These days more and more people around the world are discovering vaping. As an alternative to cigarettes it has gained immense popularity, whilst the act itself stands as something people pursue regardless of a previous smoking habit. With the capacity to be a delivery method for other substances, such as CBD, the potential for vaping only grows ever greater.
It’s been touted by medical professionals as an effective means for beating a nicotine habit, satisfying both nicotine cravings and habitual actions whilst being safer than conventional smoking. That isn’t to say vaping is safe: it isn’t. Vaping comes with health risks just like any other recreational substance and, due to the relatively new nature of vaping, many of those risks are not yet fully understood. But the lack of carbon monoxide and other toxins found in tobacco make it a step in the right direction from the outset.
Vaping has seen a spike in popularity across the world, and with that increased recognition comes a wealth of people who are entirely new to it. With so many products out there it can be a challenge to know where to start, as many different organisations will offer conflicting advice about how to start vaping. With that in mind, we’re going to explore what exactly vaping is, how the devices work, what E-liquids are, how you use them and what you need to watch out for during your first few times. With that knowledge you should have no trouble getting into vaping with confidence.
WHAT SHOULD I START OUT WITH? WHAT’S IN A VAPE?
At first glance a vape can seem intimidating; there’s certainly more to them than conventional cigarette. With multiple different parts, questions of compatibility between them and several entirely different kinds of vape, getting into it can seem like a daunting process. When it comes to vaping for beginners, what exactly makes up a vape, and how do you know what’s right for you?
Most vapes can be broken down into four clear parts: The battery, the coil, the tank and the drip tip. The battery (sometimes referred to as the mod) is the primary power source of the vape, as well as holding any circuitry and control systems a vape may need. The battery itself tends to be the largest part of the mod, taking up the bulk of the casing and often acting as the ‘handle’ of the vape.
The coil sits on top of the battery, often screwed directly into it. This consists of a short twist of wire wrapped in cotton or another wicking material. When in use the wicking material is soaked with E-liquid whilst a current from the battery passes through the coil, heating the E-liquid and causing it to vaporise.
The E-liquid itself is drawn from the tank, a small holding device that stores the E-liquid. Sometimes the tank is built directly into the vape, whilst at other times it forms part of the detachable ‘chimney’ along with the coil and drip it.
Finally you have the drip tip, the usually rubberised mouthpiece that you inhale from. There is some variation in styles of drip tip; some of them are wider to allow for a bigger airflow, whilst others are angled to prevent spit-back. Typically the drip tip makes up the very peak of the vape.
These core elements are the same for virtually every kind of vape out there. Although some elements will be bigger or smaller depending on the kind of vape you buy, and in some cases parts will be directly incorporated into each other, for the most part every vape will consist of these four clear elements.
WHAT SHOULD I START OUT WITH? WHAT KIND OF VAPE?
Vapes come in a few different models, each one specialised for a different purpose. Although every manufacturer makes its own brands and experiments with pushing the definitions of each kind of vape, in general they can be put into four categories: E-cigarettes, Pods, Pens and Boxes.
An E-cigarette is your classic original vape, designed to mimic the size and shape of a conventional cigarette. Small, discrete, usually without any removable or replaceable parts, these are generally the lowest power option of any vape. Although some will have refillable tanks and rechargeable batteries, just as many are designed for single use.
The next size up are Pods, a kind of in-between for E-cigarettes and conventional vapes. Pods have a moderate range of power and capacity, and will often come with the option to replace its coil. Although the range of coils it can support will often be limited, it will on average last much longer than an E-cigarette. Given it’s small size and general minimal vapour production, many vapers keep a pod as a discreet alternative or backup for their main device.
A Pen is what we could call the ubiquitous vape, distinct and easily recognisable. This is one of the most popular kind of vapes around, often carrying a good amount of tank space and battery life. A pen will tend to have each of the four vape components as distinct elements, with a modular design allowing you to swap them out as you please. For the most part, a Pen is what people think of when they think of a vape.
