E-Liquid or vape juice is the liquid used inside of a vape kit or disposable vape which is heated by the coil to produce vapour. In this guide, we’ll delve into E-Liquid types and ingredients, nicotine strengths, and how to find the best E-Liquid to quit smoking cigarettes.
If you’re new to vaping, choosing an E-Liquid can be daunting. With an array of different types, nicotine strengths, flavours, and E-Liquid brands to choose from, it’s enough to make a newbie’s head spin.
Fear not: in this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about vape liquids to help get you started on your vaping journey.
What is E-Liquid?
E-Liquid—also known as vape juice, vape liquid, and e-juice—is the liquid used inside electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) to produce a vapour that you inhale. This liquid is heated by a metallic element called a coil (or atomiser), which conducts electricity from the battery to turn the liquid into vapour.
E-Liquids come in a variety of flavours, types, nicotine strengths, and ratios, so it’s crucial to choose the best one to suit your needs (and your vape kit).
Every vape kit on the market has specific E-Liquid compatibility requirements, so you’ll need to ensure you choose the correct type of E-Liquid for your device to avoid an unpleasant vaping experience.
Is E-Liquid Safe?
Public Health England has stated that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking traditional cigarettes. This is because vaping does not expose the user to the thousands of harmful chemicals present in cigarette smoke, like tar or carbon monoxide.
In addition, vaping has the highest success rate when it comes to helping smokers quit. With a 59.7% to 74% success rate, vaping offers a better chance of quitting than nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, and even medication.
Plus, the UK has some of the strictest regulations in the world for E-Liquids. In the UK, E-Liquids go through rigorous testing and approval processes before they’re ever allowed to be sold. There’s also an extensive list of banned E-Liquid ingredients, which ensures you’re never inhaling any chemicals which are known to be harmful to your health.
Of course, there are some shady retailers who import unregulated vape products. To avoid the possibility of exposing yourself to anything harmful, you should always get your E-Liquids from a trusted UK vape store (like us). The best vape shop will be able to tell you where their E-Liquids come from and what ingredients are present to help put your mind at ease.
The “Popcorn Lung” Myth
You might’ve heard from Dr Sara on ITV’s This Morning that millions of vapers are at risk of something called “popcorn lung” from vaping. You might’ve even heard that this disease is killing vapers worldwide. This is complete nonsense—just ask Public Health England.
No one has ever contracted popcorn lung from vaping.
This condition, called bronchiolitis obliterans, was first observed in popcorn factory workers who were exposed to high levels of an airborne chemical called diacetyl. Diacetyl is one of the many chemicals which are banned from use in UK E-Liquids.
Furthermore, if you smoke cigarettes, you’re already inhaling diacetyl. Interestingly enough, however, smoking is not considered a risk factor for popcorn lung either.
This is what the UK government has to say about the “popcorn lung” myth:
“One of the most commonly held concerns is that e-cigarettes might cause ‘popcorn lung’. […] However, diacetyl is banned as an ingredient from e-cigarettes and e-liquids in the UK. It had been detected in some e-liquid flavourings in the past, but at levels hundreds of times lower than in cigarette smoke. Even at these levels, smoking is not a major risk factor for this rare disease.”UKHSA, 2018
Cancer Research UK has said: “Diacetyl was banned in e-cigarette liquids under the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) in 2016. E-cigarettes don’t cause the lung condition known as popcorn lung.”
What are Vape Juices made of?
There are only four E-Liquid ingredients that make up a given vape juice: propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), nicotine, and natural and/or artificial flavourings.
Some E-Liquids have no nicotine, some have no flavourings, and some even have no PG—so your vape liquid might even have fewer than 4 ingredients.
Propylene Glycol (PG)
Propylene glycol, or PG, is a colourless, odourless liquid that’s used in foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products as a solvent or a carrier. It has a thinner consistency than VG, and in E-Liquids, it’s often the base used to suspend the flavourings and the nicotine. It’s also responsible for the stronger throat hit found in high-nicotine vape liquids.
Vegetable Glycerine (VG)
Vegetable glycerine (VG) is also a colourless, odourless liquid used in foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. It’s often used as a thickener or a sweetener. Vegetable glycerin is a much thicker liquid than PG and is responsible for dense vapour production.
Nicotine is either included in an E-Liquid, as is the case with 10ml TPD E-Liquid, or it needs to be added in the form of a nicotine shot. You will only need to add nicotine yourself if you purchase a shortfill E-Liquid for use in a sub-ohm vape kit.
There are two main types of nicotine (more on this later), and you can get a range of different nicotine strengths depending on which type of E-Liquid you choose. In the UK, the maximum nicotine strength you can purchase is 20mg (or 2% nicotine).
Flavourings are either natural or artificial, and they’re usually suspended in a solution of either PG or VG. An E-Liquid flavour is blended using food-grade flavourings which are safe for human consumption.
These flavourings are heavily regulated by the TPD and MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) in the UK.
