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Parts of a Vape Pen: Everything You Need to Know

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It’s 2019, but some people still aren’t familiar with vaping and the technology that surrounds this popular practice. Questions like, “What is a vape pen?” “How does a vape pen work?” and “What do I need to start vaping?” are still frequent Google searches, and so we’re here to clear up any confusion you may have, or questions that you need answered. Let’s get started!

What is Vaping?

To quote Fraulein Maria, “Let’s start at the very beginning.” If you don’t need a crash course in vape pen history, just skip the next little bit. Vaping has its roots in ancient times when our ancestors used hot stones to smoke herbs. However, the first e-cigarette was conceptualized by Joseph Robinson in 1927, but the first vape itself wasn’t created until Herbert Gilbert created a “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette” in 1963.

Vape is defined as “to inhale vapor through the mouth from a usually battery-operated electronic device (such as an electronic cigarette) that heats up and vaporizes a liquid or solid” according to Merriam-Webster. It’s become an incredibly popular alternative to traditional tobacco cigarette smoking because it allows users to choose products such as the Pax Era, Stig Vapor, or Smok Nord, that offer customizable options for inhaling vapor, including choosing the concentrations of nicotine as well as the flavor the user wishes to vape. Users can also choose to vape herbs and essential oils, including peppermint, lavender, chamomile, and eucalyptus.

Vape Pen Assembly

While no two vaporizers are exactly the same, for the most part, each vape pen has roughly the same major components: a battery, a heating chamber or atomizer, a mouthpiece, and a charger. As technology has evolved as the vape pen has grown in popularity, additional upgrades have added parts, including various sensors. It’s important to understand the different parts of your vape pen so that you can ensure you’re vaping safely, replacing parts when necessary, and are able to pick the product that’s best suited to your particular needs or desires.


An e-cigarette or vape pen is powered by a powerful, rechargeable, lithium-ion battery. Advancements in technology have enabled manufacturers to create batteries that continue to decrease in size while they increase in strength, leading to new vape pen product designs and advanced features. There are two options when it comes to battery choices: batteries that are located within the product and must remain within the device, such as the Pax Era or the Smok Nord, and batteries that are removable and can be replaced by a spare battery the user has on hand, such as the Yocan Evolve Plus. The option that falls outside the two main battery categories is batteries for disposable devices, such as for STIG Disposable Pod Devices. Because the devices are meant to be used over a short period of time — typically one vaping session — the batteries aren’t designed to be replaced or recharged.


There are two different options when it comes to the part of the vape pen that holds the actual material that is being vaped: a tank or a cartridge. Tanks are designed to be refillable, while cartridges are made to be used and then replaced with another cartridge. There are also products that offer a combination of the two. Although the distinction seems simple enough, it’s important for users to be thorough in reading product descriptions to be sure that they understand the type of product they are purchasing.

For example, the Smok Nord describes itself as a pod system and lists the portion of the device that holds the e-liquid as a cartridge. This may cause a bit of confusion because although the Smok Nord’s cartridge is indeed replaceable, it’s not meant to be used the way you typically would with a cartridge system. Instead, it’s more of a removable, refillable tank.

Users may find themselves drawn to one style or the other simply based on personal preference. Tanks are typically crafted out of glass, stainless steel, or polycarbonate plastic, depending on design and price point of the vape pen. In terms of design, many users prefer tanks or cartridges that are transparent so they can visually observe the amount of e-liquid remaining in the vape pen.


The portion of the vape pen that heats the material to the point of vaporization is called the atomizer, also known as the heating chamber. Atomizer is a generic term that is used to describe a device that converts liquid to vapor. For those with a vape pen, it’s the part of the device whose job it is to heat up the e-liquid to create an inhalable mist. Atomizers strength is measured in ohms. Understanding how atomizers work is just as important as understanding the various parts of your vape pen.

Although it can seem confusing, the way atomizers function is actually fairly simple to understand. When the vape pen is turned on through engaging the battery, the heating coils of the atomizer are triggered, causing it to rise in temperature. Above the coils in the atomizer lies a wick. The wick, usually made from a material such as cotton, is what transfers the e-liquid from the cartridge or tank of the vape pen to the heat from the coils.

Another important aspect to understand when learning about the various atomizers for vape pens and vaping technology is that the term “vaporizer” can be used to apply a multitude of parts, but usually include three main types of atomizers: disposable, replaceable coil heads, and rebuildable atomizers.

Disposable atomizers are usually the route to choose if you are new to vaping and are the type that you’ll often find included in vape starter kits. Although they’re easy to shop for and generally inexpensive, the cost can become a problem over time because you’re constantly replacing the atomizer. They’re also fairly simple when it comes to the different features that are offered. A prime example would be the STIG Disposable Pod Device, which you can learn more about by visiting this website.

Replaceable coil head atomizers contain coil heads that are, you guessed it, replaceable. Though they are priced a bit more than disposables, they offer the user more features and more advanced customization in comparison. In addition, they can also be cleaned, which allows users to vary their e-juice flavors without having to change the atomizer. Replaceable coil head atomizers are the most common atomizers overall.

