The all in one guide to vaping
WHAT IS VAPING, AND WHY DO PEOPLE VAPE?
Vaping is a technology that has only recently become popular around the world, it is an option that many people use as an alternative to smoking cigarettes. Instead of combustible tobacco, the device uses an e-liquid (with or without nicotine) that is vaporised and inhaled by the user.
Traditional cigarettes release thousands of chemicals when they’re ignited and inhaled, with many of these chemicals being poisonous and/or carcinogenic. An e-liquid consists of only three main ingredients: vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, and flavour concentrates. Nicotine is an optional fourth ingredient.
HOW DOES A VAPE WORK?
A vaporiser usually consists of three main components:
- A battery to provide the power, a tank to hold the liquid, and an atomiser (commonly known as a coil) to vaporise the liquid.
- The atomiser is the most important part of a vaporiser, it consists of a coil and a wick (usually cotton). The atomiser is found within the tank, when the user fills the tank the wick absorbs the e-liquid, the user then presses a button on the battery (or on certain models, just inhales through the device) to supply power to the coil, which then vaporises the e-liquid that has soaked into the wick.
The battery unit may contain a sealed internal rechargeable battery, or it may take removable rechargeable batteries. Some battery units only have one button (the fire button) to supply the power, other more advanced units have secondary +/- buttons (and a display) which allow the user to adjust the amount of power supplied to the coil (more power = more vapour). Some devices are puff activated which means there may be no button at all, an airflow sensor detects when the user begins inhaling and supplies power to the coil to create vapour.
WHICH VAPE SHOULD I BUY?
The most important decision to make is the inhalation style you think you’ll prefer. There are two different styles of inhalation: MTL (mouth to lung) and DTL (direct to lung).
Mouth To Lung is designed to emulate smoking a cigarette. Characteristics of MTL are typically low power, tight airflow (more restriction to the draw), and compact in nature. Because of the tight airflow, the user must use a two-stage draw like when smoking a cigarette, where they physically pull the vapour into their mouth first (similarly to a drinking straw) and then inhale as a secondary motion. The amount of vapour that's produced is very similar to a puff on a cigarette. Mouth to lung vaping will be very familiar for smokers, it's about as close as you can get.
Direct Lung vaping is vastly different from MTL, in comparison it is typically significantly more powerful and has very loose airflow. The combination of higher wattage (power) and loose airflow means the user is filling their lungs with vapour very quickly, the inhale is very much like if you were to take a deep breath before jumping into water. The inhale is quite dense and the exhale is very cloudy. If you're interested in producing dense vapour and large clouds then direct to lung vaping is the option for you.
Once you’ve decided on an inhalation style there are three factors to consider:
- Do you want to be able to adjust airflow (tightness of inhaling)?
- Do you want to be able to adjust the power? More power means more vapour production. These devices are known as variable wattage.
- Do you want a device with a built-in battery or removable batteries?
Once you’ve decided on these functional aspects of your potential device it narrows down the selection, from there you can concentrate on the aesthetics (the look of the device, how it feels in the hand etc).
A starter kit is the best option for a beginner, it will consist of the mod (battery unit), the tank, and usually two coils. Some devices require separate batteries to be purchased too.
HOW DO I SET MY VAPE UP?
Different devices can operate a bit differently but usually, the fundamentals are the same. Read the user manual that comes with the device and follow the instructions.
Tips for setting up my vape
- Prime the coil (read more on this below)
- Fill the tank
- Power the unit on (typically with three or five quick clicks of the fire button, if it has one).
- Set the power level accordingly (if it has this feature, read more on this below) and start vaping!
WHAT IS COIL PRIMING?
Coil priming is manually soaking the wick with e-liquid when you're about to install a new coil. It's important to ensure the wick is saturated with e-juice before you fire it for the first time, if the wick isn't saturated completely it will burn and the coil will be unusable.
HOW DO I PRIME MY VAPE COIL?
When using a coil-and-tank setup with a removable atomiser, if you look into the top of most atomisers you'll be able to see the wick, it's this inner wick that we want to saturate. If you can’t see the wick, that’s ok, we can still prime it.
- Remove the pre-installed coil from your tank.
- Use the nozzle of your e-liquid bottle to lightly apply some liquid to the cotton, let it soak in, and repeat this process a few times. If you can’t see the wick just add a few drops into the top of the coil (usually 5-10 drops).
