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Electronic Cigarettes – A Comprehensive Introduction

Smoking is an incredibly common habit with the number of smokers currently getting close to 1 billion. It’s also one of the most dangerous habit’s that one can have, it kills more then 480,000 people annually. However because it’s such an addictive habit and many people enjoy the feelings it brings them the incentive to quit isn’t high enough. Couple those things with the fact that going through nicotine withdrawal is a terrible feeling and you can see why the number of smokers keeps increasing not decreasing. Now what if I told you there was a solution to quitting that didn’t make you quit doing the thing you love and allowed you to keep getting the nicotine that you enjoy? Enter the electronic cigarette.

The electronic cigarette has been around since the 1960’s however it was never widely used or accepted and at this point was little more then an idea. Fast forward to 2014 and there’s a booming 1.5 billion dollar industry industry surrounding electronic cigarettes. That’s a pretty significant number that’s going up rapidly as more and more ex-smokers jump on the bandwagon. Maybe you’ve heard about electronic cigarettes from your friends or family or on the news but don’t really know what you’re doing and are looking for a beginners guide? That’s what I’m aiming to do with this post. Educate you on the basics of electronic cigarettes so you can make some informed decisions if you do decide to make the change.

Terms

Before we begin I would like to take some time to list out the terms that you will need to know when reading and deciding to purchase a device.

  • Vaping – This term is replacing the word smoking when using an e-cigarette. Because there’s no smoke only water vapor the term vaping has been used to replace it.
  • E-Liquid/Juice – This is the VG/PG mixture that you put inside your electronic cigarette that contains your nicotine and flavorings.
  • 510 Connection – The type of connector that all standard batteries use for e-cigarettes.
  • Atomizer – The part of your electronic ecigarette that changes your e-liquid to a vapor that you can inhale.
  • Cartomizer – Disposable cartridges that contain an atomizer.
  • Clearomizer – A tank based atomizer. That is to say they are an atomizer with a tank and a wick to soak up the juice. This allows you to fill up your e-cigarette and forget about bringing the liquid along with you.
  • Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer – As the title suggests these devices are Atomizers that you rebuild by hand rather then buying them and replacing them and drip liquid onto them directly.
  • Rebuildable Tank Atomizer – As the title suggest these devices are Atomizers with a tank that you can rebuild by hand rather then having to buy and replace them.
  • EGO Battery – The most standard battery type for beginner vapers. You have probably seen these around they are longer and thin but significantly larger then a disposable e-cigarette.
  • VV/VW Battery – These batteries allow you to adjust the voltage and wattage of your device to get the perfect vape. They are a step up from EGO Batteries and generally have longer battery life.
  • Mechanical Mod – A mechanical mod is the battery/casing for advanced vapors. They provide no protection from electrical currents and are used by experienced vapors that understand the safety risks.
  • Wick – What is used to draw e-liquid into the coil.
  • Coil – The metal resistance wire that heats up in an e-cigarette. (part of the atomizer).

Gear

This section will be broken up into three parts so that new vapors won’t be overwhelmed.

Beginner

If you’re new to vaping and have never owned any gear before starting out you probably don’t want to jump into anything too expensive or complicated. A basic kit consists of a clearomizer/tank, an ego battery or two, and a charger for your battery. I recommend a kit such as this one from Mt.Baker Vapor. It should include everything you need to get started including batteries, tanks a charger, some atomizers and in this case liquid also. If you think you’re going to stay with vaping for a while I recommend that you look at the moderate or advanced section to save you money in the long run. It’s important as a beginner to get the right type of e-juice when quitting smoking so make sure you look at our E-Juice section to find out what strength/mixture you should pick up!

 

Moderate

As a moderate user I’m assuming that you’ve vaped using a standard EGO battery before and a simple clearomizer but maybe you would like to look for something with longer battery life, better flavor or a bigger tank to hold more liquid. If that’s the case then this is the right section for you. At this point you can take one of two routes if you like the profile of your current e-cigarette and want to stick with something that looks similar you can upgrade to an EGO-C, Vision Spinner or Kanger EVOD. These batteries will range anywhere from 15 – 30 USD and are generally easy to find both online and in B&M stores. They have adjustable voltage anywhere from 3.8 to 4.2 volts that allow for more precise flavor control and vapor production based on the type of coil you have in your tank. However if you are interested in a more long term investment you can start looking into VV/VW devices these include the iTaste MVP 2 and iTaste VTR they normally have puff counters, larger batteries and accommodate the larger tanks listed below without looking awkward.  The next step for a moderate vapor would be to upgrade to a tank based clearomizer I personally recommend the Aspire NautilusAspire Nautilus Mini or the Kanger Protank or Kanger Protank Mini. These devices have easy to replace coils that can be bought in sets for around 5/10 USD. Each coil lasts for about 1 – 3 weeks of usage and will start to taste burnt when they go bad. I recommend stocking up on the coils when you buy your tank so that you don’t run out. A word of advice to any potential moderate vapors is if you’re interested in long term usage think about skipping right to the advanced section as it will save you money in the long run and once you move on you probably won’t use these devices as much.

