So you’ve been hearing a lot about this new phenomenon called “vaping,” and you’re interested in trying it out. That’s exciting! However, you may be wondering: where do you even begin with all this? Every vape enthusiast has been in that position, and we’ve collected some advice to get you started on the right foot. Here are some vaping tips for beginners, based on our own experiences (and our own mistakes).
A Short History
The act of vaping has been around for at least two millennia. In the fifth century BCE, Herodotus — the ancient Greek known as “The Father of History” — described a tradition of the Scythian people of Egypt. They would place hemp seeds on hot stones and inhale the vapors they would produce as they burned.
In 1963, an American named Herbert Gilbert patented a “smokeless, non-tobacco cigarette” that created “heated, moist, flavored air.” It never made it past the prototype stage but remains the earliest design for the modern vaping device.
The e-cigarette as we know it today was invented by Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik in 2003. His brainchild used ultrasound emissions to atomize a liquid solution containing nicotine. Other enterprising individuals have developed simpler ways to vaporize juice, and the rest is history.
Despite what some might assume, people don’t smoke an e-cigarette. Traditional cigarettes are lit with fire, and the reaction between the flame and the tobacco creates new chemicals in the form of smoke. You do not burn anything with an e-cigarette. Instead, your vaping device heats the liquid inside the cartridge until it evaporates into steam. That vapor — which is simply the gaseous version of the substance, with no new chemicals — is what you inhale.
Vaping is quite different from smoking. In fact, it is often used as a healthier substitute for smoking. The chemicals in smoke, created by the burning process, are among the most dangerous parts of traditional cigarette use for conventional smokers. Vaping — designed by ex-smoker Hon Lik as a safer alternative after his father passed from lung cancer — is seen by many as far cleaner and healthier. It's also reported to be 3x more effective for smokers to quit than traditional nicotine gum.
E-Cigarette Parts & Devices for Beginners
Vaping devices are a little more intricate than the old-school “tobacco wrapped in paper.” Knowing the different parts of a vape device can help you hit the ground running. Here’s a quick run-down:
- E-juice is a substance that mixes vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and flavoring (nicotine is optional). This is what gets turned into vapor and inhaled.
- The atomizer contains coils, or spring-shaped wires, which are responsible for heating e-juice. It’s wicked with a material that can absorb e-juice, which makes vaporizing easier.
- The drip tip is a mouthpiece that attaches to the atomizer and drips e-juice onto it. This can also be used for a different vaping method known as drip vaping, or “dripping.”
- The vape tank is the container for the e-juice and the coil.
- A battery is needed to get the coil going. It may be replaceable, or it may be a part of the device itself and require charging.
You can also find a variety of vaping devices with their own individual methods for the process. Here’s some information on the more popular types, so you can choose the one that’s right for you:
VV/VW Mods are mid size mods that allow you to adjust the device’s output power. “VV” stands for “variable voltage,” while “VW” is short for “variable wattage.” They’re popular for their customizability and safety.
Cigalikes are small mods, often disposable and closely resemble a tobacco cigarette in shape and appearance, if not in function. They’re a popular gateway for cigarette smokers who have never vaped.
Vape pens are named for their pen-like shape. They tend to have a longer battery life than cigalikes and come in a variety of colors.
Some devices are “complete systems,” meaning everything comes together with no assembly required. Others come with the different parts separated, so you can experiment with different combinations and learn your preferences. Getting yourself a proper “all in one kit” can help ease you into the habit.
Refilling, Priming, and Dripping
When you run out of e-juice, you can easily put more inside. You’ll first have to separate the tank from the device, drip more liquid into the tank with a dropper and put it back together.
If you want the cotton around the coil to absorb the e-juice quickly, you can use a dropper to “prime” it as well. Simply detach the coil from the tank, insert one drop of e-juice into each of the coil’s holes, and wait a couple of minutes for the cotton to finish absorbing the e-juice. Without priming, you have to wait longer for the e-juice to soak in.
An alternative approach to vaping is a technique called drip vaping, or “dripping.” This involves removing the drip tip and the tank, leaving the coil exposed. You drip just a few drops of e-juice onto the absorbent material around the coil, quickly reattach the tank and drip tip, and heat it up. The idea is to get a stronger burst of nicotine and flavor, making for a more intense vaping experience. However, you have to be more careful with the coil than usual, and you will need to refill much more often.
As any vaping enthusiast will tell you, maintenance of your materials is essential. Too much neglect may result in a device failing to function correctly. Here are a few tips for maintenance:
- Keep everything clean. Rinse your tank and its components in warm water, then let them dry for 10-15 minutes. If any leakage gets onto the rest of the device, wipe it away with a dry cloth instead of water or liquid solutions (they’re called electronic cigarettes for a reason).
- When your coils get old or damaged, you can always replace them. After removing the tank, just unscrew the old coil and carefully screw in the new one. There are many different types of coils, so make sure your new one connects with your tank properly.
- Avoid dry puffs! Waiting for your e-juice supply to completely run out before replacing it can damage your device. However, don’t put in too much either or you’ll risk leakage.
- Your devices should be kept upright to avoid leakage and away from liquids to avoid damage. When it comes to temperature, avoid storing them in locations with extreme cold or heat.
- You should keep your e-juices somewhere away from sunlight, heat, and especially the reach of pets and children. Pay attention to the “best by” dates or they might lose their flavor anyway.
- Your battery may be damaged — or worse, it may cause damage — if exposed to high temperatures. It helps to keep it at or close to room temperature.
While this advice could not address all the questions one may have about vaping, they should be enough to prepare beginners for their first experiences. Eventually, everything should become second-nature to you as you grow accustomed to the practices and habits.