Want to vape, but not sure which device is right for you?
The vaping industry offers a wide array of devices to suit the needs and preferences of vapers. While these devices have similar parts and functions, you can pick a vape device that will best suit your purpose for vaping (quitting smoking, chasing clouds, or experiencing flavors) or based on your preferred type of vape hit. You should also be careful when picking out your device based on how long you've been vaping so you don't unnecessarily endanger yourself and can fully enjoy your vaping experience.
Picking the right device can be overwhelming because there are thousands of different variations of the core devices which can send your head spinning. This comprehensive guide will give the ins and outs of the vaping devices on the market today and help you streamline your selection process.
Anatomy of a Vape Device
There are tons of vaping devices out on the market today, each varying in size, form, and design. While they might look quite different from one another, vapes or e-cigarettes actually have many similar parts. It's crucial for you to understand how these parts work so you will ultimately choose the right device for you.
Battery – Naturally, the battery is the device’s power source and they can be disposable or rechargeable. With disposable batteries, the battery is no longer useful when it has been used up. Meanwhile, rechargeable batteries only need to be plugged into a USB port or power outlet in order to be used again.
Tank – The "tank" is the collective term for the area where the e-liquid, wicks, and coils are housed and there are different tanks for different vaping devices. In simpler devices like the cigalikes, the tank simply houses the e-liquid and pre-made coils and wicks. More advanced devices have tanks that can be tinkered with (allowing you to build your own coils and wicks) in order to achieve the desired resistance, amount of throat hit, and vapor output. Some tanks are disposable, while others are refillable.
Mod – This part houses the batteries which connect to the vape’s atomizer (tank).
e-Liquid – The e-Liquid is the fluid component of the vape responsible for giving flavor, vapor and throat hit. An e-Liquid typically contains propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavoring and nicotine. The e-Liquid heats up when the device is turned on, which in turn becomes vapor when exhaled.
Coils – The coils are the wired section housed in the tank that may be pre-made or customized. An absorbent item like cotton is wicked into the tank's coils so the e-Liquid is absorbed to be used when the coils are heated.
Why Do You Vape?
Another crucial consideration when picking a vaping device is your personal purpose for vaping since you can use specific devices to get the most out of vaping. If you are going to vape, you have to know if you’re doing this to quit smoking, cloud chase, or to merely just enjoy the numerous selection of flavors.
To Quit Smoking
Outside of it being a recreational activity, the main purpose of vaping for many people is to quit smoking since giving up smoking is a slow, gradual process. They crave nicotine and the hit it brings to their body. Vaping devices help tremendously where some of the smoking cessation items like gums and patches fall completely short. According to the director of Center for Smoking Cessation of Duke University, Jed Rose, Ph.D., “although not yet FDA-approved as a quit-smoking treatment, e-cigarettes may prove to be a viable alternative, especially for individuals who do not benefit sufficiently from conventional treatments.”
Meanwhile, the biggest hurdle to get past when trying to quit smoking is the nicotine cravings. Nicotine is super addictive and if you’ve been smoking for years, your body will look for it when you stop smoking cigarettes. In order to wean yourself off of nicotine, you can pick a vape with your usual dosage of nicotine and slowly reduce the levels as your body craves it less and less.
How do vapes and e-cigarettes work and help you quit smoking?
Consuming nicotine through a vaping device mimics the feel of real smoking. People who were addicted to smoking are fixated on that oral sensation.
Designed to meet this certain need, vapes become the sensible option for quitting smoking by allowing people to still “puff” while gradually reducing their nicotine consumption. It makes much more sense than chewing on a piece of gum or slapping on a patch. With a vape, you’ll be able to get the nicotine that you crave and from there, slowly work in lesser levels. You can even go down zero nicotine level and simply vape only when your body looks for the feeling of puffing on a cigarette without the fear of getting hooked into nicotine again.
If you’re vaping in order to quit smoking, there’s a whole range of vaping devices to choose from. Basically, if you’re just starting out with this journey, a simple cigalike or vape pen would be a great place to start. These devices can already satiate your craving for nicotine and there’s a wide selection eLiquids with varying nicotine content in the market to choose from.
Once you realize that vaping is a viable way to reduce/eliminate nicotine craving, you can try other devices that further enhance the vaping experience.
An Alternative to Smoking
Despite the health risks, some people aren’t really keen on giving up their cigarettes. Aside from the nicotine hit, one might find calm and satisfaction in the sensation of puffing into an analog cigarette. If this is you, you're not alone. Thousands upon thousands of smokers turn to the habit to calm down when they're stressed out. Obviously, completely kicking the smoking habit is the best course of action, but if you’ve been having trouble quitting, vaping has shown to be a far healthier alternative to smoking.
