PG vs VG: How to Understand the Differences


PG (Propylene Glycol) vs. VG (Vegetable Glycerin)

When it comes to e-juice, two terms constantly crop up: PG and VG. This can seem confusing to the newcomer, but knowledge of these two ingredients can vastly improve your vaping experience. Here’s our easy-to-follow guide on everything you need to know about PG and VG.

What are PG and VG?

In simple terms:

  • PG and VG are the odourless liquids that are combined with flavour and nicotine to create e-juice
  • Both PG and VG belong to the alcohol chemical class (despite the name, they are not intoxicating). Though e-liquid is sometimes called “oil,” it isn’t really oil at all, and can’t cause any of the medical issues — like lipoid pneumonia — that inhaling actual oils can.
  • They produce vapour when heated, which allow them to be inhaled.
  • The two fluids have a different consistency to each other, and also have a slightly different taste.
  • They have distinct mouth and throat sensations when vaped.
  • Most modern e-liquid uses a combination of the two fluids, though the ratio can vary dramatically.
  • Some vaping set-ups can only work with a certain level of PG and VG.
  • Choosing the wrong PG/VG ratio can put first-timers off so be careful to choose the right level for your equipment.​

    Now let’s take a look at each in more detail.

Things that have PG and VG


What exactly is it?

Propylene Glycol Chemical Structure
Propylene Glycol Chemical Structure

PG stands for Propylene Glycol, a petroleum by-product. The fluid has no odour or colour, and is less viscous than VG. In vaping it is used to provide a ‘throat hit’, which some users claim is similar to the sensation experienced when smoking tobacco. It also carries flavour more effectively than VG, meaning it’s the most commonly used suspension fluid for flavour concentrates and nicotine.

How is it used?

Propylene Glycol can be found in various common household items. Amongst others, these include:​

  • Nicotine inhalers
  • Toothpaste and other oral hygiene products
  • Medical products used orally, injected or as topical formulations
  • Pet food
  • Beauty products, including make-up, shampoo and baby wipes

Is it safe?

Studies have shown that PG is safe to ingest orally, and the FDA has deemed it “generally recognized as safe” to be used as a food additive. However, most studies into the safety of propylene glycol look at ingestion, rather than consuming it in aerosol form. Of the limited studies that exist, a long-term experiment held in 1947 judged that inhaling PG was ‘completely harmless’.

A 2010 study looking at PGEs (a mixture of propylene glycol and glycol ethers) suggested an increased risk of developing respiratory and immune disorders in children, such as asthma, hay fever and eczema. However, it was judged that glycol ethers, and not PG, are the more likely cause. Looking at the evidence, it is sensible to assume that PG is safe to be inhaled, but there is a need for more comprehensive studies to confirm this.

Many misinformed scaremongering stories in the media claim that PG is a toxic substance used in anti-freeze. However, there are two types of anti-freeze: toxic and “non-toxic”. The toxic anti-freeze uses the dangerous substance referred to as actually ethylene glycol, but it is not used in vaping. Typically PG-based anti-freeze is used in food-processing machinery where toxic anti-freeze could be problematic, and is also sold at retail as “pet-safe” anti-freeze.

While PG is regarded as safe for humans, it can cause serious harm to pets. It is generally regarded as safe as a food additive for dogs, but has been linked to Heinz body anaemia in cats. Be careful when vaping around pets, particularly if you have cats and use PG in your e-liquid.

What should I be aware of when vaping PG?

Some people find a high level of PG irritating to the throat. True allergies to PG are rare, but have been reported. If you find yourself coming out in a rash, or suffering other unpleasant reactions after using PG-based e-fluid, you may have a more common mild sensitivity to PG, and should look at using high-VG juice instead. Many vendors offer this option.

The most common side effects of using e-liquid containing propylene glycol are dry mouth, sore throat, and increased thirst. These symptoms usually last anywhere from a few days to a week as the body gets used to the propylene glycol. It is advised to drink more water and liquids then usual for the first few weeks of using your e-cigarette. Be aware that any unusual reactions could be side effects from quitting smoking, and not necessarily because of the PG.


What exactly is it?

Glycerin Skelett
Glycerin Skelett

VG stands for Vegetable Glycerin. It is a natural chemical, derived from vegetable oil, so is safe for vegetarians. It is commonly used in e-liquid to give a ‘thick’ sensation to vapour. VG has a slightly sweet taste and is considerably thicker than PG. The hit from a high VG fluid is a lot smoother than with PG, making it more suitable for sub-ohm vaping. While nicotine and flavourings are commonly suspended in PG, some vendors are offering a VG alternative, to enable 100% VG mixes.

