Whether you’ve just bought your first electronic cigarette and are wondering what the hell to do next, or are simply curious as to what those weird contraptions you see hipsters sucking on are, you’ve come to right place.
At first glance the vape scene can be quite intimidating, with forums full of people discussing oblique terms like “optimum sub-ohm voltages” and the ideal ratio of propylene glycol to vegetable glycol. Worry not, in this guide we’re going to give you the bullshit-free walkthrough of everything a novice vaper needs to know to get the best out of their machine, stay safe and avoid getting ripped off.
An Introduction to Vaping
The first prototypes of smokeless cigarettes date back to early 1960s, but never really caught on. However, the modern e-cigarettes we’re familiar with today were invented by a Chinese scientist named Hon Lik and were patented in 2003. Since then, vaping technology has changed a lot, but whether you’ve seen people sucking on a replica cigarette, or a vape pen which looks like something out of Star Trek, all e-cigs work in pretty much the same way – by heating up a liquid, which contains nicotine into an inhalable vapour.
Because nothing burns, ecigs are smokeless and contain few (if any) of the many deadly toxins and chemicals found in normal cigarettes. Eliquid, which vapers inhale, comes in a variety of different flavours and nicotine strengths according to individual taste.
Anatomy of an E-Cig
All e-cigs are made of the same basic components:
- A battery
- An atomizer which contains some sort of wicking material to soak up the eliquid with a metal coil to heat up the liquid
- A tank or cartridge to hold the eliquid and feed it into the atomizer
What is E-Juice?
E-juice, or e-liquid as it is otherwise known, is the liquid which all e-cigs use to produce vapour. E-juice is made up of:
Propylene glycol, known as “PG” amongst vapers, is one of the main base liquids used to manufacture e-juice. It is completely safe to inhale, having been used in asthma inhalers and nebulizers since the 1950s and is recognised to be safe by the British and American health authorities
Like PG, vegetable glycerine (VG) is another one of the main bases of e-liquid. Like PG, it is widely used in food, medical and pharmaceutical products and is considered to be safe by the FDA.
Most vapers vape e-juice which contains nicotine. Nicotine is the addictive substance found in tobacco and is what makes cigarettes pleasant for smokers. Ejuice is available in a variety of nicotine strengths, ranging from zero to 3%, which is very strong. Here are some examples of nicotine concentrations you can buy e-juice in.
0% – No nicotine content whatsoever
0.8% – Low nicotine content
1.2% – Low to medium nicotine content
1.8% – Medium to high nicotine content
2.4%+ – High nicotine content
You can buy ejuice in almost any flavour imaginable, ranging from the delicious, to the weird and wonderful.
Although flavours are part of what makes vaping so enjoyable, they are also arguably the most controversial and potentially harmful component of e-juice, as the other ingredients have been around for decades and have been widely studied by scientists and medical professionals. On the other hand, comparatively little is known about the side effects of inhaling flavourings.
PG vs VG
A lot of vapers want to understand the difference between PG and VG and the role both play in e-juice. Essentially both play different and complementary roles:
PG is thinner, clearer and has no distinctive taste, which makes it excellent at carrying flavour and being easily absorbed by the wicking material in the atomizer. On the other hand, VG is much thicker and can clog up parts of an e-cigarette, if it isn’t regularly cleaned. However, VG is much better at creating huge clouds of vapour, so is a definite plus for those who enjoy belching out huge plumes of vapour.
PG, conversely, has a much stronger “throat hit” which many vapers think replicate the feeling of inhaling cigarette smoke. For this reason, PG heavy e-juices tend to be popular with ex-smokers.
If you’ve just started vaping and are unsure what to go for, start off with a 50/50 split or something similar and take it from there. The only way to find your preferred mix is by experimenting. Why not start by trying out some of VapeHut’s favourite ejuices?
VapeHut’s Best Ejuices
Are Ecigarettes Bad for You?
There is almost no question that ecigarettes are far less damaging than tobacco cigarettes. While they contain nicotine, the highly addictive substance that hooks smokers, it contains almost none of the thousands of toxic chemicals released through burning tobacco.
That said, many detractors say that there has not been enough research into the health effects of vaping and that there may be unforeseen side effects. These fears are warranted, especially in regards to the effects of inhaling flavourings, and while there is evidence that extended exposure to ecig vapour can irritate the lungs and tongue, the general consensus amongst the medical community is that ecigarettes are a much healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes, and doctors even recommend smokers make the switch to ecigarettes.
One thing every novice vaper should be aware of, however, is the toxicity of ejuice. Nicotine can be absorbed through the skin so it pays to be very careful when handling eliquid as if your bare skin comes into contact with large quantities, it can make you very sick. You don’t need to be super paranoid, and a couple of drops of medium nicotine strength ejuice on your fingers isn’t going to do much harm, but many vapers do choose to refill their tanks whilst wearing latex gloves.
Similarly, you should never drink or taste ejuice and always keep it well out of reach of children and pets.
For a more in-depth look into the health effects of ecigarettes, you can find out more here:
Are ecigarettes bad for you?
Best E Cigarette Starter Kits
The vape industry is absolutely booming right now, which is obviously brilliant in many ways, but one of the downsides is that the market has been flooded with terrible ecigs and vape pens.
A bad ecig is not only going to give you an unpleasant vape, but faulty atomizers can potentially burn out and there have even been cases of poor quality ecigs exploding! So, with this much choice out there, how do you know what to go for?
You can see our list of recommended starter kits, where we have taken our favourite basic kits and reviewed them so you can find the right machine for you.
VapeHut’s Best Starter Kits.
If you’re feeling a bit more intrepid, and want to try out other kits, here’s some advice on what to look for in an ecigarette:
You want a battery with enough capacity to last a night out. There’s nothing worse than running out of charge and having to revert back to tobacco cigarettes!
Similarly, you should look for a sturdy battery. There are a lot of cheap, thin batteries out there and I can tell you from experience that they don’t fare too well on a big night out in a tight jean pocket!
Lastly, I recommend getting a battery with a variable voltage, which will allow you to adjust the amount of charge the atomizer receives. This will not only allow you to change your vape to suit your tastes, but will allow you to use many different atomizers with different ohm resistances.
You can read a more detailed guide on our beginners’ guide to e cigarette batteries.
Have a look at VapeHut’s highest rated batteries here.
You will need to replace the atomizer every 2 weeks or so, depending on your vaping habits. Therefore it is well worth looking for a tank which takes affordable atomizers/coils. For example, the Aspire Nautilus BVC coils cost around £9 for a pack of 5, which is often cheaper than the kits sold in corner shops and the such.
Also pay attention to the material the tank is made from. You should avoid plastics because of the risk of them breaking in your pocket or bag and because non-BPA plastics can contaminate e-juice. Glass is always a good choice for a tank.
Also try to buy a tank with an adjustable airflow. Once again, it gives you more control and gives you a more pleasant vape, suited to your individual tastes.
Have a look at our highest rated clearomizers.