Since its creation, vaping has taken the world by storm. About a third of smokers under the age of 39 have left their cigarettes behind for it.
If you're brand-new to vaping, it can seem like a fascinating--albeit confusing--world. There are so many different types of vapes, with so many different flavors. This can lead to the contradictory feeling known as the paradox of choice--having so many choices you end up choosing nothing.
Worry not, we are here to "clear the smoke" of this fascinating science for you. Read on for the best 101 on vape devices, vape juices, and everything in between.
Different Types of Vapes: Vape Juices
The great thing about vape is that it can include any substance, with any flavor. It is highly versatile, unlike smoking cigarettes or marijuana. Vaping gives you precise control over your dose without the harmful effects of smoking.
Generally speaking, there are two broad categories of vape liquids: nicotine and cannabis-based liquids.
Nicotine is a natural byproduct found in tobacco. As we all know, tobacco fills your lungs with carcinogenic tar when you smoke it. Vape isolates nicotine without the harmful additives typical of cigarette smoke.
The result is just like smoking a cigarette: a gentle, calming nicotine high. There's no burnt herb or tar damaging your lungs. Vape juice comes in concentrations of between 0 and 5%, allowing you to fine-tune your intake.
Cannabis, like tobacco, creates tar and damage to the lungs. Vape juice extracts the main component--THC--so you get the same marijuana high without the downsides.
Vape cartridges can hold any type of cannabis or derivative you can imagine. There is CBD, Delta-8 through 10, and other dry herb concentrates. If you can smoke it, you can vape it.
Vaping for beginners can get a bit tricky when you account for the many, many cannabis derivatives. We recommend starting with CBD, which tends to be legal more often than THC.
Nicotine Vape Devices
The magic of vaping is that there's no smoke involved. The only thing going into your lungs is aerosol vapor, similar to breathing the output of a humidifier. Your lungs transfer the aerosol vape directly into your bloodstream, creating near-instant effects.
The engineering of a vape device is very simple. A small vaporizer transforms the juice into an aerosol by heating it. Inside the vaporizer is a heating element, known as an "atomizer."
Aside from that, the typical vaping device holds the juice in a cartridge. It uses a lithium-ion battery to power it. It's a very, very simple feat of design that's cheap to manufacture and works effectively.
Vape devices can be simple--such as disposables--or more complex. Seasoned vape users often have customizable boxes with replaceable coils.
This gives vape manufacturers a lot of leeway in designing and building their devices. The types of vaporizers come down to a handful of general categories.
Disposables or "Cig-a-likes"
The most common and simplest type of vape is the disposable. They come as a single or a pack, and are "cig-a-like," or like a cigarette in appearance. Though they only serve a one-time use, but they're small, discreet, and convenient.
The greatest advantage of disposables is that they are cheap and work out of the box. You can buy one over the counter at a smoke shop and get your fix ASAP. This makes them the perfect gateway for someone who wants to try vaping for cheap.
As convenient as they are, they do come with some downsides. First, you have to throw them away once they discharge. Many people would prefer instead to buy a reusable vape device.
Second, they don't offer the best vape experience. The flavor is average at best, and they're not customizable. For environmentalists, they create a concerning amount of e-waste.
Pod vapes are the next step up from the disposable. They offer replaceable or refillable vape cartridges. Even so, they manage to be small and discreet like disposables.
They cost a bit more, but perform much better than disposables. In particular, they allow you to upgrade to nic salt e-liquid--preferable for improved delivery. Think of these as the perfect halfway point between disposables and dedicated devices.
Unfortunately, pod vapes are not perfect. They do tend to produce less vapor and require frequent recharging. Regardless, they're still excellent when it comes to vaping for beginners.
Box mods are the crème de la crème of the vaping community. These are big in comparison to the above two, filling your palm. The bigger size, though, results in longer battery life, exceptional performance, and options for custom modifications.
Customization is the name of the game here. Box mods let you control almost everything: temp control, wattage control, and so on. Everything you see can be changed: batteries, tanks, even the mouthpiece.
This is not, however, an ideal place to start for a beginner. Number one, they are costly and more challenging to use. Additionally, you can't stealth-vape as you might with pods or disposables.
The "squonk" is really a sub-category of the box mods--albeit a big one. Squonks up the ante with even more customization and control than a box mod. Some would argue they offer the superior vape delivery method.
Extra squonk-only features include the following:
- Bottom-fed RDA
- Squeezable bottle
- Dual-battery configs
Think of these as box mods on steroids, and even less beginner-friendly. They're expensive, complex, and require more upkeep. You probably won't even touch a squonk until you have a few years of vaping under your belt.
Cannabis-Based Vape Devices
The types of vaporizers you use for cannabis fit into their own, unique category. Although they are separate from nicotine vape devices, they still function in a similar way.
A common misconception is that a vape pen refers to any small, pen-shaped vape device. This used to be the case in the early days. Now, a pen is strictly for cannabis or CBD devices.
Think of this as the cannabis equivalent of vape pods. You are unlikely to find disposable CBD or THC vape pens. They will have a refillable tank just as the pods do.
Also like the pods, they have that carpenter pencil shape that's easy to hold, use, pocket, and hide. That said, they do have some of the same disadvantages. They are low-power, low-vapor devices.
Oil pens still do more or less the same thing as vape pens. Instead of vape juice, they use distillate or oil derived from cannabis. The atomizer heats the oil until it vaporizes for inhalation.
Thanks to the growing legalization of marijuana, these are becoming more popular and widespread. In particular, there are more legal variants such as delta-8 or 9. If you have experienced negative effects with THC, you may find delta-8 to be more pleasurable.
These are more expensive than equivalent nicotine devices. Aside from less power and weaker batteries, they do have one additional downside to note: they require regular cleaning.
Not a fan of using juice or oil? Consider a dry herb vaporizer. This does what it says on the box: vaporizes strains of cannabis or hemp hash/bud into vapor.
This is the only device on the list that uses a different vapor production method. Instead of an atomizer converting fluid into vapor, it cooks herbs at the right temperature. Done right, the contents convert into vapor.
This is probably the most discrete way to enjoy cannabis products. The odor is very minimal, reducing the likelihood of someone getting wise of your self-medication. It's still easy to use, and great for passing around the "pipe."
That said, it requires a great deal of cleaning and upkeep. High temps necessitate more frequent recharges. And, of course, sourcing legal cannabis is more challenging.
In addition to vape devices, there are vape styles. That is, the technique by which you inhale the vapor. There are two main categories:
- MTL (Mouth-to-lung)
- DTL (Direct-to-lung)
Let's take a quick look at these two breathing techniques.
Mouth-to-lung is as it sounds. You hold the vapor in your mouth, briefly, before inhaling it. The intention is to enjoy the flavor more and control your intake.
This is a beginner-friendly approach. You will most likely be doing MTL starting out, as you likely did when smoking cigarettes--also an MTL approach.
Direct-to-lung is when you inhale the smoke straight into your lungs without holding it in your mouth. Most seasoned vape users prefer this method. It's harsher than MTL but allows you to intake larger amounts--resulting in stronger highs.
Buy Vapes at Rapture Vapor
There are so many different types of vapes, devices, and breathing techniques that it can all get a bit muddled. As with anything, take your time getting familiar with how vaping works. Use this guide as a diving board to splash down into the wonderful world of vaping.
Rapture Vapor sells everything you could ever want from a smoke shop: glass, vape, CBD products, and even kratom. Drop by one of our locations to get expert advice from our associates.