How to Vape | Beginner's Guide to Vaping
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Vaping has exploded into a multi-billion dollar industry since it became a popular alternative to smoking tobacco and what was once for medical inhalation, vaporizers are now instrumental for the vaper’s "smoking" pleasure. But vaping uses an altogether different device with creates a completely different experience. Whereas smoking is typically described as the inhalation and exhalation of tobacco smoke, vapers inhale and exhale vapor which comes from a flavored e-liquid or juice.
The vaping industry is still young and there's an ongoing debate about its safety. Vaping does not claim to be without risks, but numerous studies support that it is far safer than cigarette smoking.
Whether you’re interested in vaping as a hobby or as means to cut down your nicotine consumption, you should know that there are a lot of know-how requirements in order to keep it a safe and pleasurable experience for you. To help you navigate the information maze of vaping, we've compiled this beginner's guide to vaping to give you detailed explanations so you can learn how to vape.
What is Vaping?
Vaping is the act of inhaling vapor from an electronic vaporizer or e-cigarette. The electronic vaporizer, vape, or electronic cigarette comes with an e-liquid, typically referred as juice among vapers, which turns to vapor when heated. It is similar to smoking in such a way that the act of inhaling and exhaling is involved, minus the harmful toxins that come with traditional cigarettes.
Vaping may be recreational or can be used to help curb withdrawal from traditional cigarette smoking when you're attempting to quit. You may engage into vaping with juices that have little or no nicotine, or make it an alternative to cigarette smoking that can help you break the habit.
History of Vaping
Vaping devices weren’t originally intended for smoking, or vaping, for that matter. In 1920s, Joseph Robinson submitted the first patent for a vaporizer which was intended to allow inhalation of medications, but it did feature the wicks and coils that are present in modern vaporizers.
Herbert A. Gilbert then submitted the second patent for the electronic cigarette. Much like the first patent, Gilbert’s version of a vaporizer was also intended for medication delivery through inhalation. Then working on the previous patents, Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist pushed the modern-day electronic cigarette. This time, said vaporizer was intended to help him kick his smoking habit.
Vaping was shaped by various good intentions all throughout its history, but what remains true today is that vaping is a well-recognized method for quitting smoking. Hon Lik was also inspired to further vaping technology when his own father died of smoking related cancer.
How Does Vaping Work?
Although today’s vaporizers feature complicated devices and mechanisms, how it works is fairly the same for all types.
To understand how vaping works, it is first important to dissect the anatomy of a vape. All vapes come with three important parts: the battery, atomizer, and the eLiquid (or the juice). The battery heats the atomizer. The atomizer is a heat-resistant compartment which houses the e-liquid. When the atomizer heats up, the e-liquid turns into vapor. This vapor is then inhaled and exhaled by the vaper.
Depending on the amount of nicotine contained in your eLiquid, you may get little to no throat hit (or kick) to a full bodied one. (There are eLiquids that contain zero nicotine.)
Is Vaping Bad For You?
Vaping does come with certain risks but when compared with traditional cigarette smoking, vaping does prove to be the safer and healthier option. While it is a relative newcomer, numerous studies suggest that vaping could help smokers lower and gradually eliminate their nicotine intake.
In fact, the Public Health of England believes that e-cigarettes and vapes are 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. According to a studies conducted by experts from King’s College London and Queen Mary University of London, current vapers are aiming to quit cigarette smoking or they are individuals who have quit smoking altogether. The review reported that using vapes and e-cigarettes increases the success rates for kicking the habit to the curb. Furthermore, the health department believes that using e-cigs as an alternative to cigarette smoking could help prevent approximately 80,000 deaths annually.
Vaping has not been here long enough to support long-term studies, but existing short-term studies do prove that vaping is not bad for you as long as you follow the general safety tips.
Number of Chemicals in Liquid vapor vs. Cigarette smoke
Some vaping devices tend to look complicated, but what’s fairly simple is the number of substances in the eLiquid. Tobacco cigarettes, on the other hand, contain more than 4,000 chemicals, many of which are used to synthetic rubber, household cleaners, batteries and insecticides. Furthermore, numerous components of traditional cigarettes contain substances that can cause cancer, birth defects, and poisoning.
Chemicals in eLiquid Vapor
On the other hand, the e-liquid or juice in vapes are composed of four ingredients, all of which have been approved by the FDA.
