About Vaping

good to know

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes are an alternative to tobacco cigarettes. E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that create a mist or vapour that's inhaled instead of tobacco smoke. The rechargeable battery powers a heating element called an atomiser. The element then uses low heat to turn liquid in the cartridge, which contains propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, safe food flavouring and sometimes nicotine, into a fog-like mist.

What Are Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarette is an umbrella term that encompasses a whole array of devices designed to vapourize various liquids that users inhale instead of deadly tobacco smoke. E-cig users (or vapers, as we’re are popularly dubbed) use various terms interchangeably so you will often hear us describing our e-cigs as vapes, mods, vape gear, pens, cig-a-likes, and so on.

As a beginner, you are undoubtedly slightly confused with the terminology. That’s perfectly alright – we’ve all been there! The most important thing you need to remember is that all e-cigarettes are designed with one purpose – to allow you to inhale toxin-free mist (which may or may not contain nicotine) and to provide you with a safer alternative to combustible cigarettes. Despite their various shapes and sizes, all e-cigarettes consist of a battery, a tank (or a clearomizer), and an atomiser.

The battery provides power for the atomiser, which uses that power to heat up liquid in the tank and turn it into vapour. The liquid in question is propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin, or the combination of the two. It’s called a base liquid and can contain various flavourings and nicotine.

New To Vaping

Basic Vaping

The first e-cigarette was developed in China in 2003 by a Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik. He wanted to develop an aid that will help cigarette smokers kick their habit more easily. At the time, he was going through smoking cessation and was having a tough time not falling off the bandwagon.

Electronic cigarettes didn’t become very popular in Europe and the US until 2006. Since 2006, these markets began to see their fair share of vapers and since 2011 the e-cigarette industry has been growing at such an exponential rate that it’s going to hit $15 billion in sales of vapourizing devices exclusively as early as 2017.

With this growth, we’ve seen a great deal of innovation and advances happening in the industry. RDA’s, RDTA’s, mechanical mods, and a bunch of other confusing terms are threatening to put new users off even before they’ve gotten a chance to see what vaping is all about!

Well, here at Vapelux we have decided to go that extra mile and make sure that all your doubts and insecurities are answered (simply and without too much techno-babble) on one single page! This section will demystify vaping and e-cigarettes and allow you to make an educated purchasing decision without having to scour the internet in search of information!

4 Components of E-Cigarettes

Every e-cig has 4 key components to it:

  • Battery
  • Tank/Clearomizer
  • Atomiser head (coils)
  • E-Liquid

Other components include charger, various O-rings (rubber parts of tanks that prevent leaking), drip tip (mouthpiece), and other misc components that will depend on the type of the e-cigarette and the manufacturer.

Battery

The purpose of the battery is to provide power that your device needs to heat up e-liquid and vapourize it. The principles behind the use are simple: power stored by the battery goes through a connection pin into the tank, connects with the atomiser and the atomiser heats and vapourizes the e-liquid. You simply have to press and hold the power button on your battery while inhaling and that is it.

Batteries can either be integrated with your device or independent from it. Integrated batteries are charged via USB and most experts advise that cell batteries be charged in standalone chargers outside of the vaping device.

Common battery terms you will need to be familiar with include:

  • mAh – or milliamp hours. What this number tells you is how long it’s going to take before you have to recharge your battery. Batteries with higher mAh last longer. As all tech geeks know, mAh is a measure of capacity and has nothing to do with power.
  • Voltage – here’s a very physics-loaded answer: voltage is the difference in the amount of energy in two points in a circuit. One point is always more loaded than the other and that difference in electrical charge is called voltage.
  • Variable Voltage – variable voltage is a feature of some electronic cigarettes which allows you to increase voltage delivered to your device. Generally, higher voltage means more flavour and thicker vapour.
  • Watts (Wattage) – this measure tells you the amount of power consumed by your device.
  • Amps – amperes are a measure of current and 1Amp is defined as a certain number of electrons passing through one point in a circuit.
  • Ohm’s Law – Ohm’s Law defines the relationship between power, voltage, current, and resistance. It’s something that you need to know when sub-ohming and using RBA’s so you don’t accidentally blow yourself up. New Amsterdam Vape video sums it up nicely.

As a beginner, you won’t have to think too hard about these terms but they are good to know. They will come in handy once you graduate to higher echelons of vaping and get more concerned with flavour and vapour production.

Keep in mind that batteries have to be used with extreme caution. Every manufacturer gives a detailed list of instructions on how to take care of the battery so make sure you read and follow those. Individual cell batteries should not be used in e-cigarettes if the wrap is damaged in any way.

To learn more about battery safety, take a look at the following video from CageCloud. It’s 15 minutes of very actionable battery advice that will come in handy.