While there are no long-term studies on e-cigarettes yet, the short-term ones show that vaping is healthier and safer than smoking. Whereas traditional cigarettes contain thousands of ingredients (hundreds of which are considered toxic and carcinogenic), vapes contain four main ingredients in their e-juices, all of which are considered as safe by the FDA.
Another point to consider is that vaping does not produce the harmful second-hand smoke that cigarettes do. Instead of smoke, an odorless water vapor cloud comes out from a vaping device and is completely safe for the general public. With vaping, you reduce the risk of second-hand smoke for your loved ones.
It’s also good to remember that vaping provides a whole lot of options when it comes to nicotine levels. If you're lucky and have a high-end smoke shop nearby, you may be pick a brand of cigarette with a nicotine strength to your liking, but vaping allows you to further customize this. This means you can fill a cartridge even with a small amount of e-juice and puff only as desired. It satiates your oral fixation towards puffing without exposing yourself to the numerous harmful toxins of cigarette smoking.
There are a number of vape device kits to choose from if you’re thinking of making the switch from smoking to get your dose of nicotine. Similar to vaping, you could consider simple and easy-to-use devices such as cigalikes and vape pens. You may progress to more sophisticated devices like VW/VV devices or even try sub-ohming if you find vaping up your alley and would want to pursue it further.
Cloud chasing is when vapers intentionally try to produce the most dense, fluffiest clouds with their vaping device. Among vaping enthusiasts, cloud chasing is popular in many areas around the globe. In this subculture of vaping enthusiasts, cloud chasing is not just a mere past time – it is a sport. The competitions are even lucrative with brand sponsors, generous prizes, and a group of spectators often referred to as “cloud gazers.”
People who chase cloud are advanced vapers who have taken the time to learn everything they possible can about modifying their devices and maintaining safety while vaping. As such, it is important to remember that cloud chasing is not for everyone and can be dangerous for someone who is new to vaping.
Cloud chasing is not a simple trick to master and requires specially built vaping devices to not just create those big fluffy clouds, but to stay safe in the process. Ordinary vapes like pens, cigalikes, and even sophisticated mods aren't made for cloud chasing and should not be used. For the device, you’ll most likely need a mechanical mod with a rebuildable drip tank. This set-up allows you to build your own coils and attach them in the tank. You’ll also need to make sure that you’re using the appropriate batteries and that your device is properly vented so it doesn't overheat and, quite literally, explode.
We're not joking. Cloud chasing isn't safe if you have no idea what you're doing. The vast majority of media reports on vapes being "unsafe" or batteries exploding in a person's pocket is because the person in question bought sub-par equipment or was using it improperly.
The eLiquid mixture is also a vital component in cloud chasing. Cloud chasers generally opt for 100% VG / 0% PG as this make clouds even bigger, but others who want to tame the hit may also opt for 70/30 mixture.
Buying / building a device fit for cloud chasing does not guarantee that you’ll be able to do it safely. You are playing with fire, pun intended, and you’re pushing the batteries limits. Your device has lower resistance than conventional vapes so it’s vital to educate yourself about the Ohm’s law and the role it plays for safe cloud chasing. It’s also good to pay attention to the quality and condition of your batteries if you intend to chase clouds.
We can't stress this enough. Cloud chasing is dangerous to the uninitiated. Learn everything about it before getting into this level of vaping.
Enjoy the Flavors
Some people also turn to vaping not just because of the massive clouds they can produce or for the nicotine hit, vaping also offers an enormous array of flavors that traditional cigarettes just can’t provide. Menthol is a common flavor in analog cigarettes, but vaping provides flavors ranging from cakes, pies, cereal, tobacco, and fruit smoothies to alcohol and everything else in between. Manufacturers are constantly coming up with new flavors, so listing every flavor could get pretty exhaustive.
However, great-tasting flavors aren’t solely dependent on the quality of e-liquid, though this is a factor. In many cases, the type of device that you own will have a heavy impact on how you experience the flavors.
First and second generation vaping devices like cigalikes create least amount of flavor with vape pens providing a moderate flavor. To better experience the taste, opt for newer models like VW devices, mechanical mods, and sub-ohm vapes. Generally, vapes that allow you to adjust the wattage or voltage give the best flavors. Also, vapes with lower resistances, such as sub-ohm vapes, are great for flavor production. That is because these devices have larger coils, meaning more e-liquid come in contact with the wicks and can be heated at one time.