What is it used for?


Again, it can be found in numerous medical, food and personal care products:

  • Sweetener as sugar replacement
  • Beauty products, such as make-up, mousse, bubble bath, aftershave, and deodorant
  • Pet food
  • Soap and hand cream
  • Food such as baked goods, to increase moisture
  • To provide thick gel for certain medicinal creams, capsule pills and jellies
  • Toothpaste and other dental care products

Is it safe?

The FDA has classified VG as “generally recognized as safe” and it is widely regarded as one of the most benign substances known to man. The SIDS assessment profile show it to have low toxicity when consumed, and of low potential to irritate the skin or eye. This, along with the widespread use of VG in food and medicine suggest it is safe for humans. However, as with PG, there are limited studies on VG being inhaled as opposed to ingestion.

A 2008 study of the toxicity of inhaling aerosolised glycerol found minimal risks. We can assume the use of VG in vaping has no serious impact on health but, as with PG, we would welcome more detailed studies.

It is important to note that the risk of being allergic to vegetable glycerin is very low, making it a useful alternative for people who have issues when vaping e-juice containing PG. If you are allergic to palm oil or coconut oil then VG could prove a problem, but this is relatively uncommon. Diabetics could possibly experience problems with metabolising VG, but this would not be an issue at the levels used in vaping.

What should I be aware of when using VG?

The increased thickness of VG means it can reduce the life of atomizers quicker than PG-based juice. High VG liquids clog up coils more rapidly, and will not work well, if at all, in certain tanks. Older products are especially susceptible, particularly models that use smaller coils such as clearomizers. The Nautilus range, Innokin iclears and eGo tanks are some of the more well-known tanks that are known to have difficulties dealing with high VG fluid.

The most common side effect of vaping high VG e-liquid is a dry mouth, sore throat, and increased thirst. Again, be sure to drink plenty of water and take a break from vaping if necessary.

What PG/VG ratio should I use?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this. It depends on the kind of vaping experience you prefer. Many people use various levels of PG and VG for different purposes:

  • Throat Hit – If you enjoy a sharp throat hit when vaping then you’ll prefer a high PG vape. The ‘kick’ at the back of the throat, is something many ex-smokers crave, and PG (along with the nicotine) provides more of this than VG. PG carries flavour marginally better than VG, so the flavour will be slightly improved.
  • Smoothness – High VG fluid tends to give a much smoother feeling on the throat, with a more substantial ‘thicker’ mouthfeel. The flavour is slightly muted in VG fluids, but this can be countered by using more power to produce more vapour. Be careful to stay within the voltage/wattage limits of your atomiser, or you risk dry hits, or even damaging your equipment.
  • Stealth Vaping – If you want to keep your vaping lowkey in public then high PG is the way to go. Less vapour is produced when exhaled, making this ideal for the less ostentatious vaping enthusiast. However, you should always apply common sense. Vaping in certain places, such as waiting rooms and on public transport, is often outlawed and is simply bad manners. As vaping is relatively new, we have a duty to be aware of public opinion and behave responsibly.
  • CloudchasingCloudchasing involves exhaling dense clouds of vapour, the thicker the better. There are even competitive events based around this activity, where the person producing the biggest clouds wins. If this appeals then high VG is the only option – the higher the better.

What kind of set-up do I need?

It isn’t as simple as deciding on a high VG or PG fluid and hoping for the best. It all comes down to your equipment. If it isn’t suitable for the job, it can lead to unpleasant throat irritation or wicking problems resulting in dry hits.

What Setup You Need
  • Clearomizers – The clearomizer is one of the most common styles of tanks for vaping, and include the Aspire Nautilus series and the Kanger Protank. These take coils in the 1.2-2.5 ohms range, and are usually vaped below 15w. These are not generally suitable for high VG fluids, as their coils cannot cope well with thick goopy fluid and can lead to unpleasant dry hits of burning cotton. It is advised to use high PG fluid, or a 50/50 ratio, when using this kind of tank.
  • Sub-Ohm Tanks – These tanks include the Aspire Atlantis and Kanger Subtank among others. They can take a lot more power than standard clearomizers and are designed to deal well with high VG juice. Vaping at this increased battery strength uses up e-juice a lot quicker than with, so you’ll find your juice disappearing more quickly than with high PG fluids. If you want to know more about this, check our detailed guide to sub-ohm vaping, and some essential advice on battery safety.
  • RDAs – If you prefer to use a dripper, you have a lot more flexibility on your e-liquid ratio. It still depends on what strength coil you use – sub-ohm coils for high VG, higher ohms coils for high PG – but you don’t have to worry as much about your cotton wicking properly. As ever, the ratio boils down to personal preference, but the norm for dripping tends to be a 30/70 PG/VG mix.