- Reinstall your coil, reassemble your tank, and fill it.
- Wait about ten minutes before use.
When using a pod system where the atomiser is integrated into the pod and can’t be removed, the priming is very simple. Just fill up your pod and let it soak for 20-30 minutes. Then you’re ready to vape!
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T PRIME MY COIL PROPERLY?
If you fire a coil before it is saturated with e-liquid the wick will burn instantly. Once a wick has burned it will always taste burnt, and won’t absorb the e-liquid properly. It’s unusable.
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT TO SET THE POWER TO ON MY VAPE?
The wattage you set our devices to depends solely on the coil you are using in your tank. Each coil has its own recommended wattage rating printed on the side of the coil (always check this when first installing a coil). Some examples of wattage ratings might be 10 - 18 watts or 30 - 90 watts. These ratings are important to follow, if used outside the recommended parameters the device may not function properly and/or give the user an unpleasant experience. As an example, if you’re using an atomiser with a wattage rating of 30-90 watts and you’re experiencing some leaking from the tank, it’s an indication that wattage is too low, increasing it to 40 or 50 watts will likely solve the issue.
Once you know what the wattage range for your coil is there's really no right or wrong as long as you're between those two numbers, it comes down to personal preference. Keep in mind that using a 30-90 watt coil at 90 watts will cause it to burn out faster than if it was being used at 30 watts. This is a trade-off some vapers are willing to make if they prefer vaping at a higher wattage level.
WHEN DO I REFILL MY VAPE?
Some tanks and pods have a visible minimum line, it’s recommended that you don’t let the e-liquid level dip below this point. For tanks that don’t have any markings for the minimum level, you want to make sure the e-liquid doesn’t dip below the highest point of the wicking ports on the side of the atomiser (these ports are usually circular/oval in shape and are usually easily recognised because you can see the wick through them). If you can’t see the wicking ports use the highest point of the juice inlets that lead to the atomiser instead. At the end of the day, it comes down to monitoring your juice level and making sure you don’t vape it down too low. If the e-liquid does get too low the wick will dry out and firing the coil in this situation won’t be pleasant. A dry hit will fill your lungs with the smoke from the burnt wick, which is not a very nice experience at all, plus it ruins the coil.
HOW DO I KNOW WHEN TO CHANGE MY COIL?
There are generally four telltale signs that will let you know when it's time to change your coil. Usually, not all of these things happen at once, you may only experience one or two. If any occur though, it is likely time for a coil change.
A DISTINCT BURNT TASTE
This occurs due to the wick becoming gunked up from the sweetener and/or flavour concentrates in the e-liquid. Once this happens this caramelised sweetener will begin to burn and give the user an unpleasant taste. If this is happening it's important to not push the coil any longer, it's time to change it.
A NOTICEABLE DROP-OFF IN FLAVOUR
If you're beginning to notice that you're not getting as much flavour from the coil it's not performing as well anymore and is probably due for a change.
You might notice a sudden increase in leaking from the airflow inlet ports on the tank. Once we start using a coil the cotton wick will slowly begin to degrade and lose its ability to hold the liquid in the tank, the liquid will push through the cotton (the only physical barrier holding it in) and leak out. It's time to change your coil if this is happening.
AGE OF THE COIL
We usually recommend that a coil should last the average user somewhere between 10-14 days. The life of a coil can vary from person to person, with several factors coming into play. Using the coil towards the top end of the recommended wattage range, vaping sweeter juices, taking longer puffs, chain vaping, etc can all cause a coil to die quicker.
HOW DO I CHARGE MY VAPE?
All vapes rely on a battery to operate, and all vapes use rechargeable batteries. Some devices have a sealed internal battery, which means the only way to charge it is via the built-in USB port. Other devices take removable batteries, which means you can charge them via the USB port or remove them from the device and charge them in an external charger.
So, which is better? Charging your removable batteries using a dedicated charger is always the recommended option. While the device itself can technically charge the batteries it isn't the best option for a few reasons:
- The batteries are enclosed in a tight space which means heat build-up will occur, this will affect the long term life of your batteries.
- Vape devices don't always fully charge your batteries.
- Vape devices aren't always good at balance charging, which means you can end up with a voltage disparity (one battery being more charged than the other), this can worsen over time and affect the performance of your batteries and your device.
