Ultimate Guide To E-liquids

E-Liquid: The Heart of Vaping Experience

E-liquid is a crucial part of the vaping experience and a subject of great interest when it comes to law and regulation in the world of vaping. E-liquid is heated by a vape device until it turns into vapour, which is then inhaled. From this simple premise, a vast array of products has been created to suit different tastes and experience levels.

E-Liquid Ingredients: VG and PG

The two main ingredients of e-liquid are VG (Vegetable Glycerin) and PG (Propylene Glycol), both of which are widely used in food and medicine. In e-liquid, VG serves as a thickener, while PG is used to carry flavouring and nicotine.

Every e-liquid features a mix of VG and PG, recorded as a percentage that always adds up to 100%. Common mixes include 50% VG / 50% PG, 70% VG / 30% PG, and 60% VG / 40% PG. To better regulate e-liquid ingredients, the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) imposes strict guidelines on e-liquids sold in the UK. Through testing and a certification process, the quality of e-liquid can be ensured.

TPD Regulations and E-Liquid

The MHRA enforces laws set up in the TPD (Tobacco Products Directive), a larger EU directive that moderates vape products and outlines a list of banned substances, among other legislative activities. This regulation applies to flavours and blends as a whole, with full toxicology and emissions reports required to be published before an e-liquid reaches the market.

Nicotine in E-Liquid

In addition to VG, PG, and flavouring, the majority of 10ml e-liquid (under the TPD, e-liquid containing nicotine can be no larger than 10ml) available contains nicotine. Nicotine is the addictive chemical in cigarettes, and it is nicotine addiction that causes cravings. E-liquids contain nicotine to satisfy these cravings and prevent you from returning to cigarettes. E-liquids are considered less harmful than cigarettes because they contain and produce no tar and contain no carcinogens. This is one of the main reasons Public Health England has found e-liquid and vaping to be 95% less harmful than cigarettes.

E-Liquid Safety

E-liquid is safe when used and handled correctly. As discussed earlier, regulations are in place to ensure the safety and quality of e-liquid sold in the UK. Keep nicotine-containing e-liquid out of sight and reach of children and animals.

Legal E-Liquids

In the UK, as long as an e-liquid meets the parameters laid out by the TPD and is purchased and used by a person over the age of 18, it is not illegal. To ensure you are using quality e-liquids, always purchase products from a reputable retailer, such as our E-Liquid UK page.

Choosing the Right E-Liquid for Your Device

Different levels of VG and PG are used to create thicker or thinner e-liquids to support different vape devices. E-liquids with a higher VG percentage (60% VG or higher) require more power and heat to be turned into vapour, and therefore, a more powerful device is needed. If you're new to vaping, you'll likely be using a less powerful kit and will require an e-liquid with a higher PG content, one that's 50% PG or higher.

Mouth-to-Lung Vape Kits and E-Liquids

Mouth-to-lung (MTL) vape kits are designed to emulate the process of smoking a cigarette. With an MTL kit, you inhale vapour into your mouth, carry it into your lungs, and then exhale. These kits produce a small amount of vapour. When using an MTL vape kit, you'll want a thinner e-liquid that produces less vapour. A 50% PG e-liquid or higher is the ideal starting point.

Direct-to-Lung Vape Kits and E-Liquids

Direct-to-lung (DTL) kits work differently, producing a much greater amount of vapour. The most common type of DTL kit is a sub-ohm kit. To use one properly, you'll need to adopt a direct-to-lung vaping style, inhaling vapour directly into your lungs and then exhaling. This style requires an e-liquid capable of creating more vapour; in this case, a thicker e-liquid that's 60% VG or higher will work best, with the most popular being 70% VG e-liquid.

Shortfill E-Liquids

The TPD set certain limitations on vape products, including a limit on the size of nicotine-containing e-liquids. Any e-liquid containing nicotine can be sold in a container no larger than 10ml. To address this issue, shortfill e-liquids were created. A shortfill e-liquid is a nicotine-free e-liquid in an underfilled bottle, for example, 50ml of e-liquid in a 60ml bottle. The concept is that there's space in each bottle for you to add a flavourless high-nicotine e-liquid called a nicotine shot. These are usually available in 18mg or 20mg concentrations, to be added to the larger bottle, where the 0mg e-liquid will dilute the high-nicotine booster. For example, adding a 10ml, 20mg shot to a 50ml, 0mg shortfill will create 60ml of 3mg e-liquid.

Salt Nicotine E-Liquids

Traditional nicotine in e-liquid is called freebase nicotine. Salt nicotine e-liquids are different in both their effect and chemical makeup. Freebase nicotine e-liquids deliver a noticeable throat hit, while salt nicotine does not. Newer users may prefer salt nicotine, as they might not want a harsh throat hit, but some may be looking for an e-liquid that emulates the feeling experienced when smoking. In this case, a traditional freebase e-liquid would be recommended.

Choosing the Best E-Liquid Flavour

When picking an e-liquid flavour, choose one that you'll be comfortable using all day. In the UK, the top three flavours are tobacco, menthol, and strawberry. It's best to start with a simple, one-note flavour. As you progress in quitting smoking, your sense of taste will improve, and you may develop an appreciation for flavours that previously tasted muted. Trying new flavours is a proven way to prevent returning to smoking.

Selecting the Right Nicotine Strength

Picking the correct nicotine strength is crucial when choosing an e-liquid. You need to find one that satisfies cravings but isn't too harsh. This largely depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day. Use the following table to get started:

  • Heavy smokers (20+ cigarettes per day): 18mg or 20mg

  • Moderate smokers (10-20 cigarettes per day): 12mg 

  • Light smokers (1-10 cigarettes per day): 6mg

  • Non-smokers or very light smokers: 0mg or 3mg

  • Making Your Own Vape E-Liquid

While only recommended for advanced vapers, making your own vape e-liquid can be a cost-effective and creative way to enjoy vaping. When creating your own e-liquid, you'll need the following components:

  • Vegetable Glycerin (VG)

  • Propylene Glycol (PG)

  • Nicotine (optional)

  • Flavourings (food grade)

You can experiment with different VG/PG ratios and flavour combinations to create a unique blend tailored to your preferences. Keep in mind that the ingredients you use must be high-quality and designed for vaping. Never use household or non-vaping substances in your e-liquid.

When mixing your e-liquid, be sure to follow proper safety precautions. Wear gloves and goggles, and mix your e-liquid in a well-ventilated area. Keep your e-liquid away from children and pets at all times.

In Summary

E-liquids are an essential part of the vaping experience. Understanding the different components, types, and regulations surrounding e-liquids can help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable vaping journey. Remember to choose the right e-liquid for your device, pick a suitable flavour, and select the appropriate nicotine strength to satisfy your cravings. Experimenting with new flavours can help you remain smoke-free and continue to enjoy your vaping experience.