Vape Hits and their Devices
One of the most overlooked parts of vaping is how vapor interacts with your body, which is called a hit. Vape hits allow you to savor the sensation of the vapor, whether from mouth to lung or directly to the lungs. Each of these techniques produces different results and a vaper might prefer one technique over the other. However, knowing which hit you enjoy will also help you pick the right vaping device.
Mouth-to-Lung Hit (MTL)
Like the term implies, this technique means you’ll have to draw in vapor into your mouth before directing it into your lungs. This technique is most familiar among smokers as it is the same method when drawing in smoke from a regular cigarette. With the mouth-to-lung hit, the flavors linger in the mouth for a while so you can fully experience the e-juice. If you’re vaping to kick your smoking habit, this method is probably going to be your bread and butter.
Mouth-to-lung hits are advantageous in that it uses less juice. Since you're focusing on tasting the flavors, you’ll take slower drags and the e-juice is going to vaporize at a slower rate. In turn, this can help lengthen the life of your e-juice bottles. Furthermore, MTL hit is much cooler (uses less power from your battery) than a direct lung hit which can also help save on your vape’s battery and prevent it from overheating.
On the other hand, some vapers find that mouth-to-lung hits aren't strong enough and are less satisfying because of it. Also, the first few generations of vaping devices were specifically designed for this kind of vape hit. So if you’re looking at newer devices, you might find this method outdated.
In order to enjoy mouth-to-lung hit, you’ll need conventional vaping devices like cigalikes, vape pens, and some vape mods with resistances higher than one ohm. It’s also best to have a device with narrow tip filled with e-juice that dominantly has more PG.
Direct Lung Inhale (DLI)
Direct lung inhale refers to the method wherein the vapor is drawn directly into the lungs, much like how you would suck in air straight from a balloon. Most of the vapor goes straight into the lungs where you can feel much of its intensity. If you have experienced using a sisha, you’ll find the experience to be the same. This is also the same method employed when vaping sub ohm.
With direct lung hit, you’ll experience a more intense hit which could at times be quite overwhelming for a newbie. Vapers looking for a stronger hit will find this method to be more satisfying than mouth-to-lung hit. In order to achieve direct lung hit, you need to heat the vape at a high temperature (with an appropriate device) and puff right away.
As for the device, sub ohm tanks and other builds with less than one ohm in resistance is most preferable when trying the direct lung hit. It is also essential to lessen the amount of PG in order to subdue the throat hit and experience the flavors better. Furthermore, lessening the amount of nicotine, preferably 6mg and below is advised. If you want to vape sub ohm or chase clouds, direct lung hit is also most ideal.
When figuring your vape hit preference, it is important to take a few other factors into consideration. First, the size of air holes will impact the hit you’re trying to achieve. If you’d like to take direct lung hits, you'll need a device with larger air holes. Smaller and narrower air holes are best for mouth-to-lung hits.
There is no superior or inferior vaping hit and your preference will largely depend on your individual tastes. But if you’re trying out vaping for the first time, you might want to try mouth-to-lung hits first because it is less overpowering, gentler, and more accessible for newbies. Rookie vapers should use simpler vaping devices first which are also designed for MTL hits. Advanced vapers may have moved onto direct lung hits and their devices are generally built to cater this kind of method. There is no right or wrong hit, but you’ll soon find one that you personally prefer as you become a more experienced vaper.
Types of Vape Devices
Cigalikes – these devices are considered as the first generation of e-cigarettes. Cigalikes, are cigarette-like, and they mimic the look and feel of a real, physical cigarette. For first time vapers who are also smokers, they will find it easier to relate and use cigalikes because of the simplicity of the device.
Cigalikes are two-piece devices that typically contain a battery and a cartridge. These devices fall in one of these two types: refillable and disposable. Disposable cigalikes are no longer useful when they’ve run out of eLiquid or batteries while refillable ones can be charged and refilled in order to be used again.
Cigalikes take out the guesswork in using vapes as they function so much like cigarettes, and don’t require mixing e-liquids or building coils. A typical cartridge of cigalike is equivalent to almost 2 packs of traditional cigarettes, lasting around 300 puffs each. Some manufacturers also offer blank cartridges which you can fill with around 15 drops of e-juice, but you’ll also find pre-filled ones that only need to be attached with the battery before you can vape again.
This is also a great starting point for people who are wondering if vaping is for them or not.
Cost: starter kits containing batteries, chargers, adapters and filled cartridges can cost somewhere between $30 to $50.
Pens – pen style devices, also referred as e-go, are a step ahead of cigalikes. These devices have larger tanks or clearomizers and longer-lasting batteries. A fully-filled, fully-charged vape pen could last you around 3 days (depending on how much and how often you vape).
