Vaping 101

Vaping Essentials | How to Vape Properly and Where to Start!

Richard Winter General Leave a Comment

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Knowing how to vape and where to start can be a complete headache for a vaping beginner!

If only somebody would write a complete beginners guide to vaping you cry!

I know all too well how difficult it can be when you first transition from smoking to vaping. The first time I stepped foot in a vape shop I was overwhelmed and totally out of my depth! Half the vaping mods looked like ‘adult’ toys and the cashier may as well have been speaking Klingon!

Vaping for beginners

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

All I really wanted to know was how to vape and the easiest way to get started!

As this is vaping for beginners, let’s start with the absolute basics…

What is vaping?

In a nutshell, vaping is the process of inhaling vapor produced by either an electronic cigarette, personal vaporiser or ‘vaping mod’. As a vaping beginner you’ll often hear vaping devices referred to as e-cigs, pen mods or box mods depending on the style and design.

Basically, these vaping kits all work the same way and it’s not worth getting too hung up on the lingo at this point…

Whatever vape starter kit you settle on, you’ll find the following three elements:

#1 – Vape Battery

Your vape battery will either be an internal fixed battery or removable (usually an 18650 battery!). Read here for advice on how to pick the best 18650 battery.

#2 – Body of the Vape Mod

The body of your vape mod contains the battery housing (where your 18650 battery fits snug!) and the circuitry delivering power to your vape coil (more on this later).

#3 – Clearomizer/Tank

This is where your e-juice is stored ready for vaping. Inside the tank you’ll have a coil and wick, which when heated creates the vapor you inhale. Although the majority of vape starter kits will come with a pre-installed coil and wick, keep in mind you have the option of building your own vape coil. Great for those looking for a more advanced vaping experience…

The device itself will be operated via a firing button. When pressed, voltage is passed to the 510 connector, which in turn is distributed to the coil.

But with so many different styles and designs it’s easy to get lost…

Vaping 101; How to pick a vape starter kit

Vaping 101 - So many vaping mods available!

Before you decide what e-cigarette to buy we need to take a look at the types of vaping mods available…

There are five main types of vaping devices on the market today:

#1 – Disposables

No…we’re not talking about diapers here…!

Disposable e-cigarettes are typically the cheapest and most basic of all the vaping devices available. They’re either ‘all-in-one’ units, discarded when the battery dies, or replaceable units with a rechargeable battery. Usually marketed at vaping beginners, these are often designed to mimic the look and feel of a cigarette.

A small cartridge tip contains the e-liquid, wick and coil. These devices are easy to use but generally produce poor vapor and flavor, not to mention the short battery life!

#2 – Pen Mods

A step up from disposables, pen mods are built with the same main elements but they’re often larger and more powerful.

They usually have additional features like allowing you to adjust the wattage/voltage. They often include circuitry which provides a layer of protection against battery shorts, accidental firing and overheating. Most pen mods can also be customised by changing the tank, vape coil and drip tip.

But, it gets even better…

Because pen mods are more powerful than disposable e-cigarettes, they also provide superior vapor and flavor!

Often rechargeable via a micro USB cable, they also come with an increased battery capacity, which means you can vape for longer without having to recharge. All things considered, you can’t go far wrong with a pen mod if you’re looking to learn how to vape as a beginner.

#3 – Box Mods

Another step up on the vaping ladder, box mods are big business in the vaping industry. The choices are almost endless in terms of size, features, design and power!

Larger than the previous two styles, box mods are also available with internal high capacity vape batteries, others with removable batteries (usually an 18650 type) and, more commonly at the time of writing, even multiple batteries.

Most box mods include built in LED/LCD displays to indicate power levels, coil resistance, battery status, temperature settings etc… A wide array of safety features also come as standard with most box mods. Just be careful to buy from a reliable vendor!

Box mods are also fully interchangeable with any type of clearomizer/tank, which means you can fully customise your setup depending on how you vape.

Advances in the design, functionality and power of these devices over the last few years have been incredible.

How so you ask?…

Bluetooth control, colour changing display, exceptionally high wattage, touch screen operated devices… The list just continues to grow!

The best part?…

Aside from the superior power, increased vapor and flavor production and seemingly endless choice of features… In most cases they’re still cheaper than a weeks worth of cancer sticks! A great choice of mod for those new to vaping but looking for something a little more advanced!

