For this installment of the ongoing E-cig 101 series, I thought it would go back to basics. All the way back. I’ve posted similar articles like the “What is an e cigarette mod” article. I want to step back even further and answer the question “what is an e cigarette?“
We’ll divide this article up into a few different sections. First, I will indeed explain what is an e cigarette. Then we’ll go into a little more detail about how the devices actually work. Finally we’ll look at whether electronic cigarettes work.
Ok, so what is an e cigarette?
An e cigarette, or electronic cigarette is a device designed to produce vapor. This simulates the smoke found in traditional cigarettes. The vapor produced by the e-cigarette may optionally contain nicotine and flavorings.
Traditional electronic cigarettes are designed to look like regular cigarettes as well. They are tubes about the same length as a regular cigarette. e-Cigarettes feature an LED light at the end of the device that turns on when the user puffs, furthering the illusion of smoking.
e-Cigarettes are not combusted like regular cigarettes. They do not output the carcinogens and other chemicals that makes traditional cigarettes so dangerous. Electronic cigarettes also do not have the chemical additives such as ammonia commonly found in traditional cigarettes.
Ecigs provide much of the same sensation of inhaling smoke as well as the hand-to-mouth action to which so many smokers are accustomed — without the toxins.
Many e-cigarettes feature a red or orange LED to further the illusion of smoking. Personally, I am not a fan of that color. I prefer something that doesn’t look exactly like I’m smoking so I don’t get roughed up by security guards. Fortunately, e-cigarettes can be had with a wide variety of LED lights on the end from purple, to blue, green and even white.
In fact, there’s not just variety with e-cigarette lights. There is a range of e-cigarettes out there that look nothing like cigarettes at all. These devices are designed generally for better performance and are known as mods. A lot of the reviews on this site cover these mods. To learn more about mods, check out E-Cig 101: What is an e cigarette mod?
How do e-cigarettes work?
Whether a mod or a traditional e-cigarette, all devices work using the same basic principle. Electronic cigarettes consist of three basic parts, a battery, a heating element and liquid. The user (also known as a vaper) activates the device either by inhaling or pressing a button.
When activated, the battery passes electric current through the heating element which rapidly heats. The liquid, known as e-liquid comes into contact with the heating element and quickly vaporizes. The vaper then inhales the vapor similar to a regular cigarette.
This is the same principle that fog machines use to produce mist, but on a smaller scale. The liquid used is either propylene glycol or glycerine which vaporize at lower temperatures (more efficiently -sk) than water. e-Liquid usually also contains flavoring and nicotine. For more about e-liquid, take a look at the e-liquid basics article.
Are e-cigarettes a good alternative to smoking?
The nicotine provided by the e-cigarette is helpful in reducing nicotine cravings for many users. Naturally each person will respond differently to the device. Some will quickly adapt to vaping as I did. Others may take longer to switch completely to e-cigarettes. Some may not quite give up cigarettes entirely. And naturally, some people simply will not like the experience at all.
The equipment itself could also play a role in how easily someone might take to e-cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes are not all created equally. Some devices simply do not perform very well. Either they don’t output much vapor, taste bad or are unreliable. The user then gives up on vaping thinking the devices are all hype.
Despite the potential pitfalls, informal surveys of e-cigarette users find that a large percentage of vapers switch entirely to electronic cigarettes permanently. It is also worthy of noting that e-cigarettes aren’t technically devices to quit smoking.
Cessation therapies such as nicotine gum are designed for short-term use. The user is weaned completely off within a set time period. e-Cigarettes are meant to provide a lower-risk alternative to smoking. In the US and many other countries merchants are forbidden from advertising e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation therapy.
Great! So… Now what?
Hopefully, I’ve done my job and you now have a basic understanding of what an e cigarette is. I’m also guessing you may be looking for more information. I’ll leave you with a few suggestions to guide you along your path to enlightenment.
- If you want to learn more of the technical details of e-cigarettes, have a peek at other articles in the E-Cig 101 series
- For guidance on finding an e-cigarette that works for you, I have an article on finding the best e-cigarette
- If you’d like to check out some reviews on e-cigarette starter kits, I have those too!
- Just want a list of reputable e-cigarette vendors, maybe some discounts? Have a look at the vendors list
- Do you still have questions, or want to let me know what you think? The comments form below is open for business!