Vaping and E-Cigs 101

The vape world can be daunting when you first start looking around. There are endless options available. You may be asking yourself some questions: Am I going to buy the wrong thing? What is a "mod" or a "tank"? What do all of these words mean? Does certain e-liquid work with certain devices? What is the best device for me to just get started with easily? What if my batteries die? Do I have to blow out such big plumes of vapor, like I see other people doing? Well, the first thing I am going to tell you is that you are not alone. In this article, we will be answering these questions and hopefully, by the end of it, you will realize vaping, while not as easy as a lighter and cigarette, can be handled by just about anyone. (My favorite customers are the little old ladies who have been smoking for 40+ years and come in for assistance.)
My Story - How I Started Vaping
First, let me tell you my story: When I decided to make a switch from smoking to vaping it was an accident. A friend of mine was vehicle-impaired and needed rides to work, and being the good friend that I am I gave him rides on a regular basis. He had made the switch to vaping months before and the smell of my cigarette smoke, while we drove, was bothering him. For this, I had little empathy, since after all, it was my car, and he was getting free rides.

Fast forward a month or so and he shoves a small starter vape in my hand and asked (or begged) me to use it in place of my cigarettes, just while he was in the car. I agreed that I would give it a try. I ran out of cigarettes around 2 weeks later and lo and behold, I had no desire to buy another pack. The rest is history.

Vape Vocabulary 101
While "vaping" seems to have its own dictionary of words that have been appropriated to carry seemingly interchangeable definitions, there are a few basics that are for the most part universal. Here we will list some of those.
Mod
The mod is the "bottom" part of an e-cigarette. This word came about because when devices started to become more complex they allowed you to make "modifications" to your vape settings on the fly. This is the piece that provides the power, and in some models has several buttons and a screen on it. In some devices the actual "batteries" are internal and not removable, and in others you can put round lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. These are not your standard AAA batteries, but a special kind of battery that we will discuss later.
Coil
The coil is the actual heating element that vaporizes the e-liquid into vapor which can be inhaled. Generally speaking the coil is a disposable device, not meant to be used for more than a few weeks at a time before being replaced. Replacement is generally as easy as changing a light bulb, only you do not need a ladder. This is different in some devices, which we will discuss later.
Tanks, RDAs, and RTAs, Oh My!
When vaping first started to become popular there were a number of camps on what the best way to actually heat and vaporize the juice was. There was the tank group, which valued simplicity and ease of use. There was the RDA group, who valued a "big hit". Then there was the RTA group, who wanted the best of both worlds.
Starter Tanks
Tanks released around 2013 put out a small amount of vapor, but held a good amount of juice at a time, and they only needed to be refilled 2-3 times per day by unscrewing the bottom of the tank from the mod and filling it up with e-liquid. The flavor you would get from it would be more bland, and the amount of vapor tiny in comparison to an RDA or RTA, but the simplicity outweighed these things for the tank users.
RTAs
RTAs (or Rebuildable Tank Atomizers) were a kind of combination of the two devices. While still needing cotton and hand-made coil changes which can take 5-30 minutes every few weeks, they hold a large amount of juice and thus can be refilled 1-2 times a day. They provided the flavor and vapor benefits while still having a juice reservoir.
Modern Tanks
Now vape tanks have changed. After a second, third, and fourth generation of tanks, they have grown more powerful and much more user-friendly. Tanks are now by far the preferred method of vaping. Flavor and hit size come close and in some cases match the abilities of RDAs while still providing the simplicity of changing a coil by unscrewing it and tossing it out, and the ease of refilling a tank once or twice a day with e-liquid.

E-Liquid

E-Liquid is the one thing that has remained almost constant in the vape industry. I say almost, because while the idea of it has remained the same, the flavors have gotten significantly better in the last few years. The makers behind them have also gone from being hobbyists to chemists. These days most major brands of e-liquid are produced in a clean room, tested for quality before bottling, and follow industry regulations for safety and quality. E-Liquid contains 4 main ingredients - Vegetable Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Flavoring, and in most cases, Nicotine.
Vegetable Glycerine or VG is a thick, clear, molasses-like substance that is usually made from coconut oil or palm oil. This produces the actual "vapor" when vaporized.

Propylene Glycol or PG is a watery, clear substance that is used in everyday household items like toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, as well as many foods, and even inhalers. In vapor it gives the feeling of a "throat hit". This is the feeling of actually inhaling something in addition to air. Too much propylene glycol can be irritating to the throat, this is described as being "too harsh" for the user. However, in practice, this feeling is a combination of the nicotine, PG, and amount of power your device is delivering.