Tips for PG/VG DIY E-Liquid

The best way to find your PG/VG ‘sweet spot’ to experiment by making your own e-juice. It’s surprisingly easy to do, and very cost-effective. You can check this out in more detail in our DIY e-liquid guide, but here are some things to be aware of:

  • Steeping – If you make high VG juice, you might find this will take longer to steep. This is especially relevant to complex multi-flavour recipes. Single-flavour recipes using a high PG ratio will often take less time to steep, and sometimes be ready immediately. You can read more about this in our detailed guide to steeping e-juice.
  • Flavourings And Nicotine – The majority of flavour concentrates and nicotine available are suspended in PG. It’s important to factor this in when making high VG e-juice as the higher the % of nicotine and flavour, the more the VG level drops. It is possible to buy nicotine and flavourings suspended in VG but this is less common.
  • Thinning Juice – If you have made juice with a high VG ratio, your coil might have problems with wicking the thick gloopy fluid. The solution is to add some distilled water to your juice to help thin it out. This will help the cotton absorb the fluid quicker.


The basics of PG and VG are quite easy to grasp. They both work in different ways, and each has advantages and disadvantages. Our advice is to start with a 50-50 PG to VG ratio then try out various combinations and see which you prefer. Make sure your vaping set-up can deal with the different ratios.

Many vapers like to use different levels of PG and VG at different times, and with various devices and flavours. Fruits and beverage flavours often go well with PG, as the sharpness of the PG blends well with the tart or fizz of the flavouring. Similarly, flavours based on cream, custard and yogurt tend to work well with high VG as the thick mouth sensation adds to the dessert-like feel. But as ever, there are no fixed rules, just follow what your tastebuds tell you!

Ian Jones

Ian is a UK-based journalist, with 10+ years writing for media outlets such as Vice, MSN and the Daily Mirror. He specialises in pop culture and lifestyle journalism, focusing on vaping, food, fashion and technology. He takes frivolous things seriously so you don’t have to.

  • Jeremy

    An interesting tidbit about the whole “antifreeze” non-sense is that PG is in fact in *some* antifreeze, but the antifreeze that PG is in is NON-toxic antifreeze. In cases like restaurant freezers or other industrial food systems where a NON-toxic antifreeze is called for, the antifreeze best suited for those cases is one that has PG. PG being substituted for EG (ethlyene glyol) is what makes the antifreeze NON-toxic.

    It would be funny if it it weren’t so sad that the lines get blurred when truth is so easy see one form the other.

  • Brad

    Jeremy, you are correct. The RV Antifreeze that is used to winterize the on-board drinking water systems of an RV is usually made from PG. Some brands also add ethyl alcohol and water into the mix, but most I’ve seen are largely PG.

  • Jules Cote’

    WARNING; Don’t purchase any vape products from They are selling counterfeit products. I purchased 2 Innokin G isub, and 2 Innokin Appex isub because I couldn’t find them anywhere else. Unfortunately when I put the security codes in to verify that these were authentic Innokin (itazte) brand, it came back that these codes did not match any in their database.
    They look identical, the only way to know, was by verifying codes, don’t get fooled.

  • Yolanda G. Jacobs

    While PG is know to give users a dry mouth, some vapors have complained about phlegm building up in their throat after using vegetable glycerin-based juices. You also get less of a throat hit when using VG.

