E-Cigarettes 101: What Goes Inside?

We’ve see the growth of the e-cigarette trend move from what are purposefully made, facsimile versions of a traditional cigarette to the new, stylized, custom devices in such design variations virtually anyone can find one to sync with their personal style. The designs may have evolved radically but the fundamentals for how e-cigarettes or vaping devices work have changed little.

Components: The Things That Tick

Many out there who wonder about the vaping movement, those new to the entire thing know little about the actual devices at the heart of the trend. How do they work? What is inside those tubes? What are all those people smoking? First, there is no “smoking” going on. Nothing is burning. All those people are inhaling vapor, hence the name, “vaping”. Okay, so how is this vapor produced and what is in it? What makes it all tick?

Battery: The battery is the largest portion of e-cigarette, coming in various types, usually similar to AA batteries and rechargeable. The battery is the power source, the fuel for what comes next…

Atomizer: The atomizer, or the heating coil, is the workhorse of the e-cigarette. The atomizer is what heats, or vaporizes the e-liquid. It’s a small metal tube with either a rebel 2 personal vaporizer atomizermale or female threaded end, depending on the manufacturer’s design, that attaches just above the battery. The opposite end is open to receive e-liquid of the user’s choosing delivered through a container system.

Apollo E-Liquid Pack
Apollo E-Liquid Pack

E-Liquid: If the atomizer is the workhorse of the e-cigarette, the e-liquid is the raw material that goes into it.. The e-liquid (also called e-juice), is a flavored, propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin based nicotine solution, held within a containment tank. The liquid is vaporized by the atomizer for the user. This is where vaping gets it’s name.

Cartridges: For e-cigarette devices with separate atomizers cartridges are used as e-liquid tanks. The liquid is delivered via port or hole at one end of the e-liquid cartridge. One disadvantage of this type of configuration is the heat from the atomizer can distort the hole and cause leaking which may impede vapor drawing.

Cartomizer: A cantomizer is an alternative to the separate atomizer design by combining the e-liquid tank and heating coil, or atomizer, into a single piece. The cartomizer configuration employs a wick system to deliver the e-liquid to the atomizer instead of dripping liquid directly onto the heating coil. The tank tends to hold more e-liquid than cartridges meaning they do not need as frequent refilling. In addition, this combination is not prone to leaks, prolonging the life of the atomizer, depending on use.

Mouthpiece/Drip Tip: The drip tip sits atop the atomizer or cartomizer, depending on the design, which is where the vapor is drawn through. These are probably the most customizable part of the e-cigarette, made of various materials from stainless steel to aluminum to plastic, resin or hand blown glass, molded into innumerable shape and color combinations to meet any unique taste.

The e-cigarette is activated with a power button which heats the atomizer and vaporizes the e-juice. Or the unit is activated by way of the user taking a “drag” which is detected by a sensor, starting the vaporization process of the e-liquid. All these components are connected to one another by threaded pieces with various levels of compatibility among manufacturers.

Why Switch?

Given the rise in e-cigarette popularity, many are considering a change, a switch to vaping. Spurred by curiosity, or a desire to distance oneself from the stigma of traditional smoking or simply to see what all the hype is about, there are any number of reasons to test the waters. But why switch at all? That is the real question many are asking.

Cost: As the price of traditional cigarettes continue to rise, usually due to increased taxes e-cigarettes may save money in the longer run. In places like New York and Washington a pack of cigarettes go for $11 to $12. Ask yourself how much money does that total up to in a month? Then compare that to the initial price of an e-cigarette kit. Of course, the amount you vape will be a primary factor in the total replacement costs of e-juice cartridges or cartomizers and batteries. Estimates tend towards a reduction of costs by half compared to traditional cigarettes.

Healthier option?: Well, that has yet to be proven but proponents point to a couple of points that are not without merit. First, vaping does not involve the inhaling of the carcinogenic compounds inherent with the burning of tobacco and associated chemicals in traditional cigarettes. Second, some research suggests e-cigarettes could help with those attempting to quit smoking altogether by way of nicotine intake control to ween themselves off the addiction. There are lingering, unresolved concerns surrounding the inhalation of e-liquid ingredients, particularly propylene glycol.

Taste and Smell: So much of the stigma attached to traditional smoking (beyond the significant health risks to the smoker and those around them) is the smell that absorbs into everything from clothes to skin to furniture. Who actually likes, or acquires a liking for, the smell of stale cigarettes? E-cigarettes do not produce such acrid odors and with the multitude of flavors available the smell and taste associated with vaping is much less cringe-worthy than regular cigarettes.

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