What Is E-Liquid? A Complete Guide

By February 8, 2019E-liquids, Vaping
learn everything need to know about e-liquid and e-juice

What is e-liquid? The short answer is that e-liquid is the liquid that is vaporized into vapor by an electronic cigarette device. That is the simple definition. But there is a lot more to E-liquid than that. For example, if you use the wrong type of e-liquid a particular type of vaping device, it’s not going to work at all. That is because there is different types of e liquid for different types of vape devices and different styles of vaping. So you see what I did there? I went and made something simple all kinds of complicated didn’t I? Well, don’t worry about it we’re going to get through this. It really isn’t that bad.

While there are several kinds of e-liquids, it is easy to break down the categories and understand which is applicable to how you vape. Of course, it is important to choose the right type of e-juice but after reading this guide you will have no problem. One thing to know before we get started is to understand that e-liquid goes by the following names:

  • E-liquid
  • E-juice
  • Vape juice
  • Vape Liquid

All of these terms refer to the same thing. Don’t be thrown off by the different names for e-liquid. We get a lot of questions about what is the difference between e-liquid and e-juice. There is no difference. That clears that up.

The best way to start off our guide on what is e-liquid is to begin by covering what is in e-liquid. So let’s start there with the basic ingredients of e-liquid recipes and then we’ll talk about the different types.

What is in e-liquid?

what is e-liquid and what is it made of
E-liquid is made up of four basic ingredients:
  • Vegetable glycerin, or VG
  • Propylene glycol, or PG
  • Nicotine
  • Flavoring.

Both VG and PG are liquids that are easily converted into a vapor. In addition, both liquids are effective mediums to equally distribute nicotine and flavoring. About 90% of e liquid is a combination of vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol. The other 10% is the nicotine and the flavoring.

Vegetable Glycerin VG

Vegetable glycerin, also known as VG, is a thick and viscous liquid typically extracted from palm plants. It is odorless yet has a sweet taste. VG has been used for decades in food, medications, cosmetics, and other everyday items that we use daily. It is often used as a preservative.
The reason that VG is such a good e-liquid ingredient is because just a small amount of VG will produce a large amount of vapor.  That is really the hallmark of vegetable glycerin. It makes a lot of vapor. Although on the flip side it doesn’t carry flavor as well as PG.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol, or PG, is a compound the humans have used for over a century. You’ll find PG and everything from toothpaste to medication to cosmetics. PG also makes vapor very well. In fact, if you have ever been to a rock concert or stage production you will often see fog or smoke as part of the show. That fog is generated by stage foggers that use propylene glycol. Stage workers have worked around vaporized PG for their entire careers and the CDC has determined that it does not impact human health. Although, PG has a dehydrating effect and some people may find it harsh. That is why most e-liquids do not exceed 50% PG content.
The first electronic cigarettes used primarily PG liquids. Today, e-liquids have more VG to reduce harshness. All e-liquids still have at least some amount of PG because it carries flavor better than PG. For both VG and PG, it is important that responsible e-liquid manufacturers use only US sourced lab grade ingredients. Many companies claim to make USA made e-juice but in reality they may be sourcing ingredients from sketchy overseas suppliers. Make sure you know where your vape juice ingredients come from. Apollo e-liquids are made in the USA in a state of the art lab and all ingredients are sourced from the top US suppliers. That’s what you need to look for.


The nicotine in e-cigs is extracted from tobacco plants. Vape nicotine should also be sourced from American pharmaceutical companies that produce the highest purity nicotine. Diluting nicotine for e-liquid requires highly trained professionals. Recent studies have shown that a majority of random e-juices tested had the wrong nicotine level. At Apollo, independent testing has shown that our nicotine content is accurate to within 0.5%, which far exceeds industry standards. Moreover, Apollo liquids are blended in an ISO8 lab operated by PhDs.
  • The amount of nicotine in a cigarette is about 12 mg. The amount absorbed depends largely on how much an individual smokes. E-cig nicotine levels vary by type of e-juice.


E-liquid uses food grade flavorings. However, and this is important, not all food grade flavorings are appropriate for e-liquids. For example, some flavoring ingredients are no made to be heated. And when heated, they may convert into an unwanted chemical. Apollo does not recommend using DIY e-liquid or e-liquid not made with US sourced ingredients and made in a professional lab. Making e-juice requires extensive knowledge of chemistry.

VG PG Ratio In E-Liquid

The VG PG ratio of an e-liquid is the major difference between e-liquids. Moreover, the VG PG ratio of a vape liquid determines what type of vaping each juice is suitable for. What is VG PG ratio? The VG and PG ratio indicates how much VG vs. PG is in an e-liquid. For example, a 70/30 VG e-juice will have 70% VG and 30% PG. Once again, almost all e-liquids have at least some PG to carry flavor. We have come to the heart of the what is e-liquid question. Here is the list of the most common types of e-liquid and the type of vaping each is used for.

PG E-Liquid

The first e-liquids were all PG and no VG. These early e-juices were used in disposables and cigalikes. The first e-cigs looked like and were about the same size as tobacco cigarettes. Today, we do not know of any electronic cigarette companies that make a pure PG e-juice. Some users found PG to be harsh. As a result, the industry moved to using PG in combination with VG.

