If you’re new to vaping, the multitude of options on the market can be a little overwhelming. Do I want an electronic cigarette that looks like a cigarette? Do I need a higher-powered e-cig, or will something smaller and less hard-hitting be enough? What should I look for when I’m buying an e-cigarette? How much does it cost to vape in comparison to smoking? What’s the best e-cigarette brand?
That’s a lot of questions, and that really just scratches the surface. You might also wonder about the potential risks of vaping in comparison to smoking, what the ingredients of e-juice are, how you should set up your e-cig and more.
Although there’s a lot to cover (and we have addressed many on our blog), here’s a brief guide to everything you may want to know if you’re just getting started with vaping.
What is Vaping?
The most basic question you may have is simply: what is vaping anyway? What are electronic cigarettes?
An e-cigarette is a device used to turn a liquid that usually contains nicotine into a vapor, which you inhale in the same way you would with cigarette smoke. The difference is that e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco and they don’t involve combustion (so nothing is burned). A battery supplies power to a small coil, which heats it up and causes the “e-liquid” to turn into a mist of tiny droplets, and this is what you inhale. The word “vaping” is the equivalent of smoking, but for this vapor instead of smoke.
Types of Electronic Cigarette
When you’re first considering picking up an electric cigarette, one of the first things you’ll notice is the huge variation in the different types of e-cig you can get. From ones that look like cigarettes to ones that are big and boxy, each type of e-cig has its own benefits and drawbacks. Here is a quick guide to the most common types:
These are cigarette-sized devices composed of two parts: a battery (that looks like the tube of tobacco in a traditional cigarette) and a “cartomizer” (which looks like a cigarette butt). The cartomizer contains a cartridge – which holds the e-liquid you vaporize – and an atomizer – which turns the e-liquid into vapor. The batteries in these types of e-cigarette are generally small, to keep them the size of cigarettes.
You usually vape using these by just inhaling from the end in the same way you would with a cigarette, but some “manual” devices are activated with a button on the body of the battery. Cartomizers are usually disposable, which means you just throw them away and screw a new one into place when it’s empty.
- Cigarette-like appearance
- Very easy to use
- Limited battery life
- Cartomizers are generally a little expensive
- Very little cross-compatibility between brands
- Vapor production could be better
eGo-Style E-Cigs & Vape Pens
eGo-style e-cigarettes are a little bigger than cigalikes, being more like the size of a marker pen or cigar. They have bigger batteries, which means they last longer between charges, and almost all work “manually,” only activating when you press the button. They also use “clearomizers” or tanks instead of cartomizers, which can be refilled several times and only need replacing when the atomizer head (the coil that heats up and the wick used to soak up the liquid) starts to falter. In many cases, the atomizer head can be replaced, so you can keep using the clearomizer’s body indefinitely.
- Easy to use
- Good vapor production
- Better flavor
- Much longer battery life
- Generally cheaper to keep using
- Can use with any e-liquid
- Still limited battery life compared to bigger models
- More complicated than cigalikes
- Less features than more advanced e-cigs
- Can’t use with many of the atomizers on the market
Variable Voltage & Variable Wattage Mods (VV/VW)
“Mods” are the main other class of ecigs, and can be divided into two types: variable voltage/variable wattage (VV/VW) and mechanical vape mods. VV/VW vape mods can come in many different shapes and sizes, with most modern devices looking like boxes, but some (especially older models) being tube-shaped. These are all operated manually, but unlike the other models, they have adjustment buttons which allow you to set the voltage or wattage applied to the atomizer and extra features too. As well as providing consistent power, this also allows you to tailor the performance of the device to your preferences.
Mods often have in-built batteries (like cigalikes and eGo-style devices), but may also require separate batteries. This adds a little bit of complexity, but ultimately isn’t too different from other electronic devices that use external batteries.
- Vastly improved battery life
- The most feature-packed e-cigs
- Excellent vapor production and flavor (depending on your atomizer)
- Support a wide range of atomizers
- Allow you to choose your own voltage or wattage
- Can use any e-liquid
- Come with safety features not present on mechanical mods
- Running costs are very low
- More complicated than other devices
- Dealing with separate batteries isn’t ideal for newer vapers
- Devices are more expensive
- Not as portable as other types
Buying Your First E-Cigarette
Even with all of this information, buying your first e-cigarette can still be a daunting experience. How do you find the best electronic cigarette brand for your needs? Where should you go to make the purchase?
