Vaping Guide – The Ultimate Guide To The World Of Vaping

vaping guide

What is Vaping?

In spite of the fact that the act of “vaping” rises exponentially each year, it is still a relatively new concept and young practice. Because of this, there are many questions and misunderstandings about vaping among the general population, including what it really involves and how safe it is to engage in. This guide is meant to help you gain a clearer understanding of what “vaping” entails, and to answer some of those common questions.

“Vaping” is short, or slang, for “vaporizing.” It is the act of inhaling the vapor of a commercially-produced liquid (sometimes referred to as “e-liquid) using a small personal vaporizer device. Vaporizers, or “vapes,” are handheld devices that are portable and small enough to fit inconspicuously in a pocket. Vapes can take a variety of shapes and forms. Some are roughly the same shape and size as regular cigarettes. Some may resemble cigarettes but are more stylized (i.e. bulbous or flared ends). Still others are shaped more like a rectangular package of cigarettes, tiny remote controls or may even look more like cigarette lighters. They can be designed in just about any shape, as long as they are small enough to be portable and have a few basic components:

vape ecig

A Tank or Cartridge: This is the part of the device that holds the e-liquid being smoked (more on e-liquids later).

An Atomizer / Heater: This is the tiny heating element and its compartment. It’s where all the magic takes place. Without going into a lot of detail, atomizers can take different forms (clearomizer, cartomizer, etc.), and the difference is in how the e-liquid comes into contact with the atomizer. However, at the end of the day, all of them have a similar heating element and function as atomizers at their core.

A Battery: This, of course, is the part that provides the electricity needed to heat up the atomizer.

A Sensor: This is the software part of the vape that tells the battery to make the electrical charge needed to power the atomizer. Basically, it’s similar in principle to the starter on a car.

What is "E-liquid?"

As described earlier, “e-liquid” (sometimes referred to as “e-juice” or just “juice”) is the stuff that is actually being used to create the vapor that the vape-user inhales. It is not smoke, as some people mistakenly believe, but is vapor that is created when the e-liquid comes into contact with the atomizer/heating element. It’s the same basic process that takes place as if you were to place a drop of water on a heated pot on your stove. If the temperature is high enough, the water instantly vaporizes, or “atomizes” (breaks up into hundreds of miniscule particles). When e-liquid atomizes, it can be inhaled just like smoke, even though it is not comprised of the same materials as smoke.


E-liquids come in hundreds of different varieties. They are usually flavored, which is one of the reasons they are so appealing to users. E-liquids are available with or without nicotine, which is one thing that makes them attractive to the traditional cigarette smoker who is trying to quit smoking. A vaporizer can give the user the hit of nicotine that his or her body is craving without containing all of the other nasty stuff that is present in ordinary cigarette smoke, such as tar, formaldehyde, arsenic, etcetera. The idea is that the user can wean him or herself off the nicotine by choosing e-liquids with progressively less nicotine until the nicotine addiction is broken, or at least greatly reduced.

e-juice flavors

Once broken of the nicotine craving, some users still enjoy the habit of vaping, and may choose to continue using an e-liquid without nicotine in it. There are even users who vape nicotine-free e-liquid not because they are trying to quit smoking, but simply because they like the taste.

The Ingredients in E-Liquid

Besides the various flavorings, e-liquids contain other ingredients that are included either to help preserve the liquid or to facilitate the vaporizing process. No matter what the flavor of the vape juice, all e-liquids contain two basic ingredients: vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol.

Vegetable glycerin, also sometimes called “glycerol,” is a substance that is extracted directly from plants. It has been used for decades as a food additive, often as a replacement for sugar, because it doesn’t lead to tooth decay or contribute to ill health conditions like diabetes. It is also used in cosmetics and topical skin preparations. It is even an effective replacement for the alcohol in natural botanical and herbal tinctures.