Vape pens have larger tanks, also called clearomizers, so they hold more e-juice than cigalikes at any given point. This allows you to purchase more e-liquids, or even mix your own, and fill your clearomizers with them. But perhaps the best innovation that vape pens feature is that you can also regulate the voltage in order to achieve the desired throat hit or size of clouds.
Simple to use, sleek in design, and still relatively inexpensive, vape pens are a good way to graduate from cigalikes without the complications of the newer and more sophisticated models.
Cost: Prices vary depending on brand and features, ranging from $50-$130.
Mods – shortened term for modified electronic cigarette, mods are devices that have more advanced features than e-go or vape pens and fall into the category of advanced personal vaporizers.
Mods contain a tank, an atomizer, and batteries. These devices can be custom-built by the vaper, however, it requires some mechanical and technical knowledge in order for the device to work safely. Furthermore, vape mods are a huge category that encompasses mechanical and regulated mods, box mods, and other devices.
Cost: $20-$160 per kit
VV/VW devices – variable voltage (VV) and variable wattage (VW) devices are rather popular in the market today because they give the user an ability to adjust the volts, wattage, or both in order to enhance the vaping experience.
With variable voltage and wattage devices, you can easily change the current to your liking which interacts with the ohms of the device, therefore also changing the temperature, until you achieve the desired hit, intensity of the flavors or amount of the vapor.
Both variable wattage and voltage devices require some special components like a rebuildable atomizer (RBA) or rebuildable dripping atomizer (RDA) in order to achieve the vaping effect that you want. You’ll need to build your own coils and install them in the tank which in turn, will be connected to the battery and the atomizer. Make sure you know what you're doing because building your own VV/VW device require some understanding of the Ohm’s law, resistance, and other related concepts to do it safely.
Mechanical devices – these are simply casings or housings where the batteries are contained. You may attach traditional clearomizers onto the device or customize it by using an RBA or RDA. With mechanical devices, complex circuitry is often out of the picture. What happens is when you turn on the device, the battery instantly powers up and connects with the atomizer. Most mechanical devices are also equipped with safety features that prevent the device from overheating, exploding, or malfunctioning, but because of the set-up, it could also have very limited features.
TC devices – temperature control devices are vapes that have built-in temperature control features that limits the temperature of the coils. The device heats up only to the pre-set temperature of the user and does not go beyond it. TC vapes have temperature monitoring features so that you can check the temperature before you vape and while you’re vaping. Most of these devices display temperature increments by 5-10 degrees F. This feature helps you keep the coils at the target temperature and prevent the risks of dry hits and lengthen the life span of your wicks, coils and batteries.
TC devices are relative newcomers to the vaping scene which bring in more safety to the vaping activity.
Sub Ohm devices – these devices often feature a resistance of less than 1 ohm. Sub ohming takes vaping to a whole new level where you’ll be able to blow huge fat clouds and experience more intense hits and flavors. These being said, sub ohm vaping require a specialized set up that traditional cigalikes and vape pens don’t have. The first requirement is a coil resistance of less than 1 ohm. You’ll also need more powerful batteries since you’ll be using up more power with each draw.
You can enjoy sub ohm vaping in more than one way: using RDAs, RBAs, or dedicated sub ohm tanks. With RBA and RDA, you’ll have to build your own coils and make sure they measure less than one ohm. However, if you don’t want to build from scratch, you can already purchase dedicated sub ohm tanks featuring the required coils and separately purchase the appropriate batteries for sub ohm vaping.
It is important to remember though that you are playing with lower resistance than normal vaping devices and this can be risky if your rig is not built to meet such demands.
Cost: Sub Ohm tanks cost somewhere between $15 - $50.
Complete Kit or Customize Your Own
At one point or another, you will contemplate whether you should pick a complete kit or customize your own. To help you get decided, here are the merits of each.
A complete kit gives you all the complete components of the vaping device that’s guaranteed to work together. A complete vaping kit gives you batteries, charger and its adapter, tank, pre-made coils, and wicks. The kit may or may not include the e-juice. This takes out the guesswork and you just have to put them together to start vaping. Beginner vapers should definitely start with complete kits first so you get a feel for vaping and can figure out if this is something you want to do long-term.
Meanwhile, customizing your own vape can be fun and rewarding, especially if you’ve been vaping for a long time and are looking to take your device to the next level. When customizing, you will be able to pick parts and accessories on your own and assemble them to form the device. This gives you a whole lot of control, from the design to functions of your device.