    [email protected]

  • maysam

    if i just used the VG alone whit out enay PG, just VG usd is that danger for helth ?
    pls help me

    • Vape God

      No u will be fine u just will not get much throat hit and it will be difficult to taste the flavor but keep the wattage low so u don’t mess up the coil other than that there is nothing wrong with it

  • Amanda

    Has anyone ever gotten an itchy rash all over? My friend has broken out in hives and a very itchy rash I feel it may be from crappy juice he got online.. Cheap and I tried it doesn’t taste right to me.. I didn’t break out but I’ve never had any allergys in my life. Thanx Amanda

    • Hey Amanda, may I ask what type of Juice he is vaping on? It could just be that he has a VG or PG allergy. There a quite a few people that have an allergy against Propylene Glycol. I have a few friends that don’t have any allergies what so ever yet they can’t handle PG at all. An allergy towards VG is less likely as it is not common but it is worth getting a test done. If a test does not come into question, then I suggest trying different liquids with different VG/PG (Pure VG or maybe pure PG) ratios, maybe that will help him cancel out an allergy. It is always best to seek medical attention as I can only help with certain questions. This is only an temporary solution, please go do the doctor if it gets worse or does not go away.

  • E-Cigaretter

    Really great post I just started a danish site about vaping i prefer it much more than normal tobacco mostly because of the smell. When vaping you get all kinds of flavours and smells instead of the original tobacco smell and flavour. Visit my website if you want to see some of the vapers i use

  • Marion Kalb

    Many people usually ask for advice on how to set the right PG/VG ratio of eliquid for vaping. The truth is, it depends on personal preference. As far as I am concerned, I prefer 50% PG and 50% VG as I would like to keep the flavor and the vapor in a balanced point.

  • TrinityDaniels

    Very interesting read. Thanks for writing this.

  • igino

    I think there is a key point you missed in the PG/VG question.
    PG boils at 188°C (370°F) while VG boils at 290°C (554°F). Thus, vaping at 100% VG involves higher coil temperatures (water does not mitigate temps since it evaporates early) that are hardly compatible with cotton (the dominant wicking material) integrity.
    Cotton fibers do not decompose (thermally ) significantly until 240°C (< 0.5% mass release), but when heated between 240 and 270° they release about 2-3% of their mass as volatile substances. So if you chose to vape 100% VG you have to be aware that you are going to inhale also a small amount of cotton decomposition products.
    To keep the VG/PG boiling point below 240°C no less than 20% PG (over PG+ VG) should be used, irrespectively of the water content.

    • Rok Klobucar

      What if I add 20% distilled water to VG. Am i still in danger? And how harmful are cotton decomposition products? What if I am alergic to PG?

  • The article doesn’t go into detail on the taste issue. In my experience, high VG liquids don’t seem to bind well with the flavors, and I find that high VG liquids often seem to have a weird sickly sweet aftertaste.

    • 0pus

      Kum makes your Crackerjacks taste bad?

      Must be the HIV viruses.

    • IDJ

      Yes, VG does have a slight sweet taste, but it isn’t so noticeable for most people. As for flavours binding, it usually takes longer to steep high VG juice but given enough time the flavours do gel. A four week steep is generally best to get the most flavour from your juice.

  • Skahokic

    Goo day fellows vapers!!!

    This article will helped other vapers or new vapers,., this might be helpful if you know the PG and VG,., thank you very much for interesting article,,,

    #VapeOnGuys Ska from Philippines

  • Johan

    Waw.!! Thank you for the information. It’s interesting.

  • Otus Bakkamoena

    What is the differences between nicotine vg base with pg base?

    • Jeremy

      Ultimately, just that one has PG and one has VG. The nicotine is unaffected. Although, some would recommend shaking the VG before use. I don’t think it’s much of an issue.

      In the end, it’s just the same as handling PG or VG in your mix.

  • Steve Tobias

    Reading the comments everyone has been kind enough to share, the points made regarding cotton fiber decomposition and vaping 100% VG = vaping cotton decomposition products I personally find a bit over the top. I am a DIY Juicer and all flavour concentrates on the market are suspended in PG as with the majority of nicotine bases, the average juice is an average ratio of 20-25% then if it’s your choice you add nicotine (with a 100mg base for a target of 3mg you add 3%) some juices (and I suspect with a lot of commercial juices) use as much as 30% flavouring, so the majority of juices use a mix of 70-80% VG anyway. In my life of vaping I have only met (or heard of) one person who vapes 100% VG. Therefore the point made on vaping burning cotton with every vape is somewhat misleading and whilst it’s always good to know the dangers of inhaling burnt cotton, the “key point” you think as being missed is a very rare scenario. Always check fluid levels regularly, it’s a great habit to get into to avoid dry hits and ensure you allow a few minutes for your coils to soak up the juice before vaping on a new coil, even better, wet it down with juice to speed up the process, but this is all common knowledge isn’t it. …