February 22, 2017

The sheer variety of vape juices out there is one of the best things about vaping. There are just so many choices, you can forgive a beginner vaper for getting a little overwhelmed.

Fear not, here’s a handy primer about the basics of vape juices – what they’re made from, what to look for, and how to choose the best e-liquid for you.

The basics

The standard bottle of e-liquid is made up of four basic ingredients:

Propylene glycol (PG)

A petroleum by-product, it forms the base of a juice. It carries flavour better than Vegetable Glycerin and produces what is called a ‘throat hit’,  a sensation similar to what it a smoke experiences when smoking tobacco.

How safe is PG? It’s a common ingredient in various medical products, including asthma inhalers and is also found in beauty products as well as dog food.

However PG can cause some common side-effects: sore throat, dry mouth and increased thirst. This might just be from the adjustment period of tapering off cigarettes so beginner vapers are advised to increase their fluid intake for the first few weeks.

Vegetable glycerin (VG)

For those who find high-levels of PG irritating to their throats, VG is an option. VG is included in most formulations as it produces a thicker smoke. A hit from a high VG fluid also feels smoother. It is also sweeter than PG so those who are turned off by VG’s flavour, might prefer higher PG mixes.

For those with sensitive throats or allergies to PG, there are vape juices with 100% VG bases.

Most vape juices however feature a mix between the two, so beginner vapers should sample a few different formulations until they find the best mix for their individual preferences.

The most common rations include 50/50, 60/40, 80/20 and 100% PG or VG.


Standard e-liquids can have varying nicotine levels: 0mg, 6mg, 12mg, 24mg and 32mg. The choice of potency will depend on how heavily you smoked previously with 12-24mg the usual choice for those who smoke around a pack a day.

The great thing about the different nicotine choices is that gradually smokers can choose to slowly reduce nicotine amounts or have a custom strength mixed for them – not an option you get with cigarettes.

Here’s a chart which matches up the strength of a regular cigarette to its rough vape equivalent:


e-Liquid nicotine strength

No nicotine


Ultra light

6mg (up to 10 cigarettes a day)


12mg (up to 20 cigarettes a day)

Regular (average strength)

18mg (up to 30 cigarettes a day)

Full flavoured (strong)

24mg (up to 60 cigarettes a day)

Unfiltered (very strong)

36mg (60 cigarettes or more)



    Cheaper e-liquids use basic food grade flavouring while higher grade juices will combine multiple flavours, creating custom mixes that make the formula unique.

    Choose your supplier well

    While personal preferences need to be taken into account, first find out where the juice comes from. You want to be sure your juice is made from safe substances and not adulterated with unsafe ingredients.

    A reliable supplier would vet the juices they sell – a much better option than just buying juice from a random seller or street stall. Proper juices are made with higher quality, pharmaceutical grade VG and PG, that is free from harmful additives.

    Ask your vaping friends for recommendations and take the time to vet potential suppliers. Safety matters.

    Watch those nicotine levels

    After you’ve found a reliable juice brand, then you need to decide just how much nicotine you need. This might take some time to figure out.

    If you need to puff a lot to the point it feels excessive, you might need to up the nicotine level. This might take some time to figure out – no need to go crazy and buy too many formulas. Stick with one first and if it’s not working out, up the nicotine level or perhaps try a higher PG base formula.

    How do you know If the nicotine in a formula might be too high? When you take your first pull and you get too much of a throat hit. Don’t immediately dismiss a formula in that case; sometimes all you need is just the formula in a lower nicotine concentration.

    You might be better off choosing a formula with a good mix of VG and PG – that gives you more of a throat hit as well as strong vapour, without needing more nicotine. Nicotine overdosing is a real danger so avoid the temptation to go straight for the highest level.

    Spoiled for flavour choices

    When it comes to flavours, though, you can knock yourself out.

    If you like sweeter flavours, try the fruity ones with a higher concentration of VG. Mango is a particular favourite with this group, as is watermelon.

    Miss your menthols? Vape juices have you covered there too. There’s quite a variety of menthol flavours – from straight up cold menthols, to smoother formulas, and even fruity menthols.

    Another flavour category is cream-based formulas. Ever wanted a root beer or strawberry shortcake smoking experience? There’s a juice for that.

    There are also various other interesting mixes you will discover as you continue your vape journey.

    Give it time

    When you’re just starting out, don’t be too keen on swapping out a variety of juices. Stick with one first. Once you’re used to the routine, and you’re sure that your juice’s nicotine strength is deal, then you can start getting adventurous.

    Experiment with different bases, try out different flavours and if you find out you aren’t so cool with one particular flavour, see if you like it better with a lower nicotine strength.

    Be sure to store your juices away from extreme temperatures: your fridge is a good place. Glass bottles are also a better choice than plastic so if you want to stock up, choose glass juice bottles and keep them in the refrigerator.

    You will definitely enjoy the process of discovering which juices you favour, and who knows? You might surprise yourself.

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