The Vape Cloud UK Beginners Vape Guide – By Aidan Cooper.
Welcome to VapeCloudUK’s definitive vape guide. In this guide we will cover the basics of vaping, from beginner setups to advanced tutorials, along with explaining any terminology that you may come across while starting your journey to stop smoking.
Hopefully you will find it informative and easy to understand!
So, what is vaping?
In a nutshell, vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling vapor, which is produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device. The “e-cig” heats the e-liquid to create vapour, and the user can get a nicotine hit without smoking a traditional cigarette.
Vaping has exploded in popularity over the past few years within the smoking community, as a healthier alternative to traditional smoking with far fewer chemicals and harmful carcinogens. Since there is no smoke involved with vaping, there is no nasty smell that lingers on your breath, clothes or furniture. And thanks to the tech and science involved, there’s no tar or ash to worry about (no cigarette burns or tobacco stains!) Also, it is able to be used in homes and cars with few consequences!
Time for a breakdown!
As a new vaper it can be a little daunting and confusing to navigate all the different options and styles, so we’ve listed and broken down all of the common “e-cig” parts:
Batteries: This makes up the bulk of the device, being the powerhouse that provides the energy to heat and vaporise your favourite e-liquid. With your basic e-cigarette, especially the ones that resemble traditional cigarettes, the battery is built into the device and can be charged via a USB cable. The size of the battery controls how long your vape will last, with larger capacity batteries allowing for more time to enjoy your flavours.
Atomiser/coil/wick: The atomiser is the portion of the device that houses the heating coil and wick. In more simplistic models the atomiser is found within the tank itself, and for advanced vapers they can choose from either stand-alone atomisers, RDAs, and RBAs. Because of this it is an extremely important component for all vaping devices. And as the atomiser houses the coil and wick, it is the chamber in which the e-liquid transforms into vapour.
The coils are essentially strips of wire that have been coiled to resemble springs, and the number of wraps in the coil, as well as the inner diameter of the coil itself impacts the coils resistance, using the formula of Ohm’s Law which we will be covering later. The resistance will determine how much electricity is needed to power the e-cigarette and how much heat is produced.
The types of metal that can be used will also affect the resistance of the coil, e.g. a coil made of Kanthal wire will have a different resistance to that made of Stainless Steel.
We’ll go over each material in more detail later on, but there are 5 main materials that are used to make coils:
- Kanthal (FeCrAl)
- Stainless Steel (304 SS, 316 SS & 316L SS)
- Nichrome (Ni-80)
- Nickel (Ni200)
- Titanium (Ti)
And finally, the last important aspect of the trio, the wicks. The wicks are used to carry the e-liquid from the tank to the coil so it can be heated and vaporised. When vaping first came to be popular, wicks could be used from anything absorbent and temperature resistant, such as twisted silica cords, steel mesh and eko-wool. In recent years though cotton is proving to be the most common and popular for its quick absorption and resistance to burning. Also a few tanks have taken to experimenting and mixing wood pulp with cotton, and even using flax paper!
In the past year or so, there have been an influx of new devices called Pod Systems. Now essentially it works the same way as a pen-style e-cig, but is more compacted to be able to be much more portable than traditional vape devices. And instead of having a tank that is screwed onto the top of the device, or built into the device itself, they come with blank pods that can be filled with your favourite e-liquid! Ultimately, the pods do the same job as tanks, which is to hold the e-liquid and deliver vapour to you through the mouthpiece.
They often hold less than traditional tanks, between 1 and 2ml, and the pods themselves just slot into place at the top of the device, usually held in place by magnets to maintain a solid connection. This makes for easy switching of your favourite flavours and replacing of worn out pods!
Some have a manual operation in which you press a button to activate the device, but most out there rely on an automatic system, to activate via inhaling through the mouthpiece.
Moving onto E-liquids!
So, what is an e-liquid really? Well, there are 4 main ingredients that make up an e-liquid: propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerine (VG), natural/artificial flavourings, and nicotine, which is optional.
PG is a common additive and preservative in foods. For reason it is used in e-liquid is it is used as a base for carrying flavours. It is thinner than VG, gives a more intense flavour and provides the throat hit. It is also thinner and provides less vapour than the VG counterpart.
It is important to note that some people are allergic to PG, so make sure you check with your doctor first before you start vaping.
