What are electronic cigarettes?


This quick guide is primarily for beginners, and will cover most questions newcomers will have in a short and simple fashion.

What are electronic cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes, otherwise know as e-cigs/personal vapourizers/etc, are devices whose function is to simulate the act of smoking while not inheriting all the same ill effects. They achieve this effect by combining  the actions of inhaling vapourized e-liquid that contains nicotine(or none at all),  and exhaling to produce vapour. They come in varied shapes and sizes, some are disposable while others are reusable.

E-cigs usually consist of the following parts:

Battery: supplies power to the heating element. Output is measured in volts. Capacity is measured in milliamp hour(mAh), higher is better.

Atomizer: the heating element(resistance wire) that turns the e-liquid into vapour.

  • Low▼ resistance paired with high▲ voltage output:
    • -Uses battery power & e-liquid faster ±Warmer vapour +More heat generally means more vapour
  • High▲ resistance paired with low▼ voltage output:
    • +Uses battery power & e-liquid slower ±Less warmer vapour -Less vapour

Atomizers have two main coil variations, single coil and dual coil, there are trade-offs for these as well:

  • Single coil:
    • +Doesn’t drain battery & e-liquid as fast -Longer to heat up, and less heat overall => less vapour
  • Dual coil:
    • -Drains battery & e-liquid fast +Fast heat up, more heat => more vapour

Liquid container: come in different forms specific to the rest of the components, some examples of these are: glass tanks, cartridges.

Cartomizer: the (usually) disposable combination of an atomizer and liquid container into one unit.

Variable voltage(VV) & variable wattage(VW) batteries/devices

These types of batteries and devices allow setting the voltage output or wattage to a preferred amount. Why variable voltage and variable wattage? Simply put, not all foods are cooked at the same temperature. The same applies to e-liquid, there can be a different perfect setting depending on the e-liquid.

VV: battery delivers the selected voltage output, not putting into account the resistance of the atomizer. Using the same voltage used for a high resistance coil on to a lower resistance coil will likely lead to a burnt taste, and in extreme cases may fry your coil.

VW: device will read the resistance of the atomizer to calculate the voltage for the selected wattage. With this you don’t have to know the resistance beforehand, simply attaching and then fine tuning will be good.

For reference, here are the formulas for calculating volts and power(measured in watts):

P = \frac{V^2}{R}

Where V = volts, P = power(watts), and R = resistance(ohms).

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