Another benefit of using a dedicated external charger is not having to worry about downtime while your device charges. Many people will have two sets of batteries, one set being used and the other being charged, just switch them around when needed and you'll no longer be waiting to use your vape while the batteries are charging. An external charger is an inexpensive investment but can make life a lot easier for you. If you do need to charge your batteries through your vape, it’s recommended that the wall plug you use has an output of no more than 1 amp (don’t use the fast charger you use for your phone).
If you are new to external batteries please go watch a video on youtube about "external vape battery safety"
HOW DO I CLEAN MY VAPE?
- Disconnect the tank from the mod.
- Remove any remaining e-liquid from the tank.
- Remove the used atomiser from the tank and dispose of it.
- If possible, disassemble the tank into its separate components.
- Wipe the tank components down with some paper towel.
- Submerge the tank components in warm, slightly soapy water and soak for 15 minutes or so. Soaking is not advised for o-rings, a quick rinse and dry stops them from swelling
- Rinse the tank components very well to ensure all soap is gone.
- Wipe the tank components down with a paper towel and leave to dry completely.
- Prime your coil and fill your tank for use again.
WHY IS MY VAPE LEAKING?
Vapes don’t usually leak for no reason, there’s typically an external factor causing it. Some of those factors are:
- The coil is too old (change every 1-2 weeks)
- The coil isn’t installed correctly (check your manual and try reinstalling)
- The tank has been tightened too much (over-tightening can warp o-rings that seal the tank)
- Tank left in the sun or a hot car (heat causes juice to thin out and pass through the wick)
- E-juice VG/PG ratio is too thin (try a juice with a higher VG percentage)
- Wattage setting is too low (this can cause the juice to pool in the coil and leak because it isn’t being vaporized efficiently)
WHAT IS E-LIQUID?
E-liquid, which is commonly referred to as juice, is a liquid that is used in vaporisers. When it is poured into a tank or pod it soaks into a wick, which is in contact with a coil (a coil is like a heating element). When power is applied to the coil it vapourises the juice that has soaked into the wick, for inhalation by the user. E-liquid comes in countless different flavours so there are options for everyone’s different tastes.
WHAT’S IN AN E-LIQUID?
There are usually four components in an e-liquid: vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, flavour concentrates, and (optionally) nicotine.
Vegetable glycerine (or VG as it’s commonly known) is a product that’s typically used in foods and drinks to apply some sweetness without causing cavities and plaque. It is a thick liquid, slightly sweet, and carries little flavour but produces a lot of vapour.
Propylene glycol (or PG as it’s commonly known) is a product that can be found in foods, drinks, and ventolin inhalers. It’s a thin liquid that carries flavour very well and produces some throat hit.
These are food grade flavourings that are used to give the e-liquid a pleasant taste. There are thousands of possible combinations, so if you can think of a flavour there’s probably an e-liquid for it.
This is the chemical that smokers become addicted to while smoking cigarettes. A vaper can choose to use e-liquids containing nicotine, or nicotine-free e-liquids. There are many options available in either format. Nicotine can be purchased in pre-mixed flavoured liquids, or as a nicotine base that the user adds to nicotine free juices. If adding nicotine yourself it's important to know how to do it properly! To work out the correct measurements for your desired strength go check out our nicotine calculator
HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT VG/PG RATIO E-LIQUID?
E-liquids come in various VG/PG ratios and it's important to select the right one for the device you're using. First, let's discuss what PG and VG are. PG is propylene glycol and this is the thinner of the two, it produces less vapour but more throat hit. VG is vegetable glycerine and is the thicker of the two, it produces more vapour and less throat hit.
For a modern direct lung (high wattage) tank that's designed to wick the e-liquid quite quickly, you want a thicker liquid, usually 60/40 (60% VG, 40% PG) or above. Anything thinner than that and you can experience leaking as the thin e-liquid will push through the wick and out of the airflow inlets much easier.
For a mouth to lung tank or pod system (low wattage), that's designed to wick smaller amounts of liquid, anywhere between 50/50 and 70/30 is usually ok. Anything thicker and you could experience dry hits because the cotton is unable to soak up the thick e-liquid fast enough.
Please note that this is a general guideline, some coils will operate well outside of these recommendations.