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everything about e-cigarettes

Quick history

Herbert Gilbert took out the initial patent on a design for an electronic cigarette back in the 1960 but it wasn’t until 2003 that a Chinese gentleman by the name of Hon Lik created the first electronic cigarette, which looked like a cigarette.

These devices are often referred to as “cigalikes” or, more commonly, 1st generation personal vaporiser devices (PVDs).

Early pioneers into the world of vaping discovered that they found the flavours and the throat hit lacking. In very much a kitchen sink approach, across the world imaginative minds began to conjure up new designs.

2nd generation PVDs were the next evolutionary step in vaping design. Built around a small battery, they initially used clearomisers similar to the CE4. This category now includes eGo batteries, Spinners, Evods and the ‘Mini’ style atomisers.

The greatest development took off when a German (known on Internet forums as Raidy) created the Genisis atomiser. Using the series of batteries with a 18mm diameter meant that he could create something with a large tank capacity. From the image you can see the wick is made from rolled metal mesh.

The designs to this (compared to current atomisers) crude device were made available to the vaping community for free on condition no one used them to begin making atomisers for profit.

You only need to look at the vast range of mods capable of taking the 18000-series batteries and the huge number of genny-style atomisers to see that Raidy’s wish was not acknowledged.

It is now possible to purchase 1st-gen PVDs for pennies through to high-end 3rd-gen equipment for thousands of pounds. A global business has developed incorporating skilled designers and engineers through to those in China who copy people’s designs and sell cheap clones.

The growth in people taking up vaping is described as “exponential” due to the rapid rate of people moving over from smoking. Such has been the unforeseen and spectacular surge that politicians, employers, pharmaceutical and tobacco companies are still trying to come to terms with it and develop policies and strategies. For example: over the previous 12 months in the UK the number of people vaping has risen from 1.3 million to 2.1 million (according to ASH UK), and the true figure is now probably well in excess of that.

The benefits

Cigarettes contain over 4,000 toxins (known poisons to the body) with over 50 of these known carcinogens (they cause cancer).

Electronic cigarettes do not burn anything, there is no smoke, and the vapour does not contain the 4,000 toxins produced by combustion in a cigarette.

They have been described by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos (a cardiology expert) as “orders of magnitude safer than smoking”.

Research by ASH UK and Professor Robert West has shown that quit attempts using traditional nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) offers no chance of success over trying to quit smoking without NRT. They have found that successful chances of quitting are greatly enhanced when using an electronic cigarette. This has been formally recognised by the Leicester ‘Quit’ program and by NHS Scotland who fully support the use of e-cigs in quitting programs.

Very soon after switching you will notice that you are starting to breath easier and your sense of taste & smell returns…that means you will enjoy all of the e-liquid flavours even more!

'Is it healthy?'

Electronic cigarettes are not “safe” – no responsible manufacturer or vendor should tell you they are. It is possible to drown in water or poison yourself by drinking too much coffee; from waking in the morning until going to bed at night we run the gauntlet of daily dangers.

Vaping isn’t safe BUT it is hundreds to thousands of times safer than smoking (depending upon the research you look at).

Professor West, of University College London, recently told the BBC that e-cigarettes are "orders of magnitude safer" than tobacco cigarettes.

The ingredients in e-liquid are all approved for medical use and initial research from across Europe supports the notion that it is far healthier than smoking.

Some people find that their throat dries out; it is advised that you keep hydrated while vaping to avoid this. A small minority of vapers have a reaction to the “PG” component in the e-liquid; it is possible to find high “VG” concentration liquids to use instead.

How it works

All electronic cigarettes follow a similar principle, at heart they are just torches except in place of the bulb there is an arrangement to vaporise the e-liquid.

1. On some e-cigarettes, inhalation activates the battery-powered atomiser. Other types use a manual on/off switch.

2. The heating coil(s) inside the atomiser heats the e-liquid containing nicotine.

3. The e-liquid becomes vapour and is inhaled. The vape produced is largely water vapour.

A rule of thumb is that the more air that gets to the coil the more vapour that will be produced. The smaller the chamber the coil sits in the greater the flavour.

Likewise, high “PG” e-liquids will give greater flavour; high “VG” e-liquids produce more clouds.

What kind of devices are there?

The cigalike is a very simple device. People chose them because they look like cigarettes and the convenience of having something simple. The downsides to these devices are that they are not very efficient at delivering flavour or vape when compared to 2nd or 3rd-Gen devices. The battery in the cigalike only puts out a low voltage; this impacts on the quality of the vape experience. Also, it has a limited lifespan before needing to be thrown away/recharged.

