Electronic cigarettes can be a daunting thing. I know when I was first looking for mine, that I felt like no vape shops were helpful. I would call and ask, “what should I look for in an e-cig, or what are some of the most popular ones?” I was told some of the Sigeleis, but I still had a thousand questions – did these include tanks? Juice? How did I charge them? Would I have to buy an external battery? Then after I had my first e cig, two thousand more questions came to my mind. In this article, my goal is to introduce the reader to the idea of electronic cigarettes, what makes an electronic cigarette desirable, and which electronic cigarettes are time-tested as good buys (with personal commentary based on which ones I’ve purchased and used, of course).
To begin with, the reader should understand some of the terminology. An electronic cigarette is the all-encompassing term for a portable, nicotine delivery device that vaporizes juice at high temperatures by use of the coil. Each electronic cigarette has a “fire” button, which causes the coil to heat up and begin vaporizing juice. Electronic cigarettes consist of three major parts – the tank, which contains the juice and typically the coil, the coil, which serves as the prime delivery device and causes your juice to actually turn to vapor, and the battery, which… powers the whole build.
From my very first EVOD Kanger E Cig, I knew right away that the tank sucked. Which could be considered a pun – the thing that I look for the most in a tank is the air flow. The air flow allows a user to adjust just how much air is being pulled in when the user draws for the electronic cigarette – the more air that is allowed to be pulled in, the more vapor will be generated. Tanks are much more friendly now with allowing bigger and more controllable airflow than ever. The Aspire Nautilus, a tank that I have and love, is big and great. It’s fantastic, but the airflow of it is horrible. There are only four options for the airflow, and the biggest one doesn’t feel like it works all that well, even. This is most likely due to the design; when you take a tank like the eGo One Mega, airflow is much more of a centerpiece to its design. The air flow is very adjustable and controllable, and is changed just by rotating the head of the tank.
Storage capacity is my next big thing in tanks, or “how much juice does the tank hold,” in simple terms. Juice storage can be a big deal for some people; when I make a long, multiple hour drive, I like to use a big tank so that I don’t have to pull over and refill on juice and instead can keep puffing while driving. Storage capacity for tanks can run as low as .5 mL for some tanks, and as high as 5 mL for larger, beefy tanks. Storage capacity can actually make quite an impact – when a user vapes at sub-ohm resistances (the new, more modern type of delivering vapor), more juice is used than when not vaping at sub-ohm resistances. Therefore, a .5 mL tank on a sub-ohm build will burn through juice in what would essentially be a few draws.
Compatible Coils/the Coil
Understanding which type of coil your electronic cigarette uses, and how it works, is critical to getting the most life out of your juice, battery, and even keeping the entire build in good shape. Coils are the part of the electronic cigarette which convert the juice into vapor, due to the firing mechanism which causes the coil to heat up. In this process, a little problem called “Ohm’s Law” can be used to determine how much vapor is generated. Essentially, Ohm’s Law is a calculator that all electronic cigarette users have on hand which allow them to decide the best-fit for their electronic cigarette – the amperes, ohms, watts and volts all combine together to determine exactly how much vapor is to be created. Coils will always have the same resistance – that is the one constant. Therefore, understanding the ohms (resistance) of your coil is critical to ensure a proper vaping experience. Coils typically come in a range – for my Nautilus tank, I was able to get coils as low a 1.2 ohms but as high as 1.9 ohms. This allows for a variety of devices to accept the tank and coils.
Battery life might be the number one most important thing for me when it comes to e cigs – how many mAH does a battery hold? Typical, old-styled vape pens have batteries as low as 600-750 mAH, while new box mods can hold up to a ridiculous 5,000 mAH. Understanding how big your battery is can be critical to a new-time vaper, as knowing if you need to recharge it every 12 hours, every day, or every other day can be critical to keeping yourself off cigarettes.
Included in this is also the pass-through function, which is almost essential for any e cigs that charge by a micro USB port. A pass-through allows for the electronic cigarette to still be used while it’s charging – also something I consider essential, since I still want to vape even if my electronic cigarette is ready or not.
See above to understand the most part of it; most electronic cigarettes are compatible with a variety of form factors, but occasionally a new tank comes out that isn’t the traditional 510 threaded socket. Make sure that your type of battery supports the proper type of tank, which means the coil is making a clear connection with the battery.
In addition to the above information, knowing where to get coils for cheap can also be of great immediate benefit. Coils typically come in packs of at least 5 before savings begin to occur – coils are almost always cheaper to buy online than in a brick-and-mortar store. For example, my Nautilus uses a coil which I can pick up at the local vape shop for $3.99 per coil, or I can shop online for various deals, all of which seem to be 5 coils for around the price range of $8 to $12 before shipping.