What VG/PG Ratio Should I Choose?
The VG/PG ratio you choose will be dependent upon the device you’re using. All vape kits are designed to be used with specific types of E-Liquid, and this will be clearly outlined in the product description.
You’ll also need to take into account your vaping style: MTL or DTL. You can read more about these in our guide to vaping styles, but here’s a brief overview:
MTL (Mouth-to-Lung) vaping is the most common style for new vapers and recent ex-smokers, as it mimics smoking a cigarette. With MTL, you pull vapour into your mouth before inhaling.
High-PG E-Liquid is generally much thinner than its high-VG counterpart, making it ideal for use in low-powered vape kits, including pod systems, vape pens, and starter vape kits. This type of E-Liquid is used in MTL vaping.
Higher PG ratios are responsible for a stronger, smoother throat hit, strong flavour, and higher nicotine strengths. You’ll find high PG ratios in nicotine salts and 50/50 E-Liquids, which are ideal for beginner vapers.
DTL (Direct-to-Lung) vaping is employed by experienced sub-ohm vapers. With DTL, the vapour is pulled directly into the lungs, like how one would smoke a water pipe.
High-VG E-Liquid is generally used by advanced sub-ohm vapers employing a DTL (Direct-to-Lung) vaping style, who use low-nicotine vape juices with high VG ratios to enjoy smooth vapour and denser clouds.
What Nicotine Strength Should I Get?
You should choose your nicotine strength based on how many cigarettes you would smoke in a typical day. However, it’s important to note that this is a general guide and how much nicotine you need will vary from person to person.
Depending on how you feel, you may need more or less nicotine. So, if you find that your nicotine strength is too much or too little, feel free to experiment. Thankfully, there’s a huge range of nicotine strengths to choose from.
Remember that you’re vaping to quit smoking. Many vapers try to use the lowest strength available, but this is often unsuccessful. Try to remember that nicotine on its own is not considered harmful for healthy adults, nor is it known to cause cancer, heart disease, or lung disease—so don’t be a hero.
Make sure you’re getting enough nicotine to give yourself the best chance of quitting for good. Once you’ve successfully made the switch, you can lower your nicotine intake and even switch to a nicotine-free E-Liquid.
If you smoke 10-20 cigarettes per day, you should opt for a nicotine strength of 10mg (1%). However, some will find that this isn’t enough for them. If this is the case, feel free to experiment with a 20mg strength to see if you feel more satisfied.
A light smoker of less than 10 cigarettes per day should choose either a 5mg or 10mg nicotine strength depending on personal preference. You can find strengths as low as 5mg in a nic salt E-Liquid, and freebase E-Liquids offer a minimum of 3mg.
There are two main types of nicotine E-Liquid: nic salts and freebase nicotine. When comparing nic salts vs. freebase E-Liquids, you should take into account your needs as a vaper and what you’re looking for in an E-Liquid.
Salt nicotine E-Liquid is a newer innovation in the vaping industry. With nic salts, an acid (usually salicylic, lactic, or benzoic acid) is added to the nicotine molecule to lower the overall pH value, which allows it to enter the bloodstream quicker. In addition, it offers an ultra-smooth throat hit regardless of your chosen nicotine strength.
Nic salt E-Liquid is the number one choice for new vapers, as it offers a quick nicotine delivery and a smooth and satisfying throat hit. Plus, it’s available in 20mg, which is the most popular nicotine strength among new vapers.
Freebase nicotine is the type of nicotine found in the tobacco leaf. It was the first type of nicotine used in vaping over a decade ago and offers a nice balance between absorption and longevity. You’ll find freebase nicotine in 50/50 E-Liquids, as well as in the nicotine shot added to a shortfill E-Liquid.
With freebase, the higher the strength of your E-Liquid, the sharper the throat hit. This means that a 3mg strength will feel quite mild on your throat compared to a 18mg E-Liquid. For this reason, most new vapers (who need a 20mg strength to make the switch successfully) opt for nic salts instead, which offer a smoother throat hit at higher strengths compared to freebase vape liquid.
Still, freebase has its advantages. You can get a wider variety of strengths, from 3mg all the way up to 18mg. Plus, while freebase nicotine tends to take longer to kick in, it lasts longer in your blood stream. This means that you may not get a “quick fix” like you would with nic salt E-Liquid, but you’ll be satisfied for longer.
Types of E-Liquid
There are several different types of vape juice, including nic salt E-Liquid, 50/50 E-Liquid, shortfills, and 100% VG E-Liquid. Each type is compatible with specific vape kits, so be sure to check the product description for your particular e-cigarette device before making a purchase.
Nic Salt E-Liquids
Nic Salt E-Liquid is the best choice for new vapers thanks to its high strengths, quick nicotine delivery, and compatibility with most starter vape kits. Our guide to nicotine salts covers more about how this type of E-Liquid works if you’re interested in trying it out.
