What is Vaping?

WHAT IS VAPING: Everything You Need to Know

An Introduction to Vaping

Vapers are seen just about everywhere these days -- from your local vape shop to vaping celebrities on TV and in movies. Both a harm reduction practice for smokers, and a subculture rife with controversy, vaping means many things to many people.

But what is vaping?

Even though the modern e-cigarette has only been in existence since 2003, it has grown to a multi-billion dollar industry. In the short time since Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik created the first working device to mimic cigarette smoking, it has captured global attention.

So what exactly is vaping?

The Definitions of Vaping

  • Urban Dictionary

    To inhale vapor from E-cigarettes. Used because "smoking" an E-cig doesn't apply as there is no smoke only vapor.

  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary

    To inhale vapor through the mouth from a usually battery-operated electronic device (such as an electronic cigarette) that heats up and vaporizes a liquid or a solid.

  • Oxford Dictionaries

    Inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.

Vaping has become such a popular term that in 2014 it was named "word of the year" by the Oxford Dictionaries’ editorial staff! No matter how you chose to define it, there is no denying the power of this word’s new meaning in the 21st century!

What Can be Vaped

For the purposes of this discussion “vaping” is mainly referring to devices that emulate tobacco smoking and vaporize e-liquid. But it is only fair to point out the many choices that exist beyond flavored liquids and optional nicotine.

  • Cannabis oil/THC

    An extraction from the marijuana plant that contains the psychoactive ingredient THC, this can be turned into a liquid for use in vaping devices.

  • Dry herb/wax

    While the devices are slightly different from regular e-cigarettes, the parts are often compatible and look similar. The main difference being a chamber to heat dry or solid matter vs an atomizer that vaporizes liquid. In both cases combustion is not involved, rather heating to a specific temperature.

  • Pre-filled or refillable cartridges containing THC are also sometimes referred to as "vape-pens". In truth, any number of substances can be consumed using vaping technology. It is up to the individual to choose.

Vaping With and Without Nicotine:

E-liquid usually contains four ingredients:

  • Vegetable glycerin (VG)

    A clear, odorless liquid derived from plants .This ingredient is typically used in conjunction with propylene glycol in various ratios, although either can be used alone.

  • Propylene glycol

    A viscous colorless liquid with a faintly sweet taste, derived from petroleum. It is optional in limited brands and a source of some controversy. This ingredient was originally approved for consumption in the 1940's, and is still commonly used in foods, cosmetics, antifreeze (for “pet-safe” antifreeze), and in theatrical fog machines.

  • Food flavorings

    E-liquid makers combine various commercial or custom flavorings to give each product its unique (or not unique!) flavor.

  • Nicotine

    A mild stimulant usually derived from the tobacco plant, but also naturally found in eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, and other members of the nightshade family. This ingredient is completely optional.

Many individuals choose to start at a high nicotine level and then taper off slowly using the variety of nicotine strengths available. For a variety of reasons, some people simply enjoy the act of vaping and prefer to do so without using nicotine. Almost every commercially sold e-liquid is available in zero nicotine strength.

Is Vaping Dangerous?

This question sits at the heart of the controversy surrounding vaping. A source of heated political debate, it has been argued around the world. The American Cancer Society says, "The American Cancer Society cannot recommend e-cigarettes and other ENDS products to help people quit smoking because it isn’t yet known if they are safe and effective." However the Royal College of Physicians states, "The rapid growth in use of e-cigarettes by smokers since 2007 demonstrates that many smokers want reduced-harm products, and it is also clear that many smokers have succeeded in quitting simply by substituting electronic for tobacco cigarettes. However, e-cigarettes have also proved to be highly controversial, attracting much criticism as well as support within medicine and public health, and indeed in wider society." In most places around the world, to vape or not to vape is a question left to the individual.

The Basics of Vaping Devices

From the disposable “cigalike” sold at nearly every corner store to cloud-chucking monstrosities, the same technology is being used. Here are the basic components in all electronic cigarettes.

  • Coil: Every vaping device has a heating element. This is most commonly a metal coil that, when activated, produces an aerosol from the liquid it comes in contact with.
  • Wick: The wicking materials most commonly used are silica and cotton, but rayon and synthetic materials are occasionally used too. The wicks are used to draw e-liquid into the coil or heating element.
  • Atomizer: The combination of coil and wick, often the term for a pre-built replacement part.
  • Tank: the most common term for a reservoir of e-liquid that feeds the wick and coil, this can be refillable or pre-filed for single use. In rare cases, no tank is present and the user applies e-liquid directly to the wick and coil as it depletes (this is called dripping).
  • Battery: The power source that allows the coils to heat up, the battery can be integrated into the device or be replaceable. Devices often contain electronics to regulate the power of the battery, but this isn’t always the case.

How To Choose the Right Vape

Choosing the right device can seem like a major headache. With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming and time-consuming to narrow down the choices. Here is a simple breakdown of the most common types of devices available today.

Disposables

Disposables are pre-filled devices that are usually activated when the user inhales through the mouth-piece. They are the least complicated and the least cost effective of all the available options. Usually low-powered and compact, they provide an introductory level experience -- or, more commonly, an easy substitute for smokers to use in settings where they can’t smoke.

Starter kits

Starter kits can include any type of device that is sold with everything (usually except e-liquid) needed to start vaping. These are usually a little more complicated than disposables as the user is required to replace the atomizer or coil manually and refill the tank when it becomes depleted as well as charging the battery when necessary. With the extra bit of hassle comes more flavor options and more vapor producing capabilities.

Mods

This term was developed in the early days of vaping to refer to modifications done to primitive devices in order to increase power and produce more vapor. It has remained as a term reserved for more powerful and flexible devices. When purchasing a mod or a higher-end device, the tank and atomizer system contained therein are generally sold separately. This is also where the user has the most freedom of choice when it comes to their vaping experience.

How to Become a Vaping Expert

Every vaping ”expert” started out in nearly the same way. By researching and exploring the vast wealth of information available, they have become sources of wisdom and knowledge on the subject. No matter what product choice is made, an informed decision always beats a shot in the dark. Research first! There are many websites, forums, and YouTube videos that can help guide you. While vaping seems complicated, the basic technology remains constant. Finding a device that works well for you is the most important thing.

Take the leap! Get your starter kit NOW!