#4 – Mechanical Mods

Back in the earliest days of vaping, mechanical mods were the only option available. They’re essentially the complete opposite of the feature packed box mod devices we’ve already looked at.

As the name implies, mechanical mods contain no complex electronic components, just good old fashioned mechanics! They usually take the form of a metal tube (or housing) which contains the battery, a spring or magnetic firing mechanism and a 510 connector.

And that’s it!

No fancy gimmicks, no special features, what you see is what you get! However, despite the lack of features, the simplicity of mechanical mods makes them one of the most reliable devices available (if you understand Ohm’s Law and battery safety!)

A favourite among vaping enthusiasts, mechanical mods are the ‘bare bones’ of the vaping world. The difference between owning a classic 1960’s Mini or a BMW X5.

“I told you to only blow the bloody doors off”!

Sorry – I couldn’t help myself…

Mechanical mods are available in a HUGE variety of designs, colors and styles. Several members of the team at Vaping Hardware own more than one mechanical mod. In fact, they’re a personal favourite of mine and I have several extremely well crafted devices, each totally unique in appearance.

A word of warning though; mechanical mods aren’t recommended for vaping beginners as they’re potentially dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing! You really do need to have a good understanding of Ohm’s Law and battery safety before you venture down this path. I would recommend learning how to vape properly using one of the above options before messing with a mechanical mod.

#5 – Hybrid Mods

Essentially the same as a mechanical mod, although the atomizer is connected directly to the positive terminal of the battery!

This design allows for a harder, faster hit.

Just be aware, any clearomizer tank you use with a hybrid mod will need to have a protruding 510 centre pin.


As you can see, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a device and learning how to vape. There are literally thousands of different mods on the market with ever increasing choice in terms of design, color and size.

Whatever device you pick to start vaping, they will all have some form of firing button and variable controls (with the exception of mechanical mods) to adjust voltage, wattage and other features. As standard, each device will also have a top connector (EGO or 510) to connect to the clearomizer/tank of your choice.

Vaping 101; tanks / clearomizers

Vaping 101 - Let's Talk About Clearomizers & Tanks

Ok, so where do we begin!

Just as with vaping mods for beginners, there are hundreds of different clearomizers/tanks available on the market today! With such a variety of designs and styles to choose from, it can be daunting (to say the least!) for those learning how to vape for the first time. Let’s try to break it down and give you some idea of where to begin…

To simplify things; when we talk about a clearomizer, tank, sub tank or RTA (Rebuildable Tank Atomizer) we’re essentially talking about the same thing, albeit with variants. They all have an atomizer (coil) and wick, they all store a quantity of e-liquid and (generally speaking) they all work the same way.

Additional features, such as air flow, juice control and top filling are worth it if you don’t mind spending a bit extra!

It’s worth mentioning, whatever type of tank you use or read about, the terminology isn’t always clear. Often you’ll hear the word atomizer (atty), clearomizer or tank for exactly the same bit of vaping kit!

Let’s take a quick look at the specifics…

Clearomizers

The clear section holding your e-liquid, made from either glass or plastic, is where clearomizers get their name. Specifically designed so you can keep your eye on the amount of e-liquid you have left and know when to refill!

Clearomizers tend to be small in both size and capacity, typically around 16mm in diameter, holding approximately 1.8ml of e-liquid, although this isn’t always the case. They tend to have EGO style bottom connectors that suit smaller mods, again typically the smaller pen style devices suited to vaping beginners.

Tanks

Tanks have a bottom 510 base connector (male) rather than the Ego style thread. They’re usually larger than a clearomizer, with a typical diameter of 22mm. Generally, they have a capacity of around 2ml or more and are used on either tube mechanical mods or box mods.

They all have glass Pyrex tanks holding the e-liquid, ‘stock’ coils connected to a ‘chimney’ and a 510 push fit drip tip. However, the styling and technical design can differ greatly across the various types and manufacturers.

Some tanks will have the addition of variable air flow at the base to simulate different ‘draws’. This gives you the option of ‘direct to lung’ or ‘mouth to lung’ vaping. Filling of these tanks can be either top, bottom or side filling.

The term ‘Sub-Tank’ simply means a tank that utilises a coil resistance of less than 1 ohm (typically 0.5 ohms). Sub-Ohm vaping is not something we’ll be covering in this guide to vaping for beginners. Rest assured though, we’ll be covering this topic in detail in another post coming soon!

