The Ultimate Guide to E-liquids

Getting started with e-liquids can sometimes be a little daunting. If you’re switching from smoking to vaping, then there can be quite a lot of terminology and jargon to get to grips with. Luckily, this e-liquids guide is on-hand to help out anybody looking to get started with vaping, or just curious about vape juices in general.

E-liquids, quite simply, are the liquids that are put into your vape device, which are then vaporised and inhaled. E-liquid is known by a variety of names such as e-juice or vape juice; these are all just more casual words for e-liquid.

E-liquids do, however, come in a variety of forms. There are many flavours, strengths, and formulas available to vapers. At first, this may seem confusing, but trust us when we say the e-liquid variety is one of the best things about vaping! Once you’ve read this guide, you should have a solid understanding of what e-liquids are and hopefully a better idea of what e-liquid is best for you!

Are e-liquids safe?

This is one of the most common concerns for new vapers and those who are switching to vaping from smoking. Indeed, if you are quitting smoking because it is bad for your health, what's the use in replacing it with something that is just as harmful?

There is still a lot of study going into the health effects of e-liquids, so it would be irresponsible of us to say that e-liquids are healthy. However, it is widely accepted by regulators that vaping e-liquids presents far lower health risks when compared to smoking cigarettes. In fact, according to a groundbreaking recent report from PHE;

"E-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco."

Moreover, e-liquids produced in the UK are subject to some of the most intense safety procedures anywhere in the world. Every effort is made to ensure that UK e-liquids are as safe as can be and do not contain any harmful substances.

It is important to note that some ingredients in e-liquids, such as the flavourings, may cause an allergic reaction. This is just the same as any food product, so always check the ingredients of an e-liquid if you have any allergies.

What are E-liquids Made out of?

Illustration Showing What are Eliquids Made of

E-liquids are made of very simple ingredients usually found in food products, these are:

  • Propylene glycol (PG)
  • Vegetable glycerine (VG)
  • Flavourings
  • Nicotine (optional)

A couple of these ingredients may sound rather unfamiliar, but fear not! We will explore these ingredients below.

What is Propylene Glycol (PG)?

PG is a flavourless and odourless organic liquid. PG is quite a thin liquid, and is used in many products, some of which you probably own, such as lotions and other MHRA approved cosmetics. Unlike VG, which is thicker, PG does not leave as much build up on a vape device’s coil, meaning the coil won’t need replacing as often.

What is Vegetable Glycerin (VG)?

VG is a liquid derived from plant oil. VG, like PG, is an odorless and mostly clear liquid that helps form the base of an e-liquid. Compared to PG, VG is much thicker and also has a slightly sweet taste.

What is VG-PG Ratio?

Illustration Showing VG and PG Ratios

VG PG ratio refers to the balance between PG and VG in an e-liquid. Some e-liquids contain more of one than the other for a number of reasons. Liquids high in PG tend to be used for low-powered pen or pod devices as they offer a clean flavour and nicotine hit, while being easy to vaporise. They also don’t gunk up coils as much due to a lower VG content.

High VG e-liquids are used mainly for higher power or sub ohm vape devices. These liquids tend to create fantastic amounts of vapour and are super smooth to vape. However, they require more heat to vaporise, so this is why they require a more advanced device. The potent nature of VG can also cause more maintenance due to coils building up liquid residue.  

Nicotine Based E-liquids

Nicotine is a well-reported ingredient that is sometimes present in e-liquids. Contrary to popular belief, nicotine itself is not the most dangerous substance found in cigarettes. There are a host of other toxic chemicals present, which is why they are so harmful.

While nicotine is harmless, it is very addictive, and is the reason so many find it difficult to quit smoking. Nicotine cravings can be intense, especially for those who have been smoking for years, so replacing it is seen as a key way of quitting smoking.

This is why e-liquids are becoming more and more popular for those looking to kick smoking. In fact, the NHS states that people are twice as likely to quit smoking for good with the help of vaping.

E-liquids are available in many nicotine strengths, while some don’t contain any nicotine at all. There are even different forms of nicotine available, giving vapers even more flexibility in how they vape nicotine.

E-liquids with Flavourings

E-liquids are almost always flavoured, which is one of the greatest aspects about them! The array of tastes is truly huge, meaning there are loads of different ingredients that brands used to flavour e-liquids.

E-liquids are flavoured by a variety of different synthetic compounds. This may sound a little off-putting, but these compounds are food grade flavourings and are tested rigorously for safety. Some of these compounds, such as vanillin, you'll regularly find in normal food products you'd see in the supermarket.

