if there are laws forbidding indoor vaping in your state or the owner of the establishment you’re in doesn’t allow vaping, it’s much more polite to just vape outside.

Smooth or Harsh Throat Hit?

One of the other most important factors in choosing the right PG/VG mix for your tastes is the sort of “throat hit” you get from the juice. For just switching smoker, a harsher, smoking-like throat hit can be a really good thing because it helps to replicate the sensation of smoking. But the flip-side to this is that some smokers and particularly longer-term vapers want a bit of a smoother feeling on their throat.

For most, though, a roughly even balance (around a 50/50 PG/VG ratio) between the two offers the best of both worlds: you get a little hit on the back of your throat but not so much that it makes vaping unpleasantly harsh.

Wicking Ability

The difference in viscosity between PG and VG is also an important factor to consider. The key point is that higher-VG mixes won’t soak into your wick as well as higher-PG mixes, so you’re more likely to have problems with wicking and occasional “dry puffs” with VG-based e-juice.

This might not be a concern, though, depending on the type of atomizer you’re using. For example, early top-coil clearomizers had very poor wicking, and this meant that higher-VG mixes didn’t work well with them. Back then, most juices were high in PG for this reason. In contrast, modern sub ohm tanks tend to have excellent wicking, and most can handle even the highest-VG mixes without issues. So if you’re using a sub ohm tank (or a rebuildable atomizer), you can choose pretty much any PG/VG ratio and have a great experience, but if you’re using an earlier atomizer design (something like the Kanger Protank, for example), higher-VG mixes could still cause issues for you.

Again, roughly even VG/PG mixes give a good balance here – you get the improved vapor production and softer throat hit from the higher-VG mix, but still having a substantial amount of PG means that you’re unlikely to run into wicking issues.

Getting the Most Flavor

This point isn’t as important as the ones above, but it’s worth pointing out that e-juice with more PG usually carries flavor better than higher-VG mixes. As mentioned earlier, this is largely due to the sweetness of the VG interfering with the flavor of the juice, but this isn’t always a bad thing because it might actually improve the taste. Generally, mixers set a specific PG/VG ratio for their flavors so they can take this into account, so most of the time you don’t have to consider its impact on flavor. However, it is a general rule that it’s useful to know about.

What’s the Best PG/VG Ratio?

The million dollar question is: what’s the best PG/VG ratio for me? And sadly, the best answer we can give is “whatever you enjoy the most.” The truth is that with PG and VG, like with so many elements of vaping, personal preference plays such a big role it’s hard to give any clear advice that applies to everyone.

That said, if you want a guideline, a 50/50 PG/VG ratio is an excellent starting point, and that’s the ratio we use here at Black Note. The reasons for this are basically everything we’ve covered in this post: it offers great vapor production (without being obnoxiously cloudy), it balances smoothness against throat hit, it wicks well and it gets the most of both ingredients when it comes to flavor.

However, when you’ve tried a few juices with around a 50/50 mix of PG/VG – including some 60/40 or 40/60 mixes, which are also really common – you may be able to work out what you prefer and adjust your juice choices accordingly. In some cases – for example, if you want bigger clouds or a stronger throat hit – you might benefit from going to the extreme ends of the spectrum, like 80 % PG or VG. For most vapers, though, something close to a 50/50 PG/VG ratio is ideal. 

One Last Consideration: PG Sensitivities and Allergies

Although this isn’t likely, some vapers do notice that they have a sensitivity to PG. A post on E-Cigarette Politics goes through all of the details of this, if you’re interested, but the short version is that severe sensitivity to PG is rare.

Based on forum postings, about 1 in 10 vapers experience some mild drying out or irritation of their throat. This is more the case for new vapers, because surveys have indicated that the problems clear up over time. You can think of this as developing a tolerance to the effects of PG on your throat.

There are some with a more severe sensitivity, though, estimated at around 1 in 100 users. This leads to a very sore throat when you vape, and if you experience this, you should switch to VG-based e-liquids, or at least try a higher-VG mix to see if this makes vaping more tolerable.

Even more rarely, some vapers have worse reactions to PG, more like an allergy than a sensitivity. Some, for example, experience itching or skin dryness as a result. However, since PG is used in so many consumer products, if you’re really allergic to it, you’ll probably know about it already.

