How To Choose Your First E Liquid: A Guide For Vape Beginners
You can indeed go to a vape shop and let a salesperson guide you on choosing your very first vape juice. If you plan to buy your first e-liquid online without anyone’s guidance, you need to consider many factors. That’s why we have created this guide to teach you how to choose your first e-liquid.
This guide covers some of the most critical factors you should consider, from nicotine strengths to ingredient ratios. In the end, we hope to steer you in the right direction when it comes to choosing a vape juice that you will not only love but that will become an e-liquid you can vape all day.
Table of Contents:
- What is E-liquid?
- What is E-liquid Made Out Of?
- Vegetable Glycerin in Vape Juices
- Propylene Glycol in Vape Juices
- The Importance of VG & PG Ratios
- Nicotine in Vape Juices
- Freebase Nicotine & Nicotine Salts: What You Need To Know
- What Nicotine Strength To Choose
- What Device Do You Own?
- Vape Juice Flavors?
What is E-Liquid?
E-liquid, also known as vape juice or e-juice, is the liquid you vape on. It is the liquid that creates the vapor and that you fill your vape with. E-liquids come in hundreds of different flavors; virtually any flavor that exists can have a vape juice counterpart.
From Red Bull to cornbread pudding, it’s a flavor that exists as a vape juice if it can be eaten or drunk. Ejuices also have different ingredient ratios and nicotine strengths, impacting the taste and the devices you use. But for now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves; let’s start simple. Let’s start with the ingredients found in e-liquids.
What is E-liquid Made Out Of?
Before telling you about the factors, you should consider when choosing your first e-liquid, it’s first essential to understand and learn about the ingredients that make up and are found in e-liquids.
This is because not every vape juice will work with every device or create the same experience, mainly due to the ratio of ingredients found in each vape juice. That’s why you need to know what every component does and how it can affect the finished product.
Vape juices are made up of four ingredients, with one of them being optional (nicotine). The other three ingredients are the following:
- Vegetable glycerin
- Propylene Glycol
- And artificial flavorings
For now, we’ll focus on the two most essential ingredients Vegetable Glycerin and Propylene Glycol.
Vegetable Glycerin in Vape Juices
The first ingredient we’ll take a look at is vegetable glycerin. Vegetable glycerin or VG is a natural chemical extracted from vegetable oils. In vape juice, it is the fluid that gives thickness to the vapor, and it is usually very viscous, which requires more powerful vapes to evaporate. It also provides less of a throat hit, making it smoother and less harsh.
Propylene Glycol in Vape Juices
The second most important ingredient is propylene glycol or PG. Propylene glycol is a colorless and odorless fluid that behaves more like a liquid than a fluid, less viscous than vegetable glycerin. Because Propylene glycol is odorless and tasteless, it carries the flavor better than vegetable glycerin. But because it’s less dense it has a harsher throat hit akin to smoking cigarettes.
The Importance of VG & PG Ratios
Now that you know the different ingredients that go into vape juices, we can start talking about ratios. For example, a ratio of 70VG/30PG, because it has more vegetable glycerin, will have a more complex flavor, will generate more and thicker vapor, and have a smoother throat hit.
While a 40VG/60PG vape juice will be a bit harsher on the throat (which some ex-smokers like) it will be more flavorful but will not create as much vapor.
Remembering to ask and know your first vape juice ratio is one of the first steps in choosing your first e-liquid. Remember to consider that not all ratios are created equal and that if there is more VG than PG, that can significantly affect the experience you hope to get from your vape juice.
Nicotine in Vape Juices
Although nicotine is optional in vape juices, you should be aware of a few things before buying your first juice for planning on vaping with nicotine. You should know the types of nicotine available to you and the nicotine strength you plan on using. For now, let’s learn about the basics of nicotine.
Nicotine is an alkaloid found in plants like tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, and tobacco. Nicotine is the ingredient in cigarettes that makes them highly addictive, but contrary to popular belief, it is not the ingredient that makes cigarettes deadly (Center for Tobacco Products, 2020). Still, nicotine can be damaging to adolescent brain development and during pregnancy.
When it comes to the vaping experience, more nicotine usually means a harsher throat hit that can taste harsher. Vapes with high nicotine are generally recommended for new vapers who want a similar experience to smoking cigarettes.
Freebase Nicotine & Nicotine Salts: What You Need To Know
There are two types of nicotine in the vaping world, freebase nicotine, and nicotine salts. It’s essential to know the difference between these two because they are not always interchangeable. Using one or the other can affect your vaping experience and the device you plan on using.
