- Vaping 101
Information and help to make your experience vaping even better.
Here, at OBVS, we want to be a help and encouragement to those in the vaping community. Whether you've been vaping for years or just discovered what it means to "vape," we hope we can provide information that will increase your overall enjoyment and satisfaction in the experience. Since the beginning is the best place to start, the first course is an overall look at how we got here and just where exactly that is. If you're looking for more advanced studies (dragon coils, twisted coil rebuilds, etc), be patient and watch this area. We'll be adding those as fast as we can. For now, we need to help those newer to vaping to get them up to speed and welcome them into this new and facinating world. Because I, personally, enjoy a bit of history, here's a brief rundown on where this whole thing started.
The First Electronic Cigarette
While there are those that would suggest that the first electronic cigarette was designed by a pharmicist in China, named Hon Lik, the real credit must go to Herbert A. Gilbert who in 1963 patented a device described as "a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette" that involved "replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavored air." This device heated the nicotine solution and produced steam. In 1967, Gilbert was approached by several companies interested in manufacturing it, but it was never commercialized and disappeared from the public record after 1967. Fortunately, his patent design is still on record, reproduced here so you can see how little has changed from his original idea almost 50 years ago.
It was the aforementioned Hon Lik, however, who, in 2003, came up with the idea of using a piezoelectric ultrasound-emitting element to vaporise a pressurized jet of liquid containing nicotine diluted in a propylene glycol solution. This design produces a smoke-like vapour that can be inhaled and provides a vehicle for nicotine delivery into the bloodstream via the lungs. He also proposed using propylene glycol to dilute nicotine and placing it in a disposable plastic cartridge which serves as a liquid reservoir and mouthpiece.
Electronic cigarettes using a different design were first introduced to the Chinese domestic market in May 2004 as an aid for smoking cessation and replacement. The company that Hon Lik worked for, Golden Dragon Holdings, changed its name to Ruyan (如烟, literally "Resembling smoking"), and started exporting its products in 2005–2006 before receiving its first international patent in 2007.
So, now that we're familiar with how, where, and with whom it began (which provides wonderful stories for you to amuze others with during your next social occasion), let's deal with some terms that are tossed about more than lettuce leaves at a salad convention so you'll understand what vaper's are saying when they talk.
Carto's, Atty's, Drippers -- What the heck?
If you're anything like me (and God help you if you are), then you might have felt overwhelmed the first time you asked about vaping from an experienced user of e-liquids. As helpful as they thought they were being, I found myself drowning in words that had no meaning to me at all. Here's the good news - most everything used in vaping is a variation on a standard theme. All devices currently use a power source (usually a battery) to send an electrical current through a wire (called an atomizer) to heat liquid (refered to as "e-liquid" or, sometimes, "e-juice") to it's vaporizing point to turn it into a steam that you can inhale. This vapor commonly contains nicotine and the act of vaping simulates smoking to a degree (still sucking a tube, inhaling the vaporized product for your nicotine fix, and blowing out something that looks like smoke, although it's not).
The variations in how to get the e-liquid in contact with the atomizer (wire heating element), allowing you to actually vape, seems to be where terminology starts to get confusing. Realizing that they are all similar in many respects, let's run through some of those terms.
Standalone cartomizers and atomizers are very similar. Both function nearly the same way except the polyfill of a cartomizer allows it to hold a lot more liquid than a regular atomizer, which you must drip e-liquid into to moisten the coil. There's a system out now (the AMP tank) that allows you to use an atomizer in a tank like you can use punched cartomizers, but has received mixed reviews in terms of ease of use and consistency in delivering the liquid to the coil (not to mention, they are a bit pricey).
Cartomizer tanks (also called carto tanks - which use a punched cartomizer in a tank) are similar to clearomizers. Both use tanks, both have an atomizer via a coil. The major difference is how they get that liquid to the coil - cartomizer tanks absorb liquid into the polyfil which surround the coil. The clearomizer uses silica wicks to wick the liquid to the coil.
Then you have rebuildables which, as the name suggests, can be rebuilt - clearomizers, dripping atomizers, and atomizers (to differentiate those with the tanks vs those you have to drip into). Rebuildable clearomizers can be your run of the mill clearomizers that have the ability to be rebuilt with your own wick and coil like it came from the factory, or with a more wild design if you so choose. Most of the advanced users refer to dripping atomizers as RDAs - rebuildable dripping atomizers or RBAs - rebuildable atomizers. These two don't have comparable mass-produced counterparts like clearomizers or cartomizers. They use a variety of different materials for wicks - the most popular of which is organic cotton, stainless steel mesh, silica rope, and porous ceramic that allow the user to customize how they vape either by dripping or using a tank.
So, now you know the types of devices used to vaporize your e-liquid. There really is no right or wrong device for you to use. It all comes down to your personal preference and making vaping enjoyable for you. If you need help selecting from all the choices before you, we're happy to help in providing guidance based upon our own experience.
At the end of the day, vaping is what you make of it. We hope you'll find just the right combination of products to increase your enjoyment in a great alternative to smoking.