What is Vaping ? The Ultimate Vapers Guide
Introduction to Vaping
Over the past 5 years vaping, or electronic cigarettes as they are known in the media have become the biggest and best alternative to smoking for people wanting to quit. However they have existed far longer than quite a lot of people realise, going back as far as their creation in 2003 and first sold in 2004. Over the past 5-6 years vaping has become much more accessible to people through stores, online and simply awareness. With this boom in the vaping industries, so has many ways to vape designed to suit the beginner all the way to experienced users with a competitive industry offering many products to suit your needs. With technology advancing all the time and new ideas being created, vaping has come a long way from its early days and with that, the biggest alternative to smoking has become a industry all on its own.
Vaping in it’s basic form is a method to deliver nicotine to a user in a much safer and less adversive method than Smoking, with a more pleasurable way of doing so than NRT therapy available. This is achieved by suspending the nicotine in two components, Vegetable Glycerine and Propylene Glycol. Both these agents suspend the nicotine and flavourings and provide the vapourising of the E-Liquid when vaping. The vapour created is achieved through a coil system, often made from materials such as Kanthal, stainless steel or nickel as examples. When the user activates the vapouriser, it heats the coil up and vapourises the E Liquid, producing vapour which is then inhaled, delivering the nicotine. The idea behind vaping is to mimic a cigarette, hence the name E Cigarette. The purpose of this is to replace Smoking entirely and give the user their nicotine without the added chemicals and poisonous ingredients that tobacco carries. As the industry has expanded, so has the many ways that Vaping can achieve this, through methods such as Mouth to lung, Sub ohm or simple pen devices and pod systems.
The devices used to power the vaping are often referred to as Mods and come in many shapes sizes and types depending on the user needs. The device will have either an internal or external battery to power the device with many features now standard within the market.
Who created Vaping
The first mention of vaping can actually be detailed back to the 1930’s as a patent was filed by a Joseph Robinson for an electronic cigarette device. However there was never any product produced from this patent at the time. Over the next 50 years there was further mentions of electronic devices such as Herbert A. Gilbert during the 1960s who is credited with designing a product very similar to modern devices but it was never commercialised at the time. Then in 1979, Phil Ray and Norman Jacobson worked together to produce the first vapourising device which also brought about the first research into Nicotine deliverance at the same time. The device they created was a commerical failure but it can be said that it was with them that the word Vape became part of the vocabulary and really started to accelerate the idea behind an Electronic Cigarette. Throughout the 90s there was many more attempts to bring this idea to market, with many obstacles but in 2003 the very first commerical E Cigarette was produced.
Hon Lik, a 52 year old pharmaceutical worker and smoker developed the very first electronic device motivated by his father dying of lung cancer. His company, Golden Dragon Holdings manufactured it under the name Ruyan (meaning like smoke) and thus the E Cigarette finally entered the market.
For more reading about the history of E Cigarettes including their recent history you can read about it HERE.
Types Of Vaping
What is Mouth to lung MTL
Mouth to Lung (or MTL) is the method of vaping that most resembles smoking in the way you inhale the vapour from the device. It is achieved by drawing the vapour into your mouth first before inhaling into your lungs. This method of vaping is designed to be used on low powered devices and often with higher nicotine levels to give the user a hit of nicotine when cravings begin. It is usually the most common way users begin to give up smoking, with products such as pen starter kits, MTL tanks and pod systems adopting this method of vaping. MTL liquids are often higher in ratio of PG as this method delivers less vapour and therefore serves as a deliverance method rather than a vapour production method.
What is Direct to Lung DTL
Direct to lung (DTL) is an alternative and usually more advanced way of vaping, the progression from MTL for a lot of vapers. However some smokers prefer to enter here due to the bigger hits of vapour they receive. What DTL basically means is that you draw the vapour directly into your lung when inhaling, giving you a much bigger hit of vapour with the E Liquid holding a much lower dosage of Nicotine. E Liquids used in DTL vaping is often higher in VG as a component and a lower amount of nicotine, with the nicotine being served through the bigger amount of vapour produced.
