What You Should Know - Propylene Glycol & Vegetable Glycerine

What You Should Know - Propylene Glycol & Vegetable Glycerine

Should you be concerned about PG and VG?

11 July 2023 | Hannah Rubery

What You Should Know - Propylene Glycol & Vegetable Glycerine (Image)

Curious about vaping? You've probably heard about propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerine (VG) in vape juice. Don't worry, they're safe for consumption according to FDA, MHRA, and EU. However, there have been discussions and concerns about their use in vape products. In this article, we'll dive into what PG and VG are, their other uses, potential risks, side effects, and why people are concerned. Stay informed and find out if you should be worried too!

What there is to know about PG & VG

Propylene glycol, a synthetic compound, is part of the alcohol family. It's clear, odourless, and has a slightly sweet taste. You'll find it in a variety of products like food and personal care items, where it acts as a humectant, preservative, and solvent. Plus, it's a common ingredient in smoke/fog machines used in theatres and nightclubs.

On the other hand, vegetable glycerin is a liquid that comes from vegetable oils or fats. It's colourless, odourless, and has a sweet taste. It's often used in food and cosmetics as an emollient and thickening agent. It's also great at retaining moisture in the skin, making it a popular choice. You can even find it in medicines as an additive and solvent.

So, whether you're looking for a versatile compound or a natural option, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin have got you covered!

Bottle of PG E-Liquid (Image)

Where can you find them outside vaping?

You may not realize it, but propylene glycol (PG) is all around us! It's commonly used in food processing, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and industrial products. The FDA even approves it as a direct food additive. You can find PG in packaged foods, beer, soft drinks, popcorn, bread, and baked goods. It's a moisture preserver, helping those marshmallows and coconut flakes stay nice and moist. And that's not all - it's in medicines, creams, balms, and hygiene products too.

But wait, don't confuse it with ethylene glycol! That's the harmful stuff found in antifreeze. Ethylene glycol is used alongside propylene glycol to lower the freezing point of liquids. It's that which makes antifreeze toxic to humans.

Now, let's talk about vegetable glycerine (VG). Just like PG, it's used in various industries, such as pharmaceuticals, foods, beverages, and cosmetics. It's a plant-based substitute for animal fats in food products, making it a go-to for vegan options. VG is also a food preserver and sweetener, keeping our food moist and tasty. So, if you see it in lozenges or cough medicines, you'll know why!

What are the risks of PG and VG?

You may be wondering about the long-term effects of PG or VG in vape juice. Well, the good news is that there don't seem to be any known risks associated with these ingredients. In fact, studies have shown that propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine are generally considered safe for human consumption. Recent research has suggested there may be issues of irritation to the airways when vaping, but this is less than that caused by cigarette smoking.

Now, you may have come across some articles claiming that propylene glycol can cause all sorts of health problems like heart issues, neurological problems, and kidney issues. But here's the truth: the toxicity of PG is actually quite low. It hasn't been found to cause cancer, harm genes, or interfere with fertility or reproduction.

What happens to PG in our bodies is actually quite interesting. Our kidneys break it down into lactic acid, so less than half of the absorbed PG remains unchanged. This means that even if you do consume PG, it doesn't stick around for long.

Of course, it's always a good idea to be cautious. If you have kidney or liver issues, or if you're pregnant or have young children, it might be best to avoid consuming large amounts of PG, just to be on the safe side. But for most people, there's no need to worry about using vape juice with PG or VG.

woman vaping (Image)

Are there any side effects?

Side effects of vaping can vary from person to person, depending on their sensitivity and tolerance to PG and VG. The most commonly reported side effect is a sore throat, dry mouth, or irritated nose or eyes when vaping at higher temperatures. Luckily, you can avoid this by lowering the temperature and reducing the irritation caused by PG/VG.

There are other potential side effects like headaches, nausea, coughing, chest tightness, or congestion, but these can also be avoided by adjusting vaping temperatures or trying a different type of E-Liquid. In rare cases, someone may have a sensitivity or allergic reaction to either chemical. If this happens, it's important to stop using PG and VG-containing products and seek advice from a healthcare professional.

What are some of the concerns about PG and VG?

Many people mistakenly believe that since PG is used in antifreeze, it must be dangerous to inhale. But fear not, this is simply not true. The potential risks associated with PG have been blown out of proportion.

The same goes for VG. It has also faced backlash due to concerns about lung irritation. However, it's important to note that many studies on VG and PG are influenced by tobacco politics and scare tactics. While more research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects, one thing we do know is that there is a possibility of lung irritation, much like with other inhaled products.

It's crucial to remember that any harm caused by vaping is still far less than that of smoking cigarettes. However, it's not completely harmless. This is why it's recommended that non-smokers refrain from taking up vaping. Let's continue exploring and researching the topic to gain a clearer understanding.

Should you be worried?

Here's the scoop: although vaping comes with a few potential risks, they're nowhere near as many as the ones caused by cigarettes. That's why we don't suggest non-smokers start vaping. Vaping is actually a tool to help smokers quit in a less harmful way. While vape products, like disposables and E-Liquid, still carry some harm, it's way less than what cigarettes do. So, if you've never smoked, it's best to steer clear.