More and more people are hearing about vapes and their potential as alternatives to conventional cigarettes. According to Public Health England, vaping is less harmful than smoking tobacco. But what exactly is the science behind e-cigarettes?
This infographic will give you a close-up look at how vapes work (specifically RELX or pod vapes), so you can better understand your choices.
A Closer Look at Vaping
There are three core components that make up the standard vaping device: the battery, pod, and atomizer.
The battery, which is contained in the vaporizer, is what powers the device. Pod vapes usually use two types of batteries:
- Integrated batteries: These are built into the device and are not meant to be replaced. They have a certain number of rechargers; after reaching the limit, the device needs to be disposed of.
- Removable batteries: These are rechargeable and can be removed from the device. In case the one in your device runs out, you can replace it with a spare battery to keep the pod vape activated.
Pod or Cartridge
The pod or cartridge is a small compartment that contains the e-liquid and the atomizer. Unlike bigger vaping devices with larger refillable tanks and atomizers, pod-based units only require a cartridge to do the job of both storing the vape juice and vaporizing it. This creates an ultra-portable vape system, making the vaping experience more convenient.
There are two types of pod vape cartridges:
- Pre-filled cartridge: The device comes with the pod already filled with e-liquid from the laboratory by the manufacturer. This type is non-refillable.
- Refillable cartridge: The pod can be refilled by the user with their own e-liquid.
The atomizer is the heating element that converts the e-liquid into an inhalable vapor. This unit consists of:
- Coil: Also called atomizer head, this is typically made of resistance wire that works by heating the e-liquid, vaporizing it to become an aerosol.
- Wick or wicking material: Usually made of cotton fibers, this is used to draw the e-liquid onto the coil so it can be heated up and then vaporized.
- Mouthpiece: This is where the user inhales the aerosol produced from the cartridge.
- Microprocessor: This triggers the atomizer when the user inhales the vapor.
- Atomization Button: Some vape models include a push-on button that activates the vaporization process.
What’s In the E-Liquid?
Also called e-juice or vape juice, the e-liquid gives the vape its flavor. It is made up of four basic ingredients: propylene glycol, glycerol, food grade flavoring, and nicotine.
Nicotine is the active ingredient in most e-liquids. This highly addictive chemical allows the vaper to get a “fix” without having to smoke a traditional cigarette. This is one of the reasons vapes are considered potential substitutes for tobacco cigarettes.
According to a recent study, people who used a refillable e-cigarette were over five times more likely to stop smoking tobacco compared to those who didn’t have any quitting aids at all.
Among other approaches, one method involves using vaporizers with higher nicotine content in the first few months, gradually shifting to low-nicotine vaporizers. When changing the nicotine level, move down one level at a time to avoid shock or withdrawal symptoms.
Propylene glycol (PG) is a colorless substance commonly added to pharmaceutical products. As a vape ingredient, it is mixed with the e-liquid to evenly distribute flavoring in the juice. It’s also used to enhance its flavor, leaving a strong taste in the back of the throat when inhaled.
Because of its fluidity, PG makes it easier to fill and refill the atomizer with e-liquid. It also causes minimal gunk build-up on the vaping kit coil and it absorbs heat fast, which means you can start vaping once you turn on your device.
According to a study, PG is generally safe to inhale. However, it can trigger allergic reactions in some people. If you experience any hypersensitivity symptoms, consider switching to an e-liquid with a higher glycerol content.
Glycerol (or vegetable glycerin) is a non-toxic ingredient widely used as a food sweetener. It is a colorless liquid derived from soybeans or palm trees. When added to the vape juice, it renders a soft, smooth throat hit.
You can tell it apart from PG because of its thick consistency that creates large, plumy clouds of vapor. Although generally considered safe, glycerol may pose risk to people with allergic reactions. If you develop symptoms, e-liquids with a high concentration of glycerol may not be suitable for you.
Food Grade Flavoring
The food grade flavorings in e-liquids are tested and mixed in laboratories. They are the same type used in cooking recipes. There’s a whole range of flavors available, including menthol, green tea, lemon, fresh cucumber, and tropical fruit.
While some vapers make their own flavorings, health experts warn that ingredients from the supermarket may contain oils that are harmful to inhale. Therefore, they recommend sticking to flavors from regulated vape manufacturers.
The Atomization Process
The atomization process happens mainly in the atomizer, making it the most important part of the vaping device. Here’s how it works:
The battery heats up the coils
When you turn your device on, you consequently activate the battery, which then powers up the heating coils. By design, the coils connect to the cartridge through a wick submerged in the e-liquid.
The e-liquid vaporizes
As the coils heat up, the e-liquid infused into the wick begins to warm up. Once it reaches the right temperature, it vaporizes, turning into an aerosol. As the user inhales the vapor, the wick proceeds to draw more e-liquid into the cartridge, replacing the previously evaporated mist.
The process of transforming e-liquid into vapor is known as atomization. The liquid is atomized into a cloud of tiny particles that can be inhaled directly. For users of pod or cartridge-based devices such as RELX, the coil is housed internally within the replaceable e-liquid pods and so is changed with every new pod.
Understanding the Anatomy of Vape
Vapes run on batteries and use e-liquid to produce an aerosol. It operates through a simple mechanism: the battery powers the coils that vaporize the vape juice. As the user puffs on the device, the wicking material in the atomizer draws more liquid onto the coil, producing vapor for the user to inhale.
Now you can be proud to consider yourself an informed vaper! For a safer vaping experience, stick to legitimate, regulated brands like RELX.