E-liquids Beginners Guide


Published on 10 Feb, 2023

E-liquids are the essence of vaping. The whole idea of vaping starts with vaporizing e-juice into an inhalable aerosol. Everything from the nicotine hit to the delicious flavor that you enjoy in a vape all come from e-liquids.

The science, the art, and the fun of vaping depend on the vape juice and the device you are using. While reliable e-cigarettes are essential, choosing the right e-liquid is even more important. With the wrong e-liquid, it won’t matter how fancy your vaping device is. It will be a horrible experience, one you would never wish to have.

Understanding e-liquids is essential so that you can choose what works for you. In this article, we have broken down the different aspects of e-liquids, explained the different types of vape juice, and how to choose the right e-liquid for your vape. Read on to find out more.

What are e-liquids?

E-liquid (also known as vape juice, vape liquid, or e-juice) is a fluid used in vaping devices that comprises a diluent or a blend of diluents, flavoring, and mostly nicotine.

Vape kits and electronic cigarettes vaporize vape juice into a fine inhalable aerosol that the vaper inhales into the lung. Unlike smoking cigarettes, the cloudy consistency formed when vaping is neither smoke nor vapor, but an aerosol that delivers nicotine to the lungs and into the bloodstream.

The aerosol formed from the vape juice is usually at room temperature, but sometimes it can feel warm depending on the power of the device or the flavor. Menthol or iced flavors feel cold, while other spiced versions like black pepper flavors can feel warmer.

The ingredients used in e-liquids are carefully selected to ensure that they pose no serious health risks and be effectively vaporized.

E-liquids Ingredients

An e-liquids can consist of 3 or 4 ingredients:

  • PG and VG
  • Nicotine
  • Flavoring

PG and VG

The diluents are primarily propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycol (VG). Most e-liquids are blends of PG and VG, although some are 100% of either diluent. Some DIY e-liquids contain Aqueous Glycerine (AG) (usually VG diluted with distilled water)

PG is a food-safe petroleum product used in food, medicine, and vape liquids. PG is usually thinner, with a lower density, and gives a throat hit similar to a cigarette. On the other hand, VG is made from vegetable fats and used as a sweetener or thickener in the food industry. It is denser than PG, thicker, and with a smoother throat sensation.


Nicotine in e-liquids is presented as either salt nicotine or freebase. Nicotine exists naturally in tobacco plant leaves as a salt. However, natural nicotine salt is unstable and not easily vaporized. Nicotine in vape liquids undergoes chemical modification to convert it into freebase nicotine or acid-based nicotine salts (also known as nic salts or salt nicotine).

Although nicotine is a common vape juice ingredient, some e-liquids are nicotine-free. They only contain flavors and diluents, and sometimes additional food-safe substances.

Most vapers, especially those transitioning from smoking cigarettes heavily depend on nicotine. It is presented in e-liquids and delivered to the lungs using a vaping device. Nicotine gives the much-craved throat hit and a refreshed feeling.

Nicotine is an addictive substance and should not be used by persons under 18 years in Kenya.


E-liquids have all sorts of flavors, from tropical fruit flavors to spicy and candied flavors. The choice of vape flavor comes down to personal preference. A warm evening may attract some cool and refreshing menthol, peppermint, or iced flavors. Fruity and vibrant flavors will go well with a cool day.

High PG e-liquids are the best in delivering more sophisticated flavors, unlike high VG vape juice which goes well with more subtle flavors. Hence, besides individual preference, the type of diluent in an e-liquid may determine the flavors you vape.

Types of E-liquids

Classification of e-liquids is mostly determined by the PG/VG ratios and nicotine strength.

PG/VG Ratios

E-liquids have varying concentrations of PG and VG. Vape liquids brands usually indicate the PG/VG ratio on the e-juice bottle. The amount of PG and VG in an e-liquid determines the kind of device you use for maximum vaping efficiency. Some of the popular PG/VG ratios are as follows:

Over 50% PG E-liquids

Vape liquids with a higher concentration of PG are suitable for MTL vaping. Propylene glycol vaporizes faster than vegetable glycerine. This means that low-power devices with a coil resistance of more than 1 ohm are the most suitable for high PG devices.

Over 50% VG E-liquids

VG is thicker and vaporizes slower than PG. High-power devices with a coil resistance of less than 1 ohm efficiently heat VG e-liquids and aerosolize them into dense clouds. These vape liquids are suitable for DTL vaping or sub-ohming.