70% PG and 30% VG E-Liquid

Because some users found PG e-liquids to be harsh, the industry evolved to 70 / 30 PG e-juice. This type of e-juice is designed to be used with e-cig devices that have an atomizer resistance in the 2.0 ohm or above range. PG e-liquids should not be used with sub ohm atomizers. 70/30 PG may still be used in some e-cig cartridges. For example, V2 and V2 Cigs compatible e-cigarette cartridges. However for the most part, 70% PG e-juice has been phased out by most companies.

50% PG and 50% VG E-Liquid

50/50 e-liquid is now the preferred ratio for devices that use atomizers with a resistance above 1.0 ohms. Devices that use atomizers above 1.0 ohms are also called MTL, or mouth to lung. MTL is a vaping style in which the user will draw vapor into the mouth and then inhale. This style is similar to smoking. 50/50 e-liquid is the preferred juice for this style of vaping because the VG is smooths out the PG and makes more vapor. And the PG delivers a stronger hit and is excellent for amplifying flavor.
The most common nicotine levels for PG and 50/50 e-liquids are:
  • 0 mg
  • 6 mg
  • 12 mg
  • 18 mg
  • 24 mg
Apollo 50/50 e-liquids are available in dozens of flavor options.
50 50 ratio e-liquids for mtl vapor devices

70 % VG and 30% PG E-Juices

If someone asks – what is e-liquid – vapers will often talk about VG e-juice. VG e-liquids typically have at least 70% VG content. VG e-liquids are made for sub ohm and temperature control vaping. To learn more about vaping styles, learn more with the vaping for beginners guide. In a nutshell, VG liquids are designed for devices that use atomizer resistance levels below 1.0 ohms. 70/30 liquid works best with devices that have an atomizer resistance between 0.5 ohms and 0.9 ohms. Although VG e-juice can be used with the lowest resistance atomizers as well.
The common nicotine levels for VG e-liquids are:
  • 0 mg
  • 3 mg
  • 6 mg
VG e-liquids have lower nicotine content because the large amount of vapor produced. The user will be inhaling more vapor and as a result, less nicotine is required to satisfy.

80% VG and 20% PG E-Juice

80/20 e-juice will produce more vapor than 70/30. Although the flavor may not be as vibrant as a 70/30 blend, if an 80/20 is made right the user will still enjoy rich flavor to go along with the extra vapor. This ratio is preferred by vapers who regularly use devices with atomizers between 0.1 ohms and 0.5 ohms.

Max VG

Max VG e-juice is designed with as much VG content as possible with just a small amount of PG to carry the flavor. While the flavor is not as strong as other VG liquids, the vapor production is massive. True max VG E Liquids are all about huge quantities of vapor. Max VG is what cloud chaser’s including competition cloud chaser’s like to use.
The above e-liquid ratios comprise the overwhelming majority of e-juice on the market today. You can find these blends at Apollo Electronic Cigarettes. Apollo is one of the original American e-cig companies and is wholly independent with no association with Big Tobacco. In addition, Apollo owns and operates its own world class e-liquid lab facility.
what is e-liquid image of various types of vape liquids that are made in the united states

Nicotine Salt E-Liquids

Nicotine salt e-liquid is leading the latest trend in vaping. With nicotine salt e-liquid, a little bit of vapor packs a lot of punch. As a result, the user does not need a large device to get a satisfying vape. Rather a small device with a modest amount of vapor is fully satisfying. That is because the nicotine content with nicotine salt E-liquid is much higher. The thing about nicotine salts though is that it is less harsh than regular pharmaceutical grade nicotine. As a result, the user can get more nicotine in less vapor.
The most common Nicotine salt e-juice nicotine levels are:
  • 25 mg
  • 35 mg
  • 50 mg
Apollo nicotine salt e-liquid comes in a variety of flavors. Each nic salt juice is blended with a 50/50 PG/VG ratio. That means that nic salt e-liquids are designed to be used in MTL devices with atomizer resistances above 1.0 ohms.
nic salt juice is the most recent type of e-liquid and has high nicotine content


What Is E-Liquid Summary

To summarize the basic answer to what is e-liquid we go back to the beginning. E-liquid is the liquid that is converted into a vapor by a vaping device. Beyond that, we have covered the essential types of e-liquids.

  • PG and 50/50 E-Liquids – used in devices that have atomizers above 1.0 ohms. Nicotine content ranges from 0 mg to 24 mg.
  • VG E-Liquids – used in devices with atomizer resistances below 1.0 ohms. Nicotine content ranges from 0 mg to 6 mg.
  • Nicotine Salt E-Liquids – nic salts are less harsh than regular nicotine. Used in devices, typically pod mods, with atomizer resistances above 1.0 ohms. Nicotine content ranges from 25 mg to 50 mg.

The essential ingredients in e-juice are PG, VG, nicotine, and flavoring.

The final point to be made is to encourage vapers to be discerning when choosing an e-liquid. Find out where and how an e-liquid is made. Also find out where the ingredients come from and who is making e-juice. Ultimately, e-liquid is inhaled into the body and as a result it is important to focus on quality. Always by e-liquid from reputable companies like Apollo.



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