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How E-Cigarettes Work

We are going to assume that you know what e-cigarettes are and what vaping is (and if you don't, where have you been for the past five-or-so years!?) But, have you ever wondered how do e-cigarettes work?

How can it be that an activity that looks, feels, and gives the same "buzz" as smoking cigarettes is a whole lot safer, better for the environment, and has no long-lasting ill health effects? Surely it does, right?

Well, not exactly.

Carry on reading if you would like to find out how exactly e-cigarettes work. Spoiler alert, it has nothing to do with magic!

What Is An E-Cig?

An e-cigarette (also known as an e-cig, vape, vaporiser, or "box mod", amongst other things) is a battery-powered device that converts e-liquid (or "vape juice") into a vapour that can then be inhaled and exhaled.

Unlike cigarettes, e-cigs heat up a liquid and turn it into vapour; vaping does not involve the burning and combustion of tobacco and this is why it is so much safer and has no long-term negative health effects (so far as we know, that is!)

What Is An E-Liquid?

An e-liquid, sometimes referred to as "vape juice", is the liquid that is stored inside an e-cigarette tank or cartridge. E-liquids come in all manner of flavours---think fresh fruits, cereals, baked goods, and even popular alcoholic drinks and cocktails---which is partly why vaping is so popular.

These e-liquids are typically made up of water, food-grade flavourings, a carrier (usually a mixture of vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol) for the flavourings and, often, nicotine. E-liquids are available either without nicotine or with nicotine in varying concentrations.

When the e-liquid is heated, it turns into a vapour that can be inhaled.

Why Is Vaping Safer?

Vaping is "safer" than smoking cigarettes because of what it involves.

When you smoke a cigarette, you are burning tobacco to produce toxic smoke that can then be inhaled. This smoke, in addition to nicotine, often contains thousands of chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic, such as tar, arsenic, and other nasties.

As we saw above, e-liquids contain very few harmful ingredients.

Many people incorrectly believe that nicotine is the harmful substance that causes damage through cigarette smoking. This is not the case, however, nicotine, in small doses, is not known to cause harm to humans---although, this is a topic that scientists and health professionals continue to research and debate. What is known about nicotine is that it is a stimulant and an addictive substance, the latter of which being the reason why many people who smoke cigarettes are unable to easily quit.

How Do E-Cigarettes Work?

To answer this question, we are going to break a typical e-cigarette or vaporiser down into its components. It really isn't very difficult to explain---vapes are very straightforward devices that perform a simple function.

Each e-cig, vape, or box mod has three main components---the battery, the tank, and the atomiser (or cartomiser or clearomiser---there are subtle differences between the three.) All these come in various shapes, types, and sizes. Sometimes, all three will be present whereas in some devices, you will only have a battery and a small pre-filled tank (cartridge.)

The Battery

Rather straightforward, an e-cigs battery powers the whole device. Most e-cigs use Li-ion batteries because of the large amount of energy that can be packed into a small, sometimes button-sized, battery.

Since vapes are quite intensive devices that use a lot of juice (no pun intended!), they need robust batteries.

Smaller devices---e.g. e-cigs and small vape pens---typically have a battery built into the system that cannot be removed. Some larger vape pens and "box mods" feature batteries that can be removed and replaced. Mods with removable batteries are great for people who vape a lot because they can keep extra batteries with them and swap them over where necessary.

The Tank

All e-cigs, vape pens, and box mods have some sort of tank or cartridge that stores and feeds e-liquid to the device's wick. In cig-a-like devices such as the V-Pack II these are often small cartridges. In larger box mods, these are larger tanks.

E-liquid is fed to the device's wick wrapped around a coil that is used to heat the e-liquid up.

The Atomiser (or Cartomiser or Clearomiser)

Vapour is produced by a coil of wire that is wrapped around the cotton wick that has been soaked in e-liquid. This is known as the atomiser (or cartomiser or clearomiser).

Atomisers, with prolonged usage, can conk out and need replacing. Some atomisers are rebuildable and you can simply replace the coil and wick yourself. Others, on the other hand, are disposable and can be detached and disposed of, leaving your device open for a replacement atomiser.

How Does It All Come Together?

When you push the button on your device (or take a puff with cheaper, cig-a-like devices), the battery sends power to the coil. This causes the coil, a thin strip of metal, to quickly heat up and, consequently, it heats up the liquid that is in contact with the coil via the wick.

As soon as this heating process starts, small, dense clouds of vapour are produced that can then be inhaled. As vapour is inhaled, this creates more room for more vapour to be created. When you let go of the button (or stop taking a drag with cig-a-like models), power is no longer fed to the coil and vapour will stop being produced.

Most modern vapes can last for around six seconds before "timing out". This is because airflow stops or because the wick is not being fed with e-liquid.

And that's it. It really is that simple. No combustion. No burning of tobacco. No nasty chemicals. Just simple, straightforward water vapour.

Want To Try It For Yourself?

If you are interested in trying out e-cigarettes and vaping for yourself, be sure to visit the Vaper Empire online store. We stock everything from cig-a-like e-cigs to next-gen box mods alongside plenty of classic and artisanal e-liquids and vaping accessories.

There simply is no better place in Australia to get your hands on vaping products.

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