First off, finding the best e-cig isn’t particularly easy. The problem isn’t that it’s hard to find a high-quality device; it’s more that your personal preferences have a big role to play in the best choice for you. Here are a few things to consider when you’re looking for the best-rated e-cig brand on the market:
- Ease of use: The biggest factor you should consider is how simple you want your experience to be. In general, the more complicated the device, the better it will perform, but new users understandably want something easy to use. The best advice is to either choose an eGo-style e-cig, or an “all-in one” option, like the Aspire Plato, the Joyetech eGo AIO or the Joyetech eGrip II. If you don’t mind something more complicated, you could start with a VV/VW mod, but if you want something as simple as possible, cigalikes are the easiest to use, despite being less satisfying.
- The battery: One of the most important things to consider when you’re buying a device is the lifespan of the battery. If the battery doesn’t last long, you’ll have to charge a lot more and may end up draining it while you’re out at work. The lifespan of the battery is shown through it’s milliamp-hour (mAh) rating – higher numbers are better.
- Portability: Higher-capacity batteries are good, but they’re generally less easily portable. So if portability is important, you’ll probably be better off getting two smaller batteries (around 650 mAh) so you have one to use while the other charges. Box mods are also quite portable, and have much longer battery life.
- Power/voltage settings: Many modern e-cigarettes give you a choice for voltage or wattage, and devices like this generally offer better performance. They’re more complicated, but if you want a more satisfying vape, it’s well worth it.
- Build quality: This is hard to judge without physically inspecting the device, but check out e-cig reviews to get an idea of how well each device is put together.
- Extra features: There is a lot more to consider, but the most important is what extra features you get. Ensure the e-cig you choose has some safety features, for example, the ability to lock or be turned off, low voltage protection and short circuit protection. Other features like temperature control (only found on mods) are nice extras but not essential.
There is a lot to consider when you’re looking for the top e-cigarette brand, but thinking about these few things and how they match up to your preferences should point you in the right direction. And check out plenty of e-cigarette reviews on the devices you’re considering to see if there are any issues you may have missed.
But where should you shop? There are tons of great online vape stores, but we’d personally recommend DirectVapor: they offer free shipping, great prices and a huge range of e-cigs, tanks, e-liquids and more.
How Much Does Vaping Cost?
In general, vaping is much cheaper than smoking. How much cheaper it is can vary, but we did a detailed cost comparison for each of the three main types of electronic cigarette, and found that vaping will save you between $1,000 and $2,000 per year in comparison to smoking. Depending on what you choose and how much you vape, you could save even more than that.
How to Set Up Your Electronic Cigarette
So you’ve picked up an electronic cigarette starter kit and you’re ready to start vaping. The big question is “what the hell do I do?!” Thankfully, regardless of the type of ecig device you’ve gone for, the process of getting set up is quite straightforward.
Cigalike devices are the easiest: all you have to do is screw a cartomizer onto the battery and then start vaping. You should really charge the battery before you start – just screw the battery into the USB charger you get with the e-cig and wait until it’s done – but it’s not absolutely necessary.
For eGo-style electronic cigarettes and vape mods, the process is a bit more complicated because you have to deal with coils and e-juice. In most cases, your device will come with a coil already installed. But if there isn’t one screwed in, this is quite easy to do. Simply open up the tank (most just unscrew from the bottom) and look for the empty space where the coil goes. This is usually on the bottom section of the tank, and you should be able to see the threading and contact point. Just screw a new coil in there and it’s done.
Then you have to fill up, which is really easy. First, get access to your vape tank. Most tanks are still filled from the bottom, so you’ll probably have to open it like you did when installing the coil, but some are filled from the top. Once you’ve found the right spot, use the dripper top on your e-liquid bottle to fill up the tank, being careful to avoid the stem in the middle of the tank.
Finally, screw your vape tank back together (being careful not to spill!) and connect it to your electronic cigarette. All you have to do now is wait five minutes for the e-liquid to soak into the wick. If you don’t do this, you can ruin your wick. After five minutes, you can start vaping.
This brief guide covers the basics, but we also have a post with some more detailed instructions. If you’re looking for advice relating to a specific device, electronic cigarette reviews for the device will usually have the information you need.