Vaping is quickly growing in popularity due to its benefits over smoking, but there is a learning curve for beginners. When you first begin vaping and looking to buy various devices and juices, it can feel intimidating until you learn the lingo and get the basics of the vape world down. One of our main goals at Lighter USA is to help our customers feel informed and empowered to make the best purchasing choices possible. As such, we’ve created this Beginners Guide to Vaping to help you better understand vape kits, vape pens, and vape juice. Let’s start with a quick look at what vaping is and how it began.
What is Vaping?
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling vapor that is produced by an electronic cigarette or a vaporizer. In its most basic form, it works because an atomizer heats the liquid (referred to as vape juice, e-juice, or sometimes simply vape), to its boiling point. That then becomes vapor that you inhale and exhale, and it is where the verb “vaping” comes from. Thought to be a safer alternative to smoking, many vape users approach vaping to help wean off of nicotine and protect their health. Vaping also produces less waste than cigarette smoking, as there is less packaging, no cigarette butts, and no need for lighters.
A Brief History of Vaping
Where it all began
Some historians believe that vaping actually begin in ancient times, with the Egyptians using hot stones to vape herbs, and the Scythians having a similar practice (source). It’s difficult to validate these claims, however, so we’ll narrow the historic scope to what we know about vaping in the US. Although vaping has only been on the US market since 2007, the history of it actually reaches all the way back to 1963, when a man named Herbert A. Gilbert patented the first electric cigarette. He shared his motivation for creating the e-cigarette in this interview: “I’m a logical guy and logic told me to define the problem and then develop a solution. The problem, as I concluded, was that when you burned leaves and wood, even if you did it in your backyard, it yielded a result that no one wanted to take into their lungs.” However, not everyone was as convinced as Gilbert was that smoking would come with dangerous, health-harming side effects, and no one took his e-cigarette seriously. This is fascinating, considering that the first widely-accepted study to uncover the risks of smoking was published in 1954 and finalized in 1964.
Decades went by while anti-smoking campaigns continued to mount and warn consumers about the ill effects of smoking. Then, in 2003, Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik registered a patent for a modernized vape pen. Hon’s motivation to create the vape device was two-fold: he both wanted to stop smoking and also sought to avenge his father’s death from lung cancer (source). The first vape kits were marketed to Europe in 2006 and then came to the US in 2007. Since their arrival on the market, vape pens have undergone many iterations to constantly improve, and thousands of types of vape juices have been developed. In the next section of this guide, we’ll look at the many different kinds of vaping devices to help you decide which one is best for you.
Vape devices are what you use to vaporize vape juice. While there are many different types, they typically all share the same basic components:
- Atomizer: This is the small heating element within the vape pen which converts the liquid vape juice into vapor which you then inhale.
- Sensors: Sensors tell the atomizer when to activate. While many vape pens automatically turn on when you inhale, some require you to turn them on by pushing a button. Each of these functions require a sensor.
- Battery: A lithium ion battery powers all vape pens. Small but mighty, the battery is rechargeable and powers the heating element. Many different types of batteries are available, and how long they last depends both on the type and how often you vape. If you’re a frequent vaper, then you may want to have a replacement battery on hand. Browse our selection here >
- Charger: When you buy a vape pen, it should come with a charger. It most likely screws on to the end of your vape pen and has an indicator that depicts when your pen is fully charged and ready for vaping. We offer many different types, from USB chargers, to car chargers, and wall chargers.
Depending on your vaping needs, you’ll want to select one of these different types of vaporizers. Do note that most
- Dry Pens: Sometimes called weed vaporizers, dry pens are used to vape medical marijuana, tobacco, or other legal herbs from a solid flower form into vapor. A dry pen heats the dry herbs to the optimal temperature to activate the potent ingredients your choice of herbs and then turns them into vapor. Shop here >
- Oil Pens: This type of pen is specifically used to vaporize cannabis distillates and oils. Shop here >
- Wax Pens: A wax pen is a type of vape pen used to vaporize herbal wax concentrates and thick oils. Shop here >
- Portables: The name is just like it sounds like — a portable is used for on-the-go vaporizing. It is smaller and makes for more convenient, personal use. Shop here >
- Desktop: Again, getting a hint from the name, a desktop vaporizer is a larger device that is not designed for on-the-go vaporizing. Info from Maximum Yield shares that “Desktop vaporizers need to be plugged directly into a power source in order to function. Thus, they have a strong, stable power source, which usually makes for stronger and larger amounts of vapor and a better user experience.” Shop here >
A vape kit may be your best bet if you’re brand new to the vaping world, since they come complete with everything you need to start vaping. A vape kit typically includes e-cigarette devices with All-In-One modules. Check out our pen vape kits here >
Vape juice, sometimes called e-juice or simply referred to as vape, is the concentrated liquid that you stock your e-cigarette with; once it hits its boiling point, it becomes the vapor that you inhale. It is actually pretty simplistic in form, only containing three to four ingredients.
Vape juice always contains these three main ingredients: vegetable glycerin (VG), propylene glycol (PG), and flavoring. Sometimes it also contains nicotine, but nicotine-free varieties are available. Here’s more information on each ingredient:
VG: Vegetable glycerin (VG) helps make the vapor that you can see whenever you vape. Although it can be produced in varying grades, it is only used in food-grade for vape juice, which is 99.7% pure VG (the remaining 0.3% is water). Created from plant oils (soy, corn, palm, and coconut), it is a water-soluable sugar alcohol that is often found in sweeteners. It is typically found in low-carb foods and has no known side effects or harms. Interestingy, it is also sometimes found in cosmetics and personal hygiene products, thanks to its great moisturizing abilities.
PG: Propylene Glycol (PG) is “a synthetic food additive that belongs to the same chemical group as alcohol. It is a colorless, odorless, slightly syrupy liquid that is a bit thicker than water. It has practically no taste. Additionally, it can dissolve some substances better than water and is also good at retaining moisture. This makes it very useful as a food additive, so it can be found in a wide variety of processed foods and drinks. (source)” The reason it is used in vape juice is that it turns to vapor when it is heated.
All vape juices come with various levels of nicotine, and some don’t contain nicotine at all. They are written on the bottle in mg/mL form, and the most typical levels of nicotine that you’ll see are 0mg/mL, 3mg/mL, 6mg/mL, 12mg/mL, and 18mg/mL. It is possible that you’ll see concentrations as high as 24mg/mL or perhaps even 36mg/mL, which are very high and should not be used by beginners. If you’re trying to quit smoking, here are the levels you should consider:
3-6mg/mL: Best for light smokers (less than 10 cigarettes per day)
6-12mg/mL: Best for regular smokers (up to one pack of cigarettes per day)
12-18mg/mL: Best for heavy smokers (more than one pack of cigarettes per day) or those who use unfiltered cigarettes
One of the reasons vaping is so popular is because there are so many incredible flavors to choose from! Honestly, any flavor you can think of is probably readily available in vape juice. For example, some of our best sellers include mango, cotton candy, watermelon, menthol, kiwi strawberry, cucumber, blueberry, creme brulee, and raspberry lemonade. Shop our full collection of flavors here >
Hopefully this guide has been helpful to clear up some of the confusion around vaping! However, if you still have questions about vape pens, vape juices, vape kits, or anything else, we’d be more than happy to help. Simply fill out this form and we’ll be in touch with you shortly!