Smoking Alternatives: Everything to Know about Vaping

Smoking Alternatives

If you’re new to vaping or thinking about making the switch from traditional cigarettes to vaporizers, then you’ve come to the right place. In this section, we’ll provide answers to frequently asked questions about vaping.

What is vaping?

Vaping refers to the act in inhaling vapor produced from an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette or simply e-cig) or vaporizer. The vapor comes from materials such as e-liquids (also known as e-juices), concentrates or herbs.

What is a vaporizer?

A vaporizer is an electronically-powered device that converts vaping material into vapor. The device is generally comprised of a lithium battery, main body console with buttons for applying and adjusting heat, and RDAs or atomizers (more on these later). The battery provides the power to heat gauge wires in the atomizer/clearomizer/cartomizer which then transforms the vaping material into inhalable smoke.

What are these materials?

The majority of vapers use e-liquids, which is a liquid blend of vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, nicotine (optional), various sweeteners or acidifiers, and an underlying flavor concentrate (e.g. fruits, creams, tobacco). Different vaporizer devices make use of different materials.

How does it compare to smoking cigarettes?

Compared to cigarettes, vaping feels moister and heavier depending on the material used to vape. Additionally, vaping can produce a pleasant aroma and flavor if using e-liquids. Some people say that vaping and smoking are incompatible in comparison in feel or satisfaction, hence not a true replacement for cigarettes. However, the ultimate the goal of smoking is to introduce nicotine into the body. With nicotine-laced e-liquids, vaping is just another nicotine delivery system to satisfy cravings.

In terms of health, there is little conclusive evidence that vaping is more dangerous than cigarettes or vice versa. Studies are ongoing and aim at proving which smoke can cause more long-term damage to the lungs and body. However, when comparing the ingredients list of what’s in an e-juice and a cigarette, it’s clear that cigarettes contain significantly more hazardous materials to the body than e-liquids.

What is an RDA?

An RDA (rebuildable drip atomizer) is a detachable piece on the vaporizer device which is used for burning materials and inhaling the produced smoke. It is a stand-alone feature which uses a heating element (thin gauge wire) to vaporize the materials. They are an essential part of operating a two- or three-piece vaporizer.

The method of applying materials in an RDA is done by simply dripping the liquid into the RDA. Within the RDA is the coiled wire and cotton which absorbs the liquid and is heated through the coils, producing inhalable smoke. With an RDA, the vaporizer doesn’t require a clearomizer or cartridge since the liquid is dripped onto the cotton when needed.

The biggest benefit of using an RDA is that it produces a fresher, more flavorful vapor. As long as the RDA is kept clean and the cotton is changed regularly, the flavor profile of the e-juice will become more prominent. The e-juice is not left for long periods in the cotton since it is burned up after each vaping session. Many so-called “vaping purists” swear by dripping as the only way to go. In instances of accidentally burning the cotton wick, the process of replacing the cotton is simple: just take out the ruined piece and replace with a fresh piece.

The most obvious problem with RDAs and dripping is the inconvenience of taking the RDA apart, applying the liquid to the cotton, reattaching the mouthpiece, and vaping. It may not sound like a big deal, but if you consider that each cotton absorbs enough liquid for roughly 10-20 hits before burning dry, then it can be a constant battle of will to not switch to a cartomizer/clearomizer. In addition to the inconvenience is the residual mess of the whole process. Applying e-juice to the cotton can be simple, or it can leave your hands and device in a sticky mess. As an extra safety measure, when using e-liquids containing nicotine, use gloves whenever dripping the e-juice into the RDA to prevent exposure to the potentially toxic chemical.

What is an atomizer?

A cartomizer is a key component to the three-piece setup. Often referred to as a “tank”, cartomizers are an e-juicecontainer which can hold several milliliters of the liquid, eliminating the need for constant refills like in the dripping process. Using a cartomizer basically means that you can go on extended vaping sessions without the need to refill the tank.

Using clearomizers can be a hassle since the refilling process is more complicated. You don’t just open the mouthpiece and drip the liquid onto to cotton, but you have to tilt the tank at an angle to prevent any liquids from falling into the central air ventilation hole. Using a syringe can be extremely helpful in the refilling process, but carrying a syringe at all times can make you appear suspicious.

To make matters worse for the clearomizer, if you accidentally burn the cotton when it is not properly saturated with liquid, then replacing the cotton piece is a long and meticulous process of opening the clearomizer, opening all the smaller components, taking out the wick, replacing the wick with an equally sized small piece of cotton, and putting the device back together.

If you’re a beginner vaper then perhaps avoid using clearomizers for the time being. You can only get so much help looking at online tutorials or asking friends before they get impatient and give you the same advice you received here: stick to using an RDA.

How do I begin?

With so many vaporizer brands and models out there, choosing the right beginner kit can be a daunting task. The first thing to do is to eliminate all of the product categories that we don’t want until we’ve reached a final conclusion.

Manufacturers make vaporizers in all shapes and sizes. The shapes range from plain rectangular to grenade to ridiculously short and fat. Whatever size fits you, go with that. Most vaporizers come with the same features. What differs among brands or models is how high the voltage, wattage, and ohms can go. Some brands offer more flexibility in reaching you ideal heat preference, while others contain simple heat readers. After selecting the right vaporizer device, the next step is to purchase the RDA or atomizer. Take a look at the market and select based on what you think is best, and not necessarily best-looking.

If all else fails, purchase a starter kit which will provide everything you need for beginner vapers. Starter kits generally come with the vaporizer device, atomizer, short length of coil, a pad of cotton for making your own cotton wicks, and USB charger cable (if the device can recharge batteries). Take a look at the instructions manual to get a good understanding of what to do and how to refill the atomizer.

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