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How Does A Vape Work?

vape 101

When you light a traditional cigarette, you are causing the tobacco to burn, which then releases smoke that contains nicotine. The smoker breathes in the smoke to get the nicotine to the lungs. An electronic cigarette (more commonly known as an e-cigarette or vape) doesn’t go through this combustion process. Instead it heats a nicotine liquid to a vapor that the user will inhale.

An e-cigarette is divided into three main components:

  • A rechargeable lithium battery
  • The battery powers the e-cigarette and can be charged using a charger (similar akin to a cell phone). The charged battery is connected to the vaporization chamber.

  • A vaporization chamber
  • The vaporization chamber is a hollow tube that consists of electronic controls and an atomizer – the part that creates the vapor. Before the user activates the device, they will attach a cartridge to the vaporization chamber.

  • A cartridge
  • The cartridge contains the nicotine liquid and the tip of the cartridge is the e-cigarette’s mouthpiece. The e-liquid is a mixture of propylene glycol (an FDA approved additive that is put in food), vegetable glycerin, nicotine and food flavorings.

    Once the pieces are put together, the user will inhale like they would with a regular cigarette. The power button will activate the atomizer to heat the e-liquid in the cartridge and convert it to vapor. Inhaling the vapor will deliver the nicotine to the lungs, and the user will exhale vapor that looks similar to cigarette smoke.

    There are a lot of options when it comes to vaping, whether you want it to be an RDA or a Tank, the nicotine level that the individual desires, as well as all the e-liquid flavorings. There are a variety of e-liquid flavorings from tobacco, menthol and mint to chocolate, apple and cherry.

    These are the basics of how an e-cigarette works, however there are slight differences depending on the type of e-cigarette:


    This is the most basic type of e-cigarette because they look like cigarettes, with the exception of the length of it being a battery, and the short (“filter) section being a combined atomizer and e-liquid container.

    This design is not as common because more efficient designs have been created.

    Refillable E-Cigarette Starter Kits

    These starter kits typically feature built-in batteries, and others allow you to swap batteries once they’re ready to be changed. The wick and coil are contained in the atomizer head, which is at the center of a tank. The atomizer head connects to a central stem that leads up to the drip tip, which is where the user will inhale the vapor from.  Some of these kits have integrated tanks and others allow you to upgrade the included tank.  Some starter kits feature adjustable power levels and advanced features like temperature control.

    Vape Mods

    These are similar to the starter kit options but often allow for larger battery capacity and they don’t always come with an atomizer, providing you with a wide range of atomizers you can choose from. Mods can come with built in or replaceable batteries.  Most have regulated circuitry to keep your device safe, and others may feature a straight battery to atomizer connection for higher output.  With the latter, it’s important to know your battery safety information, which we’ll discuss in a future blog post.  

    Therefore, e-cigarettes may be more complicated than cigarettes, but hopefully this guide will help you realize that the process is a lot simpler than you think!

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    • Eden on

      Hi Dean,

      Sorry for the late reply. We haven’t spent much time researching the use of cannabis with vaporizers, but you will need to use a “dry herb vaporizer”, which is different than a normal vape device you would find here at Theravape. If you search for that term on Google, you should be able to find a variety of devices, but unfortunately, we don’t have the experience to help guide your decision past that point. Good luck! -Eden.

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