Let’s start with the most important question you may have. What is an e-liquid? To put it simply, an e-liquid, also known as e-juice, vape juice or vape liquid, is the thick, flavoured liquid that is placed into the tank or pod of a vape device to create vapour. It’s what you inhale and exhale as part of the vaping process, much like how water evaporates when it’s exposed to a higher temperature.
You might expect an e-liquid to be filled with all sorts of chemicals and ingredients, but in fact, e-liquids within the UK are made from a maximum of five components to ensure safety and compliance with the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). This includes nicotine, Propylene Glycol (PG), Vegetable Glycerine (VG), flavourings and distilled water, although you’ll find that most brands have a nicotine-free option if that’s what you would prefer.
When you start off on your vaping journey, you’ll need to pick your first ever e-liquid. But this isn’t quite as simple as picking your favourite flavour - there are a few extra things to consider! In this guide, we’ll run through all the different aspects of picking an e-liquid to help you find the ideal juice for you!
What Flavour and Brand is Right for Me?
We’ll start off with the most obvious part of your e-liquid decision, and the one you’ll initially be most comfortable with - choosing a flavour! When it comes to picking an e-liquid flavour, the world is at your feet. From the most deliciously fruity and exotic juices to indulgent dessert flavours, sweet candy aromas and rich tobacco blends, you have a huge range of options to suit your personal preference.
New vapers often find that the transition from smoking to vaping is made much easier by going with what they know, which is why some of our most popular e-liquids are Pure Ice Menthol, Pure Menthol and Pure Virginia, replicating your preferred cigarette brands or icy menthol hit! However, this is the chance to really explore the world of e-liquid flavours, so why not utilise our Pure or Vampire Vape multi-buy offer to try out a few different types?
Specific flavours aside, you’ll also find that you may also prefer one e-liquid brand to another. For instance, our Pure E-Liquid range is designed to provide a clearer, cleaner vape that won’t get overpowering as you go through the day, whilst brands such as Vampire Vape and IVG are great for vapers with a real sweet tooth!
What PG/VG Ratio is Right for Me?
Depending on the style of vaping you choose, whether that’s DTL or MTL, the exact ratio of your e-liquid’s components will differ, which is why you’ll see a “PG/VG Ratio” on each of our e-liquid’s product descriptions across the VHQ website.
PG is a food-safe chemical that you’ll find in many pre-packaged foods and medicines, and plays the role of carrying the nicotine and flavourings to enable proper vapourisation. It also provides the feeling the vaping industry term a “throat hit” which is a satisfying feeling at the back of your throat that you’ll instantly recognise from smoking. For MTL vaping, the method that most closely resembles smoking a cigarette, you’ll need an e-liquid with higher PG content such as 70% PG to 30 VG. This is because PG is more easily vapourised than VG, meaning you don’t need the higher power or lower-resistance coils that you find with DTL and sub-ohm devices.
VG is a derivative of plant oil, used as a sweetener and thickener in the food industry. In an e-liquid, VG is used to deliver big clouds of vapour, which is why you’ll need an e-liquid with a higher VG content for DTL or sub-ohm vaping - as high VG e-liquids require a specific type of coil and a more powerful battery to vapourise.
As a simple guide, we’ve demonstrated which PG/VG ratios are suitable for your style of vaping below:
- 100% VG: Suitable for DTL or sub-ohm vaping, but only used for customers who have an allergy to PG or are interested in competitive cloudchasing. This ratio has almost no throat hit and the sweet VG will alter flavours and create possible equipment issues if you don’t have the right set-up.
- 80% VG / 20% PG: An uncommon ratio for DTL and sub-ohm vaping that slightly increases vapour production whilst decreasing throat hit.
- 70% VG / 30% PG: Suitable for DTL or sub-ohm vaping, providing lots of vapour with a little throat hit. A smooth feeling that doesn’t overpower when inhaling, and produces big clouds when exhaling - the best of both worlds!
- 50% VG / 50% PG: A great starting point for MTL experimentation that provides a quality exhale with a nice bite on the inhale.
