How do E-cigarettes work

If you ever considered giving up smoking you have definitely seen a lot of products on the market from nicotine patches to gum containing nicotine that satisfies your cravings and makes the path smoother to definitely give up on combustible cigarettes.

The market has evolved to new and modern stuff like IQUOS or HEETS, the alternative of Big Tobacco to the classic cigarettes. Basically they have cut the cigarette in half, they heat it and voila you have the same feeling like an old cigarette and some of the same chemicals in there.

E-cigarettes though, are the less harmful option to classic tobacco as they deliver the same nicotine dose with less harmful chemicals, tar, carbon monoxide and the other around 7000 chemicals that are released while you smoke a cigarette.

E-cigarettes vs classic cigarettes

A good alternative that has been around for some time now is the e-cigarette, also known as a vaping kit. People have been biased about how do e-cigs vs classic cigarettes work for your health this all the time, yet it is a lot harmless, even according to a recent NHS study:

E-cigarettes contain nicotine but not many of the harmful substances produced by smoking tobacco, such as tar or carbon monoxide. 

Significantly lower levels of cancer causing chemicals, TSNAs and VOCs were found in samples from former smokers using e-cigarettes only or NRT only, compared with current smokers. 

Former smokers using e-cigarettes only had significantly lower levels of the toxic chemical NNAL (a by-product of exposure to TSNAs) than all other groups. This was equivalent to a 97% reduction compared with the levels of cigarette-only users.”

The internals of an e-cigarette

The e-cigarette works by heating an incandescent element called coil to a temperature where it vaporizes your e-liquid. There is no combustion in the process, therefore none of the chemicals associated with smoking are inhaled. The coil is heated by a circuit with a predefined program that is designed to work for beginner users that want a hassle free use or advanced ones who just want to customize every aspect of their experience.

Every e-cigarette has 2 main parts that do the magic:

  1. Battery / Mod
  2. Clearomizer / tank / pod


Regardless of the type of e-cig you are using (e-cigar, pod kit, vaping kit - some of them) they all have an internal battery that is usually a Lithium-Ion rechargeable one. The typical estimate for the lifetime of a li-ion battery is around 2-3 years and 300 to 500 recharge cycles. This also depends highly on the quality of the battery and the use cases that we will cover below. For e-cigarettes however the life-span is a little shorter because the use case is different: if you are using your phone constantly it will draw constant power from its battery, yet the e-cig needs higher power in a short time and this takes a toll on your battery life-time and performance.

Built-in e-cig batteries

Smaller kits (e-cigar, pod kits and even some vaping kits) have an internal built-in battery. This means that when it is gone and no longer rechargeable you can drop the device as well. These are usually cheaper and easy to replace.

Most built-in batteries have universal ports that depend on the threading they use, which means you can connect them to pretty much every other part that is compatible with it. Some of the most popular ones are KR-808D-1 (for cig-a-like devices), eGo/Evod and 510 (one of the most popular threadings).

Some are designed specifically to be used just with their own brand of tanks like the pod kits. Essentially pod kits are what the industry calls an automatic battery, meaning that it fires when the user uses it without the need to push a button and they work just with their own kind of tanks/pods like Brez, Suorin, Smok, Juul and others.

Replaceable e-cig batteries / mods

Most of the kits for advanced users and even those who like to use custom settings on their device use replaceable batteries. The battery of choice for vaping kits seems to be the 18650 battery. It is produced by a wide range of manufacturers (Sony, Samsung, Nitecore, Efest, LG, and Panasonic) and they range from 2200 to 3500 mah at as much as 30 Amps discharge rate. People using these also need a battery charger that comes from 1 bay to 4 or 6 depending on the model and the specs you need.

Some mods are compatible today with other models like 21700, 18350 or 18500. Check your vaping kit specs to see which batteries are fit for it.

We have a complete guide on how to maintain and prolongue your battery life here that applies to both built in and replaceable batteries.

The mod is the part with the “brains”. The simple ones like pod kits or cig-a-likes simply work by pushing a button and heats the coil according to a predefined program. Most advanced ones allow you to adjust the wattage, power and other settings based on more factors that include the coil capacity or the type of e-liquid you use.

