If there is one aspect of vaping which can appear hopelessly confusing to beginners, it is the equipment! But the equipment is much easier to understand and to use than you might think.
There’s really nothing complicated about vape gear because the devices all work in pretty much the same way. Electronic cigarettes, in all their forms, feature a lithium battery which heats a wire coil. A wick draws eliquid to the coil which is then heated and vaporised and the resulting vapour can then be inhaled.
E cigarettes have improved greatly in a short space of time and are now extremely safe, reliable and user-friendly. Most have excellent safety features built-in and many of the entry level devices offer single button operation. You can learn to use them in a matter of minutes and you will soon be wondering what you were worried about! But there is a little jargon to unravel and a few technical terms to wrap your little grey cells around. To make life easier, here’s our guide to the available vaping equipment.
SAFE, RELIABLE AND USER-FRIENDLY
Most vapers start their new adventure with devices which are generally know as cig-a-likes. As the moniker suggests, these e cigarettes look like tobacco cigarettes and are of a similar size. They are easy to use and there are no controls to deal with. Vapers often feel comfortable with these e cigs when they are new to vaping because they don’t feel as if they will stick out like a sore thumb in a crowd of smokers. Cig-a-likes can be convenient as they fit easily into any pocket.
Cig-a-likes consist of a battery and a replaceable cartomiser which features the coils and an eliquid resevoir. The cartomiser screws onto the battery and you vape until the juice runs dry and then replace the cartomiser. The batteries have a limited life but are rechargeable. It is also possible to obtain disposable cig-alikes which you discard when either the eliquid runs dry or the battery is flat. Disposable electronic cigarettes are an expensive choice!
The rechargeable batteries can be used many times but after a few weeks or months, depending on your usage, they will need replacing. Cig-a-likes are not the cheapest way to go and they don’t offer much scope for personalising your vaping but they are easy to understand and convenient. Ultimately, most vapers quickly move on to more sophisticated devices and, in truth, would have been better investing in a starter kit from the outset.
Pens and Starter Kits
Cig-a-likes can be a good place to start but the majority of vapers will quickly move on to superior equipment which offers a better vaping experience. That will usually mean a vape pen. This is a cylindrical rechargeable battery which you team up with a clearomiser/tank. The clearomiser is a unit which includes the coil, wick and eliquid resevoir. With some of these set-ups the clearomiser is disposable, with others you simply replace the coils when you need to.
Many pen-type devices feature pass-through technology which means that you are able to vape whilst you charge the battery. These devices are extremely easy to use and have the necessary safety features built-in. The simplest devices are operated via a single button. In other words, you press a button to turn the device on and off and the same button when you wish to vape. benefiting from a fixed power output and nothing to adjust, the most basic e cigarettes prevent you from making any errors. All you have to do is choose your eliquids, fill your tank and vape.
Some of the more complex vape pens enable you to vary your power output. You can purchase your battery and tank separately and team up your favoured equipment or you can choose a starter kit which features a battery, a clearomiser, a charger and, usually, at least one replacement coil. Your coil will burn out or clog up eventually, regardless of which device you are using.
Mods and Tanks
At some point you might wish to move on to using more complex vaping equipment. This will involve an investment in a box mod. These are generally rectangular in shape and are bulkier than the pen shaped batteries as they accommodate more features and are often more powerful. A mod can be partnered with a compatible tank of your choosing. Vaping technology has advanced significantly and these days most mods feature variable voltage (VV) and variable wattage (VW) operating modes. The maximum output varies between devices and the mods incorporate micro-processors to improve both functionality and safety.
As with many vape pens, you can choose a mod and tank in your favourite colours. Most models are available in more than one shade and there are some funky designs on the market. Vaping equipment can be seriously cool!
A VV/VW mod enables you to tailor your output to your vaping style by setting your voltage or wattage. This means that you are able to use a wide variety of clearomisers with different resistances and coils. You can control the amount of heat generated by the coils to suit your juice and vaping preference. These mods feature relatively simple controls and small LED or OLED screens which display your chosen settings and also safety warnings.
Temperature Control Mods
Temperature control mods are a relative new innovation They enable you to employ what amounts to cruise control. With these devices you set the maximum temperature that you wish your coil to reach and the mod will automatically adjust all other settings appropriately.
Simple and somewhat rugged, mechanical mods are robust but lack the electronic circuitry required to incorporate safety features. As such, there are risks involved with using these devices. They are not a sensible choice for beginners and must be operated with extreme caution.
Coils and Sub-Ohm Vaping
Regardless of the equipment that you choose, your coils will eventually need replacing. How long they last will depend on your vaping style and your choice of eliquids. Most tanks/clearomisers feature coils which can be replaced in seconds and replacements are readily available. It is always useful to keep a few spares for when you need them. Then, all you need to do is prime the wick with some juice, wait a few minutes and you are ready to vape again. When you replace your coil, it’s a good time to clean your tank so you will be ready for a new flavour if you fancy a change.
With many clearomisers and tanks, a variety of coils are available offering different resistances. Before changing your coils to those with a different resistance, always check the resistance range supported by your device.
The latest equipment is highly efficient and user friendly. There are excellent devices to meet the needs of the majority of vapers. However, it is possible to customise your vaping experience by building your own coils.
Rebuildable coils offer enormous scope for customising your vaping and will maximise your flavour and vapour production. But you need to learn how to build the coils and it is vital that you understand the various properties of the different types of wire that you can use. Building the coils requires an investment in tools and takes time. If you enjoy a little DIY, then rebuildable coils could be for you. But if convenience is king, then maybe not!
Rebuildable coils enable you to explore a variety of resistance wires and wicking materials to create a vaping device which is absolutely tailored to your tastes. However, there are dangers associated with this type of set-up and so you must ensure that you know how to use your equipment safely.
Sub-ohm vaping evolved as a way for vapers to increase the power to their coils when using an unregulated device. This would have been a mechanical mod or a mod which did not benefit from variable voltage or variable wattage capabilities. Sub-ohm vaping improves vapour production and/or flavour. In simple terms, it is the practice of vaping using coils with resistances of less than 1 ohm. If this all sounds a bit too technical, don’t worry because, in reality, you don’t need to understand the science!
These days, with the sophisticated devices which are available, it is possible to achieve similar results without the need for sub-ohm coils. The latest high-powered mods enable you to deliver the power you need without the risk of challenging the capability of your equipment. If you want to keep things simple and safe, you still have a huge array of devices and flavours to enjoy.
Vaping can be as simple or as complicated and you want to make it. There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy vaping so whether you believe that simple is best or you love to get creative, there’s a great set-up for you and one that you can afford.