The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Vaping by Drip Hacks
Table of Contents
What is Vaping?
Vaping was conceived in 2003 by a pharmacist in Beijing, China by Hon Lik after his father died of Lung Cancer. It is a smoking cessation meant to replace smoking by providing atomised nicotine carried in a vegetable glycerine solution. The solution contains Nicotine, Vegetable Glycerine, Propylene Glycol and flavourings.
This solution is then used in an electronic cigarette where it is heated to create the vapour that carries the Nicotine. Vaping provides a very similar experience to smoking without many of the detrimental side effects making it today’s most popular means to quit. Vapour produced by the atomisation of E Liquid shouldn’t contain any carcinogens or Diacetyl, acetoin or diketones – just make sure the E Liquid you buy is TPD safe.
In this ultimate guide we explain what vaping is, what it can do for you plus how it works and much more even down to recommending products that are right for you. If you want to recommend vaping to a friend or family member who still smokes, point them straight to this link as it will help clear the air regarding the subject of vaping.
The Risks of Vaping
The act of vaping isn’t without certain risks – inhaling anything other than clean air is going to be detrimental to your health just like walking down a busy road will be due to pollution created by vehicles.
Vaping was invented to be less harmful to health whilst still providing much the same experience as smoking, and with backing from both the NHS and PHE, the current evidence as well as regulations certainly point to the fact that it is indeed a better alternative to smoking. Public Health England even claims that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking!
What are the risks of smoking?
In order to ascertain the dangers of vaping, it’s best to have a comparison since vaping is meant to replace smoking. People have smoked for centuries for the Nicotine, but have ended up dying from the tar and carcinogens they inhale whilst doing so. This is not so in the case of vaping. The NHS claims that 50% of people who smoke die as a result with a great many more living with debilitating illnesses caused by smoking.
Unfortunately, the use of tobacco is the leading cause of avoidable illnesses and death in the UK, with 100,000 people dying every year. This is a figure that we think needs to come down to zero, and the sooner the better – vaping is a thing now!
The main cause of smoking related illnesses caused by tobacco use is the tar produced with the tobacco burns. Cigarettes (not rolling tobacco) contain over 4000 chemicals, 70 of which are known to cause cancer (carcinogenic) and all of these are inhaled into the lungs when smoking.
How and why is Vaping any different?
Vaping differs greatly to smoking for many reasons but the most important is the health effects. E Liquid doesn’t contain anywhere near as many chemicals, and carcinogens are quite simply banned from presence. The European TPD (Tobacco Product Directive) names many chemicals which are prohibited from presence in E Liquid, most if not all of which are present in cigarettes. The recipe for any E Liquid is as such:
- Vegetable Glycerine – A GRAS (generally recognised as safe) compound used in a variety of industries including food and cosmetics
- Propylene Glycol – Another GRAS compound found in food, cosmetics and more
- Flavourings – This is the component of E Liquid which has caused much debate, since it’s completely variable depending on the flavour
- Nicotine – This can be freebase or nicotine salt
Depending on the E Liquid in question, the recipe can change, using more of one component than another for example: a high VG E Liquid will contain more VG and less PG than a 50/50 E Liquid. Some manufacturers opt for a higher flavour percentage whilst others use as little as possible. Essentially though, there’s a comparatively tiny list of chemicals that go into an E Liquid, and most of them are contained in the flavouring. It is the flavouring which brought about the introduction of the TPD back in 2016, banning dangerous chemicals from use.
The means by which vaping delivers nicotine to your lungs is fundamentally different. Smoking a cigarette is to inhale the fumes from burning organic matter whereas vaping is the inhalation of an atomised liquid. Vapour contains no tar, which as mentioned previously is the reason tobacco use leads to so many deaths and illnesses and so one of the concerns is Nicotine. Nicotine itself doesn’t cause smoking related-illnesses like Cancers and Heart disease though it is highly addictive.
So why should I switch from Smoking to Vaping?
