Published on: 17/08/2022
The numbers on the labels of e-liquids indicate their composition: here’s how to interpret them and how to choose the most suitable ones for you
Those who have been vaping for a long time now consider much information about the world of e-cigarettes and e-liquids to be noticeable. Yet, if we rewind our memory for a moment, we would remember that we, too, were newbies long ago who felt lost in front of a myriad of products we had never seen before.
For those who have just started vaping, however, there is nothing obvious: and those who find themselves in front of a product with 80/20 written on it may not understand what these figures mean.
In the following article, we will explain what these numbers mean.
Ingredients of e-liquids
Electronic cigarette liquids are composed of four essential ingredients:
- propylene glycol (PG). It is an almost odourless, clear liquid with a slightly sweet taste based on organic compounds. It is also used in other products such as food and medicine;
- vegetable glycerine (VG). This is a thick, clear, odourless, sticky liquid based on vegetable fat. VG is also used outside the vaping industry, e.g. to sweeten food and as an additive in toothpaste and medicines;
- concentrated flavourings. These are products created in imitation of natural flavourings used to give flavour to e-liquids;
- liquid nicotine. This is an extract of this substance diluted in an aqueous solution. It is added to the other ingredients to achieve the ideal nicotine concentration for your electronic cigarette liquids.
What is the role of propylene glycol in e-liquids?
PG is responsible for the perception of flavour in e-cigarette liquids and the sensation of a hit in the throat, similar to that experienced when smoking blondes. Because of these characteristics, it is commonly used as a suspension liquid for nicotine bases and concentrated flavourings.
If you have just switched from traditional cigarettes to electronic cigarettes, you should aim for e-liquids with a high PG content to enjoy a particularly pronounced hit. This is also because it has no smell or taste and does not mask nicotine and e-cigarette flavourings, guaranteeing an intense and pleasant throat hit.
Why vegetable glycerine is used in the production of e-cigarette liquids
VG is used in the mixing of vaping liquids because it performs two essential functions:
- it adds a slight touch of sweetness to the e-liquid, allowing it to soften the hit in the throat;
- it increases vapour production and makes it thicker. This compound is mainly responsible for the enormous clouds that so many vapers enjoy.
In contrast to PG, vegetable glycerine does not enhance the perception of aromas: on the contrary, its sweetish taste tends to flatten the different flavour notes of e-cigarette liquids. For this reason, flavour lovers may not like e-liquids containing high VG percentages.
The proper VG/PG ratio? Here’s how to find it
And here we come to the crux of the article: those numbers you read on e-cigarette liquids represent their propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine content. Expressly, they represent the VG/PG ratio of the e-liquid.
For example, a 50/50 liquid contains these two substances in equal parts. An 80/20, on the other hand, is 80 per cent vegetable glycerine and 20 per cent propylene glycol.
This ratio is crucial for choosing the ideal product for your device and your taste: the VG and PG content plays a crucial role in dictating the characteristics of an e-cigarette liquid.
Here are the factors to consider when choosing the right one for you.
Taste and throat hit
If you want to vape a liquid with an intense flavour and a good throat hit, you should choose one with a balanced VG/PG ratio. For example, a 50/50 may be ideal, but if you are a flavour lover and would like an even more intense hit, you could try a 40/60.
Vegetable glycerine makes the vapour ‘lighter’ for the throat, offering almost a velvety smooth sensation, quite the opposite of the grit of PG.
If you love this vaping, go for VG-dominated liquids such as 70/30. However, these products will not taste particularly intense due to the characteristics of vegetable glycerine. To remedy this defect, you could vape them at high wattages to intensify the aroma.
Don’t overdo it, though: by increasing the wattage too much, you risk burning out the heating element and getting a memorable splat!
When you find yourself vaping outside the home, perhaps near other people, it is a good idea to be discreet and not inundate everyone around you with huge clouds. I know that puffing giant clouds can be a pleasure to the eye, but remember that other people might not appreciate it at all.
In such cases, you would do well to use liquids with a high PG concentration to reduce the density and body of the vapour.
In contrast to the previous paragraph, you could indulge in more unrestrained cloud chasing if you are at home or in an outdoor environment not frequented by other people.
And for this vaping, electronic cigarette liquids with a high concentration of vegetable glycerine, even 80/20 and above, are ideal.
Type of device
Apart from what has been said so far, the various VG/PG ratios are unsuitable for every device. PG, for example, becomes vapour at low temperatures; therefore, e-liquids with a high concentration of propylene glycol work best with devices that are not too powerful.
On the other hand, VG is a very viscous liquid that takes a long time to be absorbed by the resistance cotton. Moreover, it can easily clog and block the coil. Therefore, e-liquids with a high concentration of vegetable glycerine should be used with high wattage e-cigs and sub-ohm resistances.
In this article, I have explained to you what those numbers that you constantly see on the labels of e-cigarette liquids indicate: they are nothing more than the ratio of their vegetable glycerine content to their propylene glycol content.
Thanks to this information, it will be evident to you what is meant by 80/20 e-liquid: these are those liquids consisting of 80% VG and 20% PG.
Afterwards, I also explained which factors you should take into account when deciding which composition to choose for your e-liquid and, based on what we have said, it should be clear when you should consider using 80/20 e-liquids: choose them if you love cloud chasing and are willing to accept a slight loss in flavour and hit intensity.
Remember: don’t forget to vape them with the proper devices so as not to risk clogging and burning the resistance!