Finally we have Boxes, the biggest and toughest hardware the vape market offers. A box uses a bulkier battery pack to give it that distinct ‘handle’ look, often with a much larger chimney screwed in. Boxes will have the largest battery capacity, largest tank volume and usually a wide range of coil support. These also tend to be the devices that have more in-depth controls, allowing you to customise everything from firing speed to voltage. Boxes will give you the biggest clouds and hardest hits, but they certainly can be tricky to get to grips with if you haven’t got a guide. For most vapers, a box vape is something to work up to.
WHAT SHOULD I START OUT WITH? E-LIQUIDS
Now that you’re thinking about the kind of hardware you want to use, it’s time to consider precisely what it is you want to be vaping. E-liquids come in a huge variety, with selections in flavour, intensity, smell and sensation unmatched by something as one-note as conventional smoking. To give you an idea of what might suit you best, we’ll have a look at what exactly E-liquids are.
E-liquids are comprised of four primary ingredients: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, flavourings and an active ingredient. Propylene glycol is a thin, flavour-carrying compound that gives you that sensation at the back of your throat when you vape. Vegetable glycerine is a thicker compound that helps to produce those distinct clouds when the E-liquid is vaporised. Together they form the main body of the E-liquid, with their ratio determining the overall texture and temperature limit of the liquid. E-liquids can come in a wide range of VG:PG ratios, catering to different tastes. Depending on what you want from your vape a higher PG content will give you a stronger flavour and harder throat-hit, whilst a higher VG content will give you a bigger cloud with a smoother hit.
Flavourings come in many different forms, their purpose being to work with the PG to add a distinct taste to your vapour. Flavours can range from simple menthol to the complexities of dessert-style flavours like cheesecake, from an imitation tobacco to those that mimic the taste and smell of marijuana. For almost every flavouring out there these flavours are entirely artificial, coming from the creative use of flavourings rather than any organic extract, giving the E-liquids a long shelf life and ensuring that they work flawlessly with your device.
Last of all we have the active ingredient, something which enhances the experience of the vape. For many E-liquids, particularly those made to help people wean themselves off a cigarette habit, this is nicotine. For those looking for a wholly different sensation, this can also be CBD. In either case vaping is an extremely effective way of dosing these ingredients, particularly with CBD where the bioavailability of vaping is higher than any other legal method. For a smoker, vaping nicotine can be beneficial due to the lack of carbon monoxide and other toxins found in combustible tobacco smoke. Although it should be noted that vaping is not healthy and comes with it’s own health drawbacks, many of which are still not fully understood, many people switch to vaping to break a far more destructive cigarette habit.
Many E-liquids contain no active ingredient at all, with people vaping them purely for the flavour or the act itself. For those aiming to break a cigarette habit this is often a goal, slowly reducing the nicotine concentration in their E-liquids until they switch to an entirely nicotine-free one. This is the advantage of E-liquids over conventional tobacco: the nicotine (and CBD) strength of E-liquids is extremely flexible, with many products offering increased or reduced concentrations of these substances.
HOW DO I DO IT?
So, now that you’ve got a clearer idea of what vapes are and what E-liquids there are to choose from, how do you actually go about vaping? Although different vapes will have different specific ways of being used, there are some general principles that are universal.
If you’re using something as simple as an E-cigarette or a Pod, it may just be a case of checking the tank and inhaling. Many vapes of this size don’t even come with a power switch or firing button, instead relying on your inhalation to trigger the coil. Some E-cigarettes won’t even come with a visible tank, so in these cases all you’ll need to do is inhale.
For larger models of vape there will usually be a few more steps. First of all, checking your tank should be nice and straightforward as many come with window, or are made entirely of transparent material. Filling up your tank should also be easy as many models come with a small sliding hatch or other easy-access port for filling with E-liquid. Be sure to shake the liquid well before putting it in to get the best consistency. Some models of vape will require you to wet the coil before first use, so be sure to follow the instructions carefully to avoid burning out.