We’ve covered why vaping is different, but what are the benefits of vaping when compared to smoking?
Vaping is less harmful
Over the years we’ve seen more and more authorities in the field of health proclaim vaping as the healthier version of the two, with PHE claiming it’s up to 95% less harmful to your body.
This is obviously a huge win for vaping and it’s a claim not to be taken lightly. Backed by numerous studies, this claim is robust and hasn’t been made without significant research to corroborate it.
Vaping is the most popular smoking cessation
Vaping is now the worlds number one choice and is still growing rapidly, thanks to it’s less harmful effects and the fact it most closely imitates smoking.
Partly the reason for the success of vaping is this very fact: it feels very similar to smoking and the act of inhaling an aerosol into the lungs itself is a good feeling, so the success of vaping over something like Nicotine chewing gum just makes sense.
Vaping is much cheaper than smoking
Saving money is a huge driving force behind the switch from smoking to vaping. Today’s cost of living crisis twinned with the tax on tobacco products makes it a no-brainer. Vaping is a great means to quit smoking and in doing so you can save yourself a huge amount of money.
Vaping doesn’t leave a lingering smell
One of the cosmetic side effects of smoking is the fact that it leaves an unpleasant smell on you which is immediately obvious to anyone who doesn’t smoke. This is not the case with vaping although if it did leave a smell, it’d be something nice like Blue Raspberry!
Another cosmetic issue associated with smoking is the fact that it can quickly stain your teeth and even your skin. Smoking can make it look like you’ve aged faster than your non-smoking peers!
The Anatomy of Vape Kits
Vaping is undoubtedly a complicated market with seemingly unlimited devices and E liquid to choose from. If you’re a smoker looking to quit this way it can be daunting to say the least. In our Ultimate beginners guide to vaping we’ll clear the air (so to speak) and straighten things out for you so you know where you stand and what’s right for you.
All vape kits work in the same way: A battery provides current to a coil which heats the E Liquid and atomises it into vapour, which you then inhale. The simplest form of an E-Cigarette is a disposable vape. A Disposable Vape only requires that you inhale on it, nothing more. There’s no buttons, menus, pods or coils to replace – you can’t even recharge the battery. For many this is the best option as it’s as close as you’ll ever get to smoking a cigarette without actually doing it. It’s a good short-term option and a great introduction to vaping, but a costly one.
Below we explain the different types of vape kits that best suit beginners, and the more advanced versions with an array of features.
Despite the heat Disposables have garnered over the past year, they’ve done a great job of helping people to quit smoking by giving them a near identical means to get nicotine.
Completely hassle free with great taste and surprisingly good performance, disposables are the simplest introduction to vaping and have helped many to enter the bemusing world of vapour. Simply inhale on the mouthpiece to get your nicotine hit, it’s really that simple!
Pod Kits are currently a hot sensation at the moment with the decline of disposables on the horizon. They’re the next logical step up from disposables and give you great flexibility in terms of simplicity and performance.
Simply requiring recharging and a pod with E liquid (typically 50/50 Vg/Pg), Pod Kits are discreet and pocket friendly which is great for those who don’t wish to carry a proverbial brick in their pocket! A simple, affordable alternative to Disposable Vapes.
Sub Ohm Pod Kits
Larger and more powerful than Pod Kits but still in a compact and convenient form, Sub Ohm Pod Kits bridge the gape between pod kits and sub ohm box mods. As with Pod Kits these are simple and easy to use with some additional features and larger battery capacity.
Whilst still being beginner friendly, they offer a more affordable option to disposables and even pod kits due to their larger size and increased life span. Able to take most E Liquids, the interchangeable pods provide a simple and straight forward means to switch from one flavour to the next.
Sub Ohm Box Mods
These are larger, more powerful mods with a huge range of features including power control (Variable Wattage, Temperature Control, Variable Power Curve). These devices can take any atomiser with a 510 connection. They often feature an LCD screen and buttons for ease of use and have either an integrated battery or require the use of 18650 batteries.
