VAPING 101

Mouth to Lung VS Direct Lung
 
Mouth to lung (MTL) vaping is as close to drawing on an analog cigarette as you can get. Generally featured with tighter airflow, requiring a harder “pull”, and usually higher nicotine strengths. You inhale the vapor into your mouth, and then into your lungs before exhaling. Direct to lung (DL) vaping is demonstrated by bigger / “easier” airflow, lower nicotine strengths (due to the increased vapor volume), and requires a more substantive power supply then MTL hardware. You inhale in the vapor directly to your lungs reminiscent of hitting a “bong”. Neither way is “correct” and they are both categorized as “whatever works the best for you”. However, most of the hardware available has been designed to provide one vape experience or the other, and most of the time not compatible with each other (I.E. – a lower power supply for an MTL device may not push a subtank designed for DL vaping…the higher nicotine juice designed for MTL may be overwhelming in a DL setup, etc.).

510 Connection VS Pod Style
 
The threaded connection, either male or female, between your tank and your mod is described as the “510 connection (510 is the thread pitch to be specific)”. For most Vapers, you only know vaping through a 510 connection as it’s been the predominate way to separate pieces while allowing electricity to flow south to north. It’s an ok system, with arguments both for and against, but regulators and corporate types prefer proprietary connections that make for easier liability planning. There is also a lot to be said for connection types with better conductivity, less voltage loss, and an overall safer way of dealing with power. Pod style vaping has been around for several years, it’s been dominated until recently by Big Tobacco owned companies, usually comes prefilled as a “closed system” and removes nearly all the adjustability of vaping for the consumer. Pod styles have evolved, some are now “open systems” that allow the user to fill with their own liquid, and presently one of our shop’s best selling units is a Pod style. 510 vaping still commands the lion share of vaping, but pod style is probably our future.

How big can you handle?
 
The size of mods, or power supply in vaping, is often times dictated by the number and size of battery cells it can hold. And these 2 variables will determine how much wattage / voltage you have available, how much milliamp hour (mAh), and your amperage limit. There are many different cell sizes and configurations in the market but very few vapers will ever use their limits. When considering what mod to purchase always make sure you’re fitting it into your vaping goals. What is your purpose for vaping, and what demands must be met to achieve those goals? That will determine what “style” of vaping will work best for you (MTL vs DL). And that will determine which hardware will work best for you. How long will your batteries last?...this is one of the most common questions we get asked. And the answer is based on how much mAh you have available, what tank you’re using and it’s specific demands on your batteries, and finally how you vape.


Built in Battery VS External Battery
 
What, and how, powers a vape mod can be just as important to the user as any other feature and should be considered when purchasing hardware. Mods with built in batteries are generally going to be Lithium Polymer (Li-po) “packs”, can be charged with either a micro USB connection or USB-C port. They are generally thought of as safer battery chemistry, have limited milliamp hour (mAh – how long it holds a charge) compared to external batteries, and the user needs to consider access to reliable electricity. External batteries are basically all Lithium Ion chemistry, not as stable as Li-po, slightly higher mAh in comparison, but requires additional hardware to complete charging. However being able to “swap out” a full battery for a discharged one “on the go” is extremely attractive to most users.

Coils, coils, and more coils OH MY!
 
Coils are the “built in failure point” for vaping. They have a limited life, current manufacturers recommend lifetime between 1 – 3 weeks, which we’ve found mostly accurate over the years. Quality of juice, color of juice, sweetness of juice, and level of electricity have the biggest impact on coil degradation. Most of the time it’s not the actual wire that goes bad, although they certainly can pop, it’s usually the wicking around the coil becoming fouled to the point of failure. Bad tastes, minimal vapor output, spitting juice, and leaking can all be signs of a bad coil. You can set yourself up for the best chance at success by properly “priming your coils”. Imagine a piece of wire, wrapped tightly with dry cotton fibers. When you push the button sending electricity through the wire, its resistant properties turn that energy into heat. If your cotton is dry when that happens, it is now burnt cotton and will never function correctly again. We prime coils by FULLY saturating them with juice before firing them for the first time. This takes more than “just a couple drops”, and our advice is to heavily saturate the wicking, allow the coil to sit for about 5 minutes, start your wattage 10 – 15 watts lower than your target, and work it up over the next hour.
What's in your juice?
 
 This question used to be very easy to answer, it was basically the exact same ingredients across the industry, and quality was the only debate. Over the years this has changed and the answer isn’t as quick as it used to be. 99% of all juices contain the following; Propylene glycol (PG), Vegetable glycerin (VG), flavoring both artificial and/or natural, and nicotine. PG, VG, and flavoring are labeled as “GRAS…generally regarded as safe” by the FDA in all forms of intake and there remains very little controversy about their negative health impacts. Nicotine still has its haters and the medical field is 2/3 “it’s not a problem” and about a 1/3 still “against it”. From a consumer perspective, if you’re ok consuming caffeine, logically you should be ok with nicotine as they are nearly identical in molecular structure and effects. You can find juice with additives such as vitamins, minerals, caffeine, CBD, benzoic acid and the list goes on and on. When you break down the ingredients and look at what you receive of these additives in “parts per million (PPM)” you find that they are almost entirely gimmicky and a sales ploy; with the exception of benzoic acid (among other undeclared chemicals) being added to a new class of liquid called “Nic Salts”. Instead of using freebase nicotine, it is becoming popular to add back in some other chemicals from the tobacco which allow the nicotine to cross the blood brain barrier. Essentially it makes for a smoother vape at higher strengths, for those people looking for that. The original argument of ingredient quality still exists and there’s several different options out there.