Conclusion

Getting the right PG/VG ratio for your needs is an important part of making vaping work for you, but as we’ve learned, most vapers will be more than happy with a roughly even propylene glycol-vegetable glycerin mix. If you’re a cloud chaser looking for a smooth throat hit, you may prefer a higher-VG mix, and if you’re a just-switching smoker with a basic clearomizer looking for a good throat hit and not interested in big plumes of vapor, you may prefer a higher-PG mix, but the best advice is to try some juices out and see what works best for you. 

Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson

Writer at Black Note
Lee is a writer and vaper from the UK. He quit smoking (without intending to) when he started vaping in 2012, and now writes for EcigaretteReviewed and E-Cigarette Direct's Ashtray Blog. He's always searching for a new all-day vape, loves rebuilding and is passionate about providing smokers with accurate information about the harm reduction potential of vaping. He drinks too much tea.
Lee Johnson

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What is E-Juice?

E-juice, also known as e-liquid or vaping liquid, is the liquid that’s placed in the vaping device and subsequently atomized into vapor. When you go to buy e-juice, you’ll notice it contains a mix of several ingredients. These typically include vegetable glycerin (VG), propylene glycol (PG), some type of flavoring, and nicotine.

VG and PG form the base of the e-liquid. VG is a component used in food and personal care products; its role in e-liquid is to create a thick, dense vapor. PG is another popular solvent used in a variety of everyday items. It carries the e-liquid flavor, provides the “throat hit,” and enhances the vaping liquid’s ability to soak into wicks or cartomizer materials.

Nicotine is an optional ingredient, often available in different levels. E-juice also contains some type of flavoring.

Black Note leads the pack of tobacco vaping liquid by using only natural flavoring – extract from real tobacco leaves to produce real tobacco taste. When you go to buy e-juice from other companies, you may find any number of chemicals used to create synthetic flavors that include fake strawberry, manufactured vanilla, and even man-made tobacco flavors.

If your aim when you buy e-liquid is to experience the subtle nuances, genuine flair and authentic taste of real tobacco, then you’ll be on the mark if you buy e-juice from the Black Note lineup.

Best E-Juice

When you’re going to buy e-liquid, it’s only natural you’ll want the best e-liquid. But what, exactly, does it “best e-juice” mean? We’ll tell you.

For starters, you’ll want an e-juice that doesn’t contain all kinds of strange chemicals and concoctions that you can’t even pronounce. True, even the best e-liquid will contain vegetable glycerin (VG) and proplene glycol (PG), which serve as the base of e-juice, but you don’t necessarily need a host of other chemical compounds.

The best e-juice will stick to natural ingredients, like real tobacco extract, rather than rely on synthetic flavorings, colorings and other additives. Diacetyl is one of those synthetic ingredients that has gotten a pretty bad rap, although its use is not all that uncommon for producing sweet e juice flavors.

Definitely read the ingredient list before you buy e-juice to ensure you recognize what’s on it. Better yet, see if the e-juice company offers a lab report to confirm what’s actually inside the e-liquid.

In addition to having as few chemical ingredients as possible, the best e-juice will have an amazing taste. For those who enjoy authenticity over imitation, the most amazing taste is the most natural taste, especially when it comes to tobacco. Since Black Note uses real extract from tobacco leaves, we not only avoid all those weird chemical flavorings, but we also produce the most authentic experience: tobacco vaping liquid that actually tastes like tobacco.

Best E-Liquid on the Market

Anyone looking for the best e-liquid on the market need look no further than Black Note. Black Note tobacco vaping liquid ranks as the best e-juice across the board in every category, starting with the taste.

Black Note’s main claim to fame is producing a tobacco vaping liquid that actually tastes like real tobacco. That because we use real tobacco extract, not chemicals, to create the best e-juice tobacco flavor. Using extract from real tobacco leaves retains tobacco’s nuances and flavor notes, giving you the most authentic and multi-faceted tobacco experience.

In addition to being the best e-juice for tobacco taste, Black Note also has the best e-liquid manufacturing process. We spent years researching and testing various production methods, and finally landed on one that we believe is absolutely perfect.

It starts with growing carefully selected tobacco seeds, followed by an equally precise of steps that include an extensive natural extraction process. Even our bottling and packaging is done with the utmost care, using recycled and recyclable packaging materials to ensure our products are as earth-friendly as they are vapor-friendly.

