Here’s something that isn’t talked about very often. Mostly, that’s because it’s simply rare. Yet, it is also not a very well-known condition and, since the symptoms are generally minor or even non-existent, many of those affected don’t know about it either. They’ll often simply think they have caught a bug, especially if it happens in the winter. What we’re talking about are PG allergies.
PG is, of course, our shortening for propylene glycol. It’s one of the primary substances you’ll find in e-liquid, which is essentially the fuel for your vaping experience. In combination with water, flavouring, and usually a level of nicotine, it will give you exactly what you need to make the switch to vapour. Instead of PG, or in combination with, you also have the option for VG. That would be vegetable glycol, the other option that can be used in place of PG.
Now, for the far majority of those who vape, PG works perfectly fine with their bodies. They can enjoy their favourite e-liquid flavours without thinking twice. But for those with PG allergies, there are some side effects that come along with that great taste. Don’t know if you have a PG allergy? Let’s take a look at the symptoms so you can get an idea of if you may be suffering from a PG allergy.
Here is a list of the symptoms most commonly associated with PG allergies. They’re listed from most common to least for your convenience.
- Sore throat
- Chest tightness
- Itching, rashes, or stinging sensations
Some of these sound pretty dramatic, but realise that by far the most common are the first two. A sore throat or a cough make up the vast majority of symptoms people may suffer from. The most likely symptom is one we didn’t even list: nothing at all. That’s right, you may be allergic and not even experience any symptoms of it.
I’m Allergic, What Now?
Slow down there! First you want to distinguish between an allergy and a simple sensitivity to PG. It may be that you are in fact allergic, but keep in mind only 1-2% of the vaping population is actually allergic to propylene glycol. We lumped them all in together at the beginning of your read, but you should know there is actually a difference. If you experience a skin-based reaction, that is the best indicator that you are in fact allergic. If you are experiencing some of the other symptoms listed above, you may simply have sensitivity to it. Either way, it may not be very comfortable for you.
Propelyne Glycol (PG) in Food and Skin Care Products, E1520
If you think you may be allergic to PG you might want to analyse the ingredients in the foods you are eating and the skincare products you are using. GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) is the US FDA's safety determination and PG falls in to this category. It is widely used as a thickening agent or stabilizer. In the EU the E number of this additive is 1520 (E1520). Some people are probably allergic to PG but before jumping to the conclusion it's your PG eliquid you might also want to checkout the ingredients in your salad dressing, ice cream. shampoo or moisturizer.
Once again, we want to emphasize that even if you have sensitivity to PG, you may not even notice it. Perhaps your throat gets a little sore when you vape. Or you have a bit of a cough here or there. These are symptoms that can be assigned to a number of different things, so they aren’t always connected to any kind of allergy or sensitivity to PG.
Even if you do realise that your body doesn’t react ideally to PG, you may choose to do nothing about it. If it is a minor annoyance that goes away between vaping, you may go right on vaping. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages, so you choose the path of least resistance. That’s only natural and we can’t speak to your exact situation and what you can or can’t tolerate.
However, if your encounters with PG are more difficult than that, you do have options. You don’t have to suffer through it and you certainly don’t have to give up vaping. The alternative, as we all know, is much worse. Perhaps the most obvious change you can make is to simply remove PG from your life. You can do this and still vape by purchasing VSAVI 100% VG eliquid. These are the kind made with Vegetable Glycol, or VG for short.
If you do make the switch from PG to VG, you should be aware that it would affect your experience. In particular, PG is very good at replicating that throat hit you have grown used to. VG isn’t as effective at creating that sensation, so you may feel that your vaping is “weaker” than you are used to. One solution would be to simply up the amount of nicotine you use in your e-liquid, as it will at least partly compensate for the lack of PG.
Chances are that you do not have either an allergy or sensitivity to propylene glycol. Statistics bear that out. If you happen to be one of the few that do, don’t distress. You have options and you can still vape on.