If you are reading our guide to vaping for beginners you are probably ready to kick the nasty habit of smoking and explore the wonderful and much healthier world of vaping.
Vaping refers to using an electronic cigarette, e-cig, ecig, vape pen or mod (also called personal vaporizer or simply a vape). Whoever uses a traditional tobacco in the form of cigarettes or pipes is a “smoker”. They “smoke” cigarettes or pipe because there is burning and there is smoke coming out.
Vapers use an e-cigarette where there is no burning. The product of evaporation of your e-liquid (also called vape juice) is vapor. We vape so we are called “vapers”.
What Are E-cigarettes, Mods, Personal Vaporizers Or Vapes?
E-Cigarettes or vape mods or personal vaporizers are devices that evaporate e-liquid and provide us with a less harmful alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes.
E-cigarettes still deliver the nicotine needed to satisfy our nicotine craving although some vapers decrease nicotine intake gradually or completely leave nicotine out of their vape juices.
Vapor comes from a mix called “e-liquid”. It contains propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavorings and nicotine. From cigalikes to high wattage mods which are considered advanced personal vaporizers, there is a huge selection of vapor devices for everyone’s needs, preferences and tastes.
Where Did E-cigarettes Come From?
The first e-cigarettes were designed by a Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik in 2003 because he wanted to stop smoking.
E-cigs entered the US market in late 2006 and we have seen a boom in vaping industry since then.
While the early devices were manufactured in China, there are now smaller and medium-sized companies who make vaping devices and e-liquids all over the world.
The major brands still come mostly from China and even some American or European e-cig brands outsource production there.
Since the early devices resembled traditional cigarettes, e-cigarette users often modified or created their own devices to add more variety and features. These devices were called “mods” which is short for modified.
Today, mods are predominantly used not just by advanced and intermediary level vapers but also by beginners. More on this later in our guide.
What Does An E-cigarette Consist Of?
Every vaping for beginners guide needs to include the anatomy of an e-cigarette. In short, every e-cigarette has a battery which heats a coil in the atomizer. The atomizer holds e-liquid which wicks the cotton material pulled through or positioned around the heating wire.
You activate the device (automatically by inhaling or by pressing the fire button) and you take a drag of tasty vape juice. Plain and simple! Other items needed are external batteries, chargers, spare coils and various spare parts, user manual, building tools for advanced users and, of course, your favorite e-liquid.
Here are the main components of an electronic cigarette:
Some vaping devices look like traditional cigarettes while others might resemble a tube, a box, or come in other shapes. This is how they got their name: box mods, vape pens and cigalikes.
They all have different features but vape devices all serve the same purpose of providing the power from the battery and delivering it to the atomizer in order to heat the coil and produce vapor.
Vape device may come with an external battery which can be conveniently charged on board.
Alternatively, there are box mods and tubular mods which do not come with the batteries. You need to buy an external high-drain battery or, better still, a few of them. When the battery is low, you don't need to stop vaping - just replace the battery with a freshly charged one.
The actual battery may be internal or external. What does this mean? Well, the battery which supplies power may be built in so that you only need to recharge it using a USB port.
The devices which use a non-replaceable internal battery are probably more convenient for novice vapers because they don’t need to buy additional external batteries and an external battery charger.
A large number of modern devices usually called mods do not come with a battery.
Depending on the device, they take one, two or even three or four external high-drain batteries. The most often used dimension is 18650 but there are other dimensions. More on batteries and battery safety in a separate info article.
There are various types of vape atomizers: clearomizers, rebuildable tank atomizers, rebuildable dripping atomizers, sub-ohm tanks and a few more variations.
Each type of atomizers has its own advantages and disadvantages but they all work in similar ways: every atomizer contains heating wire or a pre-built coil with wicking material.
When the device (be it a vape pen or a mod) powers the coil, e-liquid heats up and you get vapor. Most atomizers (except RDAs) hold e-juice as well in a section called the tank.
There are hundreds of different atomizers coming from various brands with different juice capacity (1.5 – 5ml of juice on average), and different amount of airflow. They are made of different materials and in various designs.
Atomizers are usually divided into two main categories: mouth to lung (MTL) and direct lung (DL) atomizers.
A coil is a small piece of resistance wire made into a shape resembling a spring.
The type of wire used, the different size/diameter of the coil and the number of wraps result in different resistance of your coil.
Your cotton wick which is saturated with e-juice heats up at the same time as the coil and you get delicious flavor and thick vapor!
The resistance (varying from 1.2-1.8ohms for mouth to lung vaping down to 0.10-0.5ohms on average for direct lung vaping) determines the amount of power needed, the amount of heat the e-liquid wicking gets, and the vapor production.
In general, lower resistance coils produce more vapor and take more power to operate at their best. They are for DL vaping style and we recommend them for intermediate to advanced vapers as an option. These coils as a rule of thumb work well with high VG liquids and lower to no nicotine strength.
For all of you who are switching from smoking traditional cigarettes to vaping, we recommend higher resistance coils and higher nicotine liquids which are usually used to make transition from smoking to vaping successful, smooth, and pleasant. Most vaping for beginners guides recommend the same approach for a good reason - it works!
There are pre-built coils which are replaceable and there are coils you can make by yourself once you have more knowledge and experience.
As for the materials, heating coils are usually made of these wires: Kanthal, NiChrome, Stainless Steel, Nickel and Titanium. The last three are used with mods which have temperature control feature (TC).
The purpose of a wick is to carry e-liquid to the coils using capillary properties of the wicking material and your draw. Wicking material is basically a delivery method which drives e-juice from tank directly on to a heating coil where it is vaporized.
Wicks are made from materials including non-bleached cotton, eko-wool, ceramic, and stainless steel mesh and twisted silica (considered sub-par quality and outdated).
E-liquid does not come inside your e-cig atomizer and device but it makes an essential component of vape gear – it is e-liquid (e-juice) that we vape! E-juice, consists of propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), flavorings, and (usually but not always) nicotine.
E-liquids can come in a variety of PG/VG ratios and nicotine strengths. Typically most former cigarette smokers switch to vaping using higher nicotine strength juices and gradually lower nicotine strength over time.
Most start out using nicotine strengths as high as 18mg/ml. I started at 18mg/ml and then soon switched to 12mg/ml and then 9mg/ml and now I’m at 5mg/ml nicotine strength e-liquids.
Tobacco e-juices taste better at higher nicotine strengths while creamy, fruity, dessert and other non-tobacco juices have a better flavor at lower nicotine concentration. We’ll talk more about e-juices in a separate article.
To Sum up
There’s a lot more to learn about vaping and e-cigarettes but we hope that this essential info will be of help for all novice vapers and those of you who are still smoking but are seriously considering switching over to vaping as a much less harmful alternative!