What is an Electronic Cigarette: The Basics

Posted by Vaporizer Chief on 7th Jun 2021

E-Cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, e-Cig or personal vaporizers are a smoking alternative that reduces health disorder effects of harmful smoke and combustion products associated with burning cigarettes. It is proven to be an awesome smoking cessation product with much less negatives risks than previously thought. Electronic cigarettes produce a vapor rather than smoke, ash or other harmful combustion effects. They are usually battery powered. It runs a current to the atomizers which heat up your material. It does all this without burning it, with enough heat to vaporize the liquid nicotine. The liquid nicotine is called e-liquid or e-juice. To make it, all you need are propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine and flavor. When heated up to create vapor, it is nearly odorless most times. The good thing is it does not create any smoke smell that lingers on clothing. An e-cig or personal vaporizer is smoke-free.

An electronic cigarette is a tool designed to help smokers quit smoking. It's intended to act as an alternative nicotine delivery system. The nicotine mixes in with the e-liquid. It is then vaporized via heat, creating inhalable vapor. What makes electronic cigarettes more effective than other tools designed to help smokers quit, is the fact that it closely mimics the process of smoking tobacco. You inhale the outcome into the lungs and then exhaled. Vaporizers are also used as an alternative to combusting dry herbs and waxes. They have different atomizers to heat it but it's a similar process as vaporizing e-liquid.

How an Electronic Cigarette Works?

Electronic cigarettes do not burn tobacco directly. They deliver either none or some concentrated nicotine into a liquid concoction. It's heated through an atomizer coil. This heating is what creates the vapor. The vapors drawn into the body in the same way as a regular cigarettes smoked. Press the button or inhale and the atomizer coil will activate.

An electronic cigarettes made up of a lithium-ion battery and an atomizer. Some times there may be a cartridge or mouthpiece on the atomizer. An LED light will blink or come on when it is in use, usually a blue or red color.

What makes up an e-Cig?

There are many variations of electronic cigarettes but they boil down to a battery and an atomizer. Modern electronic cigarettes usually have a bit more thrown in. Some have a chip which regulates the power output and a display or screen. This gives you information about the device's status as such as battery life and current voltage settings.

eGo-T 1100mAh Battery


Due to electronic cigarettes being portable devices, most rely on batteries to function. Batteries can classify by their size/cell type, maximum amperage rating (how many amps can draw from the battery safely), and mAh rating (how long the battery will last before needing a recharge).

Many electronic cigarettes have batteries integrated into the housing of the device. There are also many vaporizers (or mods as we tend to call them) that support removable batteries. That enables you to swap them out for a fresh set without needing to recharge in between. When purchasing a new mod, it's important to know beforehand if you'll need to purchase a battery separately. Also determine what type of batteries the mod can use.

There are many types of battery cells currently used for vaping. The most popular of which are 18650 cells, thanks to their small size and lower weight. 20700 and 21700 are also climbing in popularity. This is because of their higher mAh ratings which enable vapers to vape mor. They also recharge less often but with the slight drawback of adding more volume and/or weight to a device.

Most compact devices often use an integrated battery. These aren't user replaceable and get recharged via the vape pen itself. These are ideal for beginners and those looking for an extra-compact vape pen. They eliminate the need to purchase a battery separately and are lighter in weight.


The most common atomizers used for electronic cigarettes are broken down into two categories: Tanks and Drippers. They vaporize e-liquid in the same way, but the difference lies with how e-liquid is fed into the wicks.

Drippers or rebuildable drip atomizers (RDAs) have a simpler mechanism. They require you to drip your e-liquid directly onto the coil or wicks. Tanks are built with a reservoir that holds e-liquid. It automatically feeds it into the wick, eliminating the need for you to drip every few puffs.

Dripping, like the name says, you drip your juice directly onto the cotton build. The cottons built with coils around it. When the coils get hot, they heat the cotton. When it's wet, the cotton releases the vapor from the juice.

There is also a new form called squonking, the atomizer fills up with the liquid but it also holds a reserve. Every time you want your fill the reserve up, just squeeze it into it.

Dripping Vs. Tanks Credit to Mt. Baker Vapor

What is Vapor?

Vapor and smoke are completely different. Vapor is a gas that's created from temperatures that are much lower than combustion. Vapor or vaporizing can occur when something, usually water, turns into gas. When you make tea in a kettle or boil hot water, the steam you see coming out is vapor.

Vapor is the result of heating up e-liquid. This consists of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, or a combination of the two to the point where they enter a gaseous state that looks a lot like smoke. Vapor by itself is generally odorless. Since e-liquid manufacturers usually add flavorings to e-liquid, the resulting smells tend to be pleasant or sweet smelling. Your mileage may vary depending on the recipe or flavorings used.