Rebuildable Tank Atomizers (RTA)

The overall appearance and style of your average RTA is no different in terms of size and e-liquid capacity but with one major difference…

RTA’s don’t accept ‘stock’ coils. You must build and wick your own coil, which is why we don’t recommend these as a starting point for vaping beginners.

However, once you’ve got the hang of building your own coils (and learning how to wick them properly!) you’ll never look back! Far cheaper than buying ‘stock’ coils, with a noticeable improvement in vapor and flavor production…

What’s not to love?!

Rebuildable Atomizers (RBA)

This is essentially a rebuildable coil, approximately the same size as a ‘stock’ coil, that sits in its place. The RBA section is usually very small (and very fiddly to build on!) but does allow a standard tank or sub-tank to be turned into a rebuildable device.

Some manufacturers now include a Rebuildable Atomizer (RBA), giving the user the option of either using the standard ‘stock’ coils, or building your own coils via the RBA attachment (more on this later).

Rebuildable Dripper Atomizers (RDA)

Otherwise known as ‘Drippers’, these atomizers are basically just a build deck with a wall and chimney. RDA’s don’t hold e-liquid but instead you drip your juice directly on the wick.

RDA’s allow you to customise your setup, depending on your vaping style, by replacing the coil(s) and wick. Your options are endless in terms of coil type, wire type, wicking material or method etc.

RDA’s aren’t usually a ‘go-to’ option for those new to vaping due to the time and effort required to rebuild the atomizer. They do, however, often produce the most vapor, making them an option for those who see vaping more as a hobby than a habit, turning it into something of an art form.

So, that’s it in a nutshell!

Ok, so we’ve covered the basics of vaping 101 and a general overview of the various devices and clearomizers available. Finally, we need to talk about possibly the most important aspect of vaping…

Vaping 101; E-liquid

Vaping 101 - All about vape juice

Everybody has a favourite flavor of e-liquid, period.

I can’t seem to get enough of Thug Juice, created by Mt Baker Vapor! As it happens, this was one of the first flavors I’d tried, however it’s not always that easy to find your ‘all day vape’!

It’s fair to say, of all the choices you’ll have to make when you start vaping, picking a flavor of e-liquid to try first will probably be the most difficult!

And the most fun!

With literally thousands of flavors for sale online and in vape stores in every corner of the globe, it might take you a while to find a handful of flavors that really ‘float your boat’!

But that’s enough about e liquid flavors. Let’s start with the basics…

What is e-liquid made of?

The e-liquid we vape is typically composed of just four ingredients:

Vegetable Glycerin (VG): A common ingredient in many food products and pharmaceutical goods.
Propylene Glycol (PG): Found in everything from ice cream and soda to prescription drugs.
Nicotine: Nicotine suspended in either PG or VG at various strengths.
Food-Grade Flavoring:
A flavor concentrate normally suspended in PG.

The ratio of VG to PG determines the thickness of your e-liquid and thereby its temperature requirements, as well as what kind of tank and coil you’re likely to need. It can also change how harsh the vapor is when inhaling, otherwise known as ‘throat hit’.

A higher VG level will produce more vapor and a smoother hit, while a higher PG ratio will provide better flavor. The only way to find your perfect mix is to experiment until you hit your personal sweet spot!

Another important decision to make, really ‘make or break’, is the nicotine strength of your e-liquid!

This really boils down to personal preference but you can narrow down what’s right for you based on your smoking habits. Chain smokers may want to dive straight in at 18mg, however 3mg, 6mg and 12mg are also popular depending on your need. Take a look at the following as a general guide:

0mg/ml

If you’re a non-smoker or simply looking to give vaping a try for the heck of it, feel free to try the nicotine-free versions of whatever e-liquid sounds appealing to you.

3mg/ml

For light smokers looking to try vaping, this level is usually as low as you’ll find before going nicotine-free. This is also the final stepping stone for former smokers looking to quit their nicotine habit completely.

6mg/ml

The typical starting point for regular smokers who switch to vaping, 6mg e-liquid is one of the most popular levels. This is the nicotine strength we often recommend for those struggling with nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

12mg/m

For heavier, pack-a-day smokers, this level of nicotine usually results in a harsher throat hit, which is why it’s not usually recommended for vaping beginners.

