Beginners Guides

All You Need To Know About E-liquid

Planet of the Vapes presents a guide that covers all you need to know about e-liquid

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E-liquid, also known as juice, is basically a combination of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, flavours and nicotine. Different flavours and mixes combine to ensure that there is a great vape out there for everyone – although it might take you a few tries before you find one that you adore.

What is propylene glycol (PG)?

PG is a runny, clear liquid without a discernible smell or taste. It is used in e-liquid because it is a good vehicle to carry the flavour of the juice. It can be found in food products, personal care products, and has been approved for use in the United Kingdom in inhalers. PG delivers a more noticeable throat hit.

What is vegetable glycerine (VG)?

VG is derived from plants and is a thicker liquid than PG and has a slightly sweet taste and odour. You can see VG for sale in chemists as people use it for sore throats. It is also used in food products. Like PG, VG is a water-based liquid and produces more cloud when vaped which is why heavy VG e-liquids are more popular with people who want to sub-ohm and enter cloud competitions.

What do you mean by “throat hit”?

This is the sensation at the back of the throat that vaping produces that replicates the feeling you get when smoking. Some vapers prefer a strong throat hit while others don’t like it at all. You can change the throat hit by using different strength or flavoured e-liquids or different resistance coils.


Nicotine occurs in plants as a natural pesticide. It can be found in tobacco leaves but occurs in plenty of other plants such as potatoes, tomatoes, and aubergines. This chemical is the reason why smokers continue smoking as it triggers pleasure receptors in the brain and research has linked it to a sense of relaxation and improvements in the ability to concentrate.

MHRA registered e-liquid manufacturers use pharmaceutical grade nicotine.

What are the flavours in e-liquids?

The flavourings used in e-liquids are the same as those used in food products, but not all food flavourings are the same. The only ones used in juice will be water-based, the oil-based flavours should never be used. All e-liquids registered with the MHRA are water-based.

Do the flavourings contain diacetyl?

No, none of the MHRA registered nicotine containing e-liquids contain diacetyl. Even when they used to before being banned by the government, the levels of diacetyl were far less than the levels found in cigarette smoke.

What is a shortfill/what are nic shots?

When the European Union legislation limited e-liquid to being sold in 10ml bottles some manufacturers discovered that they could legally sell larger bottles as long as they didn’t contain any nicotine. These larger bottles are called shortfills. Vapers use 10ml bottles called nic shots (typically 18-20mg/ml in strength) to add to the shortfill to turn it into a nicotine containing solution. Using more than one nic shot turns the shortfill into a stronger juice.

What e-liquid should I use for mouth to lung vaping (MTL)?

MTL vapers usually opt for a 70/30, 50/50, 40/60 or 30/70 PG/VG mix. Because MTL vapers take in less vape, they opt for higher nicotine concentrations in their e-liquid. Most smokers begin with a mouth to lung starter kit, and some use an e-liquid that contains nicotine salts as this helps the nicotine get into the blood system quicker.

What e-liquid should I use for direct to lung vaping (DTL)?

DTL vapers tend to use higher VG e-liquids, from 30/70 PG/VG to 100% VG. As a direct to lung inhale takes in much more vape, a DTL e-liquid is typically 3 or 6 mg/ml in strength. Most shortfills have been manufactured to be used as DTL juices although a small number can be made up for a MTL vape.

What PG/VG mix is best for me?

The answer will be down to the style of vaping you want to do (MTL or DTL).

What strength e-liquid do I get?

The strength of e-liquid, like with the PG/VG mix, will depend on your preferred style of vaping.

What flavour e-liquid should I buy?

Some people support Leicester City, some people support Northampton Town, and some people hate football. Taste is individual to everyone and what everyone else raves about might taste bland or disgusting to you. Trying popular brands may work for you but almost every vaper has tried a number of juices before finding the ones they prefer.

Who is the best juice maker?

Like the best flavour, it will come down to trial and error to find e-liquids that you like the most and this could be an expensive or cheap brand.

Why do some people say I should drink more water when vaping?

The cloud formed as you exhale is mostly water that has come from your lungs. New vapers can find they dehydrate so it’s always good to drink water throughout the day

What is vaper’s tongue?

A typical problem for new vapers, vaper’s tongue is when you stop being able to taste the flavour as you vape. Drinking water, swapping to a different flavour, vaping a menthol e-liquid or sucking a mint can help.

Why are some e-liquids only available in 10ml bottles?

The law in the UK had to be based on Europe’s Tobacco Products Directive which limited all nicotine containing bottles to 10ml. These e-liquids must be registered with the MHRA and manufacturers have to have them tested. At some point during the summer of 2021 the government will announce plans to change the legislation and we could see the cap on 10ml bottles removed.

What is the MHRA?

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency regulates vape products on behalf of the government.

Can e-liquid give me “popcorn lung”?

Yorkshire Cancer Research says: “There have also been stories that vaping products cause a disease called ‘popcorn lung’. This was caused by a chemical flavouring called diacetyl, which had been used in e-liquids. Again, diacetyl is banned in e-liquids in the UK under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. Therefore, using a UK-regulated vaping product and e-liquids will not cause ‘popcorn lung’.”

Can e-liquid give me EVALI?

Again, Yorkshire Cancer Research says: “There have been stories in the media about an outbreak of lung injury called EVALI in the USA. These cases of EVALI were caused by people using vaping products with homemade or illicit e-liquids that contained cannabis products and a chemical called vitamin E acetate.

“The use of cannabis is illegal in the UK under the Misuse of Drugs Act 2010 and vitamin E acetate is a prohibited ingredient under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. Therefore, the risk of getting EVALI by using a UK-regulated vaping product is low and so far, there has been one case in this country compared to 2600 cases in the US.”

Do e-liquids contain oil?

You may hear some people refer to e-liquids ads “oils” but this is a mistake as none contain oil. If you think about a lava lamp, the oil inside stays separate from the water as they don’t mix. Some food flavours are oil-based and shouldn’t be added to e-liquids for two reasons: firstly, as said, they won’t mix, and secondly inhaling oils into the lungs is dangerous.

Can e-liquid damage vape tanks?

Certain flavours can have a bad effect on plastic tanks. Some (but not all) strong lemon, cinnamon, banana, and mint juices can cause the plastic to haze. If you continue to use that e-liquid the tank may crack. You may hear about these liquids referred to as “tank crackers”.

Could I be allergic to e-liquid?

A very small number of people can have an allergic reaction to e-liquid, commonly to the propylene glycol component. It can show itself as a rash or could lead to a breathing problem. This is quickly cured by switching to a high VG juice – but in case the problem persists you should stop vaping and see your GP.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Writer at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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