Nic salt E-Liquid is made with salt nicotine and comes in 10ml bottles, offering a quick “nic fix” and an ultra-smooth throat hit at higher nicotine strengths compared to freebase vape liquids. They usually have a 50/50 ratio of VG to PG (though some have a 40/60 ratio).
These vape juices are available in 5mg, 10mg, and 20mg strengths, though a number of vape brands only offer the 20mg option.
Freebase 50/50 E-Liquids
Freebase 50/50 E-Liquids are made with freebase nicotine and are available in 10ml TPD bottles. These vape liquids are ideal for use in most starter kits, pods, and pens, offering a nice balance of vapour and throat hit. As the name suggests, these liquids have a 50/50 ratio of VG to PG.
50/50 E-Liquid doesn’t kick in as quickly as nic salts do, but it lasts longer in your blood stream, which means you’ll be satisfied for longer. In addition, the higher the strength you choose, the sharper the vapour will feel on your throat.
This type of E-Liquid is available in a wide array of strengths, including 3mg, 6mg, 12mg, and 18mg. When vaping 50/50 E-Liquid, it’s easier to wean off of nicotine step by step. There are even some brands offer a 0mg option for when you’re ready to go nicotine-free.
Shortfill E-Liquid is designed for sub-ohm vapers using high-powered vape kits and low-resistance coils. This type of E-Liquid comes with no nicotine, has a greater volume (usually 50ml or 100ml), and is “short filled” in a larger bottle with room for you to add a nicotine shot or two, if you choose.
In response to the TPD 10ml limit on E-Liquid containing nicotine, shortfills were invented to offer larger E-Liquids for sub-ohm vapers, as their higher-powered devices tend to consume more vape juice than the average pod kit. A sub-ohm vaper could easily get through an entire 10ml bottle in a day. We dive into this topic further in our shortfill E-Liquids guide.
Because the E-Liquid is 0mg, it can be sold in much larger volumes. So, if you want to vape with nicotine, you’ll need to add it yourself. You can purchase nic shots separately to add to your shortfill bottle.
It’s important to note that sub-ohm vaping only allows for a strengths of up to 3mg typically. Any higher would lead to a really unpleasant feeling on the throat.
100% VG E-Liquids
100% VG E-Liquids, also called PG-Free E-Liquids, are a subtype of shortfills made without any propylene glycol. This type of E-Liquid is specifically formulated for vapers who have an allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance to PG.
Like shortfills, 100% VG E-Liquid are 0mg, though there is space in the bottle if you wish to add nic shots. There are even specialty 100% VG nic shots for those with a PG intolerance.
If you’re going to vape PG-Free, it’s crucial to understand the best vape kits for 100% VG E-Liquids, since PG-Free juices require special hardware to use. You’ll need to ensure you have a compatible sub-ohm kit to use them.
What are the Best E-Liquid Flavours?
Whether you’re into fruity flavours or you’ve got a sweet tooth, there are thousands upon thousands of E-Liquid flavours available. To find your next favourite flavour, we’ve made it easier than ever to shop E-Liquids by flavour on our website.
If you’re a fan of fruity flavours, we have an array of Watermelon E-Liquids and Mango E-Liquids. We also stock hundreds of Candy E-Liquids and dessert flavours. And if you’re just quitting smoking and you’re itching for the taste of a cigarette, we even have a selection of Tobacco E-Liquids to replicate the taste.
No matter what E-Liquid flavours you’re after, there’s bound to be something to suit your palate.
What are the Best E-Liquid Brands?
There are dozens of premium E-Liquid brands in the UK. Brands like Bar Juice and Elf Bar Elfliq offer a range of disposable vape E-Liquid flavours, while others like Doozy and IVG offer a vast range of premium vape juices in different types.
How Should Store my Vape Liquid?
You should store your E-Liquid sealed tight in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Keeping your E-Liquid in these ideal conditions will ensure that your juice stays good even beyond its expiry date.
We get this question a lot: does vape juice expire? And can you vape expired E-Liquid? While all E-Liquids have an expiry date, these dates are arbitrary and not regulated. They’re set by the manufacturer for liability reasons, though there’s currently no evidence to suggest that vaping E-Liquids beyond their expiry date is harmful.
Still, you’ll want to look out for any changes in smell, taste, or consistency. If your E-Liquid gets darker, that’s okay—it just means that the flavour has had time to steep. But if you see anything floating in the liquid, or you notice a change in smell or taste, you should discard it.
Hopefully now you’ll be better informed about the choices you face when choosing an E-Liquid. You’ll need to consider the type and the nicotine strength above all else—but remember that you’ll also need to ensure that your liquid is compatible with your device. From there, you have thousands of E-Liquid flavours to choose from.
If you’re still dizzy from all of the choices, don’t worry: we have a dedicated team of expert vapers on standby to answer any and all questions you may have. Feel free to contact us via phone, live chat, or email if you need help finding the right E-Liquid.
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