Vaporisers consist essentially of three components: a battery, a tank that holds the e-liquid and the coil (heating element).
A wick (usually cotton) draws e-liquid onto the coil (a coiled metal wire). When the user breathes in or presses a button, the battery turns on and heats the coil, vapourising the e-liquid into an aerosol which is inhaled and exhaled as a visible mist.
The e-liquid consists of nicotine (usually) and flavourings dissolved in propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine.
There is a staggering array of vaporisers. The most suitable devices for tobacco smokers who are new to vaping (‘beginners’) are:
- Pod models
- Intermediate models with refillable tanks
More advanced models are generally not recommended for beginners.
‘Cigalikes’ are designed to look and feel like a cigarette.
They consist of a battery and a prefilled cartridge of e-liquid. They have no buttons, do not require coil replacement and are very easy to use. Some models are disposable. Others use a rechargeable battery and replaceable cartridges.
Cigalikes do not deliver as much nicotine as more advanced models and may be sufficiently strong for some users.
Pod models are simple to operate and are also a good choice for beginners. These devices consist of two parts: a rechargeable battery and a pod (cartridge) of nicotine e-liquid. Some models have closed pre-filled pods, others use open, refillable pods.
Pod models have a tight draw and replicate the smoking experience more closely. They have no buttons and are activated by breathing in. When the pod is empty, closed pods are simply removed and replaced. Open pods are removed and refilled with e-liquid. There is no coil replacement and no need to open the devices.
These basic tank models are more complex to use than cigalike and pod models but deliver higher nicotine doses. They have a single or no-button operation
These devices have tanks which are refilled by the user with e-liquid which is purchased separately. The coil needs to be replaced at regular intervals.
More advanced models or box mods are larger and more complex to use. They have larger batteries with LED screens and adjustable settings.
Advanced models are not generally recommended for new vapers. It is best to first become familiar with one of the intermediate models, learning the basics of how to vape, including refilling, recharging and changing coils.