Propylene glycol is a synthetic organic compound widely used in a variety of different applications. Like vegetable glycerine, it too has a sweet flavor (though slightly less so). It is sometimes confused with ethylene glycol, a major ingredient in antifreeze. Both propylene glycol and ethylene glycol have the ability to lower the freezing temperature of liquids. However, ethylene glycol is extremely toxic at very small quantities. Propylene glycol is not. In fact, propylene glycol is commonly used in food products and oral pharmaceuticals. It is advantageous for use in vape juice because of its low viscosity and its ability to vaporize quickly. Propylene glycol has been officially labelled as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration.

A Brief History of Vaping

Although vaping has only been around since the new millennium, many people are surprised to learn that the electronic cigarette was first conceived of in the 1920s. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the first “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette” was actually developed by inventor Herbert A. Gilbert. Though the details surrounding this invention are hazy, it appears that the invention simply did not garner much attention.

Herbert A. Gilbert

Whatever the reason for this, the idea would stagnate for two more decades until a physician named Norman Jacobson was treating a patient, Phil Ray (who just happened to be the “Father” of the microprocessor), a smoker. Ray had conceived and built a prototype of a smokeless, non-combustion “cigarette” that delivered pure nicotine and none of the other harsh stuff found in traditional cigarettes. Dr. Jacobson took the idea and ran with it. He studied it and published his findings. It was Dr. Jacobson who is said to have coined the term “vaping.” However, it was still not to be, at least in the US. Any talk of the notion of coming up with a mass-produced and marketed nicotine “vape” was soon quashed by the FDA, which prohibited the sale and marketing of “e-cigarettes.”

“Father” of the microprocessor

Meanwhile, over in Europe, the idea of “vaping” was gaining momentum. “Eagle” Bill Amato invented what would be the pre-cursor to the modern vaporizer, and European smokers adopted the practice in droves.

Finally, in 2003 a Chinese manufacturer would create and market a new kind of mass-produced e-cigarette in 2003. It as then that the idea of electronic smoking would finally take off en masse in North America. The sale of e-cigarettes was legalized, and vaping became the newest craze in 2007.

The Difference Between Vapes and E-Cigarettes

The terms “vaporizer” and “e-cigarettes” are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they are slightly different from one another.

The true e-cigarette was the original vaping device to hit the North American market. It was this device, invented by Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik, that was first mass-produced. The early e-cigarette looked and felt (and in many ways, performed) like an actual, traditional cigarette. It was designed to look just like a regular cigarette. However, there was no need to light it with a flame like a regular cigarette. Instead, the device is battery powered. When activated, the battery causes the atomizer to heat the liquid, turning it into a vapor. The e-liquid tanks (cartridges) came pre-filled.


In the early stages of vaping, the e-cigarette was the only vaping device available. About the only variations you could find were disposable or single-use versions. This changed quickly, however. As with any new technology, improvements, upgrades and new variations emerged in the vaping industry. The next generation of personal vaporizers looked less like cigarettes and more like pens. They came with refillable e-liquid tanks and rechargeable batteries. Refillable tanks allowed users to choose different flavors of vape juice. They also heated the liquid differently than e-cigarettes so more vapor was produced.

vaping pen

Vaporizers have continued to evolve rapidly. Today’s vapes are no longer limited to being cylindrical in shape. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes (though usually small enough to fit comfortably in one hand) and even in novelty designs.

With the evolution of the vaporizer has also come vape mods, which have been described like “vape pens on steroids.” You might think of vape mods versus regular vaporizers like buying a car. There are base/standard model cars that have all the necessary parts to power you from point A to point B, but not much else. Then there is the enhanced version, which also gets you from point A to point B, but with really cool extra features, like heated leather seats and turbo engines. That’s what a vape mod is like. Compared to a standard vape, you get heightened flavor, extra vapor and deeper throat hits. Undoubtedly more and more innovations will take place in the vaping industry in the future.

vape mod

Vaping VS Smoking

vaping vs smoking

It’s not always easy to separate facts from fiction when it comes to vaping versus cigarettes. Part of the reason for this is the explosive emergence of e cigarettes into the marketplace, and subsequent evolutions thereof. They came into pop culture so quickly that the greater general public simply did not have any information about them. Problems and bugs with some of the early versions of vaporizers, such as sudden explosion, contributed to public hysteria and misinformation regarding personal vape devices.

