Vape School

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Here are some of the most FAQs on Vaping. 

 Does using a PV have any side effects?

There are things to be aware of while you enter into the world of personal vaporizers. Overuse, allergies and sensitivities to ingredients can all result in unfavorable results. Nothing that is known to happen really qualifies as ‘sick’ but some side effects can be uncomfortable.

Just about everybody that uses a PV experiences an increased level of dehydration in the form of dryness in the mouth and/or throat. You should try to be aware of this and keep yourself adequately hydrated by making sure to drink an ample supply of water or sport type drinks that include electrolytes. 

Overuse is something to be aware of. The nicotine in the e-liquid is a stimulant and taking in to much nicotine can cause increased heart rate and anxiety. If you feel this happening to you, you need to reduce the amount of nicotine by either using your PV less or decreasing the nicotine level in the e-liquid. 

Allergies or sensitivities can also bring up issues. If you develop any allergy like symptoms or persistent discomfort then you probably need to change the base of the liquid you are using. Most people will be using the common PG type of e-liquid and if this is the case then you would want to try a liquid made with VG or PEG. If you are unsure about the content of your liquid and you are developing uncomfortable side effects then post about it in the forums and ask for advice. Many more experienced users will be able to help when you are unsure and you should utilize this assistance. 


Can I use an electronic cigarette the same way I smoke real cigarettes?

Not really. Smoking a cigarette is usually done in short hard puffs. Using an e-cig, you will get the best results with slower more controlled puffs. Where you might drag on a cigarette for 2 to 3 seconds most e-cigs will need a drag of 4 to 5 seconds to produce favorable results.

What should I buy?

You should look for a starter kit containing two batteries, an atomizer and some starter cartridges. Once you decide on the starter kit, add a few extra atomizers and an extra battery for that model plus get some e-liquid. It is good to start small but make sure to get enough that a single piece of equipment failing is not going to prevent you from being able to use your e-cig. Once you decide you do like something then get more of it. You can not really have too much equipment on hand if your budget can allow it.

Preferred device poll – Vapers Forum

If you had to recommend just ONE PV to a newbie … – Vapers Forum

What are the parts of an electronic smoking device?

A power source (usually a battery or wire that draws power from a USB port)

An atomizer (the part containing the heating element)

A cartridge (the part containing the liquid storage material)

Some e-cigs combine the atomizer and cartridge into one piece. These are generally referred to as cartomizers

How your Ecig ‘works’ – Vapers Forum

What are some special terms I should be familiar with?

There is a glossary of terms that is constantly being revised to keep up with the newest terms related to e-cigs. It is located at, Glossary of terms and abbreviations – Vapers Forum

What kind of PV is this?

Many people on this forum use manufacturer identification numbers when discussing PV’s. Unfortunately though, many sellers use names for their products rather than the original manufacturer identification number. For this reason it can sometimes be difficult to figure out exactly what you have. 

Vapers Forum is always working to keep an updated pictorial directory to help new comers identify what model of PV they have. If you are unable to figure out what you have based on this pictorial guide then post where you purchased your PV and what they are calling it and someone on the forum will help you figure out what it is.

Different Models – Vapers Forum

(link to pictorial guide will go here once that thread is done)

How do cartridges work?

Cartridges can be purchased prefilled with liquid or as blanks (aka cores) with no liquid in them. You can re-use carts that come pre-filled with liquid by refilling them with separately purchased liquid.

Cartridge life varies in different models. Super mini sized e-cigs usually have small carts that last a duration roughly equivalent of 2 to 4 cigarettes worth of puffs. Mini size e-cigs will usually go for a duration roughly equivalent of 3 to 6 cigarettes worth of puffs. Pen style, cigar and pipe cartridges will usually last a duration roughly equivalent of 10 or so cigarettes worth of puffs.

Cartridges can be refilled or topped off with e-liquid by just dripping it into the filler material inside the cartridge. In smaller e-cigs it is not uncommon for the filler material to be recessed inside the cartridge. In this case take a paper clip and insert it into the hole you would suck through on the cartridge. The inner cup will push up and you can hold it up higher where it is easier to drip liquid into it. Drip the liquid slowly and pay close attention not to fill it so much that liquid makes a small pool on the top. If that happens dab a little off with the corner of a napkin.

