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Vapour delivery lowdown: how an e-cig works - explained

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It’s only fair to say that, for the uninitiated, the make-up of an e-cigarette and the act of vaping appear rather complicated. Well, from the outside looking in – and compared to conventional cigarettes and smoking – yes, they are. After all, the most that smoking asks you to do is light the correct end of a cigarette, put the other end in your mouth and away you go. Vaping’s not like that; there’s different bits of kit you have to put together so you get a satisfying result and lots of different bits and pieces to choose between before you even get that far – varied batteries, different atomisers, lots of e-juices and more besides.

Given that vaping is understandably targeted at cigarette smokers to get them off the ciggies and away from the heavily harmful effects of tobacco on the body, are e-cigs asking too much with all this kit and detail to contend with? Well, hardly; no. The advantages of vaping over tobacco-smoking are copious (far fewer toxins – no tar or carbon monoxide – and very little secondary smoke, as well as delicious flavours thanks to all the e-juices!) and once you get into the vaping detail it can quickly develop into a hobby as much as a habit. Plus, as you’ll see here, how an e-cig works and what it involves can be fairly easily broken down and understood…

What is an e-cig?

Essentially, it’s not difficult to explain what an e-cigarette is – it is, in simple terms, a pocket-sized battery-powered unit that, via its ‘atomiser’, vaporises a liquid (‘e-juice’ or ‘e cig liquid’), which more often than not contains nicotine, among its other ingredients. In which case then, the chief constituent parts of an e-cig are:

a battery – in most cases, a lithium-ion battery that’s rechargeable

an atomiser – this wire coil will either be wrapped in absorbent wick of the latter will run through its centre

e-juice (or e-liquid) – pours into the e-cig’s tank or reservoir in which rests the atomiser (so this fluid might be absorbed by the wick) and is made up of a blend of vegetable glycerine (glycerol), propylene glycol, food flavourings and nicotine.

How does an e-cig work?

Now, armed as you are with the knowledge of what an e-cigarette is and, roughly, what bits and pieces it contains, it’s not that difficult to discern how one actually operates. The role of the device’s battery is to supply the wire coil with electricity. Why? So that, owing to the latter’s resistance to the electric current’s flow, there’s a heat transfer. The purpose of this then is to heat the e-juice surrounding the coil (especially the wick, which absorbs the fluid); inevitably and quickly, the e-juice is vaporised by the heat, enabling the vaper to inhale it as yes, vapour, through the device’s mouthpiece.

Scientifically speaking, the vapour’s made up, in fact, of microscopic fluid droplets, thereby making it an aerosol – although, of course, when it emanates from the mouthpiece it much more resembles vapour or smoke than it does an aerosol, the likes of which you get in, say, a deodorant can.

Handily too, an e-cig has its own way of informing you that its tank requires refilling. How so? Well, if you attempt to use the device with too little e-juice left in the tank (or reservoir), the wick’ll inevitably dry out and even burn, while the remaining fluid itself will doubtless overheat and taste, well, pretty foul. This is usually referred to as ‘dry puff’ and, yes, can be prevented by making sure your e-cig is topped up with all the e-liquid it requires… so be sure to check out the products section of our website to see all the different delicious e-juices there are to choose from for your valuable vaping experience!


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Warning: Electronic Cigarettes products contain nicotine, a poisonous and addictive substance. Products and accessories are only intended for committed smokers of legal smoking age and not by non-smokers, children, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant or any person with an elevated risk of. If you experience any side effects or possible side effects, stop using the product immediately and consult a doctor. These products may be poisonous if orally ingested. This is not a smoking cessation product and has not been tested or guaranteed as such. Has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug. For their protection, please keep out of reach of children and pets. If you do suffer from the disease of Tobacco/Nicotine Dependence Syndrome and want to take steps to give up smoking or cut down the quantity of cigarettes you currently smoke, we recommend you visit your health authorities to discuss NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) or a nicotine harm reduction programme.

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