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The Guide To Electronic Cigarettes 101 – And Then Some

West Coast Vape Supply

You’ve heard about electronic cigarettes. Chances are you might have tried one in hopes to find a better alternative to smoking. Maybe you are just curious at the thought of a better nicotine delivery system. I’m betting some of you reading this will be looking for answers as to why your truck-stop/kiosk/affiliate-ad purchase isn’t performing well. Whatever the reason – Welcome to THE Guide To Electronic Cigarettes.

We’ve all been at square one, and sometimes it’s hard to wade through the BS. eCigs and personal vaporizers are really quite simple to understand once you have one in your hand. Add in a few good articles and it should make sense. Since we’ve all had the same questions at some point, I’m going to cover the bulk of what you might need to know when starting your “transition”, if you will. Let’s break down the components and discuss some of the pros and cons to some of the common items you’ll be purchasing when transforming into a non-smoking “vaper”.

The Ecig Battery

(A size for every need, from casual to heavy)

The ecig battery can range in size, power and stamina.  While some ecig users like to start with the smaller, cigarette looking battery, many find that the smaller batteries do not have the power to provide satisfying vapor. In addition, typically the smaller battery will have to be recharged after 2-3 hours of heavy use. It is widely preached in the ecig community that you always get backups for everything ecig – so with backups, you’ll need more than a few smaller batteries. For those wanting to get closer to a day of moderate to heavy use out of your electronic cigarette, an “eGo” style battery at 1000MaH is suggested to start out on. In addition to longer battery life, you will be able to test and use a variety of heating elements with a somewhat larger battery such as the Joye eGo vs. the smaller cigarette “look-a-like” stick batteries.

In the quest to find the perfect vape, ecig users have adapted a variety of shapes,  sizes and functionality into their personal vaporizer. I strongly urge that you try to get the idea that “it needs to look like a cigarette” out of your head. The “best” devices of today come in all shapes and sizes. This is usually for performance in either bigger battery, or technology such as variable voltage or wattage.

The battery is going to be the key component of your ecig or PV.

Assortment of different styles of ecigs and personal vaporizors


 The Heating Element

(aka; atomizer, cartomizer) 

The purpose of the heating element is to turn your eliquid (see below) into vapor. The heating element of the electronic cigarette is disposable. This is good to keep in mind when making a purchase and trying to figure out which one is right for you. It’s not permanent. Try them all.

Certain styles of heating elements last longer than others. There are many different ways to vaporize your e-liquid. Most kits will ship with one or several of either a cart/cartridge, carto/cartomizer or atty/atomizer – or a combination of the three.

Most Commonly Used Types of Heating Elements:

Great For: Flavor once broken in, vapor, trying new juices easily. Disliked by some because of the need to drip/re-fill after every 5-7 drags. A decent atomizer is going to provide the best flavor out of most any other heating element options.  Atomizers come in different varieties/sizes. The 510 is a common choice to vapors, as it will fit anything from an eGo on up to most mods on the market. One of the “must haves” in my opinion is an “LR” atomizer. LR, or Low-resistance, provides a warmer and heavier vape that simulates higher voltage vaping. The lifespan of an atomizer can be a few days if you are unlucky, and over a month if you have better luck. While there are stories of someone using their atomizer for many months, my guess is that the average is around 21 days. You can find Joye 510 atomizers for around $5-$8 a pop, give or take.

Holds more juice so that you aren’t having to direct drip as much. Most cartos mute the flavor of the juice/e-liquid to a degree, when compared to an atomizer. Cartos typically last 3-4 days, while some users can get more from them, the flavor and airiness will diminish if you push your carto past its prime. Cartomizers are often sold in 5  to a pack for generally $5-$10.

“Cartomizer tanks” or DCC tanks have become popular as they hold generally 3-6ml of juice around the cartomizer in a tank, with the cartomizer having 1-3 holes – or a slit near the bottom to allow juice in. Dual coil cartomizers work very well in a tank and provide a lot of thick, warm vapor.

CE2/CE3/CE4/CE5/T2/T3 Cartomizer (Each type has its own difference)
The CE and T family have become a default replacement for most starter kits today. These clear tanks hold between 1 to 4ml’s of e-liquid and depend on one or several wicks to deliver the liquid to the heating element. The main against these clearo tanks is that they don’t wick fast enough and sometimes mute the flavor. Again, these are disposable – so try one out if you feel that atomizers or average cartomizers are not for you.