- 60% VG / 40% PG: Another very common PG/VG ratio for MTL vapers that delivers slightly increased vapour production with a slightly reduced throat hit.
- 100% PG: The strongest throat hit and best delivery of flavours for MTL vaping, but a very uncommon ratio that you won’t find much anywhere!
What Nicotine Strength is Right For Me?
E-liquids come in a wide range of nicotine strengths, from nicotine-free or 0mg, to the maximum allowed strength available in the UK of 20mg, or 2%. The stronger the % or mg amount, the more nicotine is delivered, with a more enhanced “throat hit”, just like a cigarette. Depending on whether you’re planning to vape MTL or DTL style, we’ll provide an easy explanation of which strength should suit you best, when compared to your previous smoking habits.
For MTL vapers, there are a wide range of strengths to pick from, so think about how many cigarettes you’re used to smoking, and start off on a strength similar to your experience. Depending on which e-liquid brand you pick, you’ll see that strengths are tiered differently - for instance our Pure E-Liquid range goes up in 5mg strengths, whereas Vampire Vape goes up in 3mg strengths.
- 1-5 cigarettes a day: 0.5% (5mg/ml)
- 5-15 cigarettes a day: 1.0% (10mg/ml)
- 15-20 cigarettes a day: 1.5% (15mg/ml)
- 20+ cigarettes a day: 2.0% (20 mg/ml)
If you want to vape DTL or sub-ohm, where you inhale directly from the device without holding the vapour in your mouth first like a cigarette, you’ll need a much lower nicotine strength liquid, typically between 0.3% to 0.6%, or 3mg/ml to 6mg/ml.
As you become more familiar with vaping, you might need to move to a higher or lower nicotine content e-liquid, to find that perfect hit. Many of our customers also make the decision to quit nicotine in general for good, so they slowly move down in nicotine strengths until they are satisfied with a nicotine-free e-liquid.
What is a Nic Salt?
To throw something else into the mix, there is a completely different type of e-liquid that may suit your requirements A nicotine salt, or nic shot for short, is an e-liquid formulated in a slightly different way. And no, it’s not salty! Nic salts are a type of naturally-occuring nicotine found in the tobacco leaf, and are a brilliant option for anyone looking to curb their nicotine cravings for longer periods of time, or for anyone who can’t vape frequently and needs a longer-lasting nicotine hit.
A nicotine salt provides the most efficient delivery of nicotine to your bloodstream, unlike the distilled or “freebase” nicotine that you’ll find in a standard e-liquid. This is because the “salts” alter the PH level of the liquid, which is more compatible with the human body and how it absorbs nicotine. Just like your typical e-liquid, nicotine salts are still 95% less harmful than smoking a cigarette, with no other additives than your PG, VG, nicotine and flavouring mix.
Nic salts help you to vape less, so can be a good cost-effective option too if you find yourself making your way very quickly through a freebase nicotine e-liquid. You’ll also find that they can often provide a richer, flavourful and more enjoyable vaping experience, as freebase nicotine can affect the e-liquid’s overall flavour. However, nicotine salts may not be for you if you were a lighter smoker, as the high nicotine content within nicotine salt e-liquids can be too much for some.
Can My E-Liquid Go Off?
Like the food in your fridge or cupboards, e-liquids do come with a “Best Before” date that gives you an idea of when your juice will be at its highest quality. However, this date is very different to those used by the food industry, as your e-liquid are shelf-stable just like canned food, meaning that your e-liquid is perfectly fine to vape for many years after this date. You’ll notice when your e-liquid may be a little too old to be tasty if you experience a gradual decrease in flavour and aroma, a change in colour of the e-liquid or bottle, and a reduction of nicotine potency.
So that’s it, a beginner’s guide to e-liquid! We hope we’ve explained every aspect of an e-liquid to you as clearly as possible, but if you are still unsure about what e-liquid is right for you, remember that the VHQ team are always here to help. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for a personal e-liquid recommendation to suit your preferences.