The same premise applies to all vapes: a battery source (vape mod) powers a heating element (coil) that vaporizes e-juice in a small chamber (atomizer). The user then inhales the vapor through a small mouthpiece.
A vape works as a complete system. No one component is the vape, it’s what you have when it all comes together. Many experienced users shop a la carte for mixing and matching vape parts, but beginners are advised to stick to pre-packaged kits with everything included to ensure appropriate compatibility.
the power source
The vape mod is a battery device, normally using lithium-ion batteries. These devices can come in many forms and sizes. They’re named accordingly, like box mods, vape pens, tube mods, to small designs called pod vapes and e-cigarettes. The term “mod” is a nod to the early days of vaping when users modified flashlights for more power.
Nowadays, vape mods have a broad range in electronic features and power limits. Some are more advanced and can be adjustable in watts (variable wattage mods) or even controlled in temperature (temperature control mods); others have no adjustability and require no technological understanding from the user.
The levels of power in a vape mod generally dictate the ease of use, as well as the experience required to safely operate them.
Low power: pod vapes, vape pens, e-cigarettes, AIOs (all-in-ones)
No experience required
Small rechargeable battery (unless it’s a disposable e-cig)
Normally without adjustable power
Medium power: AIOs (all-in-ones), tube mods, box mods
Some experience required
Battery safety knowledge recommended
Medium size rechargeable battery built-in or replaceable
Often with adjustable power (up to 100 watts)
Pocketable (though rarely concealable)
High power: box mods, mechanical mods
Experience is a must
Multiple replaceable batteries (rarely built-in)
Requires battery safety knowledge
Pocketable (but heavy and bulky)
Normally with adjustable power (up to 200+ watts)
The replaceable batteries in vapes most frequently used in vape mods are 18650, 20700, 21700 sizes. These cells are much more powerful than your average remote controller batteries—a firm understanding of battery safety is required.
It is strongly advised that new users purchase devices with built-in, non-removable batteries that can be charged directly in the device from a USB port.
The vapor source
what is vaping vapor source
Vapor is made in what’s called a vape atomizer, sometimes called a vape tank. It’s a self-contained chamber electrically connected to the vape mod. It houses a resistance heating element—ususally a metal coil—and an absorbent wick saturated with e-juice (containing similar base ingredients to theatre “smoke”). When the user takes a hit, the coil heats the liquid from the wick, instantly making smoke-looking vapor.
All atomizers hold e-juice (mL), though some hold more than others. Many are designed for simplicity, and others are far more complex and suited for hobbyists. In order of ease of use, the four main categories are:
Prefilled: single-use; non-replaceable coils; disposable
Pods, cartridges, cartomizers
Refillable: multi-use; non-replaceable coils; disposable
Pods, cartridges, cartomizers
Refillable with replaceable coils: reusable with proprietary replacement coils
Sub ohm tanks, clearomizers
Rebuildable: user-installed wicks and coils; indefinitely reusable (“DIY”)
Any atomizer written as an acronym beginning with “R”, like RDA, RTA, RDTA, etc.
Just like with vape mods, there’s a lot of variation to atomizers. The key thing to remember that they need to be compatible with the vape mod. Not all will physically fit on all vape mods, and some aren’t appropriate due to their coil resistance and the power they may require to function properly.
The coils in atomizers come in various resistance ranges (ohms/Ω). Some coils make voluminous clouds (low resistance; less than 1.0 ohm) and others make more discreet vapor (high resistance; near or above 1.0 ohm). Regardless of the resistance, or type of atomizer, all coils are discarded after time. They don’t die like the filament in a light bulb, but flavor and vapor will decline after prolonged usage. This can range from a couple days to a week or longer.