While customizing your own vape does seem like a fun concept, it must be reserved to advanced vapers who have a good handle on battery safety, coil resistance, and Ohm’s law. Do not customize your own vaping device if you’re just about to start to vape. Get out there. Learn all the things. Connect with other experienced vapers to learn from them and make sure that your device won’t fail and risk harm or injury to you.
Maintaining your Vaping Devices
Now that you've invested some time and money in picking the right vaping device for you, now you have to learn how to maintain them. Keep your device in tip top shape will ensure that you’ll get the most of out of your vape and that you can use it safely.
- Charge batteries only with the appropriate charger.
- Immediately that battery off the charger when it's full. Do not charge your device out of sight or overnight.
- Do not charge batteries that appear damage. Replace them right away.
- Avoid exposing your device to moisture and sunlight.
- Do not carry your device in your pocket along with other objects.
- Place spare cartridges in protective casings.
- Remove the batteries from the cartridge when not in use. Maintain around 40% of the battery’s capacity if you’re storing them.
- Turn off and put down your vape if gets uncomfortably hot.
- Dispose spent cartridges and batteries properly.
- Keep your cigalikes away from reach of children and pets.
- Disassemble the vape pen in order to clean each component properly and clean hard to reach places.
- Inspect the head of the batteries and clean them if you notice thin films that have built up.
- Use a clean cotton swab to clean the chambers of the tank. Do not use pointed objects as they could damage the coils.
- Clean the exteriors with cotton and alcohol. However, do not use alcohol when cleaning the insides.
- Do not use any fluid to clean the wirings and circuitry of the device.
- Do not put heavy pressure when cleaning your vape pens. Be gentle.
- Do not let the batteries to drain completely before charging.
- Clean the device with clean cotton swabs every week.
- Once a month, clean the connection terminals to prevent rust from forming.
- Place your vape mods and spare parts in protective casings to prevent any accidental damage.
- Do not expose your vape mods from direct sunlight and moisture.
- Charge your device where you can watch over it to prevent overcharging.
- Use your vape mod often to keep the parts in good condition. Leaving it unused for a long while could result to deterioration.
- Do not run your device to its maximum wattage. While it may be able to handle this, it will also quicken the device’s death.
- Inspect the device every day before using to ensure that it is in perfect condition and safe to use. If something looks amiss, worn out, or damaged, correct the issue first before resuming the use of the device.
- Clean any debris or gunk that has formed. These materials could impact your device’s safety and performance.
- Wipe any e-liquid that may have entered into the connection terminals. If for some reason e-liquid still enters areas where it shouldn’t be, lay down the device into a paper towel and to let the liquid drip.
- Make sure that springs are working well. If they seem stuck, some debris could have gotten there. Clean the springs regularly to make sure they’re working well.
- Do not use outdate and old batteries. Invest on appropriate batteries to ensure great performance and safety. Also, do not use unprotected lithium-ion batteries.
- Use the appropriate and manufacturer-recommended charger for your battery.
- Recharge the device promptly and don’t let the batteries drain. Invest in multimeter to be able to constantly monitor the voltage.
- Use single batteries only. Stacking batteries is like an accident waiting to happen.
- Ensure that air holes in good condition and in correct size. Air holes help your device vent and avoid overheating and possible explosion.
- Don’t overcharge your batteries.
- Don’t build your own coils if you don’t know what you’re doing. This can be extremely dangerous and poses risk of injury to yourself and others.
- Don’t start with high temperature right away. Begin with low temperature and gently work your way up.
- Use batteries that are properly rated for temperature control vaping.
- Make sure to use coils rated for temperature (nickel and titanium) control vaping.
- As with other vaping devices, do not expose your TC vape to direct sunlight and moisture; do not overcharge the batteries and fix or replace parts that appear worn out or damaged.
- Invest in multimeter to be able to constantly monitor the voltage of your batteries.
- Do use cheap and knock-off batteries for your sub ohm device.
- Always make sure that you’re using the right coil resistance.
- Inspect the drop of voltage. If it becomes unusually high, inspect the connection terminals of the device.
- Use plated and hard springs to keep the flex solid and prevent batteries from overheating.
- Wipe the switches with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol every week.
- Lock the mod properly when carrying it in your person.
Which Device is for Me?
There are many devices to choose from, but when you start figuring out the type of device you want and what you want to get from your vaping experience, you should be able to narrow down your options with what you've read here. It’s important to consider how much experience you have with vaping and to start simple if you’re just trying it out for the first time. Don’t forget to observe the safety precautions for each device in order to keep vaping a fun, safe and pleasurable experience.