e-Cigarette Jargon and Terms – eCig 101

e-cigarette terms jargon

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You may have noticed this site tends to lean toward the hobbyist side of the e-cigarette world. With that comes a whole lot of jargon, terms and odd abbreviations.  Heck, even with standard e-cigarettes, there’s still some lingo to get used to. As part of the occasional series, eCig 101 I figured why not explain some of these terms.  While I’ll try to be as complete as I can, this probably won’t be an all-encompassing lexicon of terms.  New terms happen all the time, plus I’m likely to miss some.  I’ll update this article as new things come up, or people call me out in the comments.

5(or 3) Click on/off – Some electronic cigarettes can be turned on or off by clicking the fire button 5 (or some other number of) times in rapid succession.

510/808/901 etc – These numbers refer to the thread pattern of an e-cigarette. Some numbers refer to the size or spacing of threads, while others seem completely made up. Essentially, it simply comes down to making sure the battery or device and the cartomizer have the same thread pattern for compatibility.

Analog – A regular cigarette. A play on the idea that electronic cigarettes are the “digital” version of smoking, therefore the physical reaction of burning tobacco is an analog process.

ANTZ – Anti Nicotine and Tobacco Zealots. This is a somewhat derogatory label applied to individuals and groups focused on eliminating alternatives to tobacco products such as e-cigarettes.  I tend to use the term prohibitionist instead on this site.

APV – Advanced Personal Vaporizer. These refer to the devices that go beyond a typical e-cigarette or eGo device. Typically, these devices use removable and rechargeable batteries. APVs often have advanced features such as variable voltage.

Atomizer – The heating coil used to convert e-liquid into vapor.  An atomizer can be a specific piece of hardware used with an e-cigarette in combination with a cartridge, tank or direct dripping. Atomizer may also sometimes be uses as a generic term referring to the heating coil part of an electronic cigarette.

Automatic Battery – Typically found in e-cigarettes that resemble tobacco cigarettes, these devices are activated when the user takes a puff and shut off when the user stops puffing. A vacuum switch or sound detecting circuit are generally the mechanisms used to activate the e-cigarette.

AVG (Mean) – This term is used in conjunction with Variable Voltage and PWM and is one of the methods used to calculate the frequency. It is generally believed that this method is less accurate at lower voltages producing actual voltages higher than the user selected.

Bottom Feeder – A specific type of APV which stores e-liquid in a bottle built into the device.  The liquid is then pumped into the attached atomizer or cartomizer from the bottom. The V-MOD is one such example.

madvapes led variable voltage box mod reviewBox Mod – This was one of the original types of home-made (or mod) e-cigarettes. It was built from a battery box with an attached atomizer. More advanced modern examples exist such as MadVapes’ Variable Voltage Box Mod. The term can also be applied to factory-built devices that have a boxy shape such as the iTaste MVP.

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Bridge – The part of an atomizer that transfers e-liquid directly to the heating coils inside the atomizer. Typically made of steel covered in steel wool or stainless steel mesh.

Cartomizer – A contraction of cartridge and atomizer. Also called a “carto” for short. These are self-contained units that both hold e-liquid and house the heating element. Most e-cigarettes use cartomizers.

Cartomizer tank – A tank that has holes in the top and bottom to house a cartomizer. Holes or slots are made or built into the cartomizer to allow it to draw in e-liquid in the tank surrounding the cartomizer. This allows extended use without having to refill cartomizers.

Cartridge – Cartridges are mostly used with the older atomizer and cartridge system in a 3-piece e-cigarette. The cartridge houses e-liquid in some sort of medium or small tank that makes contact with the atomizer’s bridge to conduct fluid to the heating coil.

CE2 – A style of cartomizer, typically clear, that uses no filler material. Instead, the heating element is suspended at the top of the cartomizer in a ceramic cup while long wicks feed liquid to the heating coil from the bottom part of the cartomizer.

CE3 – Bottom coil variant of the CE2. These feature the heating element at the bottom of the cartomizer covered by a protective housing to keep liquid out.  Liquid is transferred through holes in the cover via wicks. These styles of cartomizers never gained the popularity of CE2 or CE4 cartomizers.

