Vapes are almost two decades old (six if you include the prototypes developed), but their tech evolves quickly. By applying a fixed power output with a push of the button, today’s vape can change power output at will to harness the full flavor of the liquid. Who knows what the next several years will hold for this modern wonder?
With the number of vape users worldwide on the rise, it may be a good time to talk about vape technology—what it is, how it works, and how to use it safely. Anyone vaping or planning to vape should first know that it’s an entirely different experience from smoking rolled tobacco.
A Less Risky Alternative
Credit for creating the first commercial vape goes to Hon Lik, a pharmacist based in Beijing, China. As his story goes, his motivation for inventing the technology was his father, a heavy smoker who succumbed to lung cancer.
Since then, the vape market has exploded with options such as Switch Collections and other vape product lines. In place of tobacco, vapes use a liquid concoction known as e-liquid or vape juice. Instead of burning tobacco, the devices generate heat to vaporize a dose of the liquid, turning it into an aerosol the user inhales.
Researchers found that the aerosol contains fewer chemicals than secondhand tobacco smoke, making it appealing to people who want a less risky alternative. However, vape juice still has nicotine and other chemicals to replicate the smoking experience. That said, scientists are still debating whether or not vaping carries less danger.
Anatomy Of A Vape
A standard vape device consists of three main parts: the power source (usually a battery), the atomizer, and the mouthpiece. Some may even feature a display panel and buttons to adjust the settings for a more personalized experience. Each of these has a system of several other parts working together for the whole unit to work as intended.
Depending on the device, the power source may either be removable or fixed. Current demand seems to lean toward the former, as it lets users enjoy vaping with one battery while charging the other. However, experts say first-time vapers should use vapes with internal batteries for their ease of use.
Most vapes accommodate the standard 18650 battery, which is 18 mm in diameter and 65 mm in length. Other common sizes include:
20700, 20 mm x 70 mm
21700, 21 mm x 70 mm
26650, 26 mm x 65 mm
18350, 18 mm x 35 mm
18490, 18 mm x 49 mm
18500, 18 mm x 50 mm
20650, 20 mm x 65 mm
All vape batteries are lithium-ion based, denoted by the letter “I” in their letter series. However, they may also comprise other metals like cobalt (C), iron (F), manganese (M), and nickel (N). Each chemical makeup has its pros and cons. For instance, an IMR or lithium-manganese battery enables increased electrical flow while regulating its internal temperature.
It’s safe to say that this component is the heart of any vape, as it’s responsible for turning the e-liquid, regardless if it’s organic or synthetic, into an aerosol. It generates the needed heat by drawing power from the battery. The atomizer activates when the user inhales via the mouthpiece or pushes the button, heating the liquid between 212o F and 482o F.
The type of atomizer installed determines the kind of e-liquid input, as manufacturers usually sell them as a single component. A rebuildable tank atomizer (RTA) features an e-liquid tank, on the other hand a rebuildable drip atomizer (RDA) requires manually applying the liquid in controlled doses. RTAs are more common than RDAs because of their convenience.
Mouthpieces are built out of various materials and come in different designs. Plastic mouthpieces are most prevalent, which are affordable and have a low risk of scalding the user’s mouth when vaping. Other materials used are glass, metal, and resin.
The 510-type mouthpiece or drip tip, with a base diameter of 8.5 mm, used to be standard among all vape devices. But as tanks grew, the 12.5-mm 810-type superseded it in the market. Nevertheless, both types still find use among vapers: 510s for getting the full flavor and 810s for ‘cloud-chasing’ or producing substantial vape clouds.
As vapers gain experience every time, they fire up the device, they also gain insights into the type of experience they want. This demand for customization gave rise to ‘mods’ or vape devices that have been altered from their base models, particularly in terms of power output and e-liquid feed mechanisms.
As the vaping scene rapidly grows worldwide, new technologies will surely follow suit. People currently vaping or planning to do so will have to learn the nuts and bolts of this unique culture to understand what makes it tick.
Aaren Garnett has been involved in the vaping industry for more than ten years, sharing his insights in multiple blogs. He frequents vape shops and reads online sources to learn more about the industry.