If you have a sensitivity to PG, manufacturers do offer VG-based e-liquids, or at the very least higher ratios of VG to PG such as 70/30, 80/20, etc.
VG is thicker than PG, which often makes much denser clouds and thicker vapour. It has a sweeter taste to the flavourless PG, although it can be known to affect the taste of the vapour ever so slightly.
Most e-liquids use a combination of these two chemicals in varying ratios to produce a different vaping experience.
Please note: For a non-sub ohm starter kit or pod system, the best option for an e-liquid is to use a 50/50 blend juice. It is not too thin as to leak when it is absorbed through the wick slots of the coil, and not too thick as to not absorb fast enough so it over-dries the wick and causes premature burning of the coil.
Now onto nicotine! E-liquids come with varying nicotine strengths; 0mg, 3mg, 6mg, 12mg, and 18mg. If you’re a smoker and are looking to switch to vaping, you’ll need to find your nicotine strength based off of how many cigarettes you smoke a day. Here’s a rough guide below to help give a baseline to go from:
- No cigarettes: 0mg
- 5-10 cigarettes: 3mg
- 10-20 cigarettes: 6mg
- 20-35 cigarettes: 12mg
- 35+ cigarettes: 18mg
As this is just a rough guide, it is all subjective and will need a little experimentation to find your correct strength. But hopefully this will give you a point to go from to help zone in on your ideal nicotine hit!
If you’re after a higher nicotine doses, there is an alternative option you can use:
Before diving in, it’s worth noting just where the nicotine in your e-liquid comes from. Nicotine is found in a few places, but in tobacco leaves it is in particularly high concentrations. In tobacco, it’s found in the form of salts. But the salts don’t just contain nicotine – they also contain other compounds and protons.
To create the freebase nicotine that is so commonly used in your e-liquids and cigarettes, the salts need to be stripped of these protons. To do this, they are soaked in an ammonia bath, which frees the nicotine from its protons. Once freed, the nicotine is able to be turned into a ‘gas-phase’ form more easily.
‘Gas-phase nicotine’ is more easily able to be absorbed into and across the membranes of the lungs, blood vessels and brain. This basically means it’s going to reach the brain more quickly and more effectively to give you that sweet nicotine satisfaction! This makes it ideal for vaping as it is more easily turned into vapour form.
Now in contrast, nicotine salts are the natural form nicotine occurs in. One key addition to the success of the natural nicotine is the introduction of Benzoic acid.
This chemical helps to achieve a few things:
- It allows the nicotine to be vaporised at a lower temperature,
- It lowers the pH level of the nicotine,
- And it makes the nicotine more absorbable
This new compound helps the nicotine to be absorbed faster through our lungs and membranes to deliver the nicotine faster and more effectively to the brain, allowing the user to need less hits to achieve their nicotine hit.
Here’s a little glossary up to this point for anything you’ll come across as a beginner vaper:
Atomiser: Also referred to as “atty” for short, this is the part of an e-cig that houses the coil and which that is heated to produce vapour from e-liquid.
Airflow: The amount of air sucked into an atomise or tank. Looser airflow results in more vapour while tighter airflow results in less vapour but more intense flavour.
AFC: Air flow control, this refers to a small dial, ring or top cap found in atomisers, clearomisers and tanks to adjust how tight the draw is of an e-cig.
510: The most common and popular style of atomiser, its threading has become the industry standard with most atomisers, cartomisers, clearomisers and tanks using it.
18650: The most popular battery size for advanced e-cigs, these batteries give users decent power and battery life with less bulk than 26650’s.
20700: The type of battery typically used with advanced box mods and some mech mods. With batteries, the notation of numbers comes from the diameter of the battery, followed by the length. In this case, the 20700 battery is 20mm in diameter and 70mm in length. These batteries offer a bigger storage capacity and amperage than the conventional 18650’s.
26650: The largest sizes battery used in advanced e-cigarettes and box mods, these are usually used by sub-ohm vapers, or users who use atomisers with a resistance less than 1 ohm.
Amps/amperage: This is the flow of energy along a circuit. Batteries with higher amps can better handle atomisers with lower resistances without overheating.
Analogue: The slang name for regular cigarettes.
Automatic/auto draw: A mode of e-cigarette wherein the battery automatically heats the atomiser without users having to press a button. This is activated by a sensor in an atomiser which detects when the user draws air from it.