Fortunately, today’s generation of vapes are much more reliable than early versions. Consumer and government pressure along with stiffer industry competition has driven vape manufacturers to produce much safer devices. Problems associated with early e cigarettes are rare today.

The biggest problem facing the vape industry and vape users is the fact that the long-term potential health effects of vaping are unknown. Although testing is being done on the health effects of vaping, the practice is simply too new to draw anything conclusive. It may be decades (or more) before any potential health risks come to light.

That being said, there are some things that we do know about vaping and how it compares to traditional cigarette smoking. First, and foremost are the ingredients in vapes versus the ingredients in cigarettes. As we’ve already discussed, pretty much all vape juice is made up of three basic ingredients: vegetable glycerin (or “glycerol”), propylene glycol and flavoring. E-liquid may also contain nicotine, if the user wants a nicotine version. That’s it.

vaping vs smoking

Cigarettes, on the other hand, have a long and somewhat terrifying list of ingredients. That list includes:

Acetone: Used in the cosmetics/beauty industry, primarily in nail polish remover.

Ammonia: A corrosive gas that is compressed into liquid and used in household cleaners and refrigerant. When it makes contact with liquids in the body (through the eyes, nose or throat) it is immediately converted into ammonium hydroxide. In this form, it causes tissue necrosis (death of the cells that make up body tissues). The damage begins a vicious cycle that is cumulative.

Arsenic: A blood thinner, used to manufacture rat poison.

Benzene: A solvent and a major ingredient in the making of other chemicals, including plastic, rubber, dyes and pesticides.

Butane: One of a group of liquified petroleum gases (LPG’s). It is used as fuel for combustion as well as for heating. Butane is what makes the flame on a lighter.

Cadmium: A naturally-occurring metal that is toxic to humans. It is one of the ingredients in battery acid.

Carbon monoxide: A gas that is poisonous to humans. It is the same kind of gas that your car’s exhaust system releases.

Formaldehyde: A chemical compound that is considered to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing). It is used as a preservative for scientific specimens and for cadavers (it is the main ingredient in embalming fluid). It is also used as an ingredient in a surprising number of common and household items, including certain glues and wood products.

Hexamine: An organic compound formed by combining ammonia and formaldehyde. It is commonly used in barbecue lighter fluid.

Lead: A poisonous metal with many industrial applications. However, lead has long been banned in most consumer products in the US because of its toxicity.

Naphthalene: A chemical made from crude oil and also a by-product of burning. It is used to make mothballs, which are solid objects that, when making contact with air, turn into toxic gas.

Methanol: A simple alcohol that is highly toxic to humans. During the time of prohibition, people sometimes made their own alcoholic drinks through distillation of wood. This process produced methanol (“wood alcohol”) which often ended up killing whoever drank it.

Nicotine: A chemical that contains nitrogen and which is found in some plants, particularly those in the nightshade family, a family which includes tobacco. It is a parasympathomimetic stimulant, meaning that it starts out by stimulating and then depressing autonomic ganglia and myoneural junctions of the brain. It is considered to be addictive. Nicotine is a common ingredient in pesticides.

Tar: A thick, dark, flammable liquid that is made when coal or wood is distilled. It is a chief ingredient in the stuff that they pave roads with.

Toluene: A solvent that is used in nail polish remover and paint thinner.

vaping vs smoking

It is important to note that, when looking at the ingredients in vaporizers, there is not much consumer information readily available when it comes to what the vape juice “flavoring” is made up of. Additionally, different flavors have different ingredients and chemical compositions, so not all flavorings can be painted with the same brush, so to speak. The American Lung Association urges caution when it comes to evaluating the potential health risks of so-called “flavorings.” While many e-liquid manufacturers make the claim that the flavorings they use are considered food-grade and safe for human consumption, there are no studies that indicate that “safe for consumption” correlates to “safe for inhaling.”

Anti-smoking organizations such as the American Lung Association and others are not willing to deem vaping as safe. However, many other organizations and even some medical professionals feel that vaping with nicotine is safer than smoking cigarettes and can be an effective means of quitting smoking.


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