Propylene Glycol vs. Vegetable Glycerin in E-Liquid

propylene glycol vs vegetable glycerinElectronic 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.

The E-Liquid

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.

Propylene Glycol

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.

Vegetable Glycerin

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.

50 Comments

  1. Can i check if you solely mix vg and pg is it vape able? Was thinking of mixing 70% vg and 30% pg in a 30ml bottle. 21ml of vg and 9ml of pg?
    Will it be sweet to vape? No nicotine and no flavouring. This is for safe reasons. Is this possible and any idea of the taste?

  2. if anyone can give me a hand here it would be much appreciated. . it seems as though allergic to the propylene glycol so i decided to give the vegetable a go . . .it was a flavoured one, but within a week delivered the same result. . itchy areas on my body to include abdomen, back and scalp. I am/was so satisfied with the vaping and would like to know if anyone knows of an alternative as far as the oil goes. I must say the itching is not acceptable.

    • Susanne, I don’t smoke, but am allergic to it as well. If you are having that reaction, you need to look into your makeup and foods as well. It’s also contributing to the rash/itching. I had it nearly cleared out of my life but keep finding it introduced w/o my knowledge. Ibuprofen, (most meds!), salad dressings, cake mixes, hair dye, shampoos, soaps, you name it. (I’m scratching as I type this! because I saw a play Saturday) It’s also in some vape liquids for marijuana too. So be vigilant. On how to get it for e-cig, my son says there might be something out there with just the juice? Just quit smoking! 😉

    • Susanne, many companies will market their products as “organic” so people think, “this is safe”, and for the most part that is not deceitful. It’s just ignorance. Whether or not it was made by poop fertilizer or chemical fertilizer, it’s still a sugar alcohol.

      Humans are not always able to properly metabolize these and the result when ingesting orally is a runaway fermentation in our gut. Have you ever used Truvia? Same thing. A sugar alcohol can also pose the same risk when vaping. It can create a fugal infection in our lungs as I had developed. It took weeks to clear my lungs from a high VG concentration. I thought I was suffering from pneumonia and fortunately it was similar to bronchitis except that it wasn’t quite a bacterial infection.

      Be mindful of this. Read up on scholarly articles about any chemical and make your own decision on what works. Every body is different so if you feel you can do more or do less, just grab some food grade VG or PG and experiment with different ratios.

      Good Luck *cough* sorry still have some leftover cough …

    • Susanne,
      i am allergic to Proplene Glycol. it is in everything. check your makeup your body wash the shaving strip to your razon. i have had to change all my products. Try Acure organics. it seems to be the best solution for me. i was breaking out in hives. i also had to quit smoking because it is also in cigarettes. Check your food as well.

      The make up i have had to search aroudn i use different kinds now mostly minerals.

      If their is anything i can do to help please let me know

    • Could also still be small amounts of pg in the liquid because they almost always use a small amount of pg as a base. Try and find legitimate 100% vg!!

    • Hi not sure if this will help you but I thought it could not hurt to comment. I am new at making my own liquid. I was making 50/50 PG/VG . Well I did the conversion wrong for the amount of nicotine and pretty much cam close to being hospitalized. I broke out with a rash, was sleeping 20hours a day and when I woke would vape get dizzy, and blood pressure was through the roof. So you may want to recheck your level of nicotine. Also I was allergic to one flavor of juice and that was coffee. When I stopped the coffee flavor and dropped from 80mg nicotine (huge math error) to 16mg All bad symptoms disappeared. Hope this helps.
      PS I now use 60vg 40pg. It works well.

  3. Some cannabis oil companies promote the fact that they use PGs while other companies use the fact that their products are solventless and contain no PGs as a selling point.

    So are PGs actually bad for you or what?

    • PG oil is the base for coolant in a car. I use 100% VG because it is made from coconut oil. PG is a synthetic (man made) which I don’t trust. Adjusting the wattage, nicotine, and flavor yields perfect hits easily comparable and ( I will say) better because it is fine tuned by you.