Most of these options also include a method of storing juice. The atomizer (if not used with a cart) is fed by dripping a few drops of juice into it, and vaping for around 5 drags or until it starts to get dry – then repeat. While this can be a hassle when trying to focus on other tasks, direct dripping on an atomizer that is working well can be the best taste and vapor out of some of the other solutions. Atomizers are a “must-have” when trying new juices, or when you are in the stage of trying to find your “all day vape”. Everybody seems to have different preferences with ecigs, juices and which heating element they prefer. There are a lot of different choices and combinations and it can take some trial and error before you find your sweet spot.


The eLiquid

Call it e-liquid, E-juice, or joose even – but without it, there is no point in the rest. The juice is quite simple compared to the list of ingredients in a cigarette, or analog. Electronic cigarette/PV juice will usually consist of VG, PG, flavoring and optional amounts of nicotine that go down to zero. PG/Propylene Glycol is a common ingredient used in a wide range of home and medical applications ranging from baking, skin products, nebulizers and much more. VG/Vegetable Glycerin is a natural base derived from plant oils. PG is known for carrying flavor better, while VG is known for more vapor. Your perfect vape might likely be a mixture of the two, like many vendors offer.

While there are many ecigs that come with pre-filled cartomizers, “pre-filled” are typically not preferred over the myriad of fill-your-own juice possibilities that are out there. Most ecig users tend to try various sample sized bottles of juice to find the ones that suit them. Taste is subjective, and there are so many flavor options.

eJuice can can be made to include nicotine, or without – and anywhere in-between. You can buy various flavors that you would never purchase in a cigarette. A lot of vapers choose to stay away from the tobacco flavored ejuice as to not remind them of a cigarette, pipe or cigar. Some shy away from tobacco flavored vapes because it’s a hard juice to make well without it tasting like an ashtray. Either way, there are great tobacco flavored juices, and there is also nothing like tasting a key lime pie, or southern caramel mocha-chino in your vapor. Experiment with your taste buds, and remember “sample size” until you find the vendors and juices that work for you.

[stextbox id=”info”]Many vendors sell 3-6ml sample sized bottles that are great for testing flavors. Do not buy large bottles until you know that you like the juice, even if everyone else likes it – you may not. [/stextbox]

Variations and Mods – What and Why?

Juice holders, bottom feeders, drip shields, 306 atomizer, variable voltage or wattage, rebuildable atomizers, atomizer tanks …the list of modifications and accessories goes on and on. When starting out with ecigs and vaping, the goal is to find your “sweet spot”. That perfect vape in flavor, throat-hit and warmth. Some like lower voltages and cool, some are vapor hogs and vape at only higher voltages. There will be vapers that like to drip and don’t see it as a pain – while there will be others that absolutely swear by products that don’t work for you.  It can be a journey of trial and error, but starting out with a decent device that isn’t bottom of the barrel will help.

I personally suggest a Joye eGo Twist Starter Kit with a combination of heating elements that include an atomizer or cartomizer and possibly a clearo tank.. If you really don’t want to fidget, there are the CE5/T3 tanks that are simple to use. Most eGo kits are coming with a tank type cartomizer.

Check out GrimmGreen discussing the eGo Twist below.

[youtube id=”Ol-Ol8qWPic” width=”600″ height=”350″]

It Takes A Village, or Something To That Effect…

There is no way I would’ve made it through the vaping journey as efficiently as I did without the help of the community. Jump in and ask questions. Watch people vape and hear their stories first-hand. Save these links, as I’m confident that any question you may have will be answered by the folks on the other side.

Live Shows and Hangouts


Websites and Forums


What About You?

This article is not complete without your comments.

Vapers, please share what works for you now, and what you started with. What’s your favorite voltage? – Carto or atty? – How long have you been smoke-free? – What is YOUR advice to someone just starting out on their vape journey?

Just starting out? – Feel free to ask a question. Did this article help?


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  1. I am fairly new to e cigarettes, the thing I have found is they are less expensive than the conventional cigarette; however like me, I lose many things, so I end up buying gobs of stuff. I have used the regular isticks, mostly the minis, they are nice and compact, have to be recharged like any electronic component. If you are serious about e cigarettes, rdas are a good and long term way to save money, there is something about the building process that is different compared to buying a pre made wrap or generic cigarette.

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