What Is Eliquid? A Comprehensive Guide

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If you’re new to vaping, you’ve probably heard and seen a lot about eliquids around the internet. These might be good or bad things that you have heard and seen, but this post is going to serve as an informational guide to help dispel any myths that you have heard about eliquids.

We’re also going to be covering some more advanced techniques and terminology that you may hear amongst the enthusiast community. Because you are on this website, we are going to assume you have an interest in vaping and want to take your experience to the next level. Hopefully this post will help to educate you and help you to take that next step.

What is an eLiquid?

eLiquid is a term that refers to the juice that you put into your electronic cigarette. This juice contains the nicotine that you require and is a necessary part of smoking electronic cigarettes.

E-Liquids often consists of three parts. The Nicotine, The Diluent and the flavour solution. By combining these three together, when you heat the liquid it will create a vapour that you inhale to mimic the sensation of smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes.

Due to the nicotine content within these eliquids, they are used to, in most cases, successfully help people stop smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes.

Also known as e-juice, refill liquid, dripping liquid amongst other names.

E-Liquids are generally sold in bottles or disposable cartridges. If you want to go down the DIY route, you can purchase DIY juice making kits - this is generally for the more advanced user and we will touch on DIY juice making in this post later on. 

Some manufacturers may also be able to provide you with bespoke liquid creation - offering you the chance to change the amount of flavour and nicotine that is within your liquid. Most retailers will stock anywhere from 0mg all the way up to 18mg of Nicotine strength e-liquid.

What are eliquids made from?

Eliquids usually consist of five main ingredients. The ingredients are propylene glycol, glycerin or vegetable glycerin, water, nicotine and flavourings.

Not all eliquids are created with all of these ingredients, however. Some liquids can come without having propylene glycol, nicotine or flavouring. Liquids tend to contain 95% propylene glycol and glycerin, with the last 5% being a mixture of flavourings, nicotine and water.

You’ll notice around many online stores that they advertise the PG and VG percentages on their eliquids. This is the percentage of the amount of Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerin (VG) within the liquid.

PG and VG are odourless liquids and different percentages of both can have different effects

What is Propylene Glycol (PG)?

Propylene Glycol is a petroleum by-product. This fluid is transparent, doesn't have a colour and has no odour. It is also less viscous that Vegetable Glycerin.

Propylene Glycol chemical structure

It is used within eliquids to provide a hit on the throat that is similar to that of traditional tobacco smoking. This helps users during the transition phase of smoking to vaping.

PG helps to carry flavour within the liquid and it does this more effectively that VG. This means that PG is more commonly used as a suspension fluid for concentrated flavour and nicotine.

Propylene Glycol isn’t just used in eliquids. It is found in many household items that you may not expect. Some of the items that it is found:

  • Asthma Inhalers
  • Pet Food
  • Medical products. Used orally, injected or as a topical treatment.
  • Many beauty products such as make-up, shampoo and baby wipes.

With that being said, there are some things that you should be aware of when vaping PG.

It has been found that some people find high amounts of PG irritating to their throat and some people have even reported allergic reactions. This is rare, but it still occurs. If you ever find yourself coming out in a rash as a result of vaping a high PG liquid, you should switch to a 100% VG liquid instead and consult your doctor.

100% VG Solutions are starting to become increasingly popular and available.

When you first start using a high PG liquid you may experience some short term side effects that will last around a week whilst you get used to using a new liquid. These are: dry mouth, sore throat and increased thirst.

Because of this, it is advised that you consume more fluids as these symptoms could last between a few days to a few weeks whilst you adjust to your new vape.

What is Vegetable Glycerin (VG)?

Vegetable Glycerine is a natural chemical that is derived from Vegetable oil. This means it is safe for vegetarians to consume.

Vegetable Glycerin chemical structure

Vegetable Glycerin gives the eliquid its thickness and also helps to produce dense plumes of smoke when vaped. Having a high VG fluid also means that the hit will be smoother and easier on the throat. This makes it also more suitable for sub-ohm vaping.

VG is slightly thicker that PG and has a slight sweet taste.