Battery: The main part of an e-cigarette, the term refers to vape pens and cig-a-likes that don’t have replaceable batteries. The two types are manual and automatic; Manual batteries require the user to press a button found on the side of the device, while automatic batteries are activated by inhaling through the mouthpiece.
Carcinogen: A chemical compound that appears during tobacco combustion or extreme e-liquid heating. Studies suggest that carcinogens might cause cancer and other disease when inhaled reguarly.
Cartomiser: An atomiser and cartridge in one, cartomisers are longer than regular atomisers, hold more e-liquid and are disposable. These are also available as punched (for use in tanks), and with dual coils.
Cig-a-like: A simple vaping device that fully resemble the look of a conventional cigarette.
Coil: The part of the atomiser used to hear or vaporise the liquid.
Connection: A term used to describe the type of threading your e-cigarette uses for atomisers, e.g. a 510 connection.
Cutoff: A safety feature in e-cigarettes, cutoff refers the the amount of time once can take a drag from an e-cig before it cuts off the power to prevent overheating. Cutoff times in regulated e-cigs typically range from 10-15 seconds.
Diacetyl: Diacetyl is a flavouring used in some e-liquid production for its buttery flavour. Can cause bronchitis obliterans, otherwise known as “Popcorn Lung”, if inhaled in large concentrations. Many e-liquid vendors have stopped using it.
Draw: A term to describe the act of inhaling vapour from the mouthpiece to your mouth.
Dry hit: A term that describes taking a drag off your e-cig that’s run out of juice, which burns the wick resulting in an unpleasant burnt cotton taste.
Dual coil: Atomisers, cartomisers or clearomisers with two coils instead of one. This gives off more vapour at the expense of reduced battery life.
E-juice/e-liquid: The solution that’s vaporised to create vapour, e-juice comes in a variety of nicotine strengths and flavours. It is made from Propylene Glycol (PG), Vegetable Glycerin (VG), flavourings and optionally nicotine.
E-cigarette: The name used to describe a device that gives smokers an alternative means to satisfy their nicotine cravings. At its most basic, it is comprised of a battery and atomiser, with e-liquid added, from which vapour is created.
E-cigarette starter kit: A kit that usually consists of a battery unit and an atomiser to the user buys all the necessary devices to start vaping within one box.
Inhale: The act of breathing vapour into your lungs or mouth. There are two kinds: lung inhale (DTL), and mouth-to-lung inhale (MTL). Lung inhaling is when the vapour goes straight to your lungs. This is often used by cloud chasers and high wattage users. Mouth-to-lung inhaling is when vapour is inhaled to the mouth, then to the lungs. This type is most common, and the same kind of inhale used by cigarette smoker.
Leaking: When e-liquid leaks out of an atomiser/tank/cartomiser, etc. This can cause damage to e-cigs if the e-liquid starts to leak into the battery.
Lithium-Ion batteries (Li-Ion): High quality rechargeable batteries that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and capacities.
MAh: And abbreviation of milliampere-hour, this is the term used to describe a battery’s capacigty to store energy. The higher the mAh, the longer its life before needing to be recharged.
Mouthpiece: The end from which users inhale vapour. This can either be built-in or customisable using drip tips.
Ohm: The unit of measurement used for electrical resistance. A lower ohm reading for coils means hotter and thicker vapour, while a higher ohm reading means cooler vapour.
Priming: A technique to help prolong the life of your coils and reduce the likelihood of dry/burnt hits. It involves taking a new coil and adding a few drops to the centre and the outer wick slots, then letting sit for a minute or two. Then installing the coil, filling the tank and letting it sit for a few more minutes.
Resistance: Measured in ohms, resistance depends on the thickness of wire used in a coil, the number of coils, the circumference, and how tightly the coils are wound.
VV or Variable Voltage: Any type of e-cig or personal vaper that allows users to adjust its voltage output according to taste, it is considered superior to regular PVs that have static voltage outputs.
VW or variable wattage: Variable wattage devices allow users to adjust the wattage output of their device. The device adjusts power according to the set wattage, and is the main difference between VV and VW.
That’s all from us for now, hopefully it gave you some insight into the beginning of your vaping journey. Remember, ask questions, do your research, get informed, and above all; Vape On!