How Do E-Cigarettes Work?

Vaping hardware explained

E-cigarettes are taking the world by storm as more and more healthcare experts recognise the vital role they play in helping smokers quit. Since their invention by a Chinese pharmacist in 2003, the basic design hasn’t changed much: regardless of the style they all have a tank, a battery and a heating element and a mouthpiece of some description. 

But as the e-cigarette market grows to meet the demands of new and committed vapers, manufacturers have become ever-more creative with their kit designs and you would be forgiven for any uncertainty over which kit to buy. 

So in this article we break down all the basic components of a basic e-cigarette device and describe what each bit does.

What is an e-cigarette?

An e-cigarette is a device that allows you to inhale nicotine in a vapour rather than smoke. E-cigarettes do not burn tobacco and do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most damaging elements in tobacco smoke. 

E-cigarettes create an aerosol by using a battery to heat up liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavourings, and other additives. Users inhale this aerosol into their lungs.

Their purpose is to simulate the sensation of smoking, which is why they are ideal as a quitting aid. For many smokers part of the pleasure of their habit is the hand-to-mouth movement and feeling. An e-cigarette mimics that sensation, which is lacking in nicotine replacement patches, sprays or gum. 

 Overview of an e-cigarette’s components

The tank

The vape tank goes on top of the device itself; it stores the e-juice that your device turns into vapour. In some e-cigarettes the tank is built-in and can’t be replaced, in others it can. In most devices the tank is refillable, it’s only with disposable vape pens that the tank can’t be refilled.

The coil/atomiser

Coils are responsible for heating up the e-liquid in your device and turning it into vapour. The coil is essentially a wire that is wrapped in a spiral shape around your device’s wicking material. It’s then held in place by an atomiser head – the coil connecting the positive part of your battery to the negative. In most kits the coil is easily replaceable and/or cleaned. 

The power button

Some vape kits have a firing button which you need to hold down when inhaling. Pressing the button signals to the battery that it needs to provide power to the heating element, or coil, so that it can heat up to turn the e-liquid inside the chamber into vapour. Some vape pens don’t have a button, they work simply by the act of inhaling.

The battery

Most e-cigarette batteries are lithium ion and rechargeable. Some devices, depending on the type of power you require, take up to four batteries. Battery strength is measured in mAh (milliampere hours). The higher the mAh value, the longer the battery will last between charges. In most kits the batteries are replaceable.

The display

All vape mods and kits that have adjustable controls will have a display screen. Displays will allow you to see the wattage, coil resistance, voltage, ampere, and sometimes even the puff count. Other vape devices have different modes, such as power, VPC (Variable Power Curve), temperature control, battery level, and bypass.

The power indicator

Like any other battery, the one in your vape kit will weaken over time. Depending on the design of your vape kit you’ll find this out either via a warning light or a “low power” indicator. When that happens it’s time to recharge or replace (again, depending on the kit’s design).

The charging port

Following on from the above, this is where you plug in your charging cable, if that’s how your battery works. No further explanation needed!

Safety of e-cigarettes

There is a comprehensive system of regulation in the UK. It includes minimum standards of safety and quality, detailed notification of ingredients and labelling requirements.

The revised EU Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) came into force in May 2017 and created a dual-track approach for regulating e-cigarettes. For smoking cessation claims to be made about e-cigarettes they must be licensed as medicines by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). All other e-cigarettes are regulated as consumer products and must adhere to the regulations set out by the TPD.

Can your e-cigarette catch fire?

E-cigarettes provide a lower risk of fire compared with conventional cigarettes, which are the second highest cause of house fires in the UK each year. Any electrical device that’s mistreated will catch fire so to minimise the risk we recommend the following:

  1. Always use the correct charger for the device
  2. Don’t leave an e-cigarette charging unattended or overnight
  3. Don’t carry an e-cigarette in a pocket next to coins or keys
  4. Always buy e-cigarette products from a reputable retailer to make sure they are compliant with UK safety regulations

Now that you’ve grasped the basics, take a look at Dispergo’s wide range of vaping hardware – you’ll find everything you need from beginner kits to mods to accessories and replacement parts. For more information about e-cigarettes and how to use them, you can contact us any time.

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