Sub Ohm Vaping
Sub Ohm Vaping is generally associated with DTL through the bigger and usually more powerful tanks used. The coil inside the tank carries a resistance lower than 1 Ohm which is where the name Sub-Ohm comes from. This type of vaping involves a much higher power than a MTL vape with resistances in sub ohming dropping as low as 0.1 ohms and power as high as 150-200w of power compared to around 15w at a MTL device level.
Temperature control was a fairly big feature going back around 2-3 years ago within the industry and still remains a part of most vaping devices today as an option. What temperature control effectively does is provide the user to vape depending on temperature of the coil as apposed to the power running through it. Temperature control cannot be used with standard coils however, it requires a stainless steel or nickel coil material to be able to function correctly. The main feature of temperature control vaping comes through the usual prevention of cotton wicking burning compared to standard vaping due to the coil regulating the coil temperature. The negative of temperature control is through the vape often being much cooler than a standard coil due to the mod device regulating the temperature to ensure it does not increase beyond the required amount.
What are Vape Tanks
Vape tanks are essentially the part of the E Cigarette that carries the coil and hold the E-liquid inside. They are made from metal for the frame of the tank with glass to hold the liquid inside. The top will usually have a plastic tube called the drip tip which is used as a mouth piece for the tank. The way in which the tank works is by heating the E-liquid up at the base of the tank and it then travelling upwards through the chimney and and then into your mouth. They can come in many shapes and sizes with different ways in which they offer vapour production, as explained in the headings below.
Types of Vape Tanks
Sub Ohm Vape Tanks
Sub Ohm vape tanks is a type of tank that works using a coil that has a lower resistance than 1 ohm. It comes with premade (or stock) coils that can be purchased from any good retailer. Sub ohm tanks require much higher power through the coil but as a result it can give out a greater amount of vapour and flavour to the user. Coils for a Sub ohm tank can range from single kanthal coils to multiple coil heads to new to the market mesh coil heads. Each one offers something different to each other, for example multiple coil heads associated with brands such as Smok delivering much higher vapour production. Whereas mesh coil heads are designed to increase fire heat up times and offer a much greater flavour , often at the expense of power. The advantage of using a sub ohm tank is for its simplicity, with coils pre build and just screwed into base when required.
RDA Vape Tanks
An RDA, or Rebuildible Dripper Atomiser to give it its full name, is a device designed for advanced users and not recommended for anyone without a good knowledge of how the ohm laws work. The device is simple, contrasting to a sub ohm tank, an RDA has no tank at all, serving the coil within a small chamber and drip tip placed on top. RDA requires self made coils to be used rather than stock versions and wicking is achieved through using cotton. To use an RDA you simply drip the E-Liquid onto the coil itself, saturating the cotton and heating the coil up to produce vapour. Different RDAs provide different coil building methods through posts within the RDA base. The more posts there is, the more coils can be potentially ran. It requires a substantial understanding of ohms law to know resistances and power output to effectively make using a device such as this safe. The advantages of an RDA over a sub ohm tank is through the increased flavour potential due to the shorter space that the vapour travels from coil to mouth, as well as reduced cost through re wicking the cotton when required.
RTA Vape Tanks
RTA tanks are similar to an RDA, but offer the tank part of the vaping experience to hold a greater amount of liquid. Their looks are very similar to a sub ohm tank in the way it is constructed with glass tank, chimney and airflow base. The main difference between the two however is the rebuildable base that the RTA comes with rather than stock prebuilt coils that the former has. This allows the user to still have the customisation of a rebuildable coil with cost reduction and flavour increase. An RTA however require additional skill to a RDA for example due to the way the base works in regards to the airflow. As the airflow is based at the bottom, the cotton wicking has to be placed in a way that prevents any leakage. The advantage of using an RTA is through the increased capacity of the tank over an RDA, which removes the need for constant dripping of E-liquid when required.
Pod systems are fairly new to the market and offer a different way of vaping entirely. Often low powered devices, the pod is essentially a self enclosed tank of it’s own usually made out of plastic and designed to be disposable. It will have a much higher resistance and much lower capacity to a sub ohm tank, but provide security and prevents leaking when used. They are simple filled and placed inside the pod device and fired. A pod allows much higher nicotine to be used and produces much less vapour than the devices above. This type of system is ideal for someone who wants to move from smoking to vaping allowing a safe and low powered vape using the MTL method. The advantage of using a pod system is through simplicity and ease of access to use over a tank or rebuildable.
