Electronic cigarettes are battery powered devices that transform a nicotine based liquid into vapor by using a heating element. Also called ‘e-cigarettes’ or simply ‘e-cigs’, these gizmos went from novelty items just a few years ago to the day-by-day companions of millions of ex-smokers worldwide. Their ever increasing popularity is mostly due to the simplicity of the vaporizing process and the health benefits when compared to traditional tobacco cigarettes. Also known as ‘smokeless cigarettes’ these devices will help anyone get their nicotine fix but without the smoke, tar and ash. In order to have a better understanding of this process we will try to explain the whole mechanism in simple terms.
Any electronic cigarette has three main components needed in order to function properly: a battery, a heating element – called an atomizer – and a unit that stores the e-liquid. The battery can be manual or automatic and it is rechargeable. The only exception to this rule is with disposable ecigarettes where the battery cannot be recharged due to the fact that these devices are intended for single time usage before becoming obsolete.
Most electronic cigarettes that mimic their analog tobacco counterparts (often called cig-a-likes) run with an automated battery. This type of battery activates itself and powers on the devices each time the user takes a puff. The other types of electronic cigarettes have a manual battery that implies keeping a button pressed each time the user inhales from the device. Each type has its own advantages or disadvantages and it’s up to the user’s personal preference to go for one model or the other.
By the way, the process of puffing on an e-cigarette or any smoke producing device is often referred to as ‘vaping’ while the user is called a ‘vaper’. The heating element is called an atomizer and depending on the model there are a few things to clarify. Atomizers come in many shapes and sizes but as a casual user or cig-a-like lover you don’t need to worry about these components. In the past, e-cigarettes used to be made out of three distinct parts with the atomizer and cartridge separated but nowadays most companies use a two-piece ecig model that has the atomizer and cartridge as a single piece. Therefore each time you buy a set of new flavored cartridges they all have their own atomizer so you just have to screw them to your battery and enjoy your vaping. More advanced electronic cigarettes often referred to as ‘vape mods’ use more complex atomizers (many of them rebuildable or tank versions) that are used to create even thicker clouds of vapor but they are mostly intended to experienced users and DIY lovers.
The unit that stores the e-liquid is often called a cartomizer or cartridge if you are using cig-a-likes. There are bigger units called clearomizers or tanks but they are intended for other types of electronic cigarettes which we will discuss later on. So, in essence, your ecigarette is made of a battery onto which you screw your cartomizer and begin puffing your favorite flavor by vaporization of the e-liquid content.
The e-liquid or ‘e-juice’ contains only a couple of ingredients. It is usually made up of a Vegetable Glycerin (VG) or Propylene Glycol (PG) base, liquid nicotine, water and flavorings. Vegetable glycerin is used for medical, pharmaceutical, and personal care products, for food additives and preservatives and is a natural organic glycerol made from vegetable oil, usually coconut or palm oil. Propylene glycol is a synthetic organic glycerol made from propylene oxide. It has a wide range of uses from chemical additives and solvents to medical, pharmaceutical, and personal care products to food additives and preservatives. The liquid nicotine can be synthetically produced or it can be naturally extracted from tobacco plants. The flavorings are ‘food grade’ and they are the same aromas used in the process of making candy, ice cream or other types of sweets. The e-liquid comes in different nicotine concentrations or strengths and it’s very important to choose it depending on your smoking habit. In order to have an even better understanding let’s categorize them by their concentration:
E-liquids also come in a lot of delicious flavors, from the usual rich tobacco aromas to the refreshing menthol and the more exotic or mouthwatering sweet flavors like ‘mocha latte’, ‘caramel’, ‘Belgian chocolate’ or ‘peachy lemonade’. Now let’s talk a bit about the various types of electronic cigarettes you might come across when browsing the net or visiting a vape shop: First of all there are the traditional cigarette lookalikes which are considered the mommy and daddy of all e-cigarettes. These are the most common models and a lot of brands are only selling these types of ecigs due to their popularity and versatility. They consist of a battery that depending on the brand can be shorter or longer than an actual cigarette and a flavored cartomizer. Many of them have even a colored LED tip that light up each time you take a puff to add to the overall experience. Their batteries are not of great capacity and you will need to recharge them once a day or once every two days depending on the model and your vaping habit. Also ecigarette disposables and e-hookahs have the same appearance but they cannot be recharged and their cartomizer cannot be replaced. The second type of e-cigarettes is represented by the eGo style pens. These devices usually come with a manual battery, bigger tanks and refillable clearomizers. They have stronger batteries and greater autonomy than the usual cig-a-likes but you will need to buy your e-liquid separately and refill them constantly. As it might seem a bit complicated, the process is very simple and straight forward and once you get the hang of it, you’ll enjoy your vaping experience even more. If you used to recharge your cig-a-like once a day, you’ll be able to puff on your eGo for at least three in a row which is a great bonus besides the thicker clouds of vapor. Thirdly there are the ‘vape mods’ and ‘AVPs’ which are still electronic cigarettes even though they don’t look like their younger brothers at all. These devices are either tweaked, feature rich e-cigarettes that give you complete control over your vapor production and let you adjust the voltage and/or wattage of the devices (AVPs) or simple electronic free battery operated mechanical mods designed for the ultimate mind blowing vaping experience. They are intended for vapers that understand the inner workings of components and know how to get the best out of their device. They are usually powered by 18 class batteries (18350, 18500 or 18650) that pack up a lot of power and have to be recharged separately. Some brands offer USB pass-through electronic cigarettes. These devices don’t need any recharging and their battery is essentially replaced by an USB wire which you can connect to your computer or laptop. They are mostly destined for people that are spending a lot of time in front of their computer and since the USB ports offer an endless supply of power why not make good use of them. You simply screw on your cartomizer or clearomizer and enjoy your favorite aroma all day long. Many electronic cigarettes come in starter kits, which is the best way of getting everything you need with a single order. They usually contain one or two batteries, a pack of cartomizers or a bottle of e-liquid and a clearomizer, a carrying bag and chargers (wall charger, USB charger and sometimes even a car charger). Shopping for all of these separately would add up to a lot more than buying them in a single box and this is why most users go for these sorts of deals. So now that you know a bit about these devices it’s time to choose a model and experience for yourself a world of healthier, tastier aromas without the harmful side effects to your health. You will get rid of the tobacco smell inside your house and since there is no second hand smoke you’ll also be able to enjoy your device in the company of your loved ones.