18mg/ml

This level of nicotine is ideal for chain smokers, or for those of you unable to satisfy your cravings using the above strengths! Just remember, the more nicotine in your e-liquid, the less pronounced the flavour. Not something we’d recommend unless you absolutely have to!

Always keep in mind that, while science often compares the nicotine level of e-liquid to that of the tobacco in cigarettes, the actual result is often much different.

When smoking a cigarette there’s a natural cut-off point when the cigarette burns out, but vaping is something that can be done continuously with no logical stopping point. This can make the lower nicotine levels more appropriate even for long-time smokers, especially if you plan on vaping throughout the day (guilty as charged!).

After you’ve learnt how to vape and chosen a decent vape starter kit, you might even want to start making your own vape juice!

Ok, so now you know all about vaping mods, clearomizers and e-liquid!

BUT…

You actually need to know how to vape right?

You’ve decided to start vaping, Googled ‘how to vape for beginners’ and you’re on your way home from the vape store with a brand new vape starter kit…

Now obviously you need to charge your vaping mod, fill up your tank with e-liquid and set your device to your desired voltage/wattage.

I would then recommend taking a ‘primer’ puff to make sure your coil wick is fully saturated. You do this by gently ‘drawing’ or puffing on the drip tip of your tank a few times WITHOUT firing your mod.

And now you’re good to go!

Now there are two ways to ‘puff’ on a vaping mod;

Mouth to Lung

You place your mouth on the drip tip, fire your mod and draw the vapor into your mouth in the same way you would smoke a cigarette. When you’ve had a puff and got enough vapor, you simply remove the drip tip from your mouth and inhale the vapor from your mouth into your lungs. For ex smokers wanting to learn how to vape, this is the most obvious choice as it perfectly mimics the feeling of smoking a cigarette.

Direct to Lung

This method provides significantly more vapor and is often used when vaping with RDA’s or when using a tank with great airflow. Basically, this is the same process as above but you inhale the vapor directly into your lungs without letting it gather in your mouth.

To see this in action and really get a better understanding of how to vape, I highly recommend the following video by YouTube legend Rip Trippers…

 

Now we’re covered the basics of vaping, let’s take a quick look at a few of the more common questions you’re likely to have as a vaping beginner…

Will vaping help me quit smoking?

Absolutely!

As a reformed smoker myself, I can personally attest to the effectiveness of vaping as a smoking cessation tool! A 30 a day habit for me was ruining my health and putting serious strain on my wallet.

According to the NHS – Smokefree program over 1.5 million smokers (in the UK alone!) have successfully quit smoking using a vaping device! That’s huge!

Another study published by the University of East Anglia shows that smokers who switch to vaping may be better able to stay smoke-free in the long term.

Making the switch from smoking to vaping is something only you can decide to do. But just look at the benefits in terms of health and cost and it’s clear that vaping is the far better option!

Is vaping bad for you?

This is the 6 million dollar question! Is vaping safe?…

The jury is still very much out on this one! There seem to be endless debates and studies arguing both for and against vaping as a means to quit smoking. Whatever side you fall on, at the end of the day you’re still inhaling a a substance into your lungs which would otherwise not be present in your body…

Without decades of data we really don’t know whether vaping will cause any long term health issues.

However…

Yet another recent study shows that vaping is significantly healthier for you than smoking tobacco. My biggest fear as a smoker was cancer, plain and simple. The study shows that the cancer potency of e-cigarettes were largely ‘under 0.5% of the risk of smoking’.

The study also confirms there have been zero identified health risks of passive vaping, another big concern of mine during my years as a smoker.

The only thing I can suggest here is to take a look at the many studies available showing the health benefits of vaping when compared to smoking. That’s not to say that vaping is healthy, obviously it isn’t. But if you’re a 30 a day chain smoker like I was, vaping certainly seems to be a far healthier alternative to help you kick the cancer-stick habit!

And that wraps up our guide to vaping for beginners! Hopefully by now you know what you need to start vaping, how to vape and why vaping is better than smoking 🙂

I hope you found this guide helpful. Please share this post with a smoker looking to quit or leave a comment/question below.

Happy Vaping!

Images courtesy of:
Wiki Media Commons
Ecig Click via FLICKR
Vaping 360 via FLICKR

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