Types of Vape Coils
Vape coils come in many different types with each one offering both pros and cons for their usage. Additionally depending on the coil type, different ways of vaping can be explored and used.
The most common material in vaping is Kanthal metal, a mainstay within the vaping industry. the Kanthal metal is used due to its accessibility, ease of use and withstanding high temperatures. Most standard coils on the market use this material and it has become almost a universal material in vaping. The downside top using kanthal is its ability to reduce in flavour and effectiveness over time and it does not allow temperature control to be used. However for anyone new to vaping or starting to build their own coils, kanthal is an ideal starting material.
Another material used quite commonly in vaping is stainless steel. the stainless steel is used for both regular and temperature control vaping due to the material being much more adjustable. The main advantages of Stainless steel are through the cleaner taste and faster ramp up time compared to kanthal coils. Stainless steel can have a much longer life span compared to kanthal also making it ideal for rebuilding devices. However the negative in using stainless steel is through its more unstable resistance when using under normal vaping conditions and increased difficulty in building with this type of material.
Nickel is the least used material in vaping due to its limit in only allowing temperature control vapes. It is is much more stable material in vaping compared to stainless steel but it comes with its difficulty in use when building coils. The advantages of using nickel as a temperature control coil material is through it stability and accuracy when reading resistances. help with maintaining chemical balances at high temperatures within the Eliquid to maintain a balanced flavour and is much more consistent than stainless steel. The disdvantage of using nickel as a building material is through its difficulty in building and through its greater chance of gunking up the coil, leaving residue on the coils which affect performance.
If you wish to read more about coil materials and types, you can visit a great article on the subject HERE.
What are Vape Mods
Vape mods are essentially the device that powers the coil inside the tank and provides safety when using due to the protections built into each device. The mod itself can come in different shapes and sizes with each one providing positives and negatives in regards to the user. Mods can come with both internal or external batteries to power the device which are industry standard within the market today. See below for more information about the batteries themselves. The vaping mod is designed to allow the user to control the vape that they want using a chip-set powered software that varies to each brand of device. The more expensive chip sets can cost as much as £200 on the market, with the lower priced ones designed for functionality over complete control. There are often many different modes within a vaping mod, with power, temperature control and bypass being options to use. Bypass mode is essentially turning the device into a semi regulated mechanical mod in terms of delivering the full battery power, but keeping the user safe in the process when used correctly.
Most vaping mods on the market carry the same features as each other leaving personal choice being the most important aspect when choosing what device is right for you. All mods now come with a connection referred to as a 510 pin, usually spring loaded to compensate for the connection on the tank/RDA placed on top. They will come with a fire button and often navigation buttons with a built in menu system to navigate the device to choose the options you would like. Some devices can come with additional features such as lights, touch control or, new to the market, voice control. However the additional features are normally designed for aesthetics reasons and normally do not improve the main experience when using the device.
There are different types of batteries available for vaping on the market today with each one offering a different function and positive from using it. the batteries are made from lithium-ion similar to a phone battery and are designed for high discharge compared to cheaper brands that are designed for low powered devices such as torches. This is why it is always important for safety reasons to purchase batteries from trusted sources as an untested battery can lead to issues such as venting or explosions.
The standard Vaping battery on the market today and utilised by the majority of devices on the market. The 18650 is a high discharge battery that usually has a amp rating between 20-30 amps, and often used pararell to each other in most devices on the market. The 18650 can be found made by respected companies such as sony, samsung and LG as examples and provide solid vaping experiences
21700 / 20700
these types of batteries have only really entered the market within the last 12 months and are slowly being adopted by vaping companies to power their devices. The advantages these types of batteries can bring is through a higher discharge rate and capacity which can lead to longer battery life. The only real difference between the two is a slight size in battery and carry a higher price tag than the 18650, with a much lower compatible market currently.