CE4 – This is a new class of large cartomizers. Sharing some of the traits of a CE2 or CE3, these devices are mostly designed to fit eGo-style e-cigarettes and have a larger e-liquid capacity.  Some versions have advanced features like replaceable heads or dual coils.

Clearomizer – A term to describe clear or transparent cartomizers.

DCT – Abbreviation for dual coil tank. (see cartomizer tank) While DCTs typically come with a pre-installed dual coil cartomizer, single coil cartomizers also work with these devices.

DIY – Do it yourself.  Typically associated with making your own e-liquid from unflavored nicotine base, flavors, and other ingredients. Sometimes used by bigger companies to describe advanced devices or refillable cartomizers.

Dripping/Direct Dripping – Applying e-liquid directly to an atomizer one drop at a time, as opposed to using a cartomizer or tank/cartridge and atomizer combination.

Drip Tip – Originally, a tip designed with a large hole to facilitate dripping. However, many users prefer to use drip tips because of the appearance or feel of the tip.

Dry Burn – To run a cartomizer once all e-liquid is removed, a technique used to burn built-up deposits on the heating coil.

Dry Hit – The burning sensation or flavor that accompanies using an e-cigarette where the heating doesn’t have enough liquid to produce optimal vapor.

Dual Coil Cartomizer (DCC) – A cartomizer equipped with two heating elements wired together. Given the right conditions dual coil cartomizers produce a more intense vapor. For more information about DCCs and cartomizers in general, see this eCig 101 article.

eGo – Originally designed and manufactured by Joyetech, the eGo is a mid-sized e-cigarette built for extended battery capacity. There are currently a range of eGo variants on the market made by many manufacturers.

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Engine – The internal workings of a cartomizer, particularly a clearomizer. Generally contains the heating element and enclosure along with the air tube and battery connector.

Filler – The absorbent material in cartomizers and cartridges used to hold e-liquid.

Filter – A term used by some e-cigarette companies in place of cartomizer to make the technology more accessible to new users.

IMR – A type of lithium-ion battery technology that is also known as safe chemistry batteries.  These batteries do not require electronics to protect the battery circuit from overload as they are not prone to catastrophic failure.  For a detailed breakdown of IMR, see this thread on the Candlepower Forum.

Juice – A slang term for e-liquid, may also be referred to as e-juice.

mAh – Milliamp Hour. The rating of battery charge capacity. This is often confused with output voltage. Given the same voltage (typically 3.7 with ecigs) a battery with a larger mAh rating does not deliver any more power, it simply lasts longer.

Manual Battery – An all-in-one e-cigarette battery that has a manual activation switch the user must press to engage the power prior to taking a puff.

Mechanical Mod/PV – A device that uses a removable battery and relies on a switch that makes a physical connection using a spring or lever to complete the circuit, providing power to the heating coil.

Mod – A term commonly referring to an electronic cigarette that uses a removable battery. The term is beginning to lose favor to the term APV. Mod can also mean to modify an existing product.  See this eCig 101 article for a more complete description.

OLED – Organic LED, a display technology that provides a brighter and higher resolution readout on devices featuring a display screen.

PG – Propylene glycol, commonly the primary ingredient in e-liquid, it readily vaporizes and is commonly believed to produce good flavor and throat hit, but less vapor than vegetable glycerine.

PGA – Pure grain alcohol, more commonly used in DIY e-liquid and with vegetable glycerine, can also be useful in cleaning cartomizers and atomizers.

Protected Battery – A lithium-ion battery that features a built-in circuit board designed to disable the battery in the event of a failure. This is intended to prevent catastrophic failure that could include gas venting and fire.

PWM – Pulse-width modulation. Commonly used in variable voltage devices, PWM rapidly cycles power from the battery on and off to deliver a wave form approximating the desired output voltage.

Rebuildable Atomizer – Also known as RBA, an atomizer designed with a wick and coil assembly that can be built by the user using raw components such as wire and silica, stainless steel or cotton wicks. These atomizers are considered to be unsuitable for new users because incorrect use could cause damage to attached devices.

