E-liquid and You: An FAQ

You may be new to vaping, you may not be. You might want to read this, or you may want to save and look at it later. But, here we go, as much debunking of terminology as can be done….

1. What is E liquid?

E-liquid, or juice, is the liquid that we use to vape. It comes in different strengths and a myriad of flavours, from ciggie to Redbull, from menthol to coconut, from coke to pina colada. There’s pretty much a flavour for everyone, and if there’s not, you can give making your own a go.

2. What do the strengths mean?

Like cigarettes, e-liquid comes in different strengths. The ‘..mg’ usually means mg of nicotine per ml, not per vape! This is not an exhaustive list, but most vendors do not do over 24mg, with 36 and 45 being more of a specialist vein:

0mg – this is nicotine free liquid, and can be used if you just want to test a flavour, or, as a friend of mine is doing, attempting to cut down a Redbull addiction

6mg – this is quite weak as liquids go, a bit like smoking silver Silk Cut

11mg – this is like a light cigarette, or for someone who didn’t smoke a lot

16mg – this is an in the middle. If you used to smoke say 20 a day, this is a good place to start, as you have the option to go up or down from this

18mg – This is the usual starter strength, and the most common strength of all. But not all like it.

24mg – A bit stronger, good if you were more of a heavy smoker

36mg – This is bloody strong, and serious smokers or those who don’t vape as much need only apply

45mg – Possibly the most heavyweight strength of all, made for those who chain smoked and super-heavy smokers.

All of the strengths may scare you a little, but it’s easy to find the strength that suits you. A good rule of thumb is: if it makes you feel sick, or ill, go down a strength. If you are vaping like crazy, go up one.

3. What is in e-liquid?

Basically, there are 4 main ingredients.

1. PG – this is short for propylene glycol. This is a safe, non-toxic ingredient used in dry ice machines. To be used in vaping means that it is food-grade and perfectly safe

2. VG – this is short for vegetable glycerin. This is a natural product and is also found in cough medicine. It’s also quite a thick liquid, and if using a high VG mix will usually be cut with distilled water or vodka to help it flow more freely. This also needs to be food-grade to be used in vaping.

3. Nicotine – we all know what this little addictive thing is, it’s what got us to switch

4. Flavourings – these can be natural or manufactured, but are all water and not oil based, as this is safer to vape and causes fewer problems.

ALL of the ingredients, yup, those 4, HAVE to be tested and meet certain standards before they are used. It’s not as if we’re mixing in bathtubs like Homer and Grandpa Simpson’s Love Tonic……

4. What does ’70/30 PG/VG’ mean?

The little numbers on the bottle usually tell you how the liquid is made up. The majority of liquids are 70/30 PG/VG, which means that it is 70% PG and 30% VG. Some manufacturers do 80/20 (80% 20&), 60/40, 50/50. All it’s telling you is how much PG and VG there is in the liquid. There are, of course, some where it is 80/20 VG/PG, and these VG heavy liquids are for those who have a PG sensitivity

5. What is DIY?

DIY is, quite basically, how to make your own. (and will be covered in depth in another FAQ). If there’s flavours you want that aren’t made, you can get the base flavourings, nicotine, PG and VG, and make your own flavours. On UKVapers and AAEC there are recipe lists of others who have given it a go and made it work, so it’s best to have a look at this before you start!

6. What is PG sensitivity?

Some people, quite a small number, can find they are sensitive or allergic to PG. The usual symptoms can be hives, a dry or sore mouth, a sore throat, and is some VERY rare occasions, breathlessness. However, this could also be a sensitivity to an ingredient. If you get any of these STOP using the liquid, get antihistamines, and use a liquid you KNOW is safe until you have isolated the cause. There are some retailers who sell VG-heavy liquids because of this sensitivity, but some do make their own, either as they know what goes in, or it’s just the way their mind works :/

7. How do I store it?

Now, e-liquid can be dangerous. If you’re silly enough to leave it lying around, yes, little fingers might get into it, although it tastes so foul that you’d soon find out – as you’d know, if you get it spitting at you from an atty. So, cos the stupid are among us, we need to talk about safe storage:

Lids: Keep the lids on your bottles when not in use, tightened up and not leaking

Bottles: Keep them in a safe place – this could be a spare drawer, a cupboard, a storage unit.

Storage unit: Make sure little fingers and pets cannot get into your juice storage. If you need to, keep it locked, keep it high up, get a mesh bin to go on your post slot to stop it dropping and getting eaten.

It’s all about safety. It tastes foul, but it can be deadly if you’re silly enough to drink it. All common sense, but it can be amazing how people forget. Make sure it’s kept labelled, it’s kept safe, and if you spill it on your skin, wash your hands. If you get spat at, rinse your mouth out.