VG is also found in numerous household products, similar to PG. Some of them are:

  • Sweetener (sugar replacement)
  • Beauty products – Make-up, mousse, aftershave, deodorant.
  • Pet food
  • Soaps and hand creams
  • Dental care products such as Toothpaste
  • Medical products which require a thick gel such as capsule pills, jellies and medicinal creams.

As with PG, there are things that you should be aware of when vaping with VG.

Because of the increased thickness of the liquid, a high VG liquid has the chance to clog coils at an increased rate and as a result of this, your coil setup may not perform as intended.

It also can cause problems in older devices. If you use a clearomizer, you may experience significant problems when trying to vape a high VG Liquid.

Again, when vaping a high VG liquid you may experience some short term side effects such as sore throat, increased thirst and dry mouth. Increasing your intake of fluids should help to combat these potential effects.

Now you understand PG and VG a little better, there is probably one question on your mind:

What PG/VG Ratio Should I Be Using?

Well this is down to preference. There isn’t a one size fits all solution so there may be some experimenting that you may have to do in order to find the right fit for you.

We have however put together a small benchmark that you can use to gauge the vape experience you wish to have:

Throat Hit – If you’re looking for that kick in the back of your throat when you vape, then you’ll want to go for a high PG liquid. You’ll also experience a higher concentrate of flavour as PG carries flavour better than higher VG liquids. A high PG liquid will not produce as much vapour.

Smooth Hit – If smoothness is your thing and you want an effortless vape, then a higher VG liquid is the way to go. It will feel thicker as a higher VG fluid will create denser and larger volume of vapour. This is the way to go if you want to achieve cloud chaser status.

It is important to note that having a higher percentage in either VG or PG will affect the overall experience you will have. Hopefully the benchmarks above have cleared up some of those queries.

So How Do I Create My Own eLiquid? (DIY e-Juice)

This could honestly be a post on its own!

It’s not as complicated as you might think, you just need a few ingredients and you can create a cost effective juice that is that flavour that you just cannot find anywhere, no matter how hard you’ve searched.

You will however need to do some basic math in order to get concentrations right. Things like nicotine strength, adequate flavour dilution (too much and the flavour will “wash out” meaning you may start tasting more of the chemicals if you’re using artificial flavourings.) and PG & VG percentages.

We may do a more in-depth blog post in the future about this process because it can go incredibly deep in to how to create your own eliquids and the techniques and methodology involved.

With that being said, another important element of creating your own eliquid and even eliquids that you purchase from stores is steeping.

What is eliquid Steeping?

Steeping is the act of effectively “aging” your eliquid to intensify the flavour. Think of a fine wine that gets better with age, or a slow cooked ragu – these things generally get better the longer you cook or age them.

This is the same with eLiquids. It takes time for the VG and the PG within the liquid to properly entwine with all of those flavour molecules within the liquid. This is why steeping is recommended by many vapers because it intensifies the flavour. It is for the patient amongst you reading this, so if you aren’t patient then steeping probably isn’t for you.

Essentially, to steep your liquids, all you need to do is place your ejuice bottles in a cool, dark place and leave them. To expedite the process it is also recommended that you shake the bottles regularly.

There are other techniques such as running bottles under warm water.

How Long Does Steeping Take?

This comes down to the flavour profile of the juice itself. It is said that fruity flavours take the shortest amount of time to reach their peak flavour, whilst creamy dessert flavours take the longest. Some liquids can take as long as two weeks to reach their peak flavour and some might just be good right out of the bottle.

Again, using techniques such as warm water to heat the bottles may help to move those molecules around and expedite the process.

The whole point of steeping is to get the maximum amount of flavour out of your juice. Remember, if it tastes good to you – it is ready.

What is Dripping Liquid?

Dripping refers to the technique of dripping eliquid directly on to the atomizers coil and then immediately inhaling the vapour produced. A dripping liquid is a liquid that has been created specifically for this purpose, and often comes in a bottle with a pipette to make this technique easier.

We have covered a lot of subjects relating to eliquids and there are probably a lot more questions out there that you have. If you do have any more questions that you want answering, let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them into this article!

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