Another method frequently used to replenish cartridges is to use a syringe. This allows you to fill the cart from the bottom up and eliminates the need to push the inner cup up with recessed cartridges. You will want a syringe with no higher than 20Ga needles and no smaller than 3cc/ml capacity. If the needle is pointed, file it down to blunt it a bit, you do not want to stick yourself with a syringe of e-liquid. Insert the needle into the filler material and fill the cartridge slowly raising the needle to spread the liquid fully through the filler material.

Cartridges can be reused a few times but should be cleaned periodically. Use a tweezers and remove the filler material and run it under warm to hot water till it turns bright white again. If the bright white does not return to your filler material then you probably need to replace the filler material. There are several good suggestions as to what to use to replace filler material and you should research that separately for suggestions as nothing is definitive. Even the materials used by manufacturers varies so there is no single answer.

What is e-liquid?

The liquid used in the cartridges is referred to as e-liquid. It commonly has 3 major components. An agent to produce the vapor, Nicotine for obvious reasons and flavorings to add flavor. All of the components except the nicotine would be considered safe for use in food products.

There are three types of agents that can be used to create vapor.
PG – Propylene Glycol is the most common
VG – Vegetable Glycerin is also used, usually by people with allergies or sensitivity to PG.
PEG – Polyethylene glycol also predominantly used by people with allergies or sensitivity issues.

The vast majority of e-liquids you will find will be PG based and if you are new to vaping keep your order small the first time to insure you don’t get stuck with a big batch of liquid that you don’t like or can’t use.

E-liquids are also available in different strength levels of nicotine ranging from zero nicotine up to levels as high as approximately 4.8% nicotine, though anything higher than 2.6% is getting increasingly more difficult to find. The nicotine level is expressed in milligrams per milliliter but can be converted to an approximate percentage by placing a decimal between the digits. 24mg strength would be roughly 2.4% nicotine.

The strength of nicotine you will use is a widely variable thing depending on many factors. Many people would say a pack a day smoker does not need any more than 1.2% nicotine in their e-liquid but probably just as many would say they need higher strength. You should do follow up research on e-liquids if you plan to engage in vaping for a while. There are a lot of different ways you can handle getting liquids so the more time investment you make, the less money you will spend.

The liquid that tastes most like a real cigarette is… there is none. No liquid tastes like a real cigarette because there is no combustion. Imagine if you will what tobacco would taste like if you made it into a tea. It is not a pleasant thought for most people. Instead look over the flavors and choose a flavor you normally find pleasant. Keep in mind that different flavors will taste different from different suppliers so while you may not like vanilla from one company, you may like vanilla from another. Try small sizes for different liquids till you find something you like then get larger bottles.

E-liquids should be stored in a cool, dry place that is not exposed to direct sunlight. Many suppliers use colored glass bottles to help reduce exposure to sunlight but it is not a bad idea to keep whatever you are not actively using stored in a closed box that eliminates any light exposure. 

What is dripping or dipping?

You do not have to use cartridges with most personal vaporizers. In most cases you can wet the coil of the atomizer with e-liquid and vape it that way. If the coil of your atomizer is recessed inside a housing you would drip 2 to 4 drops of liquid directly onto that coil. If the coil is exposed then you can actually dip the coil itself into some e-liquid and hold it there for a second. Doing this usually produces the rough equivalent of one cigarette worth of puffs. 

Usually people who do this will still use a cartridge that has the filler material removed so they have a comfortable mouthpiece. Most atomizers come with an empty mouthpiece already on them. This mouthpiece will not have any stuffing and can be used with dripping. Others prefer no mouthpiece at all and instead will drag directly off the end of the atomizer. This is called ‘sucking the tailpipe’. One should keep in mind that the atomizer can get very hot and it can burn your lips and tongue and be dangerous without using a mouthpiece or empty cartridge.

One should also be aware that the battery and atomizer have a continuous hole through the center so that the inhale may activate the pneumatic (pressure activated) switch on the battery and dripping liquid onto the atomizer risks that liquid going into the hole in your battery. If you get liquid in the battery it can become stuck in the on or off position rendering it unusable. 

How do the batteries work?

There are two types of batteries, manual and automatic. Within that there are also two types of automatic batteries. Manual batteries have a button that is held to engage them. Automatic batteries are engaged by sucking air through them.

Manual batteries offer an advantage over automatic batteries in the abiliy to pre-heat an atomizer by pressing the button a second before you begin taking a puff. They are also capable of running longer to allow for a longer deeper drag. Automatic batteries offer an advantage over manual batteries in that they are able to be used hands free. To get the same pre-heating effect with an automatic batter you should take a small puff before taking your actual puff. This is called a primer puff as it heats the atomizer and helps it perform better.

