I’ve had a couple of comments on my “advice for newbies” page from people who feel they’ve had some side effects from the e-liquid in their electronic cigarettes, so I thought it would be a good idea to talk about that here and to discuss the differences between PG & VG, the 2 types of e-liquid you can get.
I personally went through a spell after about 6 or 7 weeks of using my Skycig where my throat and airways felt really dry and irritated, and I had a cough that was far worse than anything I’d experienced when I smoked, but I wasn’t really sure whether it was down to the vapour produced by the e-liquid I was using, or because my lungs were healing and just reacting to not being subjected to tar, chemicals and the likes any more, and were in effect cleaning themselves out.
So what I did was to spend some time researching the different types of e-liquid, and then to try out different e-liquids, which were the PG I was already using, VG, and also some PG/VG mixes.
So what does PG & VG actually mean?
The PG & VG that you’ll see when you look at cartomisers (cartridges) or e-liquid is the abbreviation of the active part of the liquid, the stuff that creates the vapour.
PG stands for Propylene Glycol (has a terribly chemical sounding name doesn’t it, like something you’d have come across during chemistry lessons in your dim and distant past!), which is a substance that has been used for decades in things like medical inhalers for asthma, etc, it’s also used as the carrier liquid in some injected medicines, and also in smoke machines that you might come across in pubs and clubs.
Although it sounds decidedly unpalatable, the reason it’s used in medicine is that it is classed as inert in the human body, that is to say it doesn’t cause a reaction even when injected into your blood stream.
It is also a very powerful bactericide and virucide and has been used in hospitals for sterilisation, it can kill pathogens in extremely small quantities (I’m not saying it’s actually good for you, but that’s some pretty nice side properties it has!).
It has been used for decades, almost 80 years, so it is well known, well documented, and well understood in terms of how it affects people – this is great because you’re not inhaling something new and wondering how it might effect you, and what they might learn about side effects, etc in the future.
In relation to electronic cigarettes, PG is preferred by many people because it gives a better “throat hit”, or in other words it more closely simulates actually smoking a cigarette.
However, some people find that they can’t tolerate prolonged use of PG e-liquids, it just doesn’t agree with them. The most common symptom is dryness of the throat (and possibly airways if you inhale it deeply), and so it’s important to make sure you drink plenty of water to remain hydrated.
As you’ll see in the comments from visitors to this site, one or 2 people also felt it made their bodies feel “itchy”.
If this is the case for you, then you might want to try a VG e-liquid.
VG stands for vegetable glycerine, and it has different properties to PG.
VG produces more vapour, but some people feel it carries the flavours of the e-liquid less well (while others think it’s better!). It can be produced in a variety of different ways, it can be synthesised (as PG is), or can contain coconut oil or palm oil, so it’s claimed that there is far more potential for an allergic reaction to it than PG, which supposedly is not believed to be able to cause an allergic reaction at all.
It is believed that VG is treated by the body as a complex carbohydrate and is broken down by the body and excreted.
It doesn’t seem to cause dehydration and dryness of the throat like PG does, and it is being used more and more in inhalers, etc because of this, but there is far less research and documentation of side effects etc from it’s use.
People who find that PG is too harsh may find that VG is a much better choice for them.
Then in the middle you have PG/VG mixes which contain both. The most common ratio is probably 70% PG to 30% VG.
This is possibly the best solution for some people – it tones down the harshness of the PG while still giving a good throat hit, produces plenty of vapour, and tastes good too.
It is impossible to recommend one type over another since everyone is different, and everyone’s tolerances will be different, so it is a case of trying out the different types and seeing which one works best for you.
Personally now I’m using a PG/VG mix, and it is perfect for me.
I hope this helped you!
My name is Dave and I live in England in the UK. I’ve been a 40 a day smoker for over 20 years, and I’ve decided that I need to stop smoking. But wanting to stop is nothing new for me. In the past I’ve tried just about everything to quit including nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, an inhalator, Zyban, Champix, and even hypnosis – and up to now nothing has worked. I did even try will power once but that only lasted for about 3 minutes! I don’t know why I’ve found it so tough to give up cigarettes in the past.