What is an e Cigarette? Electronic Cigarettes 101

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e Cigarette Fundamentals

Chances are, you have seen or heard about this new phenomenon in 21st century smoking called ecigs.  If this is all new to you, your first question may be what is an e cigarette? They are called a variety of names such as ecigs, e-cigs, electric cigarettes, vaporizers, vapes, mods, etc. You will get dizzy just trying to figure out all the names used for these devices.  Electronic cigarettes have been selling in the U.S for about nine years now and various manufacturers have become recognized as the leaders in quality electronic cigarette devices. Aside from overall manufacturing quality, what sets one brand apart from another boils down to three things:

  • Vapor: Does the electronic cigarette produce a satisfying amount of vapor “smoke” with every draw?
  • Battery Life: How long does the battery keep an efficient charge to function correctly?
  • Nicotine Transfer: Does the electronic cigarette utilize pre-packaged nicotine cartridges or a tank which requires filling?
e cigarette

The components of the first generation electronic cigarette: The Cig-a-Like

Although some brands are better than others, the basic structure of all electronic cigarettes is displayed above. Let’s discuss those components.

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Cig-a-Like Electronic Cigarette Components

LED. The light is activated whenever someone begins inhaling the electronic cigarette. On cig-a-likes, such as the one above, the light is located at the tip of the battery. On other electronic cigarettes, such as mods, they are located on or near the inhalation button. The light serves 4 functions.

  • It tells the user that the electronic cigarette is working.
  • It mimics the visual triggers a smoker receives when inhaling a traditional cigarette.
  • It allows others to see that you are not smoking a regular cigarette.
  • It provides battery level warnings and other indicators of operability

Battery: The battery is what powers the atomizer to create vapor “smoke”. Some electronic cigarettes have better batteries than others and some starter kits come with two rechargeable batteries and a charger. You should always have an extra battery with you when you go to work or for a night on the town. Most batteries don’t keep a charge for as long as companies say.

Atomizer (Heater): This is the heart of the electronic cigarette. The atomizer creates the vapor “smoke” that a user inhales. The atomizer is activated whenever the user creates suction on the inhaler or presses the firing button. The atomizer is deactivated once the suction is stopped or the firing button is released. The atomizer is perhaps the most important feature of the electronic cigarette. A vast majority of smokers base their satisfaction on the amount of hot vapor “smoke” that is inhaled and exhaled with every draw.

Cartridge or E Liquid Container: The E Liquid Container stores the nicotine juice that is transferred to the user. Depending on the model of electronic cigarette, the container section either holds a cartridge that is factory packaged with nicotine juice or is used to absorb the liquid the user inserts via a nicotine juice dropper for non-cartridge type electronic cigarettes. A nicotine cartridge is usually the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes and is replaced when necessary by the user. If a cartridge is not an option, nicotine drops are added whenever a user wants to smoke. Usually only 2 drops are needed for the equivalent of one cigarette. Cartridges offer convenience and manual nicotine juice offer a fresh, flavorful cigarette with every draw. In both cases, the nicotine juice is transferred to the user via the atomizer vapor “smoke” that travels through it when a user takes a puff. In later models, clearomizer tanks are used to hold the eLiquid and the atomizer coil is attached to the tank. The lower the resistance of the coil, the more vapor you will produce. Coil resistance under one ohm is considered sub-ohm vaping.

Micro Processor and Sensor: The sensor is mainly found in non push button ecigs.  The sensor is activated when the user creates a vacuum during inhalation.  The micro processor controls the voltage and wattage levels for heating the coil or atomizer.

Inhaler: This is the equivalent of the filter section of a traditional cigarette. The most difficult adjustment for smokers is that the inhaler is usually made out of plastic or metal and not the soft filter associated with traditional cigarettes.

The Modern e Cigarette such as Box Mods and Vape Pens

e cigarette

Modern electronic cigarettes essentially have the same components as the first generation cig-a-likes.

The e cigarette has come a long way since the first generation models became available to the American consumer almost a decade ago.  But the newer devices basically have the same components.  One significant difference is that the newer devices have additional circuitry and built in safety features due to the increased wattage and power of the devices.  The resistance level of atomizer coils have also reduced to less than one ohm resistance.  This has led to a rise in sub ohm vaping .

There is a huge personal benefit in switching to ecigs.  Just take a look at some of the benefits of using electronic cigarettes.

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Jim H

I started vaping in January 2011 and haven't had the desire to smoke a traditional cigarette since. It inspired me so much that I created this website to help others like me who want to quit smoking. I hope you enjoy the site and please leave a comment.

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