How Does a Vaporizer Work?

If we're looking at the basics, vaporizers are pretty simple devices. The battery provides current to heat up the atomizer that holds the e-liquid. It is then vaporized after reaching a specific temperature.

There are a lot of variations to this process that change the type of product that is vaporized. When it comes to electronic cigarettes designed to vaporize e-liquid, the atomizer uses the electrical current to heat up a metal coil. The coil is in contact with a wicking material. The e-liquid which is then held by the wick is then vaporized after being heated with the coil, producing vapor.

Some vaporizers, especially those used to vape dry herbs use ceramic based atomizers. This heats up the product evenly but without much direct heat applied. It also enables the dry herb to reach a specific temperature where vapors released without the drawback of getting burnt or combusted.

Vaping vs. Smoking

Vaping and smoking can vary a great deal. While the disadvantages of vaping tend to scare newcomers away, the payoff is usually worth it. Not only does vapor smell a whole lot better when compared to smoking, it can actually save you a lot of money down the road.

Benefits of Vaping

The general consensus is that vaping is a lot healthier than smoking. There's a lot of research out there that backs this up. The effects of long-term vaping have yet to be fully discovered. Studies on the short-term vaping are different than smoking cigarettes.

You definitely won't stink anymore. Sitting in a room where smokings allowed, going home and waking up the next day, you realize how unpleasant the smell of stale cigarette smell on your clothes. This gives you a good idea of what it feels for non-smokers to be around smokers. Your non-smoker companions appreciate your newfound hobby more. You can also be more confident at work and with your relationships knowing that you don't smell like a walking ashtray.

You'll be able to taste and smell everything a whole lot better. Smoking produces a lot of residue, which blocks up your sinuses as quickly as you can say “vape”. Remember how you could barely taste anything the last time you had a stuffed or runny nose? Smoking produces effects very like that. Switching over to vaping eliminates this problem. It gives you the ability to taste and smell everything as you used to, before you started smoking.

benefits of vaping electronic cigarettes

Pros of Vaping

The biggest advantages of using a vaporizer over smoking is the large decrease in carcinogens. While long-term studies have yet to conclude, many short-term studies have concluded that there are less toxic materials involved in vaping. This makes it a healthier alternative to smoking.

Vaping also smells a whole lot better than smoking. This is because of the countless variations and flavors currently available for vaping. Not only is the smell from vaporizing these liquids more pleasant but it doesn't stick as much to your clothing. Best of all it doesn't linger in the interior of your house or car. This gives vapers a big advantage of being able to vape at home without smelling like an ashtray.

Vaping is also a lot cheaper than smoking in the long run. This is especially for places where a pack of cigarettes cost anywhere from 7 to 11 dollars for a single pack. To give you a better idea, a single 120ml bottle of e-liquid is purchased for less than ten dollars. That same 120ml bottle can easily last as long as 1 to 2 weeks depending on the frequency of vaping.

Cons of Vaping

Depending on what you get, vaping has bigger upfront costs. A basic electronic cigarette or mod is sold for as low as $20. A higher end device can cost you up to $100. It's also important to note that these are still electronic devices, so there's always a chance that a mod will break. It will happen through normal wear and tear or exposure to elements such as intense heat, water. User error can also play a role in it.

There is also a requisite amount of maintenance involved when it comes to vaping. To keep your mod in top shape, it's important to change the coils, wicks, or even replace the batteries when required. Failing to do so results in a lackluster vaping experience. Getting your vape properly set up can also prove to be a challenge for the absolute beginner. There is a bit of a learning curve involved for first-time vapers.

What material can be vaped?


E-liquid is the main fuel that former smokers thrive on. It consists of flavorings, vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol. All of them are considered safe to use in food. Nicotine is usually added in to help vapers avoid the unpleasant feeling of withdrawal. It also provides a similar experience to smoking without the detrimental health effects.

Dry Herbs

Dry herbs can be vaped as well. Not only do you get the full effect of the herb, but you also avoid burning the herbs. This results in a much better taste allowing to you experience the true flavor of your desired herb. Different dry herbs that can be vaped are tobacco, lavender, valerian, chamomile and even medical marijuana.

There are two types of heating for this. One is conduction where the herbs are touching the coils. This is not a true method of vaporization since it burns the herbs to char. Convection is the other type and this is true vaping. Rather than the herbs touching the coil, they get hot enough to turn into vapor. The active ingredient of your material are then inhaled. This is the most ideal way to vape if you have throat or lung irritation.


Wax concentrates are another popular material that can be vaped. One of the reasons that concentrates are popular is that they're a very strong form of dry herbs. Many people don't like smoking because it can take long but is not that strong at times. Concentrates are a concentrated form of the herbs.

