Electronic cigarettes were invented in China in 2004 and have made their way across the world to the USA and other countries rather recently.
While they are not recognized by the FDA as a stop smoking aid, most people you will talk to who use them did in fact use them to stop smoking regular cigarettes.
You will have to make up your own mind on whether or not you think they are a healthier alternative to smoking, but numerous (non-governmental) studies show that they are up to 1,000 times less deadly and are in fact about as harmful as wearing a patch or chewing the gum.
What are electronic cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes are devices that heat up a liquid solution consisting of nicotine, propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycol, and flavorings to a point where it actually turns into a vapor (like a miniature fog machine).
A person then can inhale this vapor thus achieving the almighty nicotine buzz along with whatever delicious flavor they might like. The vapor looks a lot like smoke, feels similar to smoke, yet dissipates quickly and leaves no odor behind.
You can use them indoors, in the car, or anywhere really and you don’t have to worry about secondhand smoke as a problem.
Can you imagine?
Rather than filling your lungs with tar-imbued smoke containing over 4000 chemicals, you could be enjoying an incredible orange cream or chocolate raspberry vapor.
I started on tobacco flavored ones myself but have since moved more onto fruit and dessert flavored e juices.
I was a smoker for a long time though so do still dabble with the excellent Black Note e liquid now and then when I need that tobacco fix.
How do electronic cigarettes work?
This is your basic starter type E-cig.
All E-cigs have the same parts, although there of modified parts you can get into later on down the line. All E-cigs have the following:
- A battery (powers the device and is usually the part you hold in your hand).
- A cartridge with atomizer (This usually holds the liquid, this is the piece that goes into your mouth, the atomizer is a fancy name for the thing that gets hot and vaporizes the liquid)
- Juice (This is what the liquid is commonly called, also e-juice, e liquid, vape juice)
When you assemble these two pieces it becomes a working electronic cigarette. You charge the batteries when the unit indicates it is out of charge usually on a USB charger. A lot of units also have wall chargers as well.
When your e-cig is low on nicotine juice you will notice because the taste is not very good and neither is the vapor. Some models have pre-filled cartridges and when you need more juice, all you do is pop a new cartridge in and vape away.
Other units let you fill the cartridges yourself, which can be a lot of fun with all the amazing juices available out there.
If you have a unit that lets you fill the cartridge yourself, just pop off the cartridge and drip some drops of the liquid into the filler material. Do this until it stops taking in the juice.
There are many other ways to do this as well, but that’s for later down the road. See our tips and tricks section if you want info on refilling and getting better performance out of your e-cig.
What do electronic cigarettes look like?
That depends on the model, and this is also where it can get a little confusing. E-cigs are like cars; there are many different styles that all have their own looks and performance, but they all do the same thing.
Typically, the ones people get introduced to are the ones that look the most like normal analog cigarettes, but these are usually the lowest performing devices.
Many people start out wanting something that looks more like a cigarette, and that is absolutely fine, but more likely than not they start wanting something that makes a bit more vapor and lasts a long time.
Some E-cigs require you to do nothing but take a drag and they activate, others have a button you push (these are known as automatic versus manual e-cig batteries). Most E-cigs have an LED light on the tip that lights up when you are using it, which tells you when its on and it also can make it look more like a cigarette if its orange.
Here are some popular type of E-cigs:
- Mini E Cigs – Otherwise known as cig-a-likes. Most vapers start here but find themselves moving onto bigger devices.
- Vape Pens – A starting point for many vapers.
- Box mods – For vapers that want more battery life and more vaping options.
This is a vape pen – Better performance than a cig-a-like mini e cigarette but obviously bigger.
This is a “Box Mod” – A high performance, but funky looking and expensive device
E-cigs come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and performance. They have E-cigs for the beginner up to however geeky you want to get.
Electronic cigarette Vape liquid / E Juice / E liquid
This is the part of ”vaping” (remember we’re not smoking, were vaping!) that gets really fun. You can order your liquid from hundreds of different vendors, ranging from mass-produced to artisan quality.
The juice comes in a huge variety of flavors ranging from popular cigarettes, fruits, drinks, alcoholic drinks, spices, and even foods.
I have seen a bacon, roast chicken and pizza flavor, no joke. When you order your juice you get to pick the amount of nicotine in them, generally very high is around 24mg, high is around 12-18mg, low is around 6-8mg, very low is 1.5-3mg which is mainly for sub ohm vaping and it goes down to 0mg.
I would recommend on starting on a medium nicotine strength depending on how heavy your smoking habit, and move up or down depending on how you feel. If you weren’t a smoker then I would recommend you don’t start vaping at all.
The juice also comes in a variety of glycol mixtures; some will be 100% PG, others 100% VG, and others still a mixture of the two. Propylene Glycol has more flavor but makes less vapor, while Vegetable Glycol has less taste but makes more vapor. 100% VG is also good for the small percentage of people who may be allergic to PG.
For vapers that like to drip or sub ohm vape then they will usually stick around the 3mg mark.
I prefer a 50/50 or 70/30 mixture (70% PG/30% VG) because it provides a good balance between flavor and vapor production, and most good juice vendors offer those blends as a standard option.
The juice usually comes in a few different sizes ranging from 1 ounce all the way down to 3ml samplers. The juice comes in bottles that have a dropper so you can drip the liquid into your cartridges and fill them.
You can even get organic juices to take it to the next level! Juice is pretty inexpensive. A 15ml bottle should cost anywhere from $7-$10 from most places and is enough to last most people a week or two. That is unless you are sub ohm vaping or using a tank such as the SMOK TFV4 which drinks juice for fun.
On our blog you can trust our juice reviews to be honest, so take some time to wander through them and order something that sounds good!
This is where you get to experiment and find what your preferences are. Be patient, enjoy the process, and eventually you will find juice that you absolutely love!
How much do electronic cigarettes cost?
Of course this depends on what model you buy.
I have seen the cheap starter kits at 7-11 for $20, and I have seen the same kit resold as something else for $150.
Make sure you shop around to find a good price, and listen to reputable recommendations when it comes to vendors.
Generally you shouldn’t pay more than $30-$50 for a decent starter kit and no more than $90 for a more high end kit. A kit usually includes a charger, 2 batteries, 2 atomizers, and 5 cartridges.
It all depends on what you are looking for.
For most people who convert to e-cigs, it generally costs about half as much to use than analogs (after the initial starter kit purchase, that is) and most people feel much healthier after only a couple days of usage.
I spent $35 or so a week on analogs when I smoked (about a pack a day @ $5 per pack), I now generally spend around $15 to $20 per week to use my e-cig (vaping almost non-stop!).
Where Do I start?
You need to do some reading (this blog is a great place to do that) and decide what you think you need to start with.
We recommend a vape pen for most people, if you want familiarity then by all means start with a cig-a-like but be prepared to move on to a device with a better battery. You could easily go down to 7-11 (or any other place that sells cheapo e-cigs) and pick up their cheapest one to get a feel for what its like.
They generally aren’t as good as the kits available online but it’s a starting point.
That’s actually how I got started with them. If you do pick up a cheap e-cig like that, keep in mind that the vapor production, battery life, and flavor of those are not very good compared to the more expensive models.
Don’t let them fool you into thinking that is how all e-cigs perform!
Another helpful resource is our “E-Cig Glossary” page. This page will help you understand some of the terminology and abbreviations used in the e-cig world.
As always if you have any questions or need advice, feel free to leave a comment or email us by using the Contact page.