Larger models will usually come with two key controls, a power switch and a firing button. Many will have far more input capacity than this, coming with a small set of controls and even an accompanying screen, but these two are the most universal. The firing button will trigger the electric current to run through the coil, heating it and vaporising the E-liquid. To use most vapes, simply hold down the firing button and inhale, keeping the button depressed for as long as you want your drag to be.
Once again this is only an overview of how to vape, specified to the most common way that vapes work. Always refer to the instructions that come with your vaping device to get the most out of it for the longest time.
STYLES OF VAPING (MTL-DTL)
There are different styles to vaping based on different ways of inhaling the vapour. The two primary methods, MTL and DTL, are designed to give the user a different sensation when using their vapes. As such, each is suited to slightly different products and hardware specifications.
MTL, or Mouth-To-Lung vaping involves holding the vapour in the mouth for a brief time before inhaling it directly into the lungs. This style mimics the actions of conventional smoking, so it has been recommended as suitable to those who use vaping to try to overcome a cigarette habit. As it’s held in the mouth for longer, this method is also suited to more flavourful E-liquids.
DTL, or Direct-To-Lung involves the user directly inhaling the vapour straight to their lungs. This method is closer in action to regular breathing, which can make it a little difficult for former smokers to adjust. Best used with a coil that has lower level of ohm-resistance, DTL gives the vaper a much harder throat-hit than MTL, so it’s recommended for those with more practice at vaping who are looking to step-up their experience.
WHAT SHOULD I WATCH OUT FOR?
When you first begin vaping there are a few things that might happen. A slight headache, a running nose and a sore throat are all common side effects of your first time. Unlike smoking, where extreme coughing and nausea tends to affect many people, the lack of toxins in a vape cloud make it far less likely for you to have a violent reaction. Although these side effects may persist for the first few times you vape, there are a few things you should be watching out for.
If you get a sore throat that persist for several days, even when you haven’t vaped, this can be a sign of an allergic reaction to either the E-liquid or the vape itself. Many people discover that they have a mild nickel allergy when they vape, as nickel is a common material used in making vape coils. Likewise, certain people will show an allergy to one of the flavourings or primary components of the E-liquid. In these cases, we recommend you with to a non-nickel coil or try a less flavoured E-liquid, possibly one with a higher vegetable glycerine content rather than a high propylene glycol content. For a full breakdown of sore throats from vaping and what to do to avoid them, check out our blog here.
If this sore throat persists beyond a few days, we encourage you to consult with a doctor. If you have significant difficulty breathing or develop a swelling of the throat, stop vaping and seek medical advice immediately.
Vaping can seem like a lot to take in when you first look at it. Between the devices themselves, the huge range of E-liquids you can get, the styles of vaping people employ, the controls, the safety measures, the health risks and everything else, it can seem daunting. Certainly compared to conventional smoking vaping has quite a few more steps to it, but that’s one of the things that makes it great.
Vaping has so much potential, using rapidly developing technology and producing E-liquids that are more adaptable than any conventional tobacco product. The sheer flexibility afforded by being primarily artificial gives vaping a huge range of applications, from helping ease nicotine addictions to enabling CBD use. The organisations and communities behind it are always pushing for more growth, more flavours and new ways of vaping, making it a marketplace of consistent innovation. Its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years and, as governments worldwide have adapted their laws regarding vaping, it only seems to be growing larger.
Whatever you want to use vaping for, whether it’s to treat a nicotine habit or to take CBD, or just for the pleasure of vaping, you’re one amongst many new starters. With the knowledge of just how many different forms a vaping device can take, a rudimentary understanding of how to use one, a comprehension of the E-liquids that are available to buy and the knowledge of what to expect on your first few times, you’re ready to take the plunge. However you decide to do it, we hope you enjoy vaping for as long as you are happy to.