E-Liquid & Nicotine – What Strength Do You Need?

If you’re a vape starter on your way to vape stardom, the burning question on your lips might well be – what strength e-liquid? Why is it sometimes milligrams and other times percentages? There are quite a few variables that might dictate this, from your e-cig to your smoking habits. All you need to know is here in this speedy guide to e-liquid strength.

Bear with us here, because this can take some getting your head around!

What kind of vaper are you?

Knowing what strength e-liquid to go for begins with a simple question – what kind of vaper are you?

The strength of the e-liquid depends on what you use an e-cig or vaping device for. There are those vapers who are interested in taste and vapour density and those who vape as a substitute for smoking cigarettes. E-liquid strength really depends on where you are on this scale! For those vapers who have swapped to an e-cig from the real thing, tobacco flavours might be a good choice.

E-Liquid – Percentages and Millilitres

E-liquid will come with several different numbers on them. The ratio between vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG) will usually appear as 50VG/50PG or a configuration to that effect. 

The nicotine content, however, appears a little differently. The nicotine content is measured in milligrams per millilitres or mg/ml. 12 mg/ml, for example, means that there is 12 mg per millilitre of liquid. As a percentage, this appears as 1.2%

The stronger the e-liquid, the higher the percentage. Bear in mind what kind of smoker you will determine the strength you need. Consider this:

Nicotine strength/content Recommended for smokers of…
0mg/ml or 0%Social or occasional smoker.
3mg/ml or 0.3%Minimal smoker – ideal for smokers who only smoke a few cigarettes per day and perfect for the final stage of quitting smoking.
6mg/ml or 0.6%10 cigarettes a day – It delivers a nicotine hit that’s comparable to Ultra-Low/Ultra Light cigarettes.
12mg/ml or 1.2%10 to 15 – a good starting point for those transitioning from smoking cigarettes to vaping, delivering a sufficient nicotine hit to ensure you avoid those cravings.
18mg/ml or 1.8% – 20mg/ml or 2%20+ – This is ideal for very heavy smokers who smoke over 1 packet of cigarettes per day.

PG vs. VG?

The kind of e-liquid you go for will also differ depending on what ratio of propylene glycol (PG) to vegetable glycerin (VG) you want. Both of these have different properties and reactive outcomes. 

PG is slightly thicker than water. A colourless and almost scentless liquid, this has a high boiling point and is meant to replicate the vapour density of nicotine. PG produces a harsher vapour than VG and contributes to the “throat hit”. Vapers who used to smoke are advised to go for a higher percentage of PG. 

VG e-liquid has different properties and has a thicker consistency than PG. It is responsible for producing most of the vapour and adds a slight sweetness to the flavour of the e-liquid. Usually, the higher the level of VG, the bigger and denser the vapour cloud will be. This will also result in a slightly sweeter taste coming through. VG helps to balance out the harshness of PG, which is why you see them together in percentages (e.g. 60/40, 70/30 etc.).

Throat hit?

Vapers use an e-cig for a variety of reasons. For those vapers who use an e-cig as a substitute for smoking, they may want to replicate the feeling in the mouth of smoking a real cigarette. This sensation is called the “throat hit” and is achieved with a higher ratio of PG in your e-liquid. Part of knowing what strength e-liquid to go for will depend on what kind of vaper you are. 

Some other points to think about

What kind of e-cig do you use?

Higher nicotine content in your e-liquid will mean that if your e-cig or vaping device is sub-ohm, it will be too powerful. Sub-ohm vaping is characterised by large clouds of vapour and a high level of flavour. If sub-ohm is your thing, you will need a different set of e-liquids that are suitable for this kind of vaping. You might remember that this is because of the higher vegetable glycerin. For higher nicotine content, classic vape kits will be more suitable. This will also usually mean that mouth to lung inhaling will be employed.

Vaping Technique

The vaping technique you use will also determine what strength e-liquid you need. There are typically two methods:

Mouth to Lung describes the way in which most smoking is carried out. Vapour is drawn from the e-cig into the mouth and then inhaled.

Direct to Lung does what it says on the tin! Bypassing the drawing of vapour into the mouth, the vapour is inhaled straight into the lungs. 

If there is a high nicotine content in your e-liquid, there may be nausea and light-headedness if you employ the direct to lung method. At the same time, with low nicotine content, you can direct to lung all day long!

Now you’re solidly in the know about what strength e-liquid you will benefit from, you can experiment to your heart’s content! There are many different flavours and combinations to be discovered for your vape device or e-cig.

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