The Different Types
As mentioned earlier, there are several different types of electronic cigarettes. There are the disposable kinds (Blu), the pen kinds (first generation) (Kanger EVOD), mechanical mods, and box mods.
Disposable vaporizers, in all honestly, should never be considered unless a user has no experience with electronic cigarettes or simply wants to see what it feels like. The main one that comes to mind is the Blu disposable electronic cigarettes. Last time I used one of these, I paid $11.99 for it before tax. These disposables are advertised to last for around 500 puffs, which is a total lie, I felt. These are non-refillable, expensive, and overall, just a terrible value. Only look into a disposable if you want to see what vapor tastes like.
Pen vaporizers are the first generation of vaporizers – these are the simple, sleek, tiny ones that indeed look like pens or pencils. These typically run a non-sub ohm build, hold little juice, and are made of plastic. Typically, these are awful, as you do not want plastic tanks – plastic tanks cause a lot of issues, such as burning when fired with improper juices, scalding due to the type of juice put in, and even cracking. The benefit is that these are usually much cheaper than any of their alternatives, and are refillable, unlike disposables.
Mods, mechanical or box, are “modular” or “moddable,” depending on who you ask. However, the general idea behind a mod is that the user can control how many amperes are being fired into the system, controlling the amount of vapor generated. Mechanical mods are mods that are physically changed by the use of mechanics; typically, something is tightened or loosened to cause the battery to make a better connection with the coil. Mechanical mods typically do not have displays and are reminiscent of tubes, sort of like pen-style vapes but made with metal and always a much more impressive sight. Mechanical mods are powered by batteries, which can be an expensive purchase for some, ranging upwards of $15. These batteries are rechargeable, though, and last for awhile – a user will also have to pay for a battery charger for 18650 batteries.
Box mods are, in my opinion, the holy grail of vaping – box mods are always usually the best mods, for both the price and features available. Box mods sometimes include a display with output; my Evic VT shows temperature control, the amount of power, the atomizer resistance (coil), and the battery life left. My iTaste MVP 20 watt shows how much battery life is left (by using LEDs surrounding the fire button), how many puffs I’ve taken, and the amperes/ wattage being fired. Typically, most things can be controlled in a box mod except the wattage, which allows for a variety of tanks and scenarios to work on the same mod. A number of box mods also have Micro-USB charging ports, allowing it to use the same charging cord as an Android phone or tablet.
In a tank, a user should watch for the amount of juice held, the airflow of the tank, and the type of coil that are used. The coil makes a difference, so understanding Ohm’s law and what coil resistance would be appropriate for your tank is critical. Fortunately, most vape shops (either in-person or online) have resources and members on hand to help answer questions about getting a proper vape.
Old stick-style batteries, such as those found in vape pens, should be given up in lieu of using box-mod batteries. These batteries typically last longer, are built much sturdier, and have a wider variety of function compared to stick batteries that only fire at one resistance.
Best E-Cigarette Start Kit 2016
Buying an electronic cigarette is an art; half of it is knowing what to buy, and the other half is knowing where to buy. I tell new users to buy their hardware online, and their juice in the store in person; the idea is that most hardware is manufactured from China, so as long as you go through a legit channel, you will pay wholesale prices and get a better deal than going to the local store and buying one. Juice should be bought in-store first because most juice stores allow for a user to test out the flavor of the juice, as well as make any slight customizations that they might desire, such as making a non-menthol flavor have menthol in it.
For the price of $55.95, I highly recommend the Joyetech eVic VT starter kit, which includes everything a user needs to get started except for the juice. The VT is very sleek and stylish, and the included tank is absolutely amazing since it has the wide-mouthed drip tip instead of a narrow tip. Included functions are temperature control, a puff counter, a variable wattage mode, and a nice OLED screen for reading output information. The VT is charged by micro USB, as well, which means no additional cords are needed in order to work the thing. (Link: http://www.myvaporstore.com/Joyetech-eVic-VT-Temp-Control-Starter-Kit-p/joye-vtk.htm )
The second starter kit I recommend is the Kanger Subox Nano/Mini. I have never owned a Kanger Subox myself, but I have used them and they’re lovely little machines. The Subox series are a series of smaller box mods, but include the gargantuan Subtanks, which can hold either 3mL or 5mL of juice, depending on if a user goes for the Nano or Mini edition. The Subtank includes a drip tip as well, allowing for a much better vaping experience. Unfortunately, the Subtank relies on an 18650 battery, which means a separate purchase has to be made in order to have power available. However, the 18650 battery can be recharged in the box itself, meaning the $48.95 purchase of a Kanger Subox Nano can also be a replacement purchase for what would be a $20-$30 18650 battery charger.