 

Advanced

So you’re thinking about taking the plunge into the world of e-cigs. You’ve already gotten your feat wet and you’re ready to lay down some dough for a long term investment. Great lets get onto the stuff you should be looking at!

Regulated Mods – Regulated mods are generally referred to as box mods. There are a wide range of these mods that range anywhere from 40 – hundreds of dollars. These mods generally use a built in battery with a size of 18650. The major difference between these mods and mechanical mods is that they can provide an even vape throughout the entire battery discharge as well as protection against failure and VV/VW. The most popular devices currently are the Hana Modz V2, IPv2Vaporshark DNA30 and DNA30 style clones. Generally people opt for clones because they’re cheaper and provide a similar product at an affordable cost, however the new IPv2 is only 110$ which is very attractive to new mod users. If you do decide to go authentic and have the money for it then good on you for supporting the creators! There are many other regulated mods out there currently so be sure to look for something that works for you.

Mechanical(Unregulated) Mods – Unregulated or Mechanical mods are all the rage right now. They provide a cool profile and quite a bit of customization. I don’t really have any recommendations here other then start by buying clones as they’re rather cheap until you find something that you really want to live with on a daily basis and then go buy the genuine if you have the money! It’s worth getting a genuine for the quality and feel of the device as well as supporting the designer. Also make sure your mechanical and the dripper/tank you buy are the same mm so that they fit flush if you do opt for mechanical mods and care about your e-cigarettes profile. Another thing to take into account is your mods battery size. 18650 is the most common but there are both larger and smaller battery sizes and mods that you can use if you so wish remember though you won’t be able to lower your resistance safely after a certain point depending on your battery size so keep that in mind. Also make sure that your mod has vent holes for the batteries for your own safety! Fasttech is the primary source for clones currently so go check that out and look around till you find something you like!

Batteries – Be careful where you buy your batteries from especially when using an unregulated mod. The suggested batteries for modding are AW IMR Reds and Sony VTC’s. When considering battery safety make sure you always check the amp limit of your battery compared to the resistance you’re running and the voltage/wattage of your device. Steam Engine is a fantastic resource with most of the presets for common batteries and will let you know just how low ohm you can go. Be careful about buying re-branded batteries as the information on them is often false and they can be dangerous!

Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers (RDA’s/Drippers) – Finding the right RBA can be a challenge. Luckily just like mods you have the ability to pick up clones from Fasttech and other sellers. The most renowned RBA’s right now are the Plumevail, TOBH and Magma. There are copious others that exist but generally a good investment is to pick up an RDA that has 3 posts (for dual coils) a big juice well (to allow more wick/less leaking) and good adjustable airflow. If you plan on sub ohming your device you will need high airflow to compensate for the heat. This is one area where the TOBH shines (as do many others). Different builds require different amounts of airflow so adjustable airflow is a good idea. A juice well is also important because you don’t want your device leaking all over you or not having enough space for your wick. Look into clones find a couple you like the look of and make the plunge. Again like with the mod when you find something you like go invest in a genuine for even better results!

Rebuildable Tank Atomizers (RBTA’s) – Rebuildable Tank Atomizers such as the Kayfun, Taifun GT and Experomizer all allow for you to have a rebuild-able platform but still have a tank on your device. This is important to some people including myself because it allows for much easier day to day usage and no leaking! The leaking can get really annoying when using and RDA so many opt for tanks. The downsides of tanks generally are less airflow, vapor production and flavor so keep that in mind. However less doesn’t mean much less because these things still taste great and put out good butts! I would personally pick up clones until you find what you like just like with the RDA and then invest in a good permanent tank.  Many opt for the Kayfun lite so you might want to try just going for that right off the bat. I personally prefer the Experomizer to it though however they are harder to get your hands on.