The tank / clearomizer / pod

Depending on the type of the device you want to buy or already own there are a few types of tanks on the market.

Older devices that seemed to be very popular at the beginning of the phenomenon used cartomizers, which are basically chambers with either pre-filled e-liquid or they are empty and allow you to fill it up with the vape juice of your choice. There are still a few on the market but they seem less popular since the industry also tries to ditch them. Cartomizers have an internal coil that burns out and theta is when it is time to replace it altogether. It has a relatively small capacity and it is kind of uncomfortable to refill all the time.

Some of the most popular tanks on the market are the clearomizers. Slightly larger than cartomizers they have usually a replaceable coil and can be used for a long time with batteries that are compatible with them like the eGo / Evod ones. They deliver a fair experience and they are designed to be used mostly with 50/50 PG/VG e-liquids.

The classic 510 Tanks are now available in standard 2ml e-juice capacity in UK and the rest of the EU due to TPD compliance. Prior to this tanks were available with capacities of 5ml even and they are still available in the USA for example since there is not restriction for the tank capacity in those places.

The tank is the most popular choice among vapers as it delivers a custom experience for those who want a hit (like the one in cigarettes) or those who crave for flavors. Most of the tanks these days allow you to simply refill from top, they are very reliable in terms of use and cleaning (yes, they need cleaning from time to time).

The tanks use coils that now come in many formats: 1 coil, 2 coils, 4 coils, 8 coils or mesh. They are made of Kanthal (FeCrAl), NiChrome, Stainless Steel, Nickel, and Titanium. They have a decent lifetime and once they burn out you will taste some burnt out flavor meaning it is time to switch it. We have prepared a guide on how to prolongue the coil lifetime here and how to use them properly.

The market offeres also versions of tanks that allow you to build your own coils which are called RDA/RTA. This usually gets to those who are really passionate about this, who understand the physics of the coil and obviously have a lot of time. For most of us a simple replacement coil will do the job.

Some of the newest devices on the market are called pods, and usually have 1-2ml capacity and coils ranging from 1 to 1.8 ohm in general. Some are sealed and already contain e-liquid (like Brez or Juul) and some are refillable and allow you to use your own e-liquid (like Suorin or Smok Nord). They are designed for Salt Nicotine, a new type of nicotine base that is less harsh while providing stronger concentrations (20mg in UK and EU due to TPD compliance and up to 50mg in the US).



The last part with the flavor is the e-liquid, also called e-juice or vape juice. The market is so rich in options that you simply cannot choose well enough and you would obviously like to try them all.

The e-liquid is made out of Propylene Glycol – PG (a thin, odourless and tasteless liquid used safely for more than 50 years in food), Vegetable Glycerin – VG (a natural organic glycerol that is made out of vegetable oil), nicotine and flavors. Here at Apollo we pride ourselves with the quality of the components as all are traced, food grade and assembled in certified labs. There is no “low quality” or shady components in the e-liquid we make.

But since you are here already I think you want to learn a bit about what to choose.

If you want a modern and hassle-free system to start with we recommend starting with a pod kit. They are completely automatic, they have pre-filled pods with salt nicotine that is 20mg strength.

E-cigarette replacement e-liquids are so good that they deliver the same aroma and nicotine hit as the real ones. You can have a simple tobacco blend of which we have 4 kinds of tobacco flavored e-liquids alone or some with some flavors here and there. If you are after the cigar replacement a 50/50 e-liquid will do a great job.

If you are looking for flavors, then MaxVG is the range where you should look. They deliver more clouds – which by the way is a vaper thing – more flavor and they are less harsh.

Here is a simple guide to choosing your nicotine level:

  • 0mg (0%) Just for flavor. No nicotine content but great amounts of clouds if you go for MaxVG
  • 3mg (0.3%) For light smokers or those who are not craving for nicotine. We suggest you start with an e-liquid at this strength if you never tried vaping.
  • 6mg (0.6%) For light smokers who still want to feel a little nicotine.

A pro tip:  do not use the following nicotine concentrations in Sub-Ohm Tanks (coils below 1.0 ohm)

  • 12mg (1.2%) Smoking on average 10 cigars a day? This is your nicotine concentration choice
  • 18mg (1.8%) Heavy smoker? This nicotine concentration will keep up with your needs