- Propylene Glycol: Creates throat hit
- Vegetable Glycerol: Creates vapor
- Food Grade Flavoring: Provide flavor
- Nicotine: Stimulant, can be addictive
Chemicals in Cigarette Smoke
Here’s a list of the common substances found in a traditional tobacco cigarette:
- Acetone: Known irritant that can lead to liver damage
- Ammonia: Ingredient for household cleaners that can increase blood pressure
- Acrolein: Toxin
- Arsenic: Highly poisonous
- Benzene: Ingredient in dye and rubber-making, also a known carcinogen
- Butyraldehyde: Can cause lung damages
- Carbon Monoxide: Poisonous gas that can alter heart functions
- Cadmium: Metal used in manufacturing batteries which is also highly toxic
- Chromium: Carcinogen
- Cyanide: Highly poisonous
- DDT: An insecticide which has been banned years ago
- Formaldehyde: Carcinogen
- Hydrogen Cyanide: Highly poisonous
- Lead: Poisonous and is linked to damages in the brain
- Nicotine: Highly addictive and alters heart functions
- Methoprene: Ingredient for insecticide
- Nitric Oxide: Toxin linked to mental disorders and asthma
- Naphthalene: Ingredient in moth balls,
- Polonium: Radioactive which can cause cancer
- Styrene: A known carcinogen
- Toluene : Toxin linked to brain damage
Unfortunately, the list does not stop there and there are many other harmful substances left unmentioned.
Whether you’re looking to reduce or totally eliminate nicotine from your vaping experience, vapers have the option to use nicotineless e-liquids. This means a vaper will only experience the flavor of the vapor without getting addicted to vaping. The strength of the e-liquid refers to how much nicotine is contained in the mixture and, if you prefer, you can get it with zero nicotine added.
Quick Vaping Safety Tips
Vaping is generally considered a safe practice, but not without the risks, many of which are 100% avoidable. To continue make vaping a pleasurable and safe experience for you, remember these quick safety tips.
- Use the correct batteries for your vaping device.
- Prevent batteries from coming in contact with one another and with other metallic items.
- Keep batteries away from moisture and sunlight.
- Place batteries in a safety case to keep them away from extreme temperatures.
- Never overcharge your batteries.
- Do not leave your vaping device near flammable materials.
- Keep batteries away from open flame.
- Never leave charging batteries unattended.
- Dispose batteries properly.
Like the batteries, there are also some safety precautions to take when dealing with e-liquids.
- Never handle e-liquids when there are children and pets around or nearby you.
- Store e-liquids in secured places and away from children and pets’ reach.
- Use childproof cap locks on your e-liquid bottles.
- Don’t handle e-liquids near open flames.
- Place e-liquids in secured containers especially if you’re storing them in your refrigerator.
- Wear gloves and use a dripper to fill in the tank.
- Immediately clean up spills on your skin, clothes and surfaces.
- Do not DIY your own e-liquids if you’re unsure or not truly very knowledgeable about the whole process.
- Consult your doctor if you’re switching to or would like to start vaping especially if you have diabetes, asthma and heart condition.
- Determine if you are allergic to Propylene glycol. You can use pure glycerin instead.
- Always take note of your e-liquid’s expiration date.
- Never modify your vaping device.
- Periodically examine batteries and stop using them if there are signs of corrosion, wear, or damage.
- Do not vape in areas where smoking is not allowed. Show courtesy when vaping in someone else’s house.
- Don’t vape and drive.
- Purchase vaping devices and e-liquids from authorized dealers only.
- Don't build your own vaping device.
- If your vape device gets hot, let it rest.
Different Types of Vaping Devices
Cigalikes / e-cigarettes
Cigalikes or e-cigarettes are dubbed as the first generation of vaping devices. These devices have the similar look and feel of traditional cigarettes. Cigalikes can be rechargeable and disposable. The disposable ones come with a tank, battery, and e-liquid which is no longer useful when exhausted. On the other hand, the rechargeable cigalikes can last for two or more hours and you need to recharge the battery to able to use it again.
Both disposable and rechargeable cigalikes are usually available in gas stations or convenience stores and they’re the best starting point for beginner vapers.
