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Vegetable Glycerin (VG) in Vape E-Liquid: Everything You Need to Know

Ethan Parker

Written by: Ethan Parker

Updated on December 18, 2023


E-liquid is a complex mixture composed of several key ingredients, including Vegetable Glycerin (VG), Propylene Glycol (PG), nicotine (or cannabinoids such as CBD and THC). These components work together to create the unique vapor experience sought by e-cigarette users.

Among these ingredients, Vegetable Glycerin (VG) plays a pivotal role. As a naturally extracted colorless and almost odorless liquid, VG is responsible not only for producing dense vapor but also for influencing the taste and throat hit of e-cigarettes. The high viscosity of VG presents unique challenges and advantages in its application in e-liquids, especially when combined with nicotine or cannabinoids. Understanding these characteristics of VG is crucial for ensuring a pleasurable and safe vaping experience.

What is Vegetable Glycerin (VG)?

Vegetable Glycerin (VG), also known as glycerol, is a naturally occurring liquid derived primarily from plant oils. It is colorless, almost odorless, and has a notably high viscosity. VG is widely used across various industries, including food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals, valued for its safety and non-toxic nature.

In the context of e-liquids, VG’s primary role is as a vapor-producing agent. Its high viscosity enables the production of thick and rich vapor, which many e-cigarette users desire. Compared to Propylene Glycol (PG), VG generates denser vapor, while PG is known for delivering a stronger throat hit and flavor carrier. Therefore, the ratio of VG to PG in e-liquids varies according to user preferences.

Another significant characteristic of VG is its relatively low allergenicity. For users sensitive to PG, VG serves as a preferable alternative. Additionally, VG is considered to have a lesser impact on the vaping equipment, although its high viscosity may demand better heating and wicking capabilities from the vaping device.

Chemical Formula and Physicochemical Properties of VG

vegetable glycerin structure

The chemical formula of VG is C3H8O3, and it is a simple triol. Below is a table outlining some key physical and chemical properties of VG and their impact on e-liquid usage:

Phys-Chem Property Description Impact on E-Liquid
Chemical Formula C3H8O3 Determines its basic chemical structure and reactivity
Boiling Point About 290°C (554°F) High boiling point contributes to stable vapor production
Density About 1.26 g/cm³ Higher density produces denser vapor
Solubility Soluble in water Good mixability with water and other solvents
Viscosity High Creates thick vapor but may affect device performance
Toxicity Low Suitable for inhalation and food-grade applications

How Does Vegetable Glycerin Work?

Vegetable Glycerin (VG) plays a crucial role in e-liquids, primarily in generating vapor and influencing the vaping experience, including taste and throat sensation.

Generating Vapor

VG is one of the key components in e-liquids responsible for vapor production. Due to its high viscosity, VG produces thick and rich vapor when heated. This dense vapor not only enhances the visual aspect but also provides a more satisfying vaping experience. For users who prefer a substantial amount of vapor, e-liquids with a high VG content are ideal. Additionally, the vapor produced by VG is often considered gentler and less irritating to the throat compared to that produced by Propylene Glycol (PG).

Influencing Taste and Throat Hit

VG affects not only the quantity and quality of vapor but also significantly influences the taste and throat hit of e-cigarettes. VG itself is almost tasteless, but its high viscosity adds to the “smoothness” of the e-liquid, offering a smoother vaping experience. In contrast, PG is known for providing a stronger throat hit and clearer flavor. Therefore, the ratio of VG to PG in e-liquids impacts the overall vaping sensation, allowing users to choose or adjust the VG/PG ratio according to personal preferences.

How Does Vegetable Glycerin Interact with Nicotine?

In the formulation of e-liquids, the combination of Vegetable Glycerin (VG) with nicotine is a key consideration. Next, we explores the compatibility between VG and nicotine and how the concentration of nicotine affects the vaping experience.

Compatibility of VG with Nicotine

VG and nicotine blend well together in e-liquids. The high viscosity of VG helps in evenly dispersing nicotine, ensuring consistency in nicotine delivery with each inhalation. This uniform distribution is crucial for maintaining consistency in the vaping experience. The mild nature of VG also helps in reducing the throat irritation caused by nicotine, making the vaping experience smoother.