Vaping wax is almost the same as vaping anything else but the atomizer changes. Atomizers for wax are usually ceramic, quartz or titanium. The heat required to vape concentrates needs to be a bit higher than solid flowers.

Types of e-Cig


These are the most basic in design and function among all electronic cigarettes. Cigalikes are aesthetically like conventional tobacco cigarettes. Most cigalikes are disposable as they use a small nonrechargable battery. It has a small non-refillable reservoir of e-liquid.

Cigalikes in comparison to vape pens and mods don't produce much flavor or vapor. They can also be quite expensive. The main advantage to them is don't require any tinkering on the part of the user. For beginners, they can buy it and start using it right away.

Types of eCigs

Credit to Herrman and Herrman

Refillable eCig Vape Pen

Vape pens use an integrated rechargeable battery as well as a refillable tank. These can be used indefinitely as the only part that needs placing is the atomizer. These produce substantially more vapor and flavor than cigalikes and are relatively easy to maintain.

Vape Mods

Considered the “endgame” for most vapers, vape mods or box mods use high amperage batteries to deliver substantially more power to the atomizer. The atomizers used by box mods are much larger as well, measuring out to at least 22mm in diameter. The increased power delivery and larger atomizer chamber mean this type of device produces the most flavor and vapor. The only drawbacks are that box mods require a bit more maintenance than the rest. They are also larger in size.

Sub-ohm vaping

A sub-category of vaping usually reserved for more powerful devices. Sub-ohm atomizers allow more current to to draw from the batteries. This creates a much more warmer, denser, and flavorful vaping experience. It's always important to use good quality, high amperage batteries when sub-ohming. Drawing too much current from a lower amp battery is dangerous.

How to Refill e-Liquid and e-Cig maintenance?

To fill up your atomizer tank with new liquid is very easy. Unscrew the drip tip (mouthpiece) from the atomizer. Fill it up about ¾ of the way with your favorite e-liquid. This is usually about 1.2-1.4mL, depending on the tank it can vary. Do not pour the e-liquid into middle of the atomizer which is a needle pointing up. This is where the heat goes through the air flow. Once it gets clogged, simply wash it out and let it dry before refilling it. Once you refill it, screw the mouthpiece back on and let the e-juice sit to dissolve into the atomizer coil.

How to turn your vape on?

With e-cigarettes looking like a cigarette, simply just take your drag and inhale from the e-cig. It will automatically turn on since it’s air-forced. For personal vaporizers, click the button 5 times quickly which will blink 3-5 times letting you know it is on. To turn it off, go ahead with the same process.

Why People are Using Electronic Cigarettes?

Below are rough estimates of how many people have made a similar comment.

Harris Decima Research - Ecig etiquette Credit to Mistic Ecigs

e-Cig Survey

A survey asked people, “If someone was using an electronic cigarette in close proximity to you, would it bother you?” The conclusion that the younger generation have more of an open mind has never been more true.

70% of people from ages 18-34 said they would not be bothered by someone using a e-cigarette in close proximity. 46% of people from ages 65 or older agreed also.

54% of people from ages 18-34 gave an opinion and said e-cig use was ok in a restaurant or bar. Only 28% of people from ages 65 and over agreed.

Current Smokers:

  • 48% said they use e-cigs; “To help me reduce the amount of tobacco I smoke.”
  • 37% said “It saves money compared to smoking tobacco.”


  • 71% of people said “To help me stop smoking entirely.”
  • 48% of people said “To help keep me off tobacco”

When we asked how they feel now after quitting cigarettes by using an electronic cigarette they said, “we feel better, our cough is gone, shortness of breath is gone, better sense of taste and smell. We don’t smell anymore!” We sleep better, no more wheezing, better lung capacity, and have more energy.”

vaping safety tips

Vaping Safety Tips

  • Keep your device as clean as possible.
  • Avoid using your mod around areas where dirt, sand, and water can easily enter the internals of the device.
  • If possible, always inspect your batteries for damaged or torn insulating wraps. Damaged wraps are potentially dangerous, and are usually the cause of vaping-related explosions. If you discover your battery has a torn wrap either dispose of it safely or get a professional to properly re-wrap the battery.
  • Don't keep your extra batteries in your pocket, especially without a protective case. That goes double for pockets with sharp metal objects in them.
  • Regulated mods or mods with a chip in them are more ideal for beginners as they use a series of fail-safes to provide protection against short-circuits and battery-related mishaps.
  • Be careful not to overdrip your e-liquid when filling your atomizer. Spilt e-liquid can easily get into the internals of your vape pen or mod and cause irreversible damage.
  • Keep vaping to a minimum when in a car or driving. Excessive vapor can cloud the driver's vision.
  • Store your mod and/or spare batteries in a cool place. Never store your batteries in your car, especially during hot sunny days.