Tank / Clearomizer

You will hear different names for this e-cigarette component: tank, clearomizer, cartomizer, juice well, cartridge, and so on. Whatever the name, the function stays the same. The tank is a component that holds the e-liquid that is turned into to vapour and delivered as a mist during an inhale.

Tanks come in different shapes and sizes. They can be as small as 1.5ml capacity or as big as 8ml capacity. They connect to the battery through a 510 connection thread which is a standard – this ensures that different tanks can work well with different batteries.

Atomisers / Coils

Atomiser head is an integral part of an electronic cigarette as it holds coils and cotton that are essential in the vapourizing process. The coil is the element that draws power from the battery, heats up, and starts the process of vapourization. Cotton draws vape juice from the tank and brings it into contact with heat, producing wonderful and delicious thick vapour that is inhaled.

Because the coils and cotton are repeatedly heated, they eventually have to be replaced. It used to be that atomiser heads needed to be replaced every week or so. Today’s replaceable atomisers can last a good deal longer – up to a month. However, this will depend on several things: the wattage you’re vaping at, the type of vape juice you are using, and your vaping habits.

You will easily know when your atomiser needs changing – the taste of the vapour will be different. The flavour will start becoming blander and you might even taste the cotton burning. Keep an eye (or a nose) on that and replace your atomiser as soon as it starts tasting a bit iffy!

E-Liquid / Vape Juice

You can have the best clearomizers and the best atomizers in the world, if you don’t have a good e-liquid to vape on you might as well have nothing! Luckily for you (and all vapers, actually), the biggest expansion the industry has seen can be observed in vape juice lines. There are literally thousands of them available these days – and all of them are right at your fingertips. Everything from cereal and fruit-flavoured vape juices to custard and milk flavours. Picky vapers will be delighted with menthol, melon, and tobacco flavours as well.

The majority of e-liquids today have three main components:

  • Base
  • Flavourings
  • Nicotine

E-liquid base is made from either Propylene Glycol (PG) or Vegetable Glycerin (VG), or the combination of the two. Propylene Glycol is ‘cleaner’ – it doesn’t gunk up the coils as much because is not as viscous as Vegetable Glycerin. It also carries the flavour better. Unfortunately, some people have a mild PG allergy so they can’t use e-liquids that are made with high concentration of it. Vegetable Glycerin, on the other hand, is more viscous and creates better and thicker vapour. Most vape juices today are high VG juices, combining the best of both worlds (concentrations such as 80/20 VG/PG will create thick vapour and carry flavour well without triggering an allergic response in vapers who are allergic to PG).

The main difference between flavourings is that they can be artificial or organic. Organic flavourings are extracted from plants through the process of maceration and it stands to reason that e-liquids using them are more expensive. Artificial flavourings are factory-made and usually taste equally good but will not appeal to more ingredient-conscientious vapers.

When it comes to nicotine levels, you can choose none for your e-liquids. However, as most beginner vapers move to vaping as a means of substitution for regular cigarettes, nicotine plays an important consideration in the process. Most e-liquids are available in 0, 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 milligrams of nicotine. If you were a regular smoker for years, we would recommend you start with 12 – 18 milligrams. This concentration of nicotine will mimic the harshness of regular cigarettes, making the transition easier. It’s also the concentration typically found in a single cigarette. As you become more accustomed to vaping, you will want to move down on the nicotine scale. Most regular vapers settle on 3 milligrams and some cut nicotine altogether after some time.

Intermediate Vaping

Once you’re done with the whole beginning phase of vaping (cig-a-likes, vape pens, and the limited number of flavours you have at disposal as a complete newbie), you will slowly transition to the intermediate vaping stage. At this stage, you’re going to have a lot more devices to choose from, as well as different modes of vaping and premium e-liquids at your disposal.

Don’t worry – with everything you’ve learned about vaping during your stint as a rookie, this transition will be pretty painless. However, you will notice that vaping devices in this range are more customisable, that you’re more concerned with battery life, flavour and vapour production, various atomiser setups that are better suited to your style of vaping, and other, more challenging things.

Intermediate vaping brings with it the joys of better vaping devices, wider selection of e-liquids, intricacies of coil and cotton selection to maximize flavours, and regular forum discussions (actually, flaming wars) about which manufacturer/setup/coil/flavour is better or best – we never said that the vaping community is above all that petty stuff! Of course, all those discussions are well-intended and, generally, no one will call you a complete n00b for voicing your opinion (khm, generally, right?).

Sub-Ohm Vaping

At this point, you will have heard people tossing around the term sub-ohm. Since you were always too shy to ask what it actually means, here’s a quick explanation.