Impact of Nicotine Concentration on User Experience

The concentration of nicotine is another significant factor that affects the vaping experience. Different concentrations of nicotine can provide varying levels of throat hit and nicotine satisfaction. Higher concentrations of nicotine typically produce a stronger throat hit, while lower concentrations offer a milder experience. The use of VG can help modulate this sensation, as it can soften the intense effects of nicotine, especially for those seeking a gentler vaping experience.

How Does Vegetable Glycerin Interact with Cannabinoids

In the formulation of e-liquids, in addition to nicotine, the inclusion of cannabinoids such as CBD and THC is increasingly gaining attention. This section will explore the interaction between VG and CBD/THC, as well as the legal status and safety of cannabinoids in e-liquids.

Interaction of VG with CBD/THC

VG, as one of the fundamental components of e-liquids, plays a crucial role in its interaction with cannabinoids like CBD and THC. The high viscosity of VG helps to stably suspend these cannabinoids, ensuring consistency with each inhalation. The mild nature of VG also helps reduce the irritation felt during inhalation, making e-liquids containing CBD or THC smoother and more suitable for prolonged use. Additionally, the use of VG can enhance vapor production, thereby increasing the absorption rate of CBD/THC.

Legal Status and Safety of Cannabinoids in E-Liquids

While nicotine vapes have age restrictions worldwide similar to cigarettes, the use of cannabinoids in e-liquids is subject to more stringent national and regional laws. In some areas, e-liquids containing CBD are legal, while those containing THC may be restricted or completely prohibited. Therefore, users need to be aware of local laws and regulations when choosing e-liquids containing cannabinoids. Moreover, the safety of cannabinoids is an important consideration. While CBD is generally considered safe, the use of THC may pose health risks, especially for minors and pregnant women.

How Does Inhaling VG Affect Health?

It is crucial to understand the potential health impacts of Vegetable Glycerin (VG) in e-liquids  when considering its use. Next we will explore the possible short-term and long-term health effects of inhaling VG, as well as its comparison with traditional smoking and other inhalants.

Short-Term and Long-Term Health Impacts

While VG is widely regarded as relatively safe, inhaling it can still have certain health implications. In the short term, inhaling VG may cause mild irritation to the throat and mouth. Some individuals might experience allergic reactions, such as skin itching or breathing difficulties. The long-term effects are not entirely clear, but some studies suggest that prolonged inhalation of VG could impact lung health. However, these studies are not consistent in their conclusions, and more scientific research is needed for confirmation.

Comparison with Traditional Smoking and Other Inhalants

Compared to traditional tobacco smoking, using e-liquids containing VG is considered a healthier alternative. Traditional tobacco smoke contains thousands of harmful chemicals, including tar and carbon monoxide, which are absent in VG-based e-liquids. However, this does not mean that inhaling VG is completely harmless. Compared to other inhalants, the health impacts of VG seem to be lower, but users are still advised to use it cautiously and be aware of their personal health responses.

Adjusting the VG/PG Ratio

In the world of personalization and DIY (Do-It-Yourself) e-liquids, adjusting the ratio of VG (Vegetable Glycerin) to PG (Propylene Glycol) is a key step. Different experiences will be brought by various VG/PG ratios, and DIYers need to know the basic methods to adjust them according to personal preferences.

Experience Differences with Various Ratios

The ratio of VG to PG in e-liquids directly affects the density of the vapor, the throat hit, and the delivery of flavor. E-liquids with a higher VG ratio typically produce denser vapor, suitable for users who prefer a substantial amount of vapor. These e-liquids are also milder, reducing throat irritation. Conversely, e-liquids with a higher PG ratio provide a stronger throat hit and clearer flavor but produce less vapor. This ratio is more suited for those who prefer a pronounced throat hit and flavor.

How to Adjust According to Personal Preferences?

Adjusting the VG/PG ratio based on personal smoking preferences is one of the joys of DIY e-liquids. If you prefer dense vapor and a milder throat hit, try increasing the VG ratio. On the other hand, if you enjoy a strong throat hit and more pronounced flavor, increase the PG ratio. When adjusting the ratio, it’s advisable to start with a balanced mix, like 50/50, and then gradually adjust according to personal preferences. Experimenting with different ratios can help you find the e-liquid formula that suits you best.


Vegetable Glycerin (VG) is essential in e-liquids for its role in vapor production and flavor enhancement. Its versatility allows for a personalized vaping experience, though awareness of its health implications remains crucial. VG’s balance with Propylene Glycol (PG) offers vapers the ability to tailor their experience, making it a fundamental element in the art of vaping.

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Ethan Parker
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