What are they and how do they work?

The enormous variety of e-cigarettes and vape kits available today can be both exciting and overwhelming to the uninitiated. There are hundreds of different brands and countless weird and wonderful flavours to choose from (raspberry sorbet, anyone?).

The vaping industry has enjoyed phenomenal growth since the first electronic cigarette as we know it was invented in back in 2003. Before we examine modern vapes in detail and look forward to where the industry might be headed, let’s take a quick peek back at the history of the e-cig.

Vaping: a brief history

An American inventor called Joseph Robinson filed a patent for something he called a ‘mechanical butane ignition vaporiser’ back in 1927, a device he designed for inhaling ‘medical compounds’.

Although the patent was granted in 1930, Robinson didn’t develop his concept any further.

Nearly 40 years later in 1963, another American, Herbert A. Gilbert, designed a smokeless, non-tobacco, electronic cigarette in Pennsylvania. Although today Gilbert is widely regarded by many as the inventor of the modern vape, there just wasn’t enough interest at the time from manufacturers in developing the device. But the same basic technology that Gilbert pioneered informs all of today’s devices.

Fast forward to the 1980s and there were a few more attempts at electronic cigarettes: Jed Rose, the inventor of the nicotine patch, tinkered with something that he called ‘distilled smoke’ in his laboratory, but his vaping prototype was just too advanced for its day. During the same decade Phil Ray (best known as the father of the microprocessor) and Norman Jacobsen worked together to commercialise the concept of e-cigs, developing a way to inhale nicotine without combustion in the form of nicotine-soaked paper. Although their invention didn’t take off, they did coin the term ‘vaping’.

In 2001, enter Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist who was spurred on by his father’s death from lung cancer to invent the modern e-cigarette that we recognise today. After experimenting with various liquids and vaporising systems to find one that would best emulate the sensation of inhaling tobacco smoke, in 2003 he landed on propylene glycol. Paired with vegetable glycerine his discovery remains one of the key e-liquid ingredients used today. He founded a company Ruyan (‘like smoke’) and manufactured the first electronic cigarette there in 2004. And thus, the vaping industry was born.

Choosing your vaping device

Vape device
Photo by Elsa Donald on Unsplash

In 2024, there are so many different types of vape kit on the market that it surely would have made even those early pioneers of the electronic cigarette feel giddy.

With such a lot of choice, we know that finding the right vaping device for you can feel daunting.

It’s important to find a device that suits your lifestyle and that you enjoy using. This means not only finding a shape and size that feels right; but the airflow design, power output, and features must suit your needs, too.

To help you best make an informed decision, let’s start by looking at the different vape kits available and what they offer.

Starter vape kits

Starter devices are designed to make the transition from smoking to vaping as easy as possible. In the box you will find your new vape kit, pod or tank with coil and mouthpiece, plus instructions. Simple to use, they are usually compact and small for easy transportation and are often less expensive than other vaping devices. Starter kits are usually designed for mouth-to-lung vaping and can be divided into the following categories:

Prefilled pod vape kits

Prefilled pod vape kits, like the Lost Mary Tappo and Elf Bar ELFA PRO, are an easy to use, compact option that are ideal for new vapers who are looking for a straight-forward way to get into vaping. There is no need to change the coil or refill with e-liquid with these devices, as the pods are purchased prefilled with e-liquid and can be clicked into place and used straight away. Once a pod is empty, just remove it and replace it with a fresh one.

There is usually a range of prefilled pods available in a variety of different flavours and sometimes even different nicotine strengths.

Refillable pod vape kits

Refillable pod vape kits, like the Vaporesso XROS 3 Mini, offer the compact and convenient size of a pod kit, but allow you to choose the specific flavour and strength e-liquid you prefer and refill your pod as needed. This allows you to choose from the wide range of e-liquids available that suit your device, offering a wider range of flavours and nicotine strengths. The pods can be refilled multiple times before they need to be changed, offering a more economical pod kit option.

Vape pens and all-in-one vape kits

Vape pens are sleek, rechargeable battery powered devices. Discreet and fuss-free, they are very popular with first-time vapers making the switch. They are cylindrical and pocket-sized; some are button activated, like the Innokin T18 II, others you simply draw on to activate. All-in-one kits, like the Aspire PockeX, come with a tank or pod that’s specifically designed for use only with that particular device. These are popular with smokers starting out on their vaping journey as they are hassle free and usually come in simple one- or two-piece designs.

Sub-ohm vape kits

Sub-ohm vape kits
Photo by Itay Kabalo on Unsplash

Sub-ohm vape kits like the SMOK RPM 5 produce denser plumes of vapour. They are particularly popular with intermediate vapers seeking more power and a larger cloud. For many, the denser vapour, enhanced flavour, increased nicotine delivery and greater throat hit are an irresistible combination.

Sub-ohm vape kits deliver on all counts. To get technical, an ohm is the measurement used to track a coil’s resistance. Traditional coils carry a resistance of between 1 and 2 ohms. Sub-ohm vaping is when your coil’s resistance is below 1.0 ohm, enabling a much faster current to be pushed through the coil thereby creating those larger vapour clouds – and an intense flavour to boot.

Advanced vape kits

Advanced vape kits, like the VOOPOO Drag M100S, are usually larger sub-ohm devices that offer more power output, greater battery capacity and greater choice for a more personalised vaping experience (adjustable power and airflow settings, temperature control and multiple functions).

