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E-Liquid Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best E-Liquid

When I started vaping in 2008, there wasn’t much choice. Unless you were in the modding/DIY camp, there was little to choose from other than cartridges that you could use with cigalikes and a few, mostly high PG, e-liquids.

Nowadays, though, there is a ton of choice. You can choose between high VG and high PG, between nicotine salts and free base, between 10ml and shortfills and more.

In many ways, that’s a good thing. The different options available mean that vaping can meet the needs of more people. But it can also be very confusing when you first start vaping!

We’ve put this post to explain what the different types of e-liquid are, and what needs they address so that you can choose the right e-liquid for your needs.

Key terms explained

MTL: When you inhale into the mouth and hold vapour briefly before inhaling into the lungs.
DTL: When you inhale directly into the lungs. See MTL v. DTL for more info.
Nicotine salts: A form of e-liquid that uses the salts found in tobacco leaves to create a smoother throat hit. E-liquid without nicotine salts is known as freebase e-liquid.
Hybrid e-liquids: Contain both freebase e-liquid and nicotine salts.
PG: Propylene glycol. Used in e-liquid, it is thinner than VG and creates more of a throat hit.
VG: Vegetable glycerine. Thicker than PG, it is slightly sweeter, smoother on the throat and creates larger clouds of vapour. See PG vVG for more info.
Short-fill: A large bottle of e-liquid with no nicotine. There is a space at the top of the bottle to add a nicotine shot.
Nicotine shot: A small bottle of usually flavourless e-liquid which can be added to a short-fill.

E-liquids for a smooth throat hit

There are two ways to soften the throat hit of an e-liquid.

The first is to use nicotine salts. Nicotine salts are a relatively new innovation. They were originally introduced because vapers found the nicotine hit with very high strength e-liquids (legal in the US, but not available in the UK) was too harsh.

Nicotine salts, which utilise the original form of nicotine found in tobacco leaves, creates a much smoother throat hit. It may also increase the speed of nicotine delivery, making it more satisfying.

Nicotine salts are very popular with new vapers and are ideal for smokers who prefer light/mild cigarettes and tobacco. However, if you are used to a strong hit on the back of the throat, they may not be for you. Examples of nicotine salts include Nasty Juice SaltsOhm Brew and Pukka Salts.

Another way to minimise the throat hit is to use a higher VG e-liquid. However, high VG e-liquids are best used with more advanced equipment. We talk more about this below under cloud vaping.

E-liquids for a cigarette-style vape

If you are looking to replace the feeling of a cigarette, there are two options.

The first is an e-liquid with more propylene glycol, typically with a VG: PG ratio of 50:50, which gives a similar throat hit to that of a cigarette. These e-liquids, best used with pod systems and lower-powered devices, are also best for a tight, restricted draw that more closely mimics a cigarette.

But recently, many vapers have reported that pod systems which use a combination of nicotine salts and regular e-liquid, such as the Nord Kit, to enjoy a very realistic smoking experience. The Hexa is a closed pod system, but hybrid salts are also starting to be used in 10ml bottles, as with Riot SALTS.

Juices for open pod systems and starter kits

Starter kits and pod systems are usually designed for use with higher PG ratios (e.g. VG: PG 50:50). You can check this by checking the resistance of your coil. If the resistance of your coil is above 1 ohm, you are usually best off using a high PG e-liquid.

E-Liquids for cloud chasing

If your priority is to blow larger clouds of vapour, then you’ll be best off with short-fills. Short-fills are larger bottles of e-liquid, which come with space at the top of the bottle to add a nicotine shot.

Short-fills such as Pukka Juice and Nasty Juice usually have a higher VG ratio, such as VG: PG 70:30 or 80:20. The VG is responsible for the clouds, but do bear in mind that you need to use these with more advanced kits. That’s because the battery needs to provide more power, and the coil in your tank needs to be built to handle that power and a thicker e-liquid.

To handle the thicker e-liquids and produce those clouds, you also need to use coils with lower resistance (typically well below 1 ohm) and with wider holes in the coil to help absorb the e-liquid.

Which flavour?

Flavour is very personal, and the best way to find the best flavour for you is to experiment, so we won’t write too much about it here. But one key thing to mention is that while many smokers start with a tobacco flavour, evidence suggests that smokers who start with a non-tobacco flavour are more likely to switch successfully.

So even if you love smoking, it’s well worth experimenting with non-tobacco flavours from the off.


Choosing your first e-liquid can seem like a minefield when you see all the alternatives. But if you can identify your needs using the guide above, you can quickly narrow down the type of e-liquid you need to start with. And then you can start exploring the wonderful and varied world of e-liquid flavours!

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