Excellent value for money with a long life span, Sub Ohm box mods provide high power for great vapour and flavour production.
How do I start Vaping?
Getting in to the world of vaping is a daunting prospect but if you’re read this far you’ve made the right step and you’re committed! We’ve given a concise run-down of vaping and the essential info, so lets compare the four main types of vapes to find out which would work best for you.
Which Vape Kit is best for me?
We’ve explained the differences between the four main groups of vape kits, now lets check out the advantages and disadvantages of each.
- Requires recharging
- Requires E Liquid in the Pod
- Pods/coils need to be replaced
Sub Ohm Pod Kits
- Requires recharging
- Requires E Liquid in the Pod
- Pods/coils need to be replaced
Sub Ohm Box Mods
- Requires recharging
- Can Require separate Batteries
- Requires E Liquid in the Atomiser
- Coils Need to be replaced
What are the different styles of Vaping?
As mentioned each of the different types of e-cigs above produce a different style of vaping, from MTL to RDL and DTL.
- MTL – Mouth to Lung. This style of vaping comes from disposables and pod kits with low power and restricted airflow
- RDL – Restricted Direct to Lung. A newer style brought about by the huge popularity of pod kits. It’s a slightly more “airy” draw than MTL but still a tighter draw than DTL
- DTL – Direct to Lung. This is the style of vaping you’ll have with higher power sub-ohm kits with wide much larger airflow holes allowing you to inhale straight to your lungs.
The Ultimate Beginners Guide to E Liquid
What is E Liquid?
There as as many different flavours, sizes, Vg/Pg ratios and Nicotine Strengths out there as you can imagine. You’ll never be able to try them all so we give you a concise breakdown of the various types and when to use each in our in-depth beginners guide to vaping.
Firstly, E Liquid is a solution containing 4 components which we outlined in our comparison to cigarettes. These are Vegetable Glycerine, Propylene Glycol, Flavourings and Nicotine. E Liquid is added to an atomiser (of which there are many types) and the atomiser is supplied power by the battery. The atomiser holds a heating coil which atomises the E Liquid and produces vapour – which you inhale.
In order to choose an E Liquid you will need to consider the following:
- Viscosity – (Thickness) – this comes from the Vg/Pg Ratio. The more VG, the thicker the juice.
- Nicotine Strength – If you’re looking to quit smoking then you’ll likely need a high strength E Liquid.
- Flavour – Totally down to what you like!
Which Thickness do I need?
The viscosity of E Liquid is relevant and makes a difference depending on what device you’re using. A general rule of thumb is that the smaller the device you use, the thinner the E Liquid it will need. Pod Kits typically need 50/50 E liquid due to the fact they provide less power and the small coils will struggle to absorb such thick E Liquid.
Sub Ohm devices can easily handle E liquids upwards of 70/30 Vg/Pg with some people opting for Max VG for maximum vapour production.
Be sure to check your Vg/Pg ratio on bottles which is normally displayed as above (70/30 or 70Vg/30Pg).
Choose thinner E Liquid at 50/50 Vg/Pg if you opt for a simple Pod style Vape Kit.
Choose thicker E Liquid (70/30 Vg/Pg or over) if you opt for a high power Sub Ohm device
Which Nicotine Strength is right for me?
This is an easy question and we’ll answer it as simply as possible:
If you’re trying to quit smoking, go in at 10 – 20mg. You’ll need to trial some E Liquids first before you know exactly which strength is right for you, if you choose too low a strength then vaping it won’t satisfy your cravings. Choosing too high a strength can result in adverse reactions such as dizziness and headaches. High strength nicotine can often provide a strong throat hit depending on the type of Nicotine. See our blog on Nic salts which explains the difference between Salt and Freebase Nicotine.
The strength you require usually falls in line with the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day. Smoking a pack a day? You’ll likely need 20mg/ml or 2.0%. 1 – 5 Cigarettes a day? 6mg – 12mg is ideal.
What is the best E liquid flavour?