Rebuildable atomizers, also known as RDAs, let the vapor build within their own coils. Due to the fact that this option requires the user to determine their preference of coil size, design, and materials, which takes time and knowledge, this type of atomizer is most popular among more advanced vape pen users. However, taking the time to develop your knowledge on rebuildable atomizers can pay off in this scenario, because these products offer the highest level of control over their vapes.

When selecting the atomizer that is best for you, be sure to consider these things: your budget, desire to customize your vape pen, the amount of time you want to spend on the whole process, and your experience level. If you want to take it slow, start with a disposable atomizer until you learn a bit more about the features and customizations you prefer. However, if you’re a bit more comfortable with the technology, you could choose something more sophisticated, such as an RDA or a replaceable coil head atomizer.

As if the three different types of atomizers weren’t enough for you, surprise! There’s more! Atomizers can be broken down even further into three more defined categories: cartomizers, glassomizers, and clearomizers. Though they hold the same responsibility as atomizers in terms of containing the coils and e-liquid, they are drastically different when it comes to material, capacity, vapor production, flavor, cost, and ease of use.


The most basic type of atomizer is the cartomizer. Due to their ease of use, they were incredibly popular in the early days of vaping. Cartomizers contain two pieces, a tank with a coil and the wick which attaches to a battery. Although they were simple to use, they only held small amounts of e-liquid and didn’t generate good flavor or vapor, two major drawbacks of the device.

A clearomizer looks nearly identical to a cartomizer, but with a clear plastic tank and more advanced features. Clearomizers made refilling the tank much easier, but the size is still one of the drawbacks of the device. The advantages, however, are that changing or replacing a damaged coil head is both easier and cheaper than replacing the entire cartomizer. The clearomizer also produces better vapor and flavor than the cartomizer does.

Glassomizers are designed exactly like clearomiers, and also function the same way. It has three pieces, including a tank, an atomizer, and a battery. The difference between the glassomizer and the clearomizer is the fact that while the clearomizer tank is made with plastic, the glassomizer features a tank made of Pyrex glass. Pyrex is more resistant to the acidic ingredients in e-liquids, which helps prevent erosion typically seen when using a clearomizer. In addition, the glass enables the tank to last longer, as well as helps enhance the e-liquid’s flavor and prevents any residual tastes from previously-used flavors. The downside is that not only is glass more delicate, it’s also more expensive.


With technology always at the forefront of manufacturer development practices, users can expect to see new features being added to vape pens in the coming months and years. There are a few awesome vape pen options on the market that have already begun to implement new types of technology, such as the PAX Era, which allows session control through its Bluetooth app interface, to the push-of-a-button vaping that the SMOK Nord offers. Users can also purchase a vape pen that is motion activated, with the heat coils triggered by the pen’s motion from an “at rest” position to the user’s mouth.


Although some manufacturers have designed their vape pen products to be disposable, such as the STIG Disposable Pod Devices, other products feature rechargeable batteries. A vape pen charger operates in a similar fashion to a cell phone charger. They typically attach to the end of the vape pen and feature an indicator light that alert users when the product is fully charged. Like cell phone chargers, vape pen chargers come in car chargers for traveling, USB chargers for connecting to your computer, and wall chargers for use at home.


You’ve researched your atomizer, chosen which features and sensors are important to you, and read up on the various atomizers to know which one you’re comfortable with. You’ve picked out the perfect vape pen and you’re finally ready to make your purchase. But you’re forgetting one little thing: the mouthpiece. Not to be overlooked or seen as an afterthought, the mouthpiece is one of the most important parts of the vape pen. As the only piece that allows the user to draw vapor, and the final component between the vape pen and the user, the design and composition of the mouthpiece can make or break a user’s experience. For flavorful hits and easily changing between flavors, choose a mouthpiece made of glass. Larger, deeper hits can be achieved by selecting a wider mouthpiece, while a narrow mouthpiece offers longer, extended inhales and small puffs. A vape pen mouthpiece is one important feature that you will need to replace on occasion to ensure peak performance and taste.

The Bottom Line

Now that you’ve educated yourself about the various parts of the vape pen, it’s time to decide what products are right for you. Will it be the Pax Era, with its numerous compatible pods, sleek and portable design, and Bluetooth app temperature control feature? Or maybe you'd prefer the Smok Nord, with its two coils, long-lasting battery, and gorgeous mesh design? Or the STIG Disposable Pod Device, with its four flavor options, salt-based nicotine, and affordable price? Though we’ve highlighted a few options, you can also check out a few more of our favorites on our blog. Whether you’re a beginner who is just learning to use a vape pen or you’ve been vaping for years, we hope that you’ve learned a bit more about the technology that exists to help you achieve the best vape pen experience possible. For any vaping products you need, be sure to visit the Lighter USA website and enjoy free shipping, free returns, and an awesome reward program.