Vaping has become an increasingly popular alternative to smoking cigarettes. E-cigarettes heat and vaporize e-liquids that usually contain vegetable glycerin (VG), propylene glycol (PG), nicotine, and flavorings. VG is the ingredient that produces big, thick clouds of vapor. This has led many vapers to wonder – can you vape pure VG?
What is Vegetable Glycerin?
Vegetable glycerin (VG) is a clear, odorless liquid that is made from plant oils, typically palm, soy, or coconut oil. It has a naturally sweet taste and is thick and smooth in consistency.
Some key facts about VG:
- Safe for human consumption – The FDA has classified VG as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) as an ingestible ingredient in foods, pharmaceuticals, and oral care products. This means it is considered safe for human consumption.
- Humectant properties – VG has humectant properties, meaning it attracts and retains moisture. This makes it useful for keeping skin and hair hydrated in cosmetics. It also contributes to the dense, satisfying vapor that vapers enjoy.
- Sweetener – Due to its sweet taste, VG is sometimes used as a sugar substitute in low-calorie foods and diabetes-friendly products.
- Thickening agent – The thick, viscous nature of VG allows it to be used as a thickening agent in foods and even toothpaste.
So in summary, VG is a safe, plant-based ingredient with a variety of uses. Its humectant properties make it ideal for vaping.
VG in E-liquids
VG is one of the main ingredients in e-liquids, along with PG (propylene glycol) and flavorings. The ratio of VG to PG can vary widely between e-juice brands and formulations.
Higher VG blends (60-90% VG) are known for:
- Producing big, dense clouds of vapor
- Providing a smooth, mild throat hit
- Having a slightly sweet taste
Higher PG blends (60-90% PG) are known for:
- Carrying more flavor
- Providing a stronger throat hit
- Being less viscous so they wick more easily
For cloud-chasers and tricks, high VG juice is preferred. The thickness and vapor production of VG make it ideal for this vaping style.
Is Vaping 100% VG Safe?
While vegetable glycerin is considered safe for ingestion, less is known about the long-term effects of inhaling pure VG vapor. However, based on current research, vaping 100% VG appears to be low-risk and unlikely to cause harm.
Some key points:
- The FDA has rated pharmaceutical-grade VG as safe for medical inhalers at concentrations up to 100%.
- One small clinical study found no serious side effects in participants inhaling pure VG vapor for up to one hour. Only minor throat irritation was reported in some users.
- Analysis of vapor from pure VG and VG/PG mixes shows no dangerous or carcinogenic compounds. The main substances detected are glycerol and glycolaldehyde in trace amounts.
- Vegetable glycerin is non-toxic. If spilled on the skin or ingested accidentally, it is harmless.
More research is still needed on vaping high-VG e-liquids. But based on current evidence, vaping 100% VG appears far safer than smoking combusted tobacco. For most vapers, it should not pose any significant health risks. Those with respiratory issues may still want to exercise caution.
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Tips for Vaping Pure VG
Vaping a 100% VG e-liquid takes some adjustment for tanks and coils. Here are some tips for the best experience:
- Use sub-ohm tanks – Sub-ohm tanks with large juice ports and coils are ideal for the thick VG liquid. Common choices are tanks like the Smok TFV16, Horizon Falcon 2, Vaporesso Skrr, etc.
- High wattage vaping – VG creates more vapor at higher temperatures. Vape at 80-100W+ to avoid excess thickening of juice and muted flavor.
- Prime coils thoroughly – Saturate cotton wicking by letting juice soak in for 5-10 minutes before first use so it wicks properly.
- Thinner juices for pod systems – Pod systems and mouth-to-lung tanks work better with 50/50 or 60VG juices. Pure VG may not wick efficiently.
- Clean tanks regularly – Change coils at the first sign of reduced flavor. Disassemble and clean tanks often to avoid build-up.
- Watch for dry hits – If vapor production drops or you get a burnt taste, it means the cotton has dried out. Time to re-wick or change the coil.
With the right gear and some care in set up, vapers can enjoy blowing gigantic clouds with pure, thick VG juice. It provides a very satisfying vape experience.
Are There Any Downsides to Vaping Pure VG?
While vaping 100% vegetable glycerin appears low-risk, there are some potential downsides to consider:
- Less flavor – VG produces less flavor than PG-based juices. Flavorings also dilute the VG, reducing vapor density.
- Possible muting – Some vapers report muted or altered flavor from pure VG over time as olfactory fatigue sets in. Adding 5-10% flavoring or PG may help.
- Coil gunking – The sweetness of VG can gunk up coils more quickly requiring more frequent coil replacement and tank cleaning.
- Throat irritation – In some vapers, direct throat hit from PG is preferable to the mildness of VG. Adding a touch of PG, nicotine, or benzoic acid can add perceived throat hit.
- Difficulty wicking – In pods and tobacco inserts, pure VG may not wick efficiently leading to dry puffs. A thin 40-60% VG juice works better.
So while VG is not hazardous based on current data, the drawbacks of less flavor, muted taste, and wicking challenges may make a 100% VG vape less satisfying for some users. Adding a little PG and nicotine may enhance the experience.
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What About Flavoring?
Most e-liquids including high VG juices contain some flavor additives. Are flavorings safe to vape?
Overall, when used in moderation, food-grade vaping flavors are considered low-risk based on current research. However, flavors do introduce additional compounds being inhaled.
General tips for minimizing risks with e-liquid flavors:
- Stick to reputable brands that use high-quality, food-grade flavorings tested for safety. Avoid unknown or sketchy e-juice brands.
- Use flavors sparingly around 5-15% concentration. Avoid very high levels of flavor saturation.
- Avoid oil-based and lipid flavors like custards or creamy flavors. These degrade into aldehydes over time which may pose higher risks.
- Avoid flavor additives like food colorings or sweeteners like sucrose. Most quality brands do not add these.
- Watch for allergic reactions or new coughing/irritation when switching flavors. Discontinue use if this occurs.
- Avoid continuously vaping the same flavor for weeks on end. Take a break or switch flavors periodically.
So with care in flavor selection and usage, adding a bit of flavoring to VG appears reasonably safe based on current data. But more research is still needed.
The Bottom Line
Based on current evidence, vaping 100% vegetable glycerin is unlikely to pose significant health hazards for most users. The ingredient has been rated safe for ingestion and inhalation up to 100% by the FDA.
However, some people may experience throat irritation from stripping out the PG. Flavor and vapor production may also suffer slightly. Adding 5-10% PG and a moderate amount of food-grade flavors can enhance the experience.
Always use high VG blends in sub-ohm tanks rated for max VG juices. And prime those coils! With the right gear, vaping pure vegetable glycerin can provide rich, dense clouds of vapor. Just be vigilant about potential dry hits.
While more research would be beneficial, current signs point to pure VG vaping being far less harmful than smoking. For cloud-chasers, max VG juices remain a popular choice. Just adjust your setup and vaping style accordingly. Then blow some monster clouds!