Beginners Guide To E-Liquids

Published April 16th 2021
Everything you need to know about vape liquids to get started as a new beginner including the different types of e-liquids and what to look for when shopping for your next flavour.


What are E-Liquids?

E-Liquid, commonly referred to as ‘vape juice’ or ‘e-juice’, is the substance that is used to refill vaping devices.

All E-Liquids are available in thousands of flavours, ranging from fruit flavours such as strawberry and mango, to desserts and mint/menthol flavours. They even come in a range of tobacco flavours for ex-smokers who prefer that taste. The choices are endless.

There are 4 different types of E-Liquids:

  1. Regular TPD 10mls
  2. Shortfills
  3. Nicotine Salts
  4. DIY Concentrates

Before we dive into these types, it’s important to note that by law it is illegal to sell any liquids greater than 10ml that contain nicotine. That law is known as the ‘TPD’ (Tobacco Products Directive).

1. Regular TPD 10mls

Often referred to by the name of the TPD law, Regular 10mls are simply 10ml bottles of e-liquid mixed with liquid nicotine. However, you can also find these at 0mg (mg = milligram) nicotine for ex-smokers trying to cut-off nicotine.

2. Shortfills

These are larger bottles of e-liquid ranging from 25ml to 500ml, but the most common sizes are 50ml and 100ml. These do not contain nicotine in order to abide by the TPD law.

However, separate 10ml ‘nicotine shots’ are sold alongside shortfills so you can add nicotine to your e-liquid if you wish. To allow this, shortfill bottles are always filled ‘short’ of the top to allow room for the nicotine liquid, hence the name ‘Shortfill’.

For example, a 50ml Shortfill is sold in a 60ml bottle so you can add up to 10ml of liquid nicotine. You would calculate how much nicotine to add using a nicotine shot calculator.

3. Nicotine Salts

Nicotine Salts are 10ml bottles of e-liquid that contain a special form of nicotine. This nicotine ensures that even when you vape the highest nicotine strength of 20mg, you don’t encounter a harsh experience on your throat. This is very popular among ex-smokers.

4. DIY Concentrates

These are not ready to vape out of the bottle. DIY concentrate e-liquids only contain flavour concentrates and one of 2 other ingredients used in e-liquids: PG (Propylene Glycol). It then requires the remaining e-liquid ingredients to be added & mixed before vaping.

E-Liquid Ingredients

In order understand E-Liquids, it’s important to understand what it is made up of. Eliquid contains three main ingredients and an optional fourth: 

  1. VG (Vegetable Glycerine)
  2. PG (Propylene Glycol)
  3. Flavourings
  4. Nicotine (optional)

The vast majority of an e-liquid is made up of VG and PG, always referred to as VG/PG. This is what we’ll dive into first…

1 & 2: VG/PG Ingredients

‘VG/PG’ refers to 'VG/PG ratio', representing how much vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol there is in a e-liquid. This is important to know because the VG/PG ratio determines the:

  1. Density or thickness of your vapour clouds;
  2. Throat hit that the vapour produces; and
  3. Lifespan of your vape device (specifically the heating coils).

The higher the VG content, the thicker clouds of vapour your e-liquid will produce. Equally, the higher the VG content, the more intense the throat hit and the more taxing the e-liquid is on the vape device’s heating coil resulting in a shorter lifespan.

Conversely, high PG e-liquids (50% PG or more) produce less vapour. The reduced vapour production is preferred by many vape beginners as it replicates the feeling of a cigarette more accurately. As PG is much thinner and less viscous than PG, a vape device’s heating coils tend to perform more efficiently as less heat has to be generated to vaporise the e-liquid.

3. Flavourings

Flavourings added to e-liquids are simple flavour concentrates used to add flavour to the vapour produced from vaporising e-liquid. There are hundreds of flavour categories available in the vaping industry. The most popular flavour categories for beginners are tobacco, menthol, fruit and dessert flavoured e-liquids.

You’ll often find the same flavour produced by multiple e-liquid brands. However, the intensity & accuracy of the flavour will always vary, so don’t be surprised to find that the same flavour from different brands taste different. Hence, it’s great to try out different e-liquid flavours from different brands as you will find that you will prefer a specific flavour from one brand over another.

4. Nicotine

Nicotine is the final optional ingredient in e-liquids, and is always measured in ‘mg’ (milligrams).

It’s important to note that the maximum e-liquid nicotine strength that is legally permitted to be sold to the public in the United Kingdom is 20mg.

E-Liquids come in a huge variety of nicotine ‘mg’ strengths, the most common options being:

  • 0mg
  • 1.5mg
  • 3mg
  • 6mg
  • 10mg/11mg/12mg
  • 18mg/20mg

Thanks to the large range of nicotine strengths, ex-smokers find it easy to slowly decrease their nicotine intake by periodically moving to the next lower nicotine strength. Many ex-smokers have successfully quit nicotine entirely thanks to vaping.

Which E-Liquid Is Right For You?

Which E-Liquid you choose depends on:

  1. Strength of nicotine you wish to vape
  2. Size of bottle you prefer to carry
  3. Size of the vapour clouds you want to exhale

1. Nicotine Strength

If you don’t smoke, firstly we recommend that you don’t take up vaping. However, if you insist on taking up smoking or vaping, vaping is by far the better option according to NHS and Cancer Research. In that case, you should stick to 0mg e-liquids.

If you smoke, it’s extremely important to choose the correct nicotine strength of your e-liquid or you will risk moving back to cigarettes. In order to find the perfect strength, we’ve built the world’s first & only [Cigarette to Nicotine Strength converter] just for this purpose; use it to find your recommended nicotine strength. 

Depending on your nicotine strength, your e-liquid options would be:

  • 0mg - 3mg: Regular 10mls or Shortfills
  • 3mg - 10mg: Regular 10mls
  • 10mg - 20mg: Nicotine Salts

2. Bottle Size

The type of e-liquid you choose will have their pros & cons:

  • Regular 10ml or Nicotine Salts: These small 10ml bottles are easy to carry around, and have nicotine pre-mixed for you so they are ready to vape.
  • Shortfills: These larger bottles are less convenient to carry around but greater value for money, however they do require you to mix in your desired nicotine before you vape.

Ultimately each have their benefits, but as mentioned before, if you will be vaping 0mg to 3mg you have the flexibility of choosing between Regular 10mls or Shortfills.

3. Vapour Clouds

As mentioned earlier, all e-liquids have a VG/PG ratio which defines how thick the vapour clouds are when you vape:

  • 40VG/60PG - 60VG/40PG: These are common ‘low VG’ ratios, with thinner e-liquid meaning thinner harder-to-see vapour clouds
  • 70VG/30PG - 100VG/0PG: There are common ‘high VG’ ratios, with thicker e-liquid meaning thick vapour clouds
  • 50VG/50VG: The most common VG/PG ratio balancing cloud size and vapour thickness

In simple terms, the thicker your e-liquid (the greater the VG %), the thicker your vapour clouds. As for what we’d recommend to beginners, 50VG/50PG is the best & most popular option to start with.

How To Use E-Liquids

As explained in the previous beginners guide to vaping, E-liquids have to be added into a vape device in order to be inhaled as a vapour. However, your choice of e-liquid type will have a recommended vape device type.

Understanding vape device kits and selecting the best one for you can get a little complicated, so we’ve written another great beginners guide to simplify it all for you and make it extremely easy to understand.

Let’s head over there: Beginners Guide to Vape Devices

Written by IndeJuice Editorial
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