Vaping 101: A Beginner’s Guide To All Of Your Basic Vaping Questions

Vaping 101: A Beginner’s Guide To All Of Your Basic Vaping Questions

When vaping gained momentum and popularity in 2010, there were all kinds of questions revolving around what works best for you. Even though the industry has evolved over a decade, there are still some people who have a ton of questions and do not know where to start. Look no further!

Vaping gained popularity in 2010 when people were using “cig-a-like” disposables. Each disposable consists of a small lithium-ion battery connected to a fixed cartomizer; a reservoir that looks like a cigarette butt filled with a coil for conduction, surrounded by a wick and prefilled with “e-liquid.” E-liquid (or e-juice,”) contains small amounts of nicotine along with flavoring in a base of food grade vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol. Vegetable glycerine creates vapor simulating smoke while propylene glycol carries the flavor and gives you the throat hit that a “vaper” (someone who vapes) would look for.

We soon realized that this was not the most efficient way to satisfy both our cravings and wallets. To address this issue, we created cig-a-like kits with a rechargeable battery unit. The cartomizer was no longer fixed to the battery itself. The cartomizers came in two different styles: a prefilled cartomizer filled with e-liquid in a variety of flavors or blank (empty) cartomizers only containing the coil itself and the wick surrounding it. The blank cartomizers would open at the end to coat the wick in e-liquid. The best type of e-liquid for devices like these is called “50/50.” The base is made up of 50% VG (vegetable glycerine) and 50% PG (propylene glycol).

These devices were popular for a long time until the vaping community wanted more of a hit, more power and more vapor production. This is the time when the eGo style (the basic “pen style,”) became popularized. The eGo style features a similar construction to cig-a-likes but features a rechargeable battery and a “clearomizer,” (a tank) connecting to it. The clearomizers are bigger than the predecessor cartomizer and did not need as much of a wick inside. The basic clearomizers are fully disposable with no replacement parts. Not long after, the clearomizers featured replaceable coil heads in different ohms of resistance against the power of the battery. The new eGo style batteries are capable of different voltages/wattages.

As people who have just started this journey to get away from traditional, combustible cigarettes, we learned a lot about electricity, resistance, amperage and conductivity. Eventually, the vape community became more creative and came up with the concept of the “mod.”

The word “mod” comes from “modified”. The first unregulated vape mod was a modified battery tube that used a single 18650 battery. A cap was added with a 510 threading (the vape industry standard threading), but the power of an unregulated, fully charged 18650 battery was too strong and would completely fry the atomizers (coils). Thus, the RDA (rebuildable drip atomizer) was born.

Standard RDA’s are a flat, 3 pronged unit. The consumer would generally build two coils and use organic cotton as a wick which was threaded through the coil itself. The user would drip their liquid onto their wicks and coils. The coils built for these atomizers were generally sub-ohm (less than 1 ohm of resistance). Less resistance means that more power from the battery is capable of flowing through the circuit which makes the coils extremely hot. The e-liquid we used was too harsh for this kind of heat so e-liquid manufacturers such as Apollo got creative and made “Max VG” lines.

Max VG e-liquids are much thicker since the base of their formulas (vegetable glycerine) makes the e-liquid capable of giant plumes of vapor when exhaled. These devices and liquids are inhaled using the DTL (Direct to Lung) technique rather than the MTL technique (mouth to lung technique that  a smoker would use to inhale a traditional cigarette). There was still an issue of how the unregulated mods were a bit dangerous in the hands of someone who didn’t know what they were doing. 

An improper coil build could result in short circuiting, overheating, and/or combustion. A lot of hardware manufacturers stepped in to deal with this issue. They took the idea of firing the device at hotter temperatures but regulated how much power the device would send to the coils with a chip. The regulated mods were bigger variable voltage/wattage devices capable of heating up a sub-ohm coil. You could put an RDA on these mods and fire away without any concern. The devices wouldn’t fire if there was a short or flaw in the coil. There were many people who were interested in “cloud chasing” but could not build a coil properly so once again hardware manufacturers had to get creative.

Their creativity led to the sub-ohm tank: a tank that would fit a pre-made coil head just like the clearomizers from before and be used just as easily. The only difference was the sub-ohm tank could fire at much hotter temperatures and give you large clouds of vapor without all of the coil building or risk. Builders were still interested in building but also enjoyed the convenience of a tank. These types of wants and needs lead to so many new and innovative products that the RTA (rebuildable tank atomizer) came into existence. It is a tank with a rebuildable deck that allowed you to build coils like an RD but featured the convenience of holding all of the e-liquid in a container. This innovation replaced the process of dripping liquid onto the coils like a regular RDA.

As state and federal regulations came in, building slowed down quite a bit in the community and sub-ohm tanks became the “new normal,” Yet, there was another bit of innovation on the horizon. A new type of e-liquid that contained “salt nicotine” was gaining popularity in smaller devices. These salt nics contained much higher levels of nicotine than its predecessors. This is because the nicotine used in 50/50 or Max VG e-liquids used “freebase nicotine” that was much more absorbent to the body so the user would need less of it. Freebase nicotine was more of a negative charge which made our positive charged bodies take it in rapidly while salt nicotine is the purest form of nicotine and is more of a neutral charge in its chemical makeup. This means that 24mg of freebase nicotine is very similar to 50mg of salt nicotine in how they make the body react. 

Salt nicotine is also much smoother on the throat than traditional freebase nicotine. With 50mg of salt nicotine, you would get the same nicotine rush in comparison to using a higher freebase nicotine, but with the hit of a lower nicotine and the smoothness of a Max VG e-liquid. Smaller devices were used, and they fired less hot. A lot of these devices were known as pod devices or pod kits which used much higher resistance coils. They were made to fit in the adult hand like a cigarette or small box shaped devices. Plenty of these devices came with pre-filled pods that featured a variety of flavors. 

In 2021, former US president Donald Trump had signed a bill banning flavored pods with flavors other than traditional tobacco flavor. Excluded from the bill were flavored disposables that weren’t popular at the time, but the ban of flavored pre-filled pods drove a demand for these easy to use products.

Even though disposables are convenient, they are not always reliable and are expensive in comparison to buying e-liquid and refillable devices. This made vapers interested in products such as AIO (all in one) devices. AIO’s still used pods but were generally larger and used fixed batteries, 18650 batteries, and/or 21700 batteries. Many AIO devices on the market are truly “all in one”. These devices use replacement coils that are available in different resistances and feature adjustable wattage for all types of e-liquids. They have a higher resistance while firing at a lower wattage for thinner, higher nicotine liquids such as 50/50 or salt nicotine and a lower resistance while firing at a higher wattage for thicker e-liquids like Max VG.

All in all, the question of “which device is right for me?” is ultimately up to you. Vapes come in all kinds of different shapes, sizes and colors, but they all do the same thing; they have a battery that fires an atomizer surrounded by a wick that heats up and vaporizes the e-liquid that soaks the wick around the atomizer. 

Everything else is personal preference. 

Do you want it to be small? 

Do you want to produce massive amounts of vapor? 

Do you want a tight draw or an open draw? 

Do you prefer more of a direct to lung or mouth to lung draw?

It all depends on what you prefer. Luckily, vape has been around long enough to offer you many options. Companies such as have been around for well over a decade and feature a variety of products to help vapers find what they are looking for. Where will vape be in the next 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? We will just have to wait and see.

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