Freebase nicotine is the most traditional form of nicotine used in vaping. It is also used in cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy products. It has been the standard since the 60s when cigarette giant Marlboro discovered that they could make nicotine more readily absorbable by the body by removing the positive charge found in the naturally occurring nicotine, or nicotine extracted from tobacco leaves.
You see, nicotine in its natural form is a salt. And salts are made up of a positive (acid) and a negative charge (base). But by removing the positive charge, nicotine returns to a “freebase” state, allowing it to move more freely through the body.
However, the problem with freebase nicotine, especially for vapers, is incredibly harsh at high doses and not as potent in lower strengths. This causes new vapers to feel as if they aren’t receiving enough nicotine to calm their cravings, and if they were to bump up the strength, it would be too harsh to bear. This is why nicotine salts were invented.
Nicotine salts were created by Pax Labs, the same company behind the most famous vaporizer in the world, the JUUL. Although they have kept the exact process of turning nicotine into nicotine salts, we know that thanks to their formulation with nicotine salts, we can vape at much higher dosages. At the same time, without having to get rid of the positive charge, they made nicotine salts very absorbable by our bodies. So absorbable that it is the closest replication of smoking currently available.
So, in essence, the nicotine you choose is significant. Here’s how to freebase nicotine and nicotine salts differ:
- Freebase nicotine is harsher at higher strengths, while nicotine salts are smoother.
- Nicotine salts are only suitable for low-powered devices like pod systems and can not be used with box mod or low resistance devices, while freebase nicotine can be used with both types of devices.
- Freebase nicotine comes in lower strengths, while nicotine salts come in higher strengths.
- Nicotine salts are less complex in flavor, while freebase nicotine is more complex.
- Freebase nicotine creates more vapor while nicotine salts generate less.
- Nicotine salts are better suited for heavy smokers transitioning to vaping, while freebase nicotine is regular to light smokers switching to vaping.
What Nicotine Strength to Choose
The next step in choosing your first e-liquid is deciding what kind of nicotine strength you want to use. Like choosing your type of nicotine, this step is based on your previous habits as a smoker. But in truth, the nicotine strength you finally decide on varies significantly from person to person, so the following are more broad guidelines to follow rather than set rules. Nicotine strengths come in mg/ml of e-liquid, and some approximations are the following:
- 0mg/ml: equals about zero cigarettes per day
- 3mg/m: equals about less than ten cigarettes a day
- 6mg/ml: equals about half a pack of cigarettes per day
- 12mg/ml: equals about a pack of cigarettes per day
It should be noted that the strengths above are only for freebase nicotine. The strengths could go as high as 50mg/ml for nicotine salts, but most likely, you’ll only find nicotine salts in the following three strengths 24mg, 36mg, and 50mg.
What Device Do You Own?
Now that you understand VG/PG ratios, the different types of nicotine, and how the different nicotine strengths affect the e-liquid you should choose, it’s time to move on to what kind of device you own or plan on getting.
This is an essential step because the vape juice you choose should be compatible with your device. As explained earlier, nicotine salts can only be used with low-powered devices like pod systems, and they should not be used with box mods or low resistance devices like RDAs or rebuildable dripping atomizers.
However, some devices come with different coils that allow for nicotine salts and freebase nicotine. For example, you might find a box mod that comes with two coils: a mouth-to-lung coil that acts like the coil in a pod system and a direct-to-lung coil that acts more like a box mod system.
In that case, you can use nicotine salts with your box mod, but you must always make sure that you are using the suitable coil before vaping.
It is essential to understand what type of device you have and whether it is compatible with the vape juice you plan to use.
Vape Juice Flavors?
The last thing you need to take into consideration is the vape juice flavor you plan on getting. Since no flavor is off the table, with this decision, just go with what you love. If you are fond of vanilla, go with vanilla. If you love strawberries, go with a strawberry flavor, and when shopping, consider reviews and bestsellers since positive reviews and bestsellers are there for a reason.
With this guide, we are positive that you will be steered in the right direction when shopping for your first e-liquid. It should be said, however, that landing on your first all-day-vape (or vape juice you can vape all day) is not only a matter of research but also of experimentation. That means you might not find your favorite flavor right away or your preferred nicotine strength, so remember to experiment and try out exotic flavors since, after all, that’s half the fun of buying your first e-liquid.
- Center for Tobacco Products. (2020, August 28). Nicotine: The Addictive Chemical in Tobacco Products. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/health-information/nicotine-addictive-chemical-tobacco-products