One more category where Black Note ranks as the best e-liquid is with the value. Every order comes with free domestic shipping, one-to-three day domestic shipping guarantee, and a 90-day, money-back satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy for any reason, or don’t agree we’re the best e-juice on the market, send it back on us and we’ll refund your money.

Vape Juice Ingredients

Vape juice ingredients can be pretty straightforward – or not. At the very least, most vape juice contains propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), and some type of flavoring. Nicotine has largely become an optional ingredient that can be included at varying levels or left out altogether.

Vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG) are usually the two main ingredients that make up the base of most vape juice.

VG is a plant-based substance with the ability to produce a dense, thick vapor. PG is an additive found in many food items and certain medicines. It carries the flavoring, provides the “throat hit” and enhances the vape juice’s ability to soak into the wicking materials.

Nicotine levels can vary, as can ingredients that make up the flavorings. The components that make up vape juice flavoring are where ingredients can get rather complicated.

Vape juice that relies on artificial flavorings can contain any number of extraneous chemicals and other additives, whatever it takes to recreate the flavor the ecig juice is going for.

Black Note uses only natural flavorings: extract from real tobacco leaves. That keeps our ingredient list incredibly simple, backed by a lab report to prove it. You won’t find any strange chemical concoctions used to produce our tobacco flavor, just real tobacco extract that delivers a real tobacco experience.

What is the Best Flavor for Ecig Juice?

From strawberry shortcake to banana rum, ecig juice comes in tons of flavors. While folks can debate and discuss all the fruity, sweet or food-like flavors all day long, the best flavor for e-cig liquid is straight-up tobacco.

Why? Vaping was originally created as an alternative for traditional cigarettes, mainly for those who enjoy the taste of tobacco. And when you can find an e-cig liquid that is able to recreate tobacco’s full-bodied yet delicate flavor notes and nuances, but without the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, then you’ve found the best ecig juice.

Recreating tobacco’s complex flavor isn’t easy, especially when it’s attempted with artificial ingredients. That’s why Black Note sticks to the real thing, extracting the essence of real tobacco leaves to flavor our vaping liquid. Not only does this avoid the harmful chemicals in cigarettes, but it also eliminates the flavoring chemicals found in many ecig juices. The end result is real tobacco taste, an authentic tobacco experience and the best flavor for ecig juice you can find.

Notice also we said the best e-cig flavor was straight-up tobacco, not plain old tobacco. Black Note’s real tobacco vaping liquid happens to come in a variety of different blends, from the light and airy to the peppery and robust. Not all tobacco is created equal, and different blends capture the specialized subtleties that make each tobacco unique.

Best Sweet Tobacco E-Juice

When it comes to sweet tobacco e-juice, your options can be broken down into two categories.

The first category contains tobacco e-juice that overlays the tobacco flavor with artificial chocolate, caramel, vanilla, fruity or other dessert-like flavorings. We wouldn’t classify any such flavors as the best tobacco e liquid, simply because they typically use chemicals and other artificial ingredients to create the tobacco taste, the sweet taste, or both.

The second category of sweet tobacco e-juice is where you’ll find the best tobacco e-liquid, sweet or otherwise. This category contains vaping liquid created using only natural flavorings, which is exactly where Black Note fits in. Instead of concocting flavors using synthetic ingredients, Black Note uses an extensive extraction process that slowly and deliberately extracts the tobacco essence from real tobacco leaves.

The result is the best tobacco e-juice: tobacco vaping liquid that actually tastes like real tobacco. And if you’re going for the best sweet tobacco e liquid, we have a few tobacco blends that offer varying levels of sweetness.

Prelude is our sweetest tobacco e-liquid, containing golden Virginia tobacco. Made from fire-cured dark Virginia tobacco, Sonata is our Cavendish blend with a mildly sweet and nutty flavor. Solo is our menthol blend, giving you a semi-sweet minty taste created from natural menthol crystals extract from dried mint leaves.

For the best tobacco e-liquid that’s naturally sweet and remarkably delicious, Black Note is at your service.

WARNING: Black Note products are not smoking cessation products and have not been tested as such. Black Note products are intended for use by adults of legal smoking age (21 or older in California), and not by children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Black Note products contain nicotine, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. Ingestion of the non-vaporized concentrated ingredients can be poisonous. Keep out of reach of children and pets. For immediate advice, contact poison control center: (800) 222-1222