Wicks – Wicking material can be Cotton, Japanese Cotton, Rayeon, Silica or Hemp. The best out of these are Japanese Cotton and Rayeon if you’re able to acquire them they are the best. If not just standard organic cotton will work great. I don’t recommend silica as I find it harder to work with and don’t enjoy the flavor as much.

Coils – Building coils as a rather advanced subject and it’s best to look elsewhere for information about them RiPTrippers on YouTube has some great videos covering this topic. All you need to know gear wise is you’re going to need some good Kanthal wire probably 28 gauge and a small drill bit/screw driver to warp it around.

 

E-Liquid

E-Liquid is primarily made up of 4 components. VG (Vegetable Glycerin), PG (Propylene Glycol), Nicotine (The Active Ingredient) and Flavorings. However this being said not all e-juices are created equal. Maybe on the news or the internet you’ve heard the potential dangers of vaping being spouted. The large majority of these concerns come from the liquids themselves and have to do with quality control and sourcing issues. Lets give you a breakdown of what each component adds,

VG – Thicker more viscous liquid that gives off vapor. It is generally recognized as safe by the FDA for human consumption and is in many food and medical products.

PG – Thinner less viscous liquid that holds flavor well and can disperse flavor compounds into the VG better. It also produces the throat hit that you get from vaping e-liquid. It is generally recognized as safe by the FDA for human consumption and is in many products. This product is used as an expectorant (it draws water out of) substances and widely in the medical field to kill bacteria. Often times when people start vaping they use high PG juices and tend to have problems with dry mouth etc. If you have these problems try switching to pure VG before you throw in the towel!

Nicotine – You know what this is. In this section I will give a basic breakdown of how much nicotine should be in your e-liquid.

Flavorings – These are wide and assorted and each can have different positives and negatives. Just make sure you buy your liquid from someone you trust rather then e-bay or china and you should probably be OK.

So now you know whats in the juice your vaping but the more important question to you should be what exactly should I be vaping? Well for someone starting out in a normal tank you should be using probably a 70/30 build of PG/VG liquid. This will be light enough so as to not clog up your tank however if you have allergy issues or extreme dry mouth try switching over to 100% VG however you’ll find yourself needing to replace your coils sooner if you do this. Now on to the fun part, the Nicotine. Below is a breakdown of how much equivalent nicotine you should intake based on your old smoking habit,

1-2 Pack a Day – 24mg Nicotine 3-4ml a day.

.5 Pack a Day – 12mg Nicotine 3-4ml a day.

.25 Pack a Day – 6mg Nicotine 3-4ml a day.

You can always adjust to get a feel for exactly how much nicotine you need. Too little and you’ll be getting headaches too much and you’ll start feeling sick. You can play around with different strengths to find something that works for you. Higher nicotine content does effect flavor taste and the harshness of the vapor that you’re inhaling so if you find yourself coughing a lot you might try vaping more frequently at a lower amount of nicotine which can be easier on your lungs/throat.

Science/Safety

Electronic Cigarettes are a widely debated topic as of late. You have research coming out showing that there’s risks and then you have other research stating that they’re completely safe. From the majority of articles the general consensus is that they are much better then smoking overall. Sometimes there are issues with e-liquid sourcing or poorly manufactured products however it seems as if these are pretty few and far between. After reading this post you have a pretty good idea of whats in electronic cigarettes unlike analog cigarettes (But that’s for another post entirely). If you’re interested in the science behind e-cigarettes I urge you to go check out Not So Safe it’s a website completely dedicated to education about e-cigarettes and their safety. It includes links to multiple scientific journals and studies citing the safety of electronic cigarettes. If you have any questions or concerns for me personally please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at ianmarmour@gmail.com I’ll be happy to provide you with any information that you need.

Conclusion

This is my comprehensive guide to starting up with vaping and electronic cigarettes. If you guys have any questions/comments/concerns please feel free to comment below or e-mail me at ianmarmour@gmail.com. This article is mostly derived from  my own experience and shouldn’t be taken as anything more then suggestions. Much of this information is also available on the Electronic Cigarette Subreddit .

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. In the advanced section you tell people to “Start by buying clones”. What a load of crap!. how about telling them to start with a lower end mechanical mod in there price range, not a clone that is a rip off of the craftsmanship and art that someone else has already spent countless hours designing and building, only to be stolen by someone else and made out to be cheap. Wonder what Van Gogh would have that about people cloning his artwork and using crayons, then framing it and calling it an original. quit sure he’d be pissed off.

    September 30, 2014

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