Electronic Cigarette Overview

I cannot tell you how many times I have been sitting in some public area, enjoying a few puffs on my electronic cigarette, and gotten looks.  Sometimes these looks are hostile, because the people are assuming that I’m smoking a regular tobacco cigarette. In most cases, however, the looks I get are simply curious. It is in these moments that I realize how uncommon electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs are. The vast majority of people out there really don’t understand what e-cigarettes are and how they are a fantastic alternative to traditional cigarettes.
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How Do E-Cigarettes Work?

electronic cigarette designElectronic cigarettes, as the name implies, are electronic devices made to resemble cigarettes. Essentially, they consist of two basic parts; a battery and a flavor cartridge, or cartomizer. This name comes from the fact that the cartridges are equipped with an atomizer that, using power from the battery, vaporizes the liquid contained within the rest of the cartridge. Cartridges are generally attached to the battery by threading, much like a screw. In this way, old cartridges can be swapped out in favor of a new one, or a battery that needs to be recharged can be put on a charger.

So, What is Vaping?


When the atomizer creates vapor, the user can inhale the vapor and exhale it. It looks a lot like smoking, but the process has nothing to do with tobacco. Or smoke. The vapor produced by an e-cig is in a totally different ballpark, chemically speaking.  The only similarity between an e-cig and a regular cigarette other than the design is that often the e-liquid used in an e-cig contains nicotine. This makes the e-cig into a means of delivering nicotine to the body that does not have a lot of the unpleasant chemicals found in a tobacco cigarette. The process of using an e-cig is known as “vaping” and those who use them are called “vapers.”

What is E-Liquid?

The liquid vaporized in an e-cig is known as e-liquid. For the most part, e-liquid is made with propylene glycol. This is the same stuff that a fog machine uses to make fog at a rock concert.  It is considered safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For this reason, it appears in a number of foods like beer and salad dressing, as well as in cosmetics and prescription drugs.  There are some alternative e-liquids out there that do not use propylene glycol, but these are rare.

The e-liquid used in e-cigs comes in a wide variety of flavors. Most e-cig companies make at least one flavor based on real tobacco. Usually, these tobacco flavors mimic Virginia tobacco or Turkish tobacco. Some companies have mixed tobacco flavors with other flavors, like caramel. Other flavors are far more exotic. Some of my favorites are the fruity flavors like grape or cherry. One of the great benefits of e-cigs is that the vapor can come in any flavor and still deliver that nicotine hit that people would otherwise need to smoke a tobacco cigarette to get.

Are Nicotine Levels Important?

Nicotine is one of the primary reasons why an individual uses an e-cig. With an e-cig, it is easy to address a nicotine habit in a new way without the problems that accompany tobacco. Most e-liquids come with varying nicotine levels. It is common for an e-cig company to offer nicotine levels roughly equivalent to what would be found in certain cigarettes.



Cigarette Equivalent

36 mg (3.6% nicotine) Unfiltered cigarettes
24 mg (2.4% nicotine) Full flavored cigarettes
16 mg (1.6 % nicotine) Average cigarettes
11 mg (1.1% nicotine) Lights
8 mg (0.8% nicotine) Ultra-lights
0 mg No nicotine at all


How Do Tanks and Clearomizers Work With Ecigs?

Most e-cigs make use of a thin battery and a cartomizer that are the size and proportions of a regular cigarette. In some cases, the cartomizer actually looks like a cigarette filter. Even when a longer lasting battery is needed, the battery is longer rather than thicker. This is not the case in a tank or clearomizer system. A basic definition would be that a clearomizer is a transparent cartomizer. This is mostly true, but there are some significant differences between the two.

Clearomizers have more than just a basic atomizer. Inside the clearomizer is a heating coil. In some cases, this heating coil is accompanied by a wick, which absorbs and helps transport e-liquid to the coil. Other clearomizers do not have a wick at all. There are some minor differences between the two, but it is largely a matter of personal preference. Another difference within the world of clearomizers is between those that have the heating coil at the top and those that have the heating coil at the bottom. Those with a bottom coil are always submerged in e-liquid, which makes the vapor feel smoother. Top coil models tend to have a better throat hit, although they require more e-liquid at all times.

Clearomizers have a number of benefits such as longer battery life and better quality vapor along with the ability to produce vapor in larger quantities.  They are also designed to be refillable. Each clearomizer is usually marked with lines allowing the user to measure how much e-liquid is in the tank at any given time. There are a number of companies that sell their e-liquid in bottles specially designed to make it easier to add more liquid to a clearomizer.

While there are some positive aspects to a clearomizer, there are also some drawbacks. Anyone using a clearomizer needs to maintain a certain amount of liquid at all times. Without a minimal amount of liquid, the heating coil can burn out either causing a burnt taste to all e-liquids used in the clearomizer or causing the clearomizer not to function properly at all. It is also sometimes tricky to fill a clearomizer as a mistake can cause liquid to enter the air intake, making a gurgling noise.

E-cigs with a clearomizer do not look at all like a cigarette. For some people, this is not a problem and they enjoy the fact that people often ask them what they are smoking. For others, the joy in using an e-cig is that the device offers the same weight and feel as a regular tobacco cigarette.

Are Disposable Rechargeable Electric Cigarettes Better?

For the most part, an e-cig battery is rechargeable and lasts anywhere from 150 to 900 puffs. Batteries come in multiple sizes and shapes. Some companies make better and longer-lasting batteries than others. Those batteries that are not rechargeable are found on disposable e-cigs. These disposable models are significantly cheaper than the refillable models, but they are good for roughly 500 puffs.

What are E-Cig Starter Kits?

While disposables are often sold singly or in pairs, a rechargeable e-cig often comes in a starter kit. The typical starter kit contains two batteries, often of different sizes. These are accompanied by one or two chargers. Some kits contain only a wall charger, but most contain both a wall charger and a USB charger. Along with the chargers, the typical kit contains several cartomizers. Some companies allow the buyer to choose which flavors they would like to try, making it easier to sample some more exotic flavors. More expensive kits usually contain more batteries, more cartomizers, and carrying cases. Some of these cases are portable charging cases, which allow the user to charge their batteries anywhere, at any time. 

Here are some reviews of the top electronic cigarette brands: V2Cigs, Apollo, VolcanoBlu, Green Smoke, HaloSouth Beach Smoke, NJOY, SmokeFree, Bull Smoke, Eversmoke, and Eon.