Ecigs and Vapes: Making Your Decision
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Modern electronic cigarette vaporizer on wooden table‘Cigalikes' look just like traditional tobacco cigarettes but they have a battery and a cartomizer. A cartomizer is a cartridge that holds the nicotine and e-liquid, and the atomizer vaporizes the liquid. The vapor looks like “smoke”. There are cartomizers, atomizers, eGo ecigs (vape pens), mechanical mods (RBA), e-juices/e-liquids, and varying nicotine strengths.


The eGo style ecigs (vape pens) have a battery and clearomizer. Clearomizers are e-juice tanks that are clear and have an atomizer. E-juice/e-liquid is a flavored liquid with or without nicotine.


Mods are often used by hobbyists. There are variable voltage and mechanical mods. The battery case is the ‘mod’ and the e-juice tank is the RBA/RDA (rebuildable atomizer). These models have atomizers that are manually assembled.


Earlier vapes were e-cigs. Then along came the vape pen and then the mod. E-cigs are the most recognizable because they look very similar to real tobacco cigarettes. The original e-cigs consist of a battery and a cartomizer. The cartomizer is a cartridge and an atomizer all in one. Cartridges hold the flavor and nicotine. The atomizer vaporizes the ejuice. Cartridges need replacing but the battery can be recharged. Some brands offer this in a one-piece disposable unit.


A tobacco cigarette produces about 10 puffs. A cartomizer can last about 300 puffs or the equivalent of 36 cigarettes. Battery life is about as long as smoking 10 cigarettes. They are sold in convenience stores but with limited flavor choices and are easier on the pocketbook.


Vape pens are the most popular type of e-cigs. They have a battery, atomizer and a tank. The tank holds the ejuice. Vape pens use a standard fitting called eGo making the battery and tanks interchangeable. Atomizers for these models consist of a wick to absorb the liquid and a core.


Vape pens hold 1-2 mL of ejuice producing 50 drags per mL of ejuice. Nicotine strengths are offered in multiples of 6 mg per mL of liquid. Atomizers need to be replaced every 2 or 3 weeks. Another advantage of the vape pen is that it uses most brands and flavors of ejuice.


Mods are a favorite among vape hobbyists. They produce more vapor and enhanced flavorings. They are like a vape pen but the batteries are a separate component and can be shared between other mods. A big difference is the atomizer surface is rebuildable because the wick and coil are assembled manually. To get the vapor volume, atomizer resistances are usually lower. This burns more ejuice and batteries drain faster but tanks do come larger. Airflow is another factor in vapor volume.


Atomizers can last up to 2 weeks but it is difficult swapping them out. Tanks can use pretty much any brand of ejuice. Battery life is difficult to estimate. It all depends on the mod’s build.