Flavoring comes from many sources. While there are many thousands of flavors available most manufacturers today have "red flagged" a few specific substances and the reputable manufacturers have removed anything "not safe for inhalation" from their formulas. They prove this with sheets showing tests have been performed by a third-party laboratory certifying them free of or low in specific substances such as Diacetyl and Acetyl Proprionyl. These substances are generally used to provide a "buttery" flavor, but most companies have found alternatives.

Nicotine is of course why we are all here. Some companies use nicotine extracted and filtered from tobacco plants. This is pure nicotine with no additives. Some use a lab-made synthetic nicotine commonly known as TFN or tobacco-free nicotine. Others use nicotine salts which are sourced using a different nicotine extraction process from the nicotine plant. In the end, they are all nicotine. Each E-Juice flavor comes in different levels of nicotine measured in MG/ML or milligrams per milliliter, so you the consumer can decide which level is right for you. The most common levels these days are 0MG, 3MG, 6MG, and 12MG of nicotine. Most heavy nicotine users start at 12MG/ML or 6MG/ML (if using a larger device), but the sales numbers don't lie - most users end up moving down to 3MG/ML eventually. This is the most commonly sold nicotine level these days, and the lowest before 0MG, which is of course no nicotine at all.

The most important things to know about e-liquid are what nicotine level you want to use, and what ratio of PG/VG you want in your e-liquid. The most common are 70% VG/30% PG, or 80% VG/20% PG. It used to be that 50/50 was most common, but as vapers started wanting bigger clouds and a smoother vape the VG numbers rose and the PG levels fell. All e-liquid will work in any tank, RDA, or RTA. However the bigger the vapor production of the device, the lower you are going to want your nicotine level to be. Otherwise it can lead to too harsh of a throat hit, as you are getting 2x or 3x the vapor production, therefore you are getting 2x to 3x the nicotine.
Putting It All Together
So, we've learned some vocabulary, and we've learned what these different devices are and what functions they perform. Now on to choosing your first vape.
Batteries and Charger vs. Internal Battery Devices
Internal battery devices are simpler, not needing battery changes. These are generally charged via USB, the same as most phones and other small electronics today. However batteries have a lifespan. Most rechargeable batteries lose half of their capacity after 400-500 charges. If your battery begins to wear out and the device has an internal battery, then the device becomes electronic garbage once it stops fulfilling your needs. Also, most of these internal battery devices do not output as much power, so if you are looking for a high power device then you will be looking for a device with external batteries. Also not to mention, if the device dies you will need to charge it, though you can vape it while it is charging you will need to leave it plugged in, which can be a nuisance.

External battery devices use 18650 lithium-ion batteries. These are high-powered batteries made for quick bursts of high power output. These are not AA or AAA batteries that you put into a remote control. The biggest benefit of having external batteries, aside from extending the lifespan of your device, is that when your batteries are dead you can have a second set waiting in your charger, and you can swap them out to have immediate full use of your device. I carry several batteries with me throughout the day in case my device runs out of power.
Lithium-Ion Battery Warning!
As these are high-powered batteries you must be careful not to have them loose in your pocket or purse with other metal items such as keys or coins that could "short" the battery. This is the cause of most of the "e-cig explosions" in the media. Battery safety is no joke. That is why we ship small plastic cases to hold your batteries in with every battery order. We hope that you use them every time you carry a battery with you!
Cloud production is something hobbyists talk about like it is the goal of every vaper, but we know that is not always the case. Sometimes you just want something small you can puff on that fits in your pocket. In this case I recommend our portable vapes section. These will, generally speaking, produce a medium amount of vapor, while still giving you the same feeling as the bigger vape devices.

Vape Starter Kits are essentially just that, everything you need to get started. They are not necessarily small or low-end devices, they are just simple to use kits. The only thing you may have to buy in addition to the kit are batteries and a charger. This is stated on the starter kit's description if it is necessary. Many come with internal batteries, and therefore external batteries and charger in those cases are not necessary.

Putting together your own kit can be rewarding, not just in getting the pieces you want but in gaining the understanding of the entire system. Generally speaking, if you are not buying a starter kit you will need a mod, a tank, batteries, a battery charger, replacement coils for the tank, and your choice of e-liquid.

I hope that in reading this article you have gained an understanding of vaping and it's vocabulary. If you have any questions at all, or just want to say hi, click the contact us button above and shoot us a message. Thanks for reading! If I have helped you out today give us a like on facebook, or follow us on instagram.