What Types of E-liquid Are Available?

Illustration Showing Types of E-liquids

So, now that we know what an e-liquid is made of and how they are regulated for safety, it's time to explore the wonderful selection of e-liquids. No matter how you like to vape, the perfect e-liquid is waiting for you!

What are 50/50 E-liquids?

50/50s are one of the most common types of e-liquid. These nicotine-containing e-liquids come in 10ml sizes due to legal restrictions around nicotine and e-liquids. E-liquids that contain nicotine of any strength can only be sold in bottles up to 10ml.

50/50s are named because of their VG:PG ratio; they are 50% PG to 50% VG. The higher PG ratio makes them easier to use with a low power device such as smaller on-the-go pod kits. It also means that they carry flavour a little more clearly, and that the nicotine in them will have more of a satisfying throat hit.

50/50s are one of the most popular types of e-liquids as they are just so convenient! Everything you need is in one neat package; nicotine, flavour and the correct ratio for pod kits. Their small size makes them portable, so you can fill up anywhere, and they are often included in bundles so you can try multiple flavours.

What are Nic Salts E-liquids?

Nic salts may sound a little strange, but they are actually one of the most exciting new developments in the e-liquid industry. Nicotine salts are similar to 50/50s in that they are 10ml nicotine-containing e-liquids, however there is one key difference.

Nic salts use a salt form of nicotine called nicotine salicylate. This type of nicotine is very similar to the natural salt form of nicotine found in the tobacco leaf. This results in a much smoother and more satisfying nicotine experience, with a throat hit that is far less harsh.

What are Shortfill E-liquids?

Shortfills are e-liquids that come in much larger bottles, typically 50ml and over because they contain zero nicotine. As they come in larger bottle sizes, shortfills are often cheaper than other e-liquids per ml.

Shortfills are popular for regular or advanced vapers for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they are far more cost effective if you vape often, as they are cheaper to stock up on. Secondly, shortfills tend to have a high VG ratio, around 70% VG to 30% PG, making them great for producing loads of vapour with a sub-ohm vape kit.

Shortfills are named as such because their bottles leave room to add another liquid. For example, a 50ml shortfill e-liquid actually comes in a 60ml bottle. So why would you want to do that? The reason is explained in the next type of e-liquid.

What are Nic Shot E-liquids?

Nic shots are flavourless, nicotine-containing e-liquids made to be added to shortfills to give them nicotine content. Nic shots are what you need if you want to combine the characteristics of shortfills while still vaping nicotine e-liquid.

This allows vapers to take advantage of the cost savings of buying shortfills, while still being able to vape nicotine. Nic shots are available in a number of different strengths, allowing you to tailor your nicotine intake. Simply add your nic shot to your favourite shortfill bottle and shake well to allow them to combine.

There are even Nicotine Salt versions of nic shots starting to be introduced, so vapers can get that nic salt smoothness in their shortfills.

Which Vape Nicotine Strength Should I be Using?

The best nicotine strength is entirely subjective and mostly depends on how much nicotine you need to satisfy cravings. For people switching from smoking, an e-liquid with nicotine is the best way to go, but the perfect nicotine strength will depend on how much nicotine their body is used to.

If you are a very heavy smoker, you will likely need the higher 18mg-20mg e-liquids. These are available readily in 50/50 and nic salts, but will be harder to achieve with shortfills.

For more steady smokers, mid range nicotine strengths of around 12mg are suitable, but if nicotine cravings start getting worse, then it's advisable to move up to a higher strength. Remember, it’s always best to go for a higher strength nicotine e-liquid than risk going back to cigarettes.

Light smokers will benefit from the 3mg-6mg strength e-liquids. These lower strengths are also ideal for people who are gradually lowering their nicotine intake. Eventually, some ex-smokers may be able to reduce their nicotine intake from 20mg e-liquids all the way down to 3mg.

Can I Get Vaping Eliquids without Nicotine?

For those that don’t want to vape e-liquids that contain nicotine, you don't have to! As mentioned before, shortfills come with zero nicotine in them.

Shortfills work beautifully with sub-ohm and high power kits, and are ideal for those looking to experience the simple pleasure of great tasting e-liquid flavours. They're also a fantastic option for those who have reduced their nicotine cravings to the point that they no longer need it, but still want to enjoy vaping!

Guides by Product Types

If you are looking for product specific guides then we have got that covered. Below links will take you to product specific guides.