      • Daniel propylene glycol is Not in anti freeze. That is just a mistaken roomer that goes around. Eytholene glycol is in anti freeze. Whom ever started the mix up of compounds wrote the wrong chemical. You can look it up on Wikipedia. Most vegetable glycerin is made from Palm or peanut oils as coconut oil turns solid below 80°f. I have a jar it is great for cooking and looks very much like lard.

        • PG is also used as a cooland and deicer the difference is its toxicity. Ethylene glycol is toxic is ingested. The same goes for the VG as it is just a glycerin and it also could be used as a coolant or deicer.

        • Yes it is used as antifreeze in industrial and automotive applications. Ethylene glycol is green and propylene glycol is tinted red to distinguish the two. Ethylene being highly toxic and propylene glycol being less so.

  4. I have sugar in my blood ,is propylene glycol and (or) vegetable glycol bad for me ,possibility of raising my sugar level in my blood?

    • Vegetable glucose does not get broken down into glucose or sugars by the body. Therefore it does not raise or affect the blood sugar levels of any person or diabetic

    • Everyone had sugar in their blood. ☺ If you have diabetes or some other condition that makes you concerned about having high or low blood sugar, I would definitely ask your doctor. That could be very dangerous, so all questions involving your endocrine systems should really be taken to your doctor. Good luck!

  5. I just was curius about CBD oil…i am and have been a chronic pain patient since the age of 15…i am so sick of the politics and the view they have about narcotic….i am tired of being depended on my doctor and the scripts…
    So i went and search and found my best pain reliever as of today…this month i will be 58 and for the first time in years i feel better then ever…
    Back to the CBD …i am also an herbalogist..
    As you may be founding out this new compound is awesome for nerve pain…but also very expensive…the only way i can afford it is to make it myself…lol…so i did it with just flower and VG…looks great taste sooooo sweet but the worse part is the burning smell i have all the time..HELP..cici

    • Hi Christine,
      I am new to vaping but my daughter works for a vape/ e-liquid company. I had the burning smell and the after taste was gross. My daughter said it was the type of vape mod I had. I have all tanks with a silicone wick. If you tighten down your tank too hard it can stop the wick from absorbing the liquid into the atomizer. The burning is the coil with no juice getting to it. if you have a tank model with the silicone wick, too thick of liquid will also clog your adomizer. Last 2 possiblites is every time you fill you tank prime the coil by sucking on it 3or4 x’s without pressing the coil button. This will get juice to the wick before it burns. Last is replace you adomizer it may be burned out. Hope this helps. Have a great day.

    • Use flower and vg add a little pg. Let sit at least 60 days. Strain through coffee filter two times. Best you make a concentrate then add to vg pg. Less clorophyl. Use a wickless cartridge with ceramic coil for thick oil. The plant material gets stuck in the wick and burns. You can make a simple extract with everclear and evap. You must wait at least 30 days for glycerine to absorb plant. Heat mixture to no more than 100 degrees before straining vg pg. Add any terp profile for best flavor.

  6. Hi,
    I’ve been successful in cutting down my cigarettes from 20 to 1-2 a day and try not to vape for hours and hours.

    I live in India, and I really dont trust what the local/chinese/shady looking e-juice labels say on their ingredients.

    I want to make a healthy Juice, probably VG, without any flavour even, just to help me smoke without harming myself.
    100% VG is going to gunk the system as online info.
    I dont want any PG as Ive hurt myself enough with smoking.
    How can I vape and which System/Model/company to use?
    Thank you

  7. I’m 17mos. smoke-free after 30 yrs. smoking cigs. With gaping it’s been painless & fun, really. Except for the agonizing ulcers I have on my tongue, constantly at this point. I can’t eat any salt or acid. It’s like atomic canker sore pain. I read it was caused by SLS- the foaming agent in most toothpastes combining with the pg in vape joose. Found toothpaste w out it- not difficult to do.