Sub-ohm vaping simply means vaping at Ohm resistances less than 1 Ohm. Why would people want to do that? Well, there are several reasons but here are the 3 main ones:

  • Better flavour
  • Bigger clouds
  • Warmer vape

Sub-ohming is better in mimicking regular analog cigarettes. The clouds produced are thicker and carry more flavour. The vapour is also slightly warmer since you are firing at higher Wattage so you get those nice, thick plumes rolling down your palate.

Five years ago, if you wanted to sub-ohm, you would have needed to be a vaping wiz. You would have had to been able to build your own coils that would give you resistance lower than 1 Ohm and you would need a pretty un-standard mod/battery to use those coils. These days, all you need is a device that is capable of firing around 30W and sub-ohm tank that comes with disposable sub-ohm coils – no need for RTA’s or RDA’s (which we will discuss in the advanced vaping section). Sub-ohming became a plug-and-play feature available to all vapers who are looking for richer, more tasty vape.

Of course, you don’t have to sub-ohm just because everyone else is doing it. Sub-ohming produces huge clouds so stealth vapers and mouth-to-lung vapers (vapers who enjoy a more restricted airflow) tend to avoid it. Also sub-ohming is a juice guzzler – if you don’t want to go through 15ml of your favorite e-juice every day, it’s best you stay away from sub-ohming.

Coils / Tanks

New electronic cigarette tanks suited for sub-ohm vaping are quickly becoming the norm. That’s a bit of an understatement actually – sub-ohm tanks are now the most popular tanks on the market. They are capable of firing on very low resistances (down to 0.05 ohms) meaning that they deliver extremely rich and thick vapour, as well as plenty of flavour.

With advances in coils and tanks, something had to be done with batteries that power them. Sub-ohming generally uses cell batteries that are not integrated into the device (although there are devices with integrated batteries). To get the most out of a 0.5 ohm setup you’re going to need at least 30W of power; 60W if you want to successfully fire a 0.2 ohm setup.

Since sub-ohming requires more power, it’s not unusual to see even the intermediate vapers using box mods with dual batteries today. These mods can have two cell batteries inside (usually 18650 batteries that can be cheaply purchased from trusted vendors such as Vapelux, for example) and are capable of firing a whopping 150W.

Premium Vape Juices / E-Liquids

With intermediate vaping come extraordinary vape juices! Now, we’re not saying that regular vape juice lines are bad but we are seeing a major shift toward premium lines as more and more people become concerned with what they inhale.

Premium vape juice manufacturers use only vetted ingredients of safe origin and some even go as far as using only organic and naturally extracted flavours. Other differences between regular vape juice lines and premium vape juice lines are:

  • VG/PG ratios
  • Better flavour selection
  • Laboratory certificates
  • Synthetic nicotine

Premium vape juices go a long way from when they are first conceptualized to when they are available. Companies producing them spend months finding the best ingredients and tinkering with flavour ratios. Also, most premium lines are HVG (high in Vegetable Glycerin) so that vapers who have PG allergies can safely use them. Also, a lot of these juices are seeing a shift toward synthetically produced nicotine. Usually, nicotine used in e-liquids is extracted from tobacco. Some premium vape juice lines only use laboratory-produced nicotine, making the gap between regular cigarettes and vaping even wider.

Advanced Vaping

Just when you think you know all there is about vaping, someone comes along and mentions how they just got a new RDA that is a nightmare to set up. You politely smile and think to yourself ‘What the hell is an RDA?’.

Congratulations, you’ve just leveled up to advance vaping!

When we say advanced, we don’t mean that you need a college degree to get into it. All you need is some genuine interest and a bit of know-how. These advanced devices fire huge amounts of power and are capable of producing intense flavour and clouds. Advanced mods and tanks are reserved for users who know what they are doing for several reasons:

  • They can be a bit tricky to set up properly
  • They require constant tweaking for optimal results
  • They pose a safety/health hazard

So, if you’re just getting into vaping we recommend you stay clear of box mods, RBA’s, and things like that. Most of the time you won’t be able to set them up properly so you won’t get your money’s worth but rarely they can go ‘kaboom’ in your face and knock out a couple of your teeth or cause moderate burns (this usually happens if you have no idea about Ohm’s law or you fail to treat your batteries with respect that is due to them).

Rebuildable Atomisers - RDA’s / RTA’s / RDTA’s

RBA (Rebuildable Atomizer) is a blanket term that describes various clearomizers that require a bit more tinkering. Your regular clearomizers/tanks house atomisers that heat up the e-liquid and turn it into vapour. These are disposable – one they gunk up you simply replace them with clean ones. RBA’s give you an opportunity to build your own coils – this way you can tweak resistance and get the flavour and vapour production just right for your style of vaping.

