E-liquids explained

There are countless different e-liquid options available; in this post we will explaining the ins and outs of e-liquids to help equip you with all the information you need to find the right e-liquid.

What is e-liquid?

E-liquids describe the liquid solution which is vaporised in an e-cigarette. The atomiser inside the e-cigarette contains a coil surrounded by cotton, the e-liquid is absorbed into the cotton and as the coil heats up the e-liquid becomes a vapour which can be inhaled.

What is in my e-liquid?

E-liquids are primarily made up of a VG/PG base mix, with the addition of flavourings, sweeteners, and sometimes colourings, all of which are food grade. Depending on your preference, they can also contain nicotine at various strengths.

What is VG?

VG is the abbreviation of vegetable glycerine, which is a clear, viscous liquid with a mildly sweet flavour. It is derived from plant oils and is responsible for the vapour production in e-cigarettes. It is found in products like toothpaste, frozen foods and cough mixture.

What is PG?

PG is an abbreviation for Propylene Glycol, which is a clear liquid with a syrupy consistency, and alone is practically tasteless. It is the part of e-liquids that gives the ‘throat hit’ and holds the flavourings. It is widely used as a food additive in things like cake mix, dairy products and soft drinks, as well as being used in cosmetics and medicines.

What nicotine strength should I choose?

Your smoking habits will dictate what nicotine strength would best suit your needs, as how many cigarettes you would normally smoke will help you identify the nicotine strength that would satisfy your nicotine cravings.

If you are quite a light smoker or smoke socially but not every day, a low nicotine strength like a 3mg will suffice to quell any nicotine cravings.

If you would usually smoke around 5 – 10 cigarettes a day, starting off on a 6mg e-liquid would be preferable.

If you are a moderate smoker, between 10 – 20 cigarettes a day, we would recommend a mid-strength e-liquid, a 10 or 12mg.

If you are a heavier smoker, smoking 20+ cigarettes a day, it would be best to start off using a high strength e-liquid, an 18 or 20mg.

What are shortfills?

Shortfills describe bottles of e-liquid which are larger than 10ml, so called because they are filled short of the top of the bottle to leave room for the addition of nicotine shots. The UK TPD laws dictate that bottles of e-liquid which are larger than 10ml cannot contain nicotine, and so if you would like to buy a larger bottle of e-liquid and would like it to contain nicotine, you need to add this yourself in the form of nic shots. Shortfills can come in a range of different sizes, but are most commonly purchased as a 50ml of e-liquid in a 60ml bottle, or 100ml of e-liquid in a 120ml bottle.

What are nic shots?

Nic shots are 10ml bottles of e-liquid, containing nicotine mixed with a VG/PG base. These are usually unflavoured, but can contain a cooling agent or fizzy agent, and usually come in an 18mg strength. One nic shot added in to a 50ml shortfill, will produce 60ml of 3mg e-liquid, as the nicotine is diluted by the e-liquid. 

What is the difference between nic salts and freebase nicotine?

Nic salts and freebase are both forms of nicotine, but have different qualities which make them suitable to different people.

Nic salts provide a very smooth inhale, even at high nicotine strengths, and are absorbed quickly into the blood stream so nicotine cravings are satisfied fast. Nic salts are best suited to those who want a smooth vaping experience and do not enjoy a throat hit.

Freebase nicotine absorbs slower, and provides more of a throat hit, so are more suited to those who enjoy a slightly harsher inhale, and tend of vape quite frequently, as the slower absorbed nicotine will not make them feel overwhelmed.

What is the difference between 50/50 e-liquids and high VG e-liquids?

50/50 e-liquids contain an equal ratio of VG and PG base. These are a thinner consistency and are best suited to MTL devices and tanks with smaller coils. Most starter kits are best suited for use with 50/50 e-liquids, as the smaller coils can easily absorb the thinner liquid without the cotton drying out between pulls.

High VG liquids describe e-liquids with a higher ratio of VG base to PG base. These are thicker liquids and are best suited to sub-ohm tanks with large coils. Big coils tend to have large areas of exposed cotton, meaning they can easily absorb the thicker high VG e-liquids. Whereas, they will often absorb too much of the thinner liquids which can result in leaking.

Reasons to start vaping

  • E-cigarettes have been found by University College London to be the most effective way to give up smoking, especially when combined with the help of a stop smoking specialist.
  • E-liquids allow you to control your nicotine dosage, and lower the dosage as and when you are ready.
  • Vaping feels much more familiar to smokers, as the act of vaping closely replicates that of smoking in a way that other nicotine replacement therapies like patches and gum do not.
  • Vaping has been found by Public Health England to be 95% less harmful than smoking, and e-liquids do not contain any of the countless toxic substances that are found in cigarettes.
  • E-cigarette vapour dissipates in seconds, and does not cause discolouration or a lingering smell to yourself or your environment.
  • On average, vapers spend only a third of the money they were spending when smoking, an average saving of £800 per year!

Where to start

If you are considering an e-cigarette as an alternative to smoking, or a way to cut down on your cigarette usage, give our ‘Guide: Switching made simple’ a read to help you find the perfect device and e-liquid combination to suit your needs.

You will need to identify the device that will feel most comfortable and fit into your lifestyle best, as well as an e-liquid strength that provides the appropriate nicotine dosage and is a flavour that you love.

How does an e-cigarette work?

An e-cigarette is comprised of a tank, or pod, and a battery. The tank contains a coil surrounded by cotton; once the tank has been filled with e-liquid, the cotton absorbs the e-liquid which is then vaporised as the coil is heated. This vapour is then inhaled by the user. The coil will only heat up when the user depresses the fire button, or on buttonless devices, when the user inhales through the mouthpiece.


How to set up your device

Once you receive your device, you will find a user manual with a device specific set up guide to help you set up your device effectively.

  • If you are using a pre-filled pod system, it is as simple as popping the pod into the device and you are ready to go.
  • If you are using a device with fillable pods, simply fill the pod with e-liquid and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before using it.
  • If you are using a device with replaceable coils, squeeze a few drops of e-liquid onto any exposed cotton, this is known as priming the coil. Avoid putting e-liquid into the centre of the coil, as this may not be absorbed straight away and may spit out of the mouthpiece when you use the device. Once you have primed the coil, insert it into the tank and fill the tank with e-liquid, then let it sit for 5-10 minutes to become fully saturated.
  • It is important to ensure the coil is fully saturated in e-liquid before you use the device. If you use your device before the coil has fully absorbed the e-liquid this could lead the coil to burn out prematurely.
  • Once the tank is read to use turn on the device, this is usually done by pressing the fire button 3-5 times in quick succession. If your device has an adjustable wattage feature make sure the wattage is set to the correct setting for the coil you are using, and then your device will be ready to use!
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