Getting Started With Vaping
What is vaping?
Vaping is inhaling vapour generated by an electronic device to create the sensation of traditional smoking. In simpler terms, it’s puffing without the tobacco. The instrument used to vape is usually called an e-cigarette or electronic cigarette.
Yet, most vaping devices don’t resemble actual ciggies as companies have continuously looked to offer interesting, advanced and aesthetically-pleasing designs.
As with any invention, the idea of using non-combustible cigarettes is nothing new. However, creation of the first modern e-cigarette is commonly credited to the Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik in 2003.
The main purpose of vaping is for smokers to ultimately quit smoking. Traditional cigarettes are much more hazardous due to their tobacco levels and other toxic chemicals like lead, benzene and arsenic.
However, millions of non-smokers can vape for the same benefits without the dangers of ordinary smoking.
How to vape
The main things you need to start are a vaping device and an e-liquid or vape juice. Vaping appliances vary widely based on features, cost and other factors.
The devices can visually resemble a cigarette (‘cigalikes’) or be a ‘mod’ with advanced functionalities (covered later). A key component of any vape is the coil or cartridge, which is crucial for creating the aerosol.
Some devices like pods come with pre-filled, disposable cartridges containing the vape juice. Other devices like pens and mods rely on a coil, not a cartridge. Here, you buy the vape juice in a small bottle and replace the coil regularly to maintain a nice flavour, ‘cloud’ production and overall pleasant experience.
These are a few things to consider when you first get into vaping. Each appliance has its own pros and cons, and it all boils down to individual preferences and experience.
It’s worth noting that not all juice contains nicotine. If you prefer the latter, the milligram (mg) strength is a major consideration. This can range from 0mg to 60mg, depending on your desired vaping intensity and general nicotine tolerance.
How does a vape work?
Regardless of the device, the premise of how vapour is created is relatively the same. It starts from a battery source in the appliance that produces voltage power.
When you press the button, an element (known as a coil)l is heated up in a small chamber (atomiser). The coil contains a wicking material that draws up or vaporises the juice. Finally, you inhale the vapour when it reaches the top of the device.
How to inhale a vape
Of course, you don’t puff vapour the same way you do a cigarette. Generally, you have two types of inhaling strategies depending on the vaping device: mouth-to-lung (MTL) and direct-to-lung (DTL).
MTL is the closest thing to cigarette smoking. The process simply involves:
- Steadily inhaling and holding the vapour in your mouth for a few seconds.
- Opening your mouth and breathing the vapour into your lungs
Devices from back in the day were designed like tobacco cigarettes. Understandably, as things have become sophisticated, direct-to-lung was introduced. If you’re looking for massive clouds, your device has to be built for this technique.
DTL is similar to breathing in air. The aim is not to keep the vapour lingering in your mouth by:
- Rapidly drawing the vapour directly to the lungs
- Exhaling the vapour almost straight away
So, what are the differences? MTL is suited for previously heavy smokers as the throat hit is hard similar to regular cigarettes. Of course, this is not enjoyable for all vapers, especially for the occasional smoker.
On the other hand, DTL has a milder throat hit. Plus, you generate a large vapour, which is generally the most attractive thing to many. There are even ‘cloud chasing’ competitions, and various tricks vapers perform with this method.
People using MTL stick with much higher nicotine strength (to closely imitate the real smoking sensation), while it is much lower with DTL. These are just a few differences between the two techniques.
What type of inhaling for what liquid
This ultimately depends on the nicotine strength of the liquid in question. MTL vapers favour juices with higher nicotine levels, usually from 12mg (the average in a typical cigarette) to 60mg. This is because traditional smokers have more tolerance to nicotine than their non-smoking counterparts.
Conversely, DTL enthusiasts want to stick to juices with no nicotine levels above 12mg. Yet, these are not hard and fast rules, meaning you are free to experiment with different levels to find the perfect intensity.
What can you vape
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t add non-vaping ingredients to a vaping device - no strange oils, sodas or syrups from your kitchen! Let’s now explore the main substances you can vape.
Standard e-liquid, the basic ingredient vapers inhale, is a thick juice mixture sold in bottle sizes ranging from 10ml to 120ml. Such liquids contain four main elements: flavouring, propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG) and nicotine (optional).
CBDs (cannabidiol), which contain cannabis or weed extracts, are a relatively new addition to vaping. These are sold in e-liquid form and have the same ingredients as their predecessors. The exception is that the nicotine is replaced with CBD.
Nicotine salts (nic salts or salt nicotines) are another type of e-liquid with components of leaf tobacco nicotine. The purpose is to deliver the highest nicotine quickly to the body. Nicotine salts have the same components as regular vape juices, except for the addition of salicylic acid from the tobacco plant.
Generally, we classify vaping devices into the following groups:
Cigalikes (first generation)
As the term suggests, these are cigarette-like in their size and were the first devices introduced. Understandably, they are limited in functionality and less popular compared to newer appliances.
Pens (second generation)
These are cylindrical in design and were introduced in the mid-2000s. They have more battery power, more vapour production, store more juice and come in a larger size than cigalikes.
Mods (third generation)
Vape mods are simply bulkier vaping devices with extra customisation. These started coming into the market in the early 2010s.
They consist of a pen-like appliance with modified batteries and tank atomisers according to the vapour’s preferences. Think of it like making a ‘vaping kit’ of sorts
Pod systems/pod mods (fourth generation)
These are a cross between the first and second generation of vaping devices. A pod system looks like a vape pen, except for the addition of a mouthpiece and a more rectangular design.
While these appliances are the newest types of vapes (released in the mid-2010s), they are less advanced than mods and pens.
How to find a suitable device
Here are the main points to consider in looking for a vaping device:
Type of vape
Each device we explained previously has various functions, heating elements, designs and pros/cons. Generally, most vapers will want to stick with the newer appliances like pens and pod systems, while experienced vapers prefer mods.
Like any charged electrical appliance, you’ll want something that can last as long as possible. However, keep in mind that battery life is affected by other factors like coil resistance, storage, juice flavours, etc.
The first part is affordability. However, you should also observe the maintenance (especially the continuous purchasing of coils) and e-liquid prices.
Buying from reputable dealers
Whether you’re purchasing your vape online or in-store, make sure the merchants are selling legitimate devices, juices and accessories.
Is vaping bad for your health?
It’s a commonly cited fact that vaping is 95% safer than smoking. In other words, it’s far less harmful than its predecessor but not entirely safe. Vaping contains much fewer toxic chemicals than conventional cigarettes.
However, it is technically bad for your health, primarily concerning your lungs, heart, gums and other physical effects
Ultimately, it does take some knowledge to get started vaping, as it’s become like an art form in recent years. Once you understand the concept, you will see that e-cigarettes offer more benefits than traditional smoking, such as reduced health risks and monetary savings.
Yet, potential vapers should appreciate that vaping is not entirely harmless. At the end of the day, it’s the ‘lesser evil’ to smoking.