Replaceable Head – Some tanks and cartomizers like the Vivi Nova have a modular heating coil section, or head, that can be unscrewed and replaced, reducing costs when a heating element stops working.

Resistance (ohms) – Resistance, measured in ohms is the restriction of flow of electrons. Resistance is what generates heat in e-cigarette heating coils. Lower resistance coils produce heat with lower voltage, while higher resistance coils require more voltage to produce the same amount of power.

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Steeping – Allowing freshly made e-liquid to sit and age for anywhere from overnight to several weeks. Steeping often improves the liquid’s flavor by allowing the ingredients to fully combine and reach their full potential.

Stick-style – A term used to describe electronic cigarettes that are designed to look like regular cigarettes.

Thread Pattern/Threading – The style of connector threads used on e-cigarettes and cartomizers.  Most often, these are referred to by a series of letters and numbers such as KR808D-1 or 510.

Throat Hit – The mild irritation sensation one gets when inhaling vapor from an e-cigarette. Many feel this is what helps e-cigarettes replicate the sensation of smoking. There are a number of things that dictate throat hit, nicotine content being the primary factor.  Other factors include the mix of PG and VG in the e-liquid as well as the hardware used and the power applied.

Vape/Vaping/Vaper – Derivatives of the concept of smoking. If a smoker inhales the smoke from a cigarette, an e-cigarette user is a vaper. Vaping is the act of using an e-cigarette and vape is analog to the word “smoke.”

Variable Voltage – A device that can adjust its power output across a range of voltages to allow the user to customize his or her experience based on personal preference and the cartomizer’s capabilities.

Variable Wattage – A device that automatically adjusts the voltage output according to the resistance of the attached cartomizer to the set power output in watts. This in theory, provides a consistent experience regardless of a particular cartomizer’s resistance.

VG – Vegetable glycerine. This can also be used as the main liquid component in e-liquid. VG is a thicker liquid that produces more vapor, but less flavor and throat hit than PG.  Often PG and VG are combined in various ratios to provide balance between the properties of each type of liquid.

VRMS – A method used to determine the waveform to be generated in variable voltage or wattage e-cigarettes that use pulse-width modulation. VRMS is a fairly new trend in electronic cigarettes and is capable of providing more accurate power regulation, especially at lower voltages.

Wattage – The measurement of the actual amount of power delivered by the e-cigarette to the e-liquid.  VRMS stands for Voltage Root Means Square, which is a measure of average current delivered to a resistor. Wattage is the combination of the voltage output by the e-cigarette or APV and the resistance of the cartomizer.

Wick /Wicking – The medium that delivers e-liquid directly to the heating element to be vaporized. Most designs feature resistance wire like nichrome coiled around a wick of some type of varying length depending on the cartomizer or atomizer’s design.  Wicking is the ability of the wick to deliver sufficient e-liquid to the coil.

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Steve K

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5 Comments

  • Some other stuff I'd love to see covered here because I'm a noob and I don't know what it means :

    Flood guard
    Mechanical Mod or Mods in general
    Steeping
    Tanks or Tank Mods

    Thanks for the list, it's awesome and I've bookmarked it

    • Good suggestions, I'll have to update and add those in. A flood guard, I've also heard called a drip shield. It's used in conjunction with atomizers and it's sort of like an eGO cone but it provides a seal so when you drip too much liquid, it is held in the cylinder instead of leaking all over your battery. Mechanical mods have no electronics, they use a mechanical action, like a spring attached to the button to physically complete the circuit, energizing the cartomizer I have an article on mods you might like: http://www.stevevape.com/what-is-e-cigarette-mode

  • Thanks Steve! In as much as I love ECF their abbreviation dictionary in the InfoZone is woefully out of date (missing new info) and incomplete. I now have a better jargon dictionary to point noobs to.

  • what is a USB pass through and what is it for

    • USB Pass Through is used to charge your battery while vaping. It’s a USB cable that you can plug into your battery while still keeping the tank/clearomizer on the battery and still being able to use it while its charging.

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