Choosing an E Liquid is the last thing you’ll need to do to get started. All E liquids are designed to do one thing: provide Nicotine. The great thing about vaping is the opportunity to inhale a nice flavour whilst getting your nicotine hit, not something that can be said for smoking! Typically those who quit look for a tobacco flavour but quickly switch to more conventional, fruity and dessert flavours. Perhaps the best place to start when flavours are concerned is a simple mint/menthol flavour.
After some trial and error you’ll get to grips with the kind of flavours you gravitate towards and you’ll become comfortable choosing flavours that suit you.
See our broad range of flavours available here.
What are coils and pods and how do I replace them?
Coils & pods must be replaced once they pass their prime. This happens due to the flavour and various sweeteners become burnt or caramelising on the coils which slows the absorption of E liquid and produces a burning flavours.
Replacing a pod is simple – make sure to purchase the correct type as there are likely a number to choose from for your particular device. Most pod kits connect the battery and pods via magnets meaning they pull apart. Simply take the new pod and place in on the battery ensuring it fits correctly. You’ll need to fill the pod with your choice of E Liquid via the filling port and let it absorb for a few minutes before you start using it, otherwise you risk letting the coil burn the wick as it hasn’t saturated with E Liquid properly.
Replacing the coils in a Sub Ohm kit is a similar task but requires a few more steps. Sub Ohm coils should be primed with E liquid first before being inserted into the tank, allowing the large surface area of the heating element to come into contact with E Liquid quickly.
How to replace a pod
How to Replace a Sub Ohm Coil
Whenever you replace or refill a coil/pod, you must first familiarise yourself with the manufacturers instructions to ensure you take the right steps.
How do Vape Coils Work?
Coils sit inside the tank/pod/cartridge and either contain or surround the wicking medium. The wick is simply the material that absorbs the liquid from the tank in order for the coil to atomise it into vapour and is usually a kind of absorbent cotton.
Most modern coils feature a mesh structure as this is found to produce the most even heat distribution and thus the greatest flavour, coil life and vapour production. As in the images above, coils are typically positioned vertically inside the atomiser and surrounded by the wick. The housing features holes positioned around its perimeter so the E liquid in the tank can be absorbed by the wick, then heated by the coil to produce a vapour which is inhaled by the user. These coils are found pre-inserted into pods for pod kits which makes replacing them hassle free. Simply remove the old pod and replace the new one, ensuring you fill it with your E Liquid and let it sit to absorb the vape juice for a sufficient period of time before usage.
Pairing E Liquid with a vape kit
Our Ultimate Beginners guide to vaping has covered everything you need to get to grips with vaping including Hardware, E liquid, Nicotine and coils. To help assist beginners we show below which E liquids can be paired with various devices available.
What do I need to know about safety when vaping?
Safety is always a great concern especially give the nature of the game, so in our beginners guide to vaping we cover the essentials to keep you safe in your journey. Vaping entails the use of high-power batteries and nicotine, both of which can be dangerous to your health if not handled properly.
Storing E-liquid and Vape Kits
Storing E liquid is important in order to ensure it cannot cause harm to those handling it, especially children and pets who do not understand the potential dangers involved. Due to the introduction of the TPD in 2016, the maximum strength that nicotine containing liquid can be bought in is 20mg/ml or 2.0%. But even this can be a hazard, so make sure you store your E liquid in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children and pets.
It is also for the benefit of longevity that E liquid is stored in this way – E liquid which is subject to sunlight may expire faster than usual. The same goes for vape kits, no matter which type, whether a pod setup or sub-ohm. Keep them out of reach of children and pets and ensure they’re not in direct sunlight. Remember to turn your device off and remove the batteries if applicable.
The use of high-power batteries gives vapers the experience they need. Without them, we’d all be limited to disposable-like vaping. Atomising an E liquid requires a good amount of heat and you know what they say – “with great power comes great responsibility”. In the case of sub-ohm devices and 18650 batteries, this is all the more important. Removable batteries seem to be a rarity these days but it is important to cover all aspects of safety in our beginners guide to vaping, so let’s dive in.