RBA’s have a tank (or a juice well) that can be taken apart and then you get to fit your own coils and cotton in there. There are three different kinds of RBA’s – rebuildable dripper atomisers, rebuildable tank atomisers, and rebuildable dripping tank atomisers.

 

Rebuildable Dripper Atomiser (RDA)

RDA’s were the first to show up on the market. They gave the advanced users an opportunity to set up the resistance as they see fit and to fine-tune their vaping experience. RDA’s are not enclosed in a tank – rather, the e-liquid is dripped directly onto the cotton that is threaded through the coils. This means that RDA vapers can quickly switch between different flavours once the cotton gets sufficiently dry and they don’t have to empty and clean their tank before switching. The container that houses the e-liquid in RDA’s is called a juice well since it’s wide and vape juice can be dripped directly into it.

Rebuildable Tank Atomiser (RTA)

RTA also uses user-built coils and manually threaded cotton (hence the rebuildable part of the name) but the difference is that it’s enclosed in a tank. The e-liquid is not dripped into a juice well like in RDA’s so the tank has to be filled before you can vape. The upside of RTA’s is that you get to build coils to your preference and you don’t have to constantly drip vape juice inside. The downside is that you can’t switch between different e-liquids that often.

Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomiser (RDTA)

Redesigned RDTA’s combine the manual control of e-liquid delivery found in RDA’s with large e-liquid capacity that’s the hallmark of RTA’s. They are complex in both design and use but offer even further personalisation of the vaping experience. These tanks have holes drilled through the deck floor and wick ends touch the floor of the tank and are saturated by e-liquid that is forced up by pressure.

All RBA’s (RTA’s, RDA’s, and RDTA’s) require the user to have a working knowledge of rebuildable coils, wicking, and Ohm’s law. Mechanics are important here – do something wrong and you can easily fry your device or even hurt yourself. This is why RBA’s are not recommended for beginner users. Also, RBA’s are not easy to assemble. Experienced vapers love to tinker with their setup and are willing to spend hours every day doing that – it’s often more exciting to them than the act of vaping itself. If you simply want an elegant solution that will substitute your analog cigarettes, stick with prebuilt atomisers and regular electronic cigarettes and just enjoy vaping!

Box Mods

Mod is just a different name for an electronic cigarette battery – it’s a part of e-cig that houses either an internal or cell battery. Box mod is a name given to high-powered versions of batteries that are box-like in appearance. The reason why box mods are shaped as they are is so they can house larger, more powerful batteries. Some box mods have a capacity of housing two or even three 18650 cell batteries.

Box mods are different in sizes and power outputs. Smaller ones will start around 30W of power, which is sufficient for some basic sub-ohming. Larger box mods have the output capacity of 200W, with some going even higher than that.

There are several upsides to high-power box mods:

  • The ability to sub-ohm – better flavour and vapour production
  • More power
  • Longer battery life

Box mods are usually powered by 18650 cell batteries that need to be removed and charged separately. If your box mod is using more than one battery, it’s advisable that these are charged and discharged in sync to ensure that they last longer.

Some box mods have integrated batteries and are charged via a USB port. Even if the battery is not integrated, your box mod may support pass-through vaping, which means that the device can be used while it’s being charged.

Mechanical Mods

Mechanical mods are certainly a special subcategory of mods. While other mods have safety features that prevent users from firing it if there is a fault or a short circuit, mechanical mods offer no such protection. They are unregulated, meaning that there is no chip that regulates the safe amount of power that the device is firing.

Most experienced users who use mechanical mods use them because they are serviceable and aesthetically pleasing. They are mostly tubular and go pretty well with every RBA that’s on the market. When something goes wrong with a mechanical mod it can usually be repaired with stuff you can find at a local hardware store, provided you have a working knowledge of electronics.

Quality mechanical mods are built to last and can produce a really powerful vape – this is why a good number of vapers who are into RBA’s will use them. You can tweak the power output to suit your style of vaping.

That said, if you’re not a seasoned electronic cigarette pro, you will find that mechanical mods offer very little to you. Here at Vapelux, we advise all beginner vapers to start with beginner – intermediate mods and work their way up once they have a working knowledge of the technology.

 

High-Powered Mods

Mechanical mods are considered high-power mods but so are others that offer variable wattage setting to power up RBA’s that deliver extremely flavourful and thick vapor. Since the resistance settings used on RBA’s are geared toward optimal vape experience, a lot of power is needed to fire them successfully. Only with a powerful mod will you get good results and be able to do some ‘cloud-chasing’.

Regular mods just won’t cut it. High-powered mods such as mech, unregulated, and variable wattage mods are reserved for experienced users and not for beginners. Make sure you know what you’re doing before you start investing your money and experimenting with these mods – the best-case scenario for the uneducated is that they will waste their money and ruin their gear; the worst case is that they will end up hurt!