Automatic batteries can be made either mechanical or electromagnetic. A mechanical automatic battery uses a plastic diaphragm that moves when air is drawn through the battery. An electromagnetic automatic battery uses a microphone like switch that senses the vibrations of the air drawing through the battery. Electromagnetic batteries can be triggered by ambient sounds, most notably deep bass tones. If you can make your battery light up by speaking into or blowing on the LED end of it then you have an electromagnetic battery.

Some batteries have a ‘safety cut off’ that will turn off the battery if it is active longer than a predetermined number of seconds ranging between 2 and 10. Usually if you reach this cut off period the battery light will blink and you will have to pause for a moment (could be up to 2 minutes) before taking another puff. The batteries also blink when they are dead and need charging. If you are unsure about what the blinking light on your batteries are indicating, make a post including the model of e-cig you have and how many times the light is blinking and someone will help you figure out what it means (this may also be explained in your booklet that came with it).

Manual batteries are usually sealed in the center of the battery so liquid can not get inside the battery if you drip liquid. Automatic batteries require an air passage hole in the center of them and can be damaged by liquid running down and going inside the battery.

Battery life varies greatly in different personal vaporizers. Always read multiple reviews before purchasing any product and follow the manufacturers suggestions included in the instructions for care and charging.

What is a passthrough?

A passthrough is a device that is used in place of a battery. It has a wire attached that plugs into a USB port to draw power. Like batteries, there are a few different types of passthroughs. There are manual as well as automatic passthroughs and in addition to that there are passthroughs that use inline batteries and ones that do not.

Passthrough devices that use inline batteries are actually battery powered. It is the battery that supplies the power to the atomizer but the battery is constantly charging when connected to a USB power source. This insures that when you use it connected to a USB you are always running of a fully charged battery and will consistently provide the same experience as using your PV with a fully charged stock battery.

Passthrough devices that use a direct line to the USB are capable of delivering higher voltage than a standard battery. This can sometimes mean the atomizer will heat a little hotter and the device will produce a little more ‘kick’. Bear in mind that not all passthroughs are made equal and performance can vary. 

What is an atomizer?

The atomizer is the most important part of any electronic personal vaporizer. The atomizer is the part that turns the liquid into vapor. It does this by heating a coil that is in contact with the filler material containing the e-liquid. You should always be aware that atomizers can get quite hot when in use. Use caution handling them immediately after use.

When atomizers are shipped they are usually coated with a protective fluid that prevents oxidation. That fluid tastes quite bad usually and many people will not inhale the first 20 to 50 puffs off a new atomizer. It is perfectly normal to have a bad taste at the beginning but the atomizer should break in fairly quickly and lose the bad taste.

Cleaning, care and maintenance of atomizers is another subject that holds no definitive answers. Again this is an area where you will have to exercise due diligence and find what suits you best.

Atomizer are like light bulbs and they will burn out in time. Some will last a very long time and some will go quickly. You should never rely on just one single atomizer.

Why is my e-cig not making as much vapor anymore?

When you notice the performance of your e-cig/PV starting to diminish it usually means you need more liquid or your battery is getting close to dead. First inspect your cartridge and see if it looks dry. If the cartridge looks wet then try changing the battery. 

If your cartridge is wet and your battery is charged and you are still not getting much vapor there are other things it could be. Here are some other common causes for drop offs in vapor production.

Flooded atomizers are a common reason for vapor drop off. This is often a problem for people who drip liquid directly on the atomizer. It is not usually a problem when cartridges, but can happen if the material inside your cartridge is not dense enough. Loose cart filling will allow liquid to run out of it too easily. This causes too much fluid to collect around the atomizer and prevents the atomizer from getting as hot as it needs to be. While a slight crackling noise is normal with many PV’s, if it is making a gurgling noise then your atomizer is very likely flooded.

Fixing a flooded atomizer is easy. Disconnect the atomizer from the PV, place the threaded end that usually connects to the battery into your lips and blow through the atomizer. Be sure to hold a tissue in front of the atomizer to catch the excess liquid that drips out. Once it is blown out place the atomizer back on the PV and take two puffs before adding more liquid.

Another reason for diminished vapor production is that the atomizer is getting clogged up. You will usually be able to tell this is happening because it will also make it harder to suck air through the atomizer. If you used to have a nice light draw on your PV and it is getting harder to suck through, it this is very possibly the problem. Fixing this requires that you clean your atomizer and that means you will need to figure out what method you want to use without the guidance of this ‘guide’.