Most smokers of today have at least heard of e-cigarettes as a possible alternative to conventional tobacco cigarettes. A good portion of these smokers have been intrigued by the possibilities they represent. One major benefit that comes with e-cigs is the fact that they nearly solve the problems created for smokers by all of the restrictions that have been placed on them. No-smoking zones, laws about where and when a person can smoke, and an absurd cultural bias against smokers have become serious irritations and/or complications for the person who likes to enjoy a well-deserved nicotine boost from time to time. As e-cigarettes produce only water vapor, there is no “second hand smoke” that can be used as an excuse for a phony, passive-aggressive cough by the bitter and socially inept passer-by. Even with all the potential benefits of e-cigs, many smokers are still left wondering whether this proposed solution isn’t too good to be true. For the uninitiated, it’s difficult to imagine an electronic device giving the same satisfaction as a real cigarette. However, with countless smokers now turning to the e-cig as either a total alternative to smoking or an option when traditional smoking is not allowed, it is easy to see that e-cigarettes are worth a closer look.
For many, the concept is confounding at first glance. When watching a person use an e-cigarette, it appears like they are smoking a traditional tobacco cigarette. They put a cigarette like cylinder to their mouths, inhale, an ember glows at the tip, and they finally exhale a cloud of, what appears to be, smoke. So we know that this is not a traditional cigarette. Well, then what is it?
One way to think of an e-cigarette is that it is a very small version of a smoke machine – like the kind that are used for atmosphere at concerts or in nightclubs. The main difference between these two different devices is that the vapor being created by the e-cigarette is made from a nicotine based liquid, sometimes referred to as e-liquid. Not to mention that, while you wouldn’t necessarily want to inhale the smoke from a smoke machine, e-liquid has been designed for inhalation. We will get to how the “smoke” is made a little bit later on.
E-cigarettes can be thought of in sections. The biggest and most important section is the battery. The battery is usually a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, the size and voltage of which determines how many puffs can be taken before a recharge is necessary. It also determines how much vapor can be created by the e-cig at any given puff. Some smokers prefer a much larger amount of vapor with each inhale and a larger, more powerful battery will help to facilitate this. Originally, e-cigarettes used, what was called, an atomizer for the purpose of boiling the e-liquid and turning it into vapor with each inhale. And in these original designs, the cartridge of e-liquid would be “plugged” in to the atomizer, which was attached to the battery. In the new generation of e-cigarettes, a device called the “cartomizer,” which effectively combines the atomizer and the cartridge (hence the name), has been introduced. The cartomizer, which screws directly on to the battery, is the section that is put into a person’s mouth.
Although useless without the aforementioned parts, the e-cigarette would be nothing but a fancy new piece of vaporizing technology without the e-liquid. The e-liquid is essentially the part of the e-cig that takes the place of the tobacco in a conventional cigarette. The concoction known as “e-liquid” is actually fairly similar to the liquid found in things like asthma inhalers, having a base that is made up of mostly propylene glycol. On top of that, there are a variety of other ingredients found in e-liquid that include nicotine and flavoring. E-liquids can be purchased in a variety of strengths and, likewise, can vary in nicotine content considerably.
There are other parts and accessories for e-cigarettes that aren’t necessarily part of the device itself. For example, as an e-cig is a battery operated device, it requires a charger. The PCC, or “portable charging case,” while not being part of the actual smoking experience, is an important part of the entire e-cigarette technology. Also, e-cigs tend to have an LED at the tip to simulate a smoldering ember when a puff is being taken.
Regardless of how well you understand the technology behind e-cigarettes, the only way to tell for certain whether they really deliver an enjoyable “smoking” experience is to try one. At first, it could be expensive to buy an e-cigarette “starter kit,” but prices have come down and smaller packages and disposable options have become a great way for a smoker to get a taste without making a commitment.