Electronic cigarettes can be confusing to many people, especially because the information about them is a little hard to come by. We have all heard about the health benefits and the varieties of flavors available, but some people might be thrown off by terms like propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin.
But these are actually the components that make up the e-liquid used in electronic cigarettes. Read on to find out more about what differentiates these two compounds and why some people choose one over the other.
About Electronic Cigarettes
Before we can differentiate between some of the ingredients in an electronic cigarette, it can help to have a better understanding of how an e-cig works. With most e-cigs, you have a few internal components- a battery, an atomizer and a tank. The tank is where the liquid goes. You fill the tank with the liquid of your choice then place it inside the electronic cigarette.
Once you power on the cigarette, the atomizer will heat up and warm the liquid. The liquid will quickly turn into a vapor, which you can inhale and exhale for a nice, flavorful hit. This hit goes to the back of your throat, and the kind of liquid you are using determines if that hit is any good.
Now let’s look at what makes up that liquid. In every tank or bottle of e-liquid are a few components- the base, water, nicotine and flavors. The base will always be composed of the compounds we mentioned above- propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin. These are what give the liquid its consistency.
The flavors can vary wildly, and each company that manufactures them will have their own set of flavors.
Now propylene glycol is the most commonly used base for electronic cigarettes. It tends to be very think and runny, which can make it easy to have a mess on your hands. It will also drip faster into the electronic cigarettes wick and atomizer, making you burn through your liquid a little faster than you might otherwise.
The thinner liquid does mean that the e-cig is easier to clean though. It won’t gunk up the coil or the inside of the tank as much as the vegetable glycerin, so it makes cleaning a little faster and easier on you.
Propylene is also considered a humectant, which means it keeps things moist. That’s a good thing when it comes to the kind of hit it can deliver. It offers a strong, pleasing hit to the back of your throat, much like tobacco does. The propylene on its own offers no taste, so it won’t interfere with the flavors of your liquid.
The one thing you have to watch out for with Propylene is that it can cause an allergic reaction. It won’t happen to everyone, but it you have a reaction in your throat from using it, you should stop and switch over to vegetable glycerin right away.
The vegetable glycerin is a little thicker and littler sweeter. There is a distinctive taste to it that, while slight, will affect the flavoring a little bit. The thickness of it means that it is prone to stick to the sides of the tank and the coil, making it a bit of a pain to clean up. You can use alcohol-dipped swabs to get it off most of the time though.
Vegetable glycerin seems to be easier on most people, with very limited instances of allergic reactions being reported. But some people have complained about a phlegm buildup after using the vegetable base.
The thicker liquid makes for thicker plumes of smoke, which many people find more pleasant. But this doesn’t make for a more pleasing throat hit, and the thickness of the liquid detracts from the sensations most vapers are looking for.
Which One Is Better?
The choice of which one of these to use is really up to personal preference. Most people tend to go for the propylene, which may be why manufacturers have opted to include it as the standard in most e-liquid selections.
Because vegetable glycerin distorts the flavor, propylene offers a truer experience. The only real advantage the vegetable glycerin has over its counterpart is its thicker plumes. Many vapers love the sensation the thick plumes of smoke provide, and they may miss not getting that experience from the propylene.
Can they Be Mixed?
And this leads many people who learn about these bases to wonder if there is a way to get the best of both worlds. It is possible to get the thick plumes of vegetable glycerin with the flavor intensity and easy-to-clean-up attributes of propylene?
The answer is yes, and many companies have been combining the two to do just that. Now depending on the manufacturer, you can get a different consistency and a different mixture. Some of them like to go half and half, but most people find an ideal mixture is one that favors the propylene. This reduces the sweetness and allows the true flavor of the liquid to shine through while still retaining the wonderfully thick plumes that vegetable glycerin can provide.
You can even mix the two on your own, but you might find that pre-mixed liquids are the best choice, as manufacturers constantly look for the best combination to please their customers. At any rate, if you have given both of these a try and you like some of what either has to offer; it is worth trying out the combinations. But don’t give up on it if you don’t like the first combo your try. You may find a better mixture elsewhere, and you are likely to find one you are happy with after experimenting a bit with what is available.
Be sure to check the packaging and product information before you buy. The label should tell you what kind of base the e-liquid has, and that can help you make your decision.