Vape pens are also referred as the second generation of vaping devices, carrying some slight, but marked modifications from cigalikes. Vape pens are similar in look with cigalikes, but they are larger in size. Vape pens typically have two detachable parts: the battery and the cartridge. The batteries are larger in size, allowing vapers to vape for a longer period of time before recharging while the tanks are also made bigger to accommodate a larger amount of e-liquid.
Vape mods look more complicated and sophisticated than its predecessors and they allow more customization for advanced vapers. Mods are instantly noticeable in form and function. They are bigger than vape pens and the tanks have bigger capacity for e-liquids. The batteries are detachable for separate charging. There are also mods which you can customize the voltage and control the amount of vapor for better vaping experience.
What do I need to vape?
The battery powers up the vaping devices. Batteries can come in wide range of types and forms. Standard batteries come with fixed voltages or outputs. Meanwhile, variable batteries allow you to customize the amount of voltage used, and ultimately, the amount of vapor produced. As the power source, it is the battery’s role to heat up the e-liquid which in turn becomes vapor.
Tank / Atomizer
The tank or atomizer serves as the housing for the e-liquid. It usually comes with a coil which, when the battery is turned on, becomes hot. The heat coming from the coil also heats up the e-liquid. Atomizers can burn out after some time and it is important to note that your atomizer should be suitable with the e-liquid you are using.
Also referred as the juice, e-liquids turn into vapor when the vape is heated. E-liquids come in various strengths, from no nicotine to a full strength one. There’s also a wide range of e-liquid flavors, from chocolate, coffee, fruits, spices to everything else in between. Some advanced vapers even enjoy concocting or mixing their flavors of e-liquids.
Overview of e-Liquids
- Propylene Glycol (PG): An ingredient used in asthma inhalers which the FDA has “generally recognized as safe.” Vapes use pharmaceutical grade propylene glycol and this substance is also responsible for the throat hit experience. Propylene glycol can also be found in other products like toothpaste.
- Vegetable Glycerol (VG): Generally referred as glycerin, VG is responsible in creating vapor. It is also used in cosmetics and as sweetener.
- Food Grade Flavoring: Since PG, VG, and nicotine are basically tasteless, food grade flavoring adds flavor to the vapor and heightens the vaping experience. Food grade flavoring comes in all sorts of flavor from mint, vanilla, chocolate, fruits, and everything else in between.
- Nicotine: This is a stimulant found in traditional cigarettes. Nicotine strength in vapes varies and individual vapers have the freedom to personalize their nicotine consumption. While nicotine is not lethal in small doses, it can be addictive. This also explains why most smokers find it difficult to kick out their smoking habits.
Choosing an e-liquid flavor is probably the most fun part of vaping. Since e-liquids come in variety of flavors, vapers get to experience different tastes of vapor. You may like the classic tobacco taste or prefer fruit sensations. Manufacturers are becoming more creative in flavor mixes. Meanwhile, vapers who have advanced knowledge in handling and mixing e-liquid flavors may even find pleasure in mixing their own concoctions. (Though this is not recommended for beginners.)
Nicotine vs. No Nicotine
Mixing in nicotine into your e-liquid is 100% completely optional. Some people who are not over their nicotine addiction may start with the same amount of nicotine as they'd get from cigarette smoking. Quitting cold-turkey from smoking is not always an option for everyone and starting out with some degree of nicotine when vaping is always an option.
On the other hand, some vapers may gradually decrease their nicotine to zero over time. Beginner vapers may also opt for zero nicotine from the very start, especially if you don't want to get addicted to the substance in the first place.
Putting nicotine in your eLiquid is a personal choice and depends on your goals for vaping.
Beginner's Guide on How to Vape Recap
Vaping is inching its way into the mainstream market and is fast being recognized as a safer and healthier tobacco alternative. It has also been receiving so much support not just from reformed smokers, but also from public health departments of various cities. But this doesn’t completely erase the stigma some people have towards vaping. Just seeing a thick cloud of vapor can make them think that vaping is no better than cigarette smoking.
Before embarking on vaping as a recreational activity or an aid to quit smoking, you have to remember that vaping is only safe when you take the necessary precautions, most especially when dealing with batteries and e-liquids. After that, you can take your sweet time testing out the nicotine strength and juice flavors that you most prefer.
Vaping opens up a whole new world of “smoking” for you, one where there is no harmful combustion and you can choose your nicotine strength, but regardless of the reason you have for vaping, it's clear that the pros far outweigh the cons and smokers who want to quit are always free to pursue the vaping route.