By the time you finish reading this article you will know everything you need to know about vapes (e-cigs) to get exactly what you need and be an authority for all your friends.
Vapes are quickly becoming big business, and not just with smokers looking for a healthier option. Even non-smokers are joining in because it’s fun and delicious. Just think of a vape as a portable hookah, and to steal the slogan from one of the better juice makers: it’s a hobby, not a habit.
Approaching the scene can be a little daunting: there are dozens of brands, options, and all of them using words and numbers which mean nothing to the average person. Most people have no idea where to get started, and end up with something sub-par as a result. I’m here to tell you that it’s actually quite simple, once someone breaks it down for you.
There are basically three different elements to your vape: the juice (this would be the tobacco in a cigarette), the top part that holds the juice for it to be vaporized (the rolling paper and filter), and the energy source to create the heat (your lighter). Let’s start with the juice.
Just like whiskey, beer, wine, or cigarettes, there are countless brands of the same product all with varying traits, prices, and quality. So don’t be fooled with juice, some of it is terrible while other can be fantastic.
Vape juice is made up from four ingredients:
- Vegetable Glycerin (VG)
- Propylene Glycol (PG)
Vegetable Glycerin: Abbreviated as VG, vegetable glycerin is an inert, viscous, and extremely sweet liquid. It’s most often sold as topical skin treatment / hand-cream, is edible, and is what gives the big thick clouds you exhale from your vape.
Propylene Glycol: Abbreviated as PG, propylene glycol is less thick than VG, and it’s role is to give you the throat hit smokers are accustomed to. There is some concern about possible health issues with PG, but with literally zero science to back them up it seems likely to be hysteria, caused mostly from PG being a common additive to anti-freeze.
Nicotine: This is the drug that keeps smokers smoking, it’s added in its liquid form.
Flavoring: Vape juice uses food-grade flavors, both natural and artificial. There are the same flavorings you will find in candy, softdrinks, etc.
Now that we know all the ingredients, we can talk about the mix. The VG/PG mix is the first thing to look at. Smokers who want a big throat hit will want to lean towards a 50/50 blend, while those who want bigger clouds will want more VG in the mix. Personally I don’t go below 70/30, and prefer my mixes to be closer to 90/10. But then again, I was never a smoker.
The next number to know is the amount of nicotine content. The nicotine is measured in milligrams and juice typically comes in the following amounts: 0mg, 3mg, 6mg, 12mg, 24mg. If you are a heavy smoker you will want to start with a higher nic content, and start to wean yourself off of it. But the strength really depends on your preference. If you like to chain vape, you’re going to want less. If your vape puts out twice as much vapor as your friend, chances are you want juice half as strong as them.
I, having never been a smoker, like to vape at 0 or 3. But my ex smoker friends, who like to chain vape, stick to 6. There is no wrong answer here, just trial and error for what you want.
And finally, flavors. While this comes down to preference, there is a notable difference in quality of premium juice flavors to the cheap ones. Even the bottles of premium juices look better. I operate under the motto that if you are going to do something, you should do it to the best of your ability. The same way I would never suggest anyone to drink cheap whiskey, I am going to tell you this now: just start buying premium juice from the start.
Once you have your juice, you’re going to need something to use it with.
Tanks and Coils
You’re going to hear the words atomizer, cartomizer, and clearomizer thrown around here. While they are all different, they all serve the same function, and knowing the exact differences isn’t really going to help you. Instead I’m going to make it simple, and just tell you how these work, and what to look for.
In the most basic form all of these items work by having a wick to absorb and draw the juice towards a coil. The coil gets super-heated, vaporizing the juice off the wick.
The first choice to make is if you want to have a tank or not. Most people want to fill up their tank with juice, and then head on their merry way, vaping until it runs dry. But it’s possible to use an RDA unit, which is just coils and a wicks, no tank.
You pull off the top, drip juice on, vape a couple of times, and then re-apply more juice. While this is obviously cumbersome, it allows you to both have larger volumes of vapor, and it allows you to change up the flavour of your juice regularly, instead of having to wait until your entire tank runs dry.
Obviously if you are taking your vape with you, a tank is ideal. But at home, and sharing with friends, it can be a lot of fun to change up flavours with a drip tip. The good news is that vapes are modular, meaning you can screw off one top, and put on another. Personally I own both designs, and use the one suited to the occasion.
Now not all tanks/coils are made the same: some are rebuildable.
If you want the most simple option, then you should look for something like a Kangertech or Aspire tank. You just screw them on, fill them up, and vape away. But if you want to have more than twice as much flavor, and twice as much vapor, then you are going to want to get something rebuildable, such as a Kayfun or an Aqua.
A rebuildable cartomizer is one that entirely comes apart. The kicker is that you have to make your own coils by wrapping wire around a drill bit (this is the same with a drip style RDA). While it takes some time, and a little frustration, to make micro coils yourself, the difference in enjoyment is substantial. Making coils is a lot like rolling your own smokes, it’s more work but you will have a better quality experience. The good news is a coil lasts a long time, you won’t have to make them often.
Once you know what kind of top you want, you can then move on to the battery.
Now, if you are the type of person who is happy with a standard tank, like a Kangor, then you can just buy something simple. An Aspire or an iTaste. Small, pretty little units you can charge in a usb.
But if you want to go the micro coil way, you’re going to need something with a little more power. This means you are going to need a much larger, heavier, and more badass unit. You will have to buy a battery (buy quality. Cheap batteries are dangerous), something that will hold the battery and connect to your top piece, and a battery charger (again, buy quality so you don’t burn down your house). This part of the vape game comes down to preference, and how much you are looking to spend. Personally I have a Nemesis with a 3100mAh 3.7v 20a battery.
This setup is nice, very functional, but is going to cost you a fair amount. That is, unless you buy a clone off fasttech.
What you get, is really up to you. The high-power micro coil options are the best, but they are heavy, big, and expensive. But to be entirely honest: I’m a man, and I’d rather have a bigger unit made of steel or copper than a small plastic one.
A word to the wise: most people start by buying a good starter unit, like an iTaste with a kangertech tank. They are extremely happy with it, until they take a rip off someone with micro coils. At that point you’re going to want to upgrade. It’s not a terrible route to take, as you can probably sell your unit and not lose too much on it, but if you’re the kind of person who enjoys blowing smoke rings from a hookah, then you go straight for the big leagues. You will be very glad for it.
Where to buy: fasttech.com sells basically everything you would need for extremely low prices. It seems likely everything on this site are knockoffs. It’s where I bought my stuff, and I have had zero problems, they offer free shipping and have a good return policy.
Final note: if you do end up following my advice and getting a rebuildable unit, watch some youtube videos explaining setup and how to. There you can learn to build coils and work with your unit. Never over tighten parts (nothing is load bearing!), and as for the nemesis, I suggest the magnet mod for the switch. The springs it comes with suck, and magnets are stupid cheap.