 

Thicker juice VS Thinner juice
 
The consistency of e-liquid, and how it effects your vaping experience, is something the industry does not talk enough about. Many companies only offer “their proprietary mixture”, they may or may not divulge to the public what that consistency is, and I’ve never seen an organization that explains how or why they offer different options. E-liquid is made up of 4 primary ingredients; propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), nicotine, and natural and/or artificial flavorings. PG is a water like consistency, responsible for the “throat hit” you experience during vaping, and acts as the primary flavor molecule carrier. VG is incredibly thick (like cold molasses), and is responsible for the volume of vapor (a rock concert fog machine is 100% VG). Most e-liquid is going to be “PG Heavy….VG Heavy…or 50/50”. Most MTL hardware is going to be engineered for a thinner consistency, less vapor. Whereas DL hardware is going to be designed for thicker liquid. Some hardware requires one, or the other, to work correctly (or at all) and 50/50 will run in 95% of what’s out there, just may not be your preference. Dry hits, leaking, burning, no flavor, and too much throat hit are all vaping “problems” that might be exclusively from the wrong consistency / for your hardware / for your vaping goals.

Don't forget your sense of humor!
 
Smoking is not vaping! And no matter how hard we try as humans to make them the same, they never will be. They are both vehicles used to deliver nicotine and that’s basically where the similarities end. “Big Tobacco” has had decades to perfect their products, involve them into society, and prey on the most basal of human qualities. It’s easy, it’s mindless, it’s immediately rewarding, and there are very few conceivable problems. It also kills you. From the first puff to the last you’re doing little else with your “easy mindless habit” other then digging a hole to lie down in. Vaping isn’t perfect, and there’s still problems with the technology. It’s slightly more time consuming than smoking, there’s more decisions to make, more variables, more plausible problems. It also isn’t eradicating the human population. So our moto around the shop is, “You gotta have a sense of humor to be a successful vaper!”

Popcorn Lung
 
First off let me explain what exactly popcorn lung is. "Bronchiolitis obliterans" is an irreversible condition involving scarring of the tiny "sacks" in the lungs that allow the transfer of oxygen into the blood, and off-gases to be exhaled out. It generally presents with symptoms similar to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There have been less than 10 documented cases, world-wide, in the history of man. The name came about because of a CDC case in 2000 in which a few cases were found in Missouri at a microwave popcorn manufacturing facility. After a lengthy investigation they believe it was attributed to "diacetyl" a flavoring used in the popcorn to make the buttery creamy taste. No hard evidence was found linking diacetyl to this condition, nor could/can they explain why it effects SO FEW people (even when considering all the people at that one plant). Outside of this one situation, a woman who claimed to have eaten 2 bags of microwave popcorn, literally every single day, for 10 years, states in a lawsuit against the manufacturer that she developed popcorn lung from that. Oh and what is often left out is that diacetyl can be found in traditional tobacco cigarettes, at rates 100-110 times higher than that in e-liquid. And by the way, not a single smoker has ever been diagnosed with popcorn lung.
 
Now that you know the history, how does this play into vaping? Diacetyl has been found at trace amounts, sometimes so small it is seen, but not able to be quantified, in e-liquid. Depending on the report you read the percentage of total e-liquid containing diacetyl varies wildly from almost none to 99% of the market! Suffice it to say that flavors with “buttery” notes probably contain at least some amount of diacetyl, regardless of the manufacturer. Least us not forget, that vaping is about harm reduction, not harm elimination. If nearly unmeasurable amounts of a chemical, that may or may not be linked to a condition that has effected 9 out of 7,600,000,000 people concerns you, then stick to bright fruity flavors.


Is vaping safe?
 
This is the most important question, to nearly all vapers, and is still being heavily debated by medical and scientific professionals. I could take the next several hours and describe much of the research that has been done, but instead I’m going to tell you this: In 2018, the generally accepted calculation of risk is
“AT LEAST 95% SAFER THAN USING TRADITIONAL TOBACCO.” This figure is the product of years of peer reviewed studies, is supported by the Royal College of Physicians, American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society among others. In fact, so far there has been no “smoking gun” found and the 95% is a “conservative estimate” based on the idea that future testing may uncover things we can’t fathom today. Here’s the hard truth, if you are not allergic to any of the ingredients, and you can tolerate a central nervous system upper, and you don’t experience any nose or throat issues (PG can cause dehydration), science has not found a reason why vaping is dangerous…yet. Never forget, vaping is about harm reduction, not harm elimination.