Battery safety is always an upmost priority in vaping and abusing batteries like any other powered device can lead to negative outcomes and potentially danger. It is always advised within the vaping industry to charge batteries through an external battery charger from a leading brand to ensure safe and prolonged battery life.
For more information on battery safety, you can read about it in this wonderful article HERE.
What is Squonking?
Squoking has existed for a few years within the industry, going back as far as Kangertech following their successful sub ohm kit with a squonking kit. However Squonking has only really been widely adopted over the past 12 months and as such has become a great alternative to standard vaping devices. How a squonker works essentially is that the mod will have a plastic bottle built into the device that allows liquid to be stored inside of it, with a much greater capacity than a tank. By squeezing the bottle you can refill the tank/RDA on top of the device to reduce the amount of time needed to refill. RDA devices have really got an advantage to using such a device due to the regularity of having to re moisten the cotton when vaping. However the tank/RDA on top requires a squonk pin to work to allow liquid to travel through to the coil, so can only be used with compatible devices. Most devices compatible often come unregulated and rebuildable coils but in the past 12 months there has been a surge of semi regulated devices in the market for protection, with one leading company even offering a stock coil option.
What are Mechanical Mods?
Mechanical mods are essentially designed for experienced vapers who understand ohms law and must not be used by anyone who is not fully aware of this. They can be the most dangerous device in the wrong hands, but perfectly safe to someone who knows how to use one combined with coils. How a mech mod essentially works is through a connection to the battery inside when fired. Similar to a bypass mode on a regulated device, when the connection is made with the battery, the user will receive a full power hit of the battery used, with the power delivered decreasing as the battery loses power. As a result of this method of vaping, there is now power control and no safety features in the device, which is again stressed for experienced users and not for someone who does not understand them.
What is e-Liquid
E liquid is the way in which the nicotine is delivered to the user in a safe and risk free manner. The liquid is composed of 4 components, VG, PG, Nicotine and flavourings. The way in which the flavours and nicotine works within the liquids is that they are suspended in either PG or VG before mixed together to create a solution that suspends them prior to vapourising. When the coil heats the E-Liquid up, it vaporises the liquid creating vapor and delivering the flavour and nicotine straight to the user leaving nothing behind except for any additional sweeteners in the coil area.
E-Liquids can come in different nicotine strengths such as 0mg to 18mg, with the higher amount of nicotine designed for smokers moving to vaping and the lower amounts for sub ohm users or users simply wanting to cut nicotine out entirely. Bottles can come in various sizes also, with the smallest being 10mils and the largest standard size being 100mils, with prices varying accordingly. Additionally on the market today you will find E-Liquid known as shortfills, which are designed to come without nicotine inside but allow space and ratio aspect for nicotine to be added, which is usually added through a nicotine shot often sold separately.
How an E-liquid is measured is simply through the numbers on the bottle. The number next to Mg represents the nicotine strength of the liquid, with the ml showing the volume of E liquid inside. The VG and PG% represent the ratio of each component. The higher the VG % the more vapor the liquid will produce, with the higer PG % carrying more flavour but much thinner in consistency.
For a more in-depth talk about E-liquid you can check out this article HERE.
What is PG (Propylene Glycol)
Pg (or Propylene Glycol) is part of the base that all E-Liquids carry. It is usually much thinner and the most widely used component for carrying both nicotine and flavourings within the E-Liquid. The PG is often in smaller amounts due to the harshness that it can have on the vaping experience. Due to it being much thinner, it will produce much less vapor and high PG liquids are normally only found at starter kit / pod system types of devices. there is also a known allergy to PG that some people may be affected from, which is why most E-Liquids on the market will carry so little inside, often the majority is there for nicotine and flavourings only. the main effect that PG delivers within the E-liquid is what is known as a throat hit, similar to a cigarette. This is another key reason why it is used in lower powered devices aimed at helping smokers move into vaping. PG is often used in the pharmaceutical industries and through its many uses, one main usage since the 1950’s has been through asthma inhalers.