50:50 PG/VG E-liquids

The 50/50 options offer a balanced PG/VG ratio and are usually suitable for beginners of DTL vaping. Vapers who want a balance of flavors and a good amount of vape clouds should also buy the balanced PG/VG e-liquids. They combine the strong characteristics of each diluent, allowing you to have a little bit of both.

Most tanks, coils, and vape kits are designed to effectively vaporize the 50/50 vape liquid. However, if you are using a device with a coil resistance of under 0.4 ohms, higher VG e-liquids will be the most suitable.

Find out more about PG and VG in our article on VG vs PG in e-liquids.

Nicotine Strength

Nicotine strength and form are the next key classification criteria of e-liquids. Freebase e-liquids have nicotine in its purest form while nic salts have nicotine chemically modified into salts using acids like benzoic acid, malic acid, citric acid, and others. These acids give nicotine a more stable state that can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream.

Freebase nicotine strength will have a concentration of up to 12mg. Freebase nicotine is alkaline, and exceeding this concentration makes the vape liquid too harsh and might end up hurting your throat.

People trying to quit smoking cigarettes require a significant nicotine concentration to satisfy their cravings. When freebase nicotine is not enough, vapers turn to nic salts for a stronger nicotine hit.

Nic salts or salt nicotine e-liquids have a concentration of up to 50mg (although most regulations limit concentration to 20mg). Nic salts are more stable and their acidic nature makes them offer a smoother throat sensation than freebase e-liquids. They are also absorbed faster into the bloodstream. Nic salts are ideal for new vapers trying to quit smoking or anyone seeking a stronger nicotine hit.

When buying e-liquids, always check the type of nicotine the vape liquid has and the concentration. The vaping device you are using will also determine the type of nicotine to use. Nic salts are ideal for low-power devices since it vaporizes faster hence best for the MTL vaping method, while freebase nicotine is excellent with high-power devices and hence best for DTL or Sub-ohm vaping.

Find out more about various nicotine forms in our article on Nic Salts vs Freebase Nicotine.

What are shortfill e-liquids?

Regulations required that any nicotine-containing e-liquid should not be sold in containers larger than 10ml. This made nicotine-based e-liquids expensive since you had to buy 10ml only. To get around this situation, vape liquids manufacturers started making shortfills.

Shortfill e-liquids have no nicotine and are usually underfilled to allow space for adding nicotine shots. For instance, a 30ml bottle with 20ml of e-liquids and a space to add nicotine. This meant that you could have enough e-liquid and nicotine without buying several 10ml bottles of nicotine-based e-liquids.

Nicotine shot or nic shot is different from nic salts or salt nicotine. Nic shots are nicotine in high concentration, usually 18mg or 20mg that is added to nicotine-free shortfill e-liquids. Nic shots can be freebase nicotine or as nic salts.

Adding nic shots into a 0mg e-liquid means that the ultimate e-liquid will have a diluted nicotine concentration.

Choosing the right e-liquids for your vape

There are generally two types of e-cigarettes when relating to e-liquids; prefilled disposable vapes or pod kits and refillable e-cigarettes.

Using prefilled vapes means that you have limited control over the type of vape liquid to use. Most of the prefilled options are made in specific PG/VG ratios, nicotine strength, and flavors. When buying a disposable vape or pod kit, you are presented with their different characteristics including nicotine strength and flavors. Most of these e-cigarettes are best for MTL vaping.

When using high-power devices like mods and pod mods which have tanks or rebuildable atomizers, you can choose the type of e-liquid to use since they have refillable tanks, pods, or dripper systems.

Choosing the right e-liquid for your device means knowing the method of vaping you use and the type of vaping device that you are using. As indicated earlier, different coil resistance requires certain PG/VG ratios for the optimal vaping experience. Understanding your vape type goes a long way in helping you pick the right e-juice for your vaping device.

Besides understanding your vape, personal preference and taste also determine the type of e-liquid you buy. For instance, vapers who are trying to quit smoking and those that heavily depend on nicotine will require high-strength e-liquids.

If you are a cloud chaser, use high VG e-liquids, but if flavor and more subtle vaping are more important to you, use high PG e-liquids.

E-liquids are the backbone of vaping. How you experience it depends on the type of vape liquid you pick. Now that you have a better understanding of e-liquids, you are now ready to discover the best e-liquids brands to buy for the best vaping experience.

If you want to learn more about vaping in general and other more specific topics in general, head to our resource center and discover rich information that we have compiled for you on various vaping topics.

Vape Lab online electronic cigarettes shop offers you a wide range of e-liquids, vaping devices, and vape accessories at the most affordable prices in Kenya. Order e-liquids online or any other product at our shop and we will deliver them to your doorstep.


Published on 10 Feb, 2023