    Made a special trip to a particular shop I knew had it on hand. It being a joose w USP grade Kosher certified pg. My question is; is this the end of my pain? (Most likely) or do I need pg free joose? Any input is appreciated! I’d like to continue vaping, I have a fortune invested & I really enjoy the sense of being clean inside & out. At 54yrs. of age, the numbers on all of my last med. check-up weren’t good, they were Excellent!! Need some help w this last bit of fine tuning. Thanx very much.

  8. Been vaping since day 1. I first started on pg, and after 2-3weeks, I too had a mouth full of ulcers. So I went on vg, which solved my mouth ulcer problem. 4 years on almost now and I’m down to 0.8mg started on 34mg. Mixed my own the last 2 half years. 50/50 pg and vg seems to be fine with me. And I get the best of both worlds, throat hit from pg, smoke from the vg. My advice would be to mix your own, experiment with the 50/50 or go 25/75 or 30/70 with pg/vg.

  9. i want to see if i can vape just the veg.base.i am using the patch for nicotine and the vape for the habit of smoking,to attempt to quit smoking…I’ve been smoking for 49 yrs.and im 58 yrs.old..wish me luck folks,ill try to keep you posted on my progress…

  10. Dear OK. Ive suffered w mouth ulcers for years. Finally a wonderful doc fixed it.
    Betamethasone Dipropionate Gel. Clears it right up!! Its a miracle. I still have burning mouth syndrome, so i will try the no SLS foam agent. Thanks for info.

  11. I orderd some base that was 20/80 with 12 nic. In a 32 oz bottel.
    It was to much pg for me. A freind told me to get some de la cruz 100% vg to smooth it out. It was the 2 oz bottel.
    Now my vape dont tast good. I hope i didnt waste my juice.
    Anyone have any idea how to fix it?
    Should i just throw it away?

    • It sounds like you’ve diluted your juice which will make it difficult to get the flavour back in.
      Most flavourings you can buy are 100% pg based.

      I use the ‘e-Juice Me Up’ calculator to try and remix certain juices i own that are not quite perfect.

      It automatically calculates what u add into the boxes and will show you what you need to add to get
      to the point you want.

    • Hi Don, I did close to the same thing. You basically just watered down the flavor with the VG. Though can save it and just by flavor concentrate. They are strong so a few drops will be enough to add the flavor back. If you have Somme of the original then just divide your juice in two bottles and add a little to each bottle to bring the flavor back up. Hope this helps.

  12. I was allergic to the pg do I went to vg and it stopped the allergies. So I smoke vgbo nicotine menthol or peppermint and it does well.

  13. I know that the kits are available to turn wax/dab into liquid form for use in e-cigarette. My question is, can I purchase Propylene Glycol from Walmart or GNC and mix them myself without paying for an overpriced kit?

  14. A friend caped. She had a surgery and ended up on a ventilator, she was told is was because her lungs were coated with PG. is this true????

  15. Propylene Glycol: My wife has been smoking E cigarettes for about 3 to 4 years. She has develop a limping in her right leg (slight paralyze), after consulting with Neurosurgeon 3 times numerous MRI’s and EMG tests can not find the problem. On my own I started checking the E cig: and the additives in it.
    Propylene Glycol alone is not a issue but when you vaporize it turns into Propylene Oxide. If you check out DOW chemical they will tell you do not inhale Propylene Oxide. I found a study in England where they fed rats Propylene Oxide and the rats develop nerve issues. I’m thinking I might be on to something.
    I’m exploring Propylene Oxide and hoping for more info.

    • Actually, Ron, propylene oxide is used to MAKE propylene glycol. I haven’t fond anything to indicate that vaporising the pg will turn it back into the oxide form. Which doesn’t mean that it’s good for you to inhale it of course.

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