What is VG (Vegetable Glycerin)
Vegetable Glyerine is the other main component of E-Liquids can is found to be much thicker in consistency. The main function of VG within E-liquids is to deliver vapour production (or cloud production) and is often the reason for the huge billows of vapor often seen from vapers. The VG will offer much less of a throat hit and carry much less flavour but will give the user a much bigger ‘vape’ as a result. Vegetable Glycerine outside of the vaping industry is often used in food applications and medical properties such as medicines designed to be applied without the use of alcohol. E-Liquids high in VG will often be used by sub ohm / high wattage and low nicotine vapers due to the smoothness and vapour production.
What are Flavourings
Flavouring in E-Liquid are normally water soluble additives which are used to provide flavours within the E-Liquid. they are normally sourced from companies who make them for food / fragrance components and have been thoroughly tested for safety prior to release. The flavours can include small amounts of food colouring and sweetener, the most common of which being sucralose.
Nicotine is the addictive substance that is found in cigarettes and that Vaping delivers in a much safer and healthier way in comparison. Nicotine itself is very dangerous as a substance and as such should not be handled without protective clothing or ingested in any way. It is a drug is inhaled in vaping through the same means as smoking and provides the craving relief that makes vaping such an effective and successful way of quitting altogether. The nicotine level required varies on which stage of quitting you are at, how regularly you smoked previously or what device you are using to vape.
Nicotine recommended levels
- 18mg – Heavy smokers of 20 a day
- 12mg– smokers of around 10 a day
- 6mg– Light smokers of around 10 light cigarettes / 5 normal cigarettes
- 3mg– for sub ohm vaping to add a little nicotine.
- 0mg nicotine free, when wanting to quit or remove nicotine entirely
What does Vaping Feel Like
Vaping can vary on experience depending what device is being used and to what effect. In essence, vaping feels like smoking, without the harshness or bad taste that you would associate with it. the flavours are designed to make it a much more pleasurable experience and the scent is much more favorable than second hand smoke. Using lower powered devices such as pod systems and starter kits, the experience of vaping is often short direct hits of vapor into the lungs, replicating the feel of smoking through MTL methods. This experience is the most closely method to smoking and the high nicotine often used in these sort of devices provide the nicotine craving relief that you would want to have. Sub ohm vaping provides a much different experience in which you receive a much bigger hit of vapor which is often smooth with increased flavour depending on the device. This can count also towards RTAs as the mechanics are similar. The nicotine hit in this instance is much lower but this is often countered through the method of chain vaping, taking multiple pulls in a shorter space of time. The experience with RDA is completely different again however with a much more intense vape experience with the flavour coming straight from the coil. this can lead to shorter pulls but increased vapor production as a result.
Is Vaping safe
Vaping is essentially a safer way of smoking, with the ideal at heart being that is designed as an alternative to smoking or NRT on the market. Over the past 5 years vaping has and will continue to be thoroughly tested to ensure safety of its users. the short answer is that it is safe to vape, at least 95% safer to vape than to smoke as research continues to prove. Second hand vapor has been proven to be as safe as fresh air and the nicotine deliverance has proven to be no worse than a cigarette. An example of research performed on vaping can be found HERE.
In terms of safe vaping using the many devices on the market, with proper care and attention there should be little to chance of anything going wrong of proving to be dangerous. Vaping mods come with many built in protections designed to protect the user from anything that may go wrong such as short circuit protection, battery protection and even overheating. Devices on the market today are intelligent enough to read any issues in regards to coils and refuse to fire if it detects a fault, in which case it is advised to dispose and replace the coil. Battery safety is also an upmost concern, with batteries carrying the biggest risk of all. Proper care of batteries and replacement / correct disposal when any tears or dents appear in the battery itself will protect the user from anything that could go wrong. It is also advised never to charge external batteries within the device and to never leave batteries charging unattended.
In the 14 years of being on the market, the biggest news story in regards to vaping was an article published by the independent Public Health England 3 years ago which announced Vaping was at least 95% safer than smoking. The article announced E Cigarettes are proving to be the biggest success rate for people to give up smoking over alternatives since their research began. They found there was no evidence that E Cigarettes were a gateway into tobacco use in youth, with the article promoting the idea of using vaping as a relaistic alternative to smoking. You can read more about the article in this wonderfully detailed Gov.uk article here.