Of those who claim to have tried vaping and gone back to cigarettes citing that the experience was unfulfilling most did so with a cigalike.

Second generation devices like the eGo, Twist, Evod, Protank Mini and the Nautilus make ideal starter kits for the new vaper. In fact, they have improved so much that many vapers stick with them and those who progress to 3rd-gen devices often have these in the kit as back-ups or to use for convenience due to their size.

The benefit of 2nd-gen devices is that the batteries last longer between charges and some have a variable voltage function so that you can dial in your preference for vaping. Although they are more expensive to buy to begin with compared to a cigalike the improved vape and reliability proves to be cost-effective in the long run.Also, if compared to the financial cost of smoking they work out far cheaper. They are perfectly safe as long as you The benefit of 2nd-gen devices is that the batteries last longer between charges and some have a variable voltage function so that you can dial in your preference for vaping. Although they are more expensive to buy to begin with compared to a cigalike the improved vape and reliability proves to be

purchase from a reputable supplier and charge correctly using approved equipment.

What should I buy in the beginning?
Third generation mods are available as ones that allow you to adjust the power, like the Vamo and the SID. Some have the appearance of boxes due to the arrangement of batteries or to give a different feel in the hand. Other ”mech” mods offer a vast range of looks but rely on the user knowing a bit about safety with electricity. The atomisers are bought in addition to the mod and require some practise to wick and coil.

If you plan on trying out more than one juice then you may wish to consider more than one atomiser. This means you can always have a clean one ready to put juice into.

When a battery runs out of charge and you don’t have a spare ready it can make for a frustrating wait. The old adage on Internet vaping forums is that you should have a back up to your back up to your back up. And then consider buying a back up to all of them. Things happen – coils burn out, wicks clog and batteries run out of charge. It pays to be a good scout and always be prepared.

Buy quality – with vaping equipment cheap products are cheap because they have been built to a price. Cheap chargers fail to charge properly, cheap batteries lose charge quickly and cheap atomisers leak.

Lastly, buy from a vendor who cares about your vaping journey and wants to be a part of it, people who see you as more than just a customer with money. The great thing about vaping is that the majority of people you come into contact with are genuine enthusiasts who will love to share your new adventure.


How long a battery will last between charges is indicated by the claimed figure for mAh (milliampere-hour). Due to testing conditions when these values are calculated actual performance can vary. The higher the mAh figure the longer the battery will last before needing recharging.

Li-ion batteries work by releasing energy in a controlled way, when you recharge them the charger reverses the reaction and stores energy. Because of the chemical composition of the battery it is vital that an appropriate charger is used under safe conditions: Never leave a battery recharging unsupervised, never over-charge a battery and never over-discharge one.


Dry hits

They are unpleasant and caused by the wick not getting juice to the coil fast enough. This can happen if you have just filled the atomiser or changed to a heavier/higher VG juice. This can also happen if you are using a VV/VW device turned up to high, it vaporises the liquid faster than the wick can carry fresh juice to the coil.

The solutions are to prime the wick by giving it time to replenish, performing dry pulls (sucking without firing the battery) and starting at a low voltage before gradually turning it up.

A hot battery

This can be a simple matter of over-use and the battery getting warm because of heat being conducted from the coil.

It is advisable to give the battery time to cool down – if this is a recurrent problem it is best to stop using the set-up and seek assistance.

Not firing

The easiest solution is to check that it is turned on. Then ensure the battery is charged.

The not so easy solution is to stop using the set up immediately, especially if the battery becomes warm or hot as this means the is an electrical short. In this situation the battery is discharging faster than its chemistry was designed for.

A battery that has been shorted should not be reused.


This is when too much juice is getting to the coil, it can be the result of just having refilled or even atmospheric changes – hot weather makes e-liquid runnier.

First, remove the atomiser, place tissue at the base and blow down the driptip.

If this does not cure the problem try a thicker juice (higher percentage of VG)

Also, remember that replaceable heads wear out – try putting a new head in.


Clean all atomiser parts with luke warm water and allow to dry, wicks will retain water and make the vape taste diluted unless fully dried out.

Clean the contact on the batter with some tissue or a cotton bud – do not add cleaning products but isopropanol/isopropyl alcohol can be used as it will evaporate quickly.


*This is a section worthy of its own article given the health concerns and the importance to sourcing quality liquid.