Always ensure you’re using batteries well within their limits in terms of power output. In the case of regulated mods (almost all devices on the market as of July 2023) this worry is much reduced as the device will contain safety limits for ease of use.
Unregulated (mechanical) devices do not have such features and so it’s entirely up to the use to vape safely and responsibly. Read below on our section about DIY vaping, rebuildables and Ohms Law.
Ensure reasonable temperatures
As with most electronic devices it is imperative to ensure the storage of high-power batteries does not allow for extreme temperatures. Do not store such items in places that may subject them to very high or very low temperatures. Always read the manufacturers instructions first but it is a safe bet that room temperature (between 19 – 21 degrees Celsius) is safe for all high power batteries and devices.
Batteries & electrical safety
Perhaps the most immediate danger as far as batteries are concerned is shorting – this can occur when the positive and negative terminals of a battery are inadvertently connected, allowing current to flow. In a vape device this is safe as the current passes through a resistance coil which generates heat.
If the two terminals are allowed to connect via coins or keys (or anything conductive) the result can be quite literally explosive. Ensure you carry loose batteries in a proper case.
Rebuildable Vapes, DIY E liquid and sustainability
For many years before the incredible success of Disposable Vapes and a general incline towards convenience, rebuildable atomisers and DIY E liquid were a big hit in the vaping market. Sadly this niche has dwindled to a few die-hard types still interested in saving a good deal of money for the small inconvenience of doing things themselves.
What is a Rebuildable Atomiser?
A rebuildable atomiser is a the part of the vape device responsible for heating E Liquid to produce vapour. Much the same as a pod in a pod kit, a rebuildable atomiser simply converts a liquid into an aerosol in order for the nicotine to be inhaled in the form of vapour. The obvious difference is the ability for the user to rebuild their own coil using resistance wire.
Rebuildable atomisers come in various types including:
- Tanks (RTA – Rebuildable Tank Atomiser)
- Drippers (RDA – Rebuildable Dripping Atomiser)
- Hybrids (RDTA – Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomisers)
How an RTA works
An RTA works by storing E liquid in a tank. The E liquid is fed to the coil by the windows positioned around the coils housing where it is then heated and atomised into vapour.
Rebuildable Tank Atomisers come in a huge range of forms and can take various different types of coils.
How an RDA works
An RDA does not hold E Liquid like a normal tank, RTA or RDTA. Instead the coils are dependant on the user manually “dripping” E Liquid on to them – hence their name. This style of vaping provides more flavour and vapour than any other, but comes with the obvious compromise of practicality. RDAs are not suitable for use when driving.
How an RDTA works
An RDTA is the most complicated of the various types of rebuildables but features a unique blend of a tank and a dripper. The coil is situated over the top of a tank of E liquid which it draws from, making it useful as a tank – and yet it is also designed to be used like a dripper so the user can simply drip E liquid straight onto the coil for maximum flavour.
Pros and Cons of Rebuildable Vapes
Rebuildable vapes arguably offer some of the best vaping there is, in terms of both flavour and vapour. Not only this but there is no cheaper way to vape than to rebuild your own coils. Buying premade coils and pods is of course more expensive, but you pay for convenience.
Rebuilding can be a very rewarding experience as you get to grips with how coils work, how they can differ and when to use one over another.
Below we look at the pros and cons of rebuilding your own coils over buying premade coils for Sub Ohm kits.
- Best value
- Best flavour potential
- Best vapour potential
- Most sustainable method of vaping
- Maximum customisation
- Time consuming
- Requires tools and resistance wire
- Can be tricky to get right
Rebuildable atomisers offer an unparalleled vaping experience but mostly appeal to individuals who like to “tinker” and who aren’t afraid to experiment and spend a good deal of time getting to grips with the the detailed end of vaping. If you’re interested in getting the best out of your money and your E Liquid, rebuildables could be a great option for you.