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Vegetable Glycerin Vs. Propylene Glycol

Vegetable glycerin is a natural product, while propylene glycol is a synthetic compound. iBuzzle jots down the differences between the two most widely used e-liquid bases - propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin.
Note
It is important to stay hydrated when consuming e-cigarettes as propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are both humectants; they absorb water, and hence impart a thirsty throat.

If you're stepping into the e-cigarette world, you're sure gonna encounter these two words―Vegetable Glycerin (VG) and Propylene Glycol (PG). We don't want you to give a blank look when your e-liquid vendor is asking about the flavor of your preference. To be precise, e-cigarettes need a liquid solution to atomize heat, which is called e-liquid (or e-juice). This liquid needs a carrier to work. The carrier is a blend of nicotine, flavorings, and either or both of these components―VG and PG. This carrier vaporizes when in contact of heat and renders a great puff.

So, the two primary components that go into e-juices are VG and PG. To get a smoking experience that soothes your taste, it is crucial to know their flavor capabilities and properties. These are both rated as safe for consumption, though PG is the most commonly used e-liquid. We've covered some important factors to keep in mind about VG and PG, before consuming them.

Vegetable Glycerin Vs. Propylene Glycol

Background

Vegetable glycerin is a natural organic glycerol that is extracted from vegetable oils such as coconut oil, palm oil, soy, etc.
Propylene glycol is an organic compound produced from propylene oxide, which is a petroleum byproduct.

Properties

VG has a naturally sweet flavor, which is predominant when vaping VG juices.
VG liquid has a thicker consistency; its viscosity can result into clogging up the coil on your atomizer.
VG creates huge clouds of vapor with a smooth feel. It closely resembles conventional cigarettes.
Though there is higher cloud vaporization, VG does not give a great throat hit.
PG doesn't have a peculiar flavor. It is tasteless and clear, so it doesn't alter the e-liquid's flavor.
Unlike VG liquids, PG has a thinner, lesser viscous consistency, thus, preventing accumulation of gunk and slime on the coil of your atomizer.
PG creates light vapor; it resembles a tobacco cigarette.
PG provides a stronger throat hit than VG flavors.

Side Effects

The risk of VG causing allergies is low because it is a natural compound after all. However, smokers can experience increased thirst or sore throat.
PG tends to cause allergies like minor reactions, tingling sensation in the throat, and mild rashes to severe irritations on body parts.

Safety

As we saw, VG (food grade) doesn't cause allergic reactions like propylene glycol. It is derived from vegetables, and hence, it is considered safe and natural. In fact, it is used as a sweetener, and also forms an ingredient of many cosmetic products.
PG (food grade) is recognized safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is also used as a food preservative, and found in many healthcare products such as skincare lotions. However, a small percentage of people prone to higher rate of sensitivity can be affected by PG.

Other Applications

Besides being used as an e-juice, some other applications of vegetable glycerin include food production, inclusion in cosmetics products, as a substitute for ethanol, etc.
It is mainly used as a food preservative, solvent, humectant, in pharmaceutical products, other than being used as an e-juice.

Choosing the Right E-liquid

That's your call. Both PG and VG are non-toxic. If you're prone to allergies, then skip PG-based e-liquids. If you like producing vapor clouds, then go for VG. Most e-smokers consider a mixture of VG and PG as the ideal e-liquid.
By Payal Kanjwani
Published: 2/12/2015
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