Vaping and PG Allergies: What You Need to Know

man vaping


One of the greatest medical breakthroughs over the past several years is the fact that we have access to an incredible amount of information today.

People know more than ever about how to spot potential allergies and sensitivities to various foods – and if you think that you might be allergic to something, there’s no need to worry that it’s just your imagination because anything can be confirmed through testing.

Maybe you’re worried, for instance, that you might be allergic or sensitive to propylene glycol. If that’s the case, you’ve probably had to make a lot of changes in the products that you buy because PG is one of the world’s most commonly used chemicals; it’s not easy to avoid.

PG is an even more difficult chemical to avoid if you vape, because it is the most plentiful ingredient in most vape juice. If you have a PG allergy and are considering switching to vaping to help yourself quit smoking, though, you’ve got to find a way to make it work.

Thankfully, it isn’t too hard to vape if you are allergic or sensitive to PG. All that you need to do is buy the right vape juice. Before we discuss that in greater detail, though, let’s learn more about what PG is and how to tell if you might be allergic to it.

What Is Propylene Glycol, and Why Is It Used in Vape Juice?

Propylene glycol is a synthetic chemical with an enormous variety of uses. It has so many uses, in fact, that it’s synthesized from a several different sources.

Some PG comes from organic sources such as corn, and PG can also come from petroleum. PG from petroleum isn’t food grade, and it’s used for purposes like de-icing airliners.

Food-grade PG, on the other hand, is a key ingredient in many of the products that you likely use every day.

Here are just a few examples.

  • PG attracts and retains moisture, so it can be used as a moisturizer or to help prevent products from drying out. You might find PG in a snack cake that’s designed to stay on a shelf for a while without spoiling. PG is a common ingredient in eyedrops and lotions.
  • PG is an effective solvent and carrier. It’s commonly found in liquid medications and inhalers. Many liquid flavor concentrates contain PG. It’s also a common ingredient in scented deodorants and body sprays.
  • PG is an emulsifier that can help to prevent liquid ingredients from separating. That’s another reason why it’s commonly used in medications; the PG helps to ensure that you ingest the same amount of medication with each dose. PG also helps to emulsify cosmetics and body care products.

All of the properties above help to make PG the perfect base for vape juice. Because PG is an emulsifier, you don’t need to shake a bottle of e-liquid each time you fill your tank. Since it’s a great flavor carrier, PG helps to ensure that you enjoy bold, tasty flavors when vaping. Finally, PG creates a nice, thick cloud of vapor when it’s heated. It provides everything that you could possibly want in an e-liquid base.

What Are the Possible Signs of a PG Allergy or Sensitivity?

The first thing you need to know about PG allergies is that you probably don’t have one. PG is in your snack foods, drink mixes, lotions, eyedrops, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, cosmetics and medications. It’s almost impossible to avoid PG unless you’re actively trying to do so, which means that you would most likely already know if PG was an allergy trigger for you.

It also must be said that PG is a common ingredient in many forms of tobacco. You’re probably aware that tobacco dries out quickly when it’s stored in low-humidity environments. That’s why long-term storage of cigars is impossible without a humidor. As we’ve already explained, PG absorbs and traps moisture from the surrounding environment. For that reason, it’s added to many forms of tobacco including cigarette tobacco, pipe tobacco, snus, chewing tobacco and heat-not-burn tobacco products. Without PG, you’d need a humidor for all tobacco products. In other words, you’re not just putting PG on your skin each day; you’re most likely also inhaling it if you’re a smoker.

With that being said, there’s a big difference in smoking a tobacco product that contains trace amounts of PG and inhaling an e-liquid that’s more than 50-percent PG. It is possible that the higher concentration of PG in vape juice will reveal a PG allergy or sensitivity that was previously unknown. If that’s the case, look for symptoms such as persistent coughing and itching, bumpiness or redness on the skin. If you experience any of those symptoms when vaping, you may want to ask your doctor to order an allergy test.

How to Buy Vape Juice if You Have a PG Allergy

As we’ve already explained, PG is an absolutely perfect base for vape juice. That’s bad news for the few people who suffer from PG allergies. The good news, though, is that an equally perfect alternative exists. That alternative is vegetable glycerin. VG is a natural byproduct from soapmaking, and it shares many of PG’s properties. It’s also an effective emulsifier and solvent, and it’s possible to make a great vape juice using only VG – and no PG at all – as a base. In fact, many people prefer high-PG e-liquids even if they don’t suffer from PG allergies, because VG is a thicker liquid that creates larger and more luxurious clouds when it’s vaporized.

So, how do you buy vape juice if you have a PG allergy? The answer is that you simply need to look for 100-percent VG e-liquid. When you shop for e-liquid, the one thing you need to know is that there is a difference between “100-percent VG” and terms such as “high-VG” and “max-VG.” Those terms don’t have universally accepted definitions, and any e-liquid not labeled “100-percent VG” may contain a small amount of PG as a flavor carrier or thinning agent.

About Theresa Duncan

Originally from Detroit, MI, Theresa has been offering health and fitness advice for the last 30 years while working as an engineer. She decided to turn her passion into a profession, and finds nothing more satisfying than helping others reach their health and fitness goals.

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