These devices are ergonomically designed – often with beautiful tanks featuring complex multi-atomiser coil heads – and are satisfying to hold; they are popular with seasoned vapers who enjoy inhaling direct-to-lung and producing substantial vapour clouds. Tanks mostly feature adjustable airflow settings: the tighter the airflow, the more flavour you’ll receive; the looser the airflow, the more vapour but less flavour intensity you’ll experience.

The benefits of disposable vapes

Disposable vapes, also known as single-use vapes, are enjoying a bit of a moment. These compact e-cigarettes are completely closed devices, prefilled with e-liquid and with built-in, pre-charged batteries, requiring no setup or other accessories. As such, disposables are ready to go straight from the pack, and unsurprisingly they are hugely popular.

Most disposables will offer around 600 puffs, which is give or take the same as a packet of 20 cigarettes. Once they have run out of e-liquid, the device can simply be disposed of. Disposables function as brilliant backup devices or convenience buys when travelling or on the go, or for weekends away when you want to travel light. Just sling a couple in your bag and you’re all set.

Disposables vs rechargeable vapes: what’s the difference

As we’ve discussed, rechargeable vape kits offer incredible variety and a truly tailored vaping experience, while disposables come with all the fuss-free convenience of a single-use product. And therein lies the difference. Cost-wise, disposables are much cheaper individually, although they aren’t remotely cost effective for long-term regular use. Zero maintenance is required with disposables as everything is prefitted and prefilled, making them ultra-convenient – but they offer much less power and choice in terms of e-liquid flavours, style of device and nicotine strength.

Our verdict? Rechargeable vapes are ideal as your go-to, personalised, everyday device. Disposables make fantastic secondary devices for those times when carrying your primary vaping device around along with chargers, cables, e-liquids and other paraphernalia just isn’t practical. Read our review of the top 5 disposable vape kits.

Alternatives to disposable vapes

If you have been using disposable vapes for a little while you may be finding that they are working out to be an expensive way to vape long-term. Transitioning to a reusable vape kit can not only save you money, but also produces less plastic and electrical waste than continuing to use disposables. If you are looking for a simple to use device that gives you a similar experience to using disposable vapes, a prefilled pod kit like the SKE Crystal Plus is an excellent alternative. This device in particular has an extremely similar design to the Crystal Bar disposable vapes, and the prefilled pods are even filled with the exact same e-liquids as their disposables.

Alternatively, a refillable vape kit paired with a bar salt e-liquid like Double Brew or ELFLIQ also gives a very similar experience to using a disposable vape. These vape juices are available in all of the most popular disposable vape flavours, with the same nic salt formula that is usually used in disposables.

We have lots more recommendations and advice on this in our blog post ‘Alternatives to disposable vapes’.

How to responsibly dispose of e-cigarettes

Whether you are using a disposable, rechargeable or fully integrated vaping device, it’s really important that you dispose of your e-cigarette responsibly. Most external packaging is cardboard and can be recycled normally. Nowadays plastic products should display a symbol indicating what type of material they are made from, so look closely at your e-liquid bottles and recycle them where appropriate, too.

Evapo offers a battery recycling service at every store, so why not pop in and leave your used recyclable batteries with us?

Disposable vapes can only be recycled in specialist recycling facilities, so they cannot be disposed of in your usual household waste. You can find your local vape recycling location on the Recycle Your Electricals website, but we also offer disposable vape drop-off points in our retail stores.

What’s next?

Modern vapes have evolved from basic electronic e-cigarettes to stylish and sophisticated devices offering a multitude of vaping experiences catering for all manner of preferences. What could the future hold?

Regulatory changes are coming

The UK has unfortunately seen a rise in youth vaping rates, which has led the Government to conduct a call for evidence and public consultation to look into the ways in which we can reduce their appeal and accessibility to minors. You may have heard that there is a proposed ban on the supply and sale of disposable vapes, meaning it is likely that disposables will stop being sold within the next year. We delve into the facts and keep updated on the progress of this proposed ban in our post ‘Are disposable vapes being banned in the UK?

The consultation also raised the possibility of introducing further vaping regulations, such as standardised packaging, e-liquid flavour restrictions, and changes in the way vapes can be displayed in shops. The 2024 Spring Budget saw the announcement of a Vaping Product Duty, which will impose a tax on vape liquids, due to come into practice in October 2026. This aims to not only make vaping products less affordable to underage people, but to also raise funds to help bolster enforcement agencies and help them tackle the illicit market.

Many of these measures are due to be consulted on, and we are using our voice as a responsible vaping retailer to ensure that any measures brought in balance the need to tackle youth vaping, with the need to ensure that adults have access to e-cigarettes as an effective and less harmful alternative to smoking.

The Government ‘swap to stop’ scheme

The Government are also recognising the benefits of vaping as a stop smoking tool, and announced last year that they would be providing 1 million starter kits to smokers in their ‘swap to stop’ scheme, to aid adults in making the switch from smoking to vaping.

This came after the Khan Review identified that important role that vaping can play in helping the UK achieve its goal of being smokefree by 2030, meaning that less than 5% of the population are smokers.

If you are considering making the switch from cigarettes to vaping, we are here for you every step of the way. Pop in to one of our Evapo stores and say hello, or browse our website for all the latest vaping news, reviews and products.


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