Most electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs as they are commonly known, are available in many shapes, sizes and colours. Even though e-cigs vary in appearance and in the way they are used, they all operate from the same basic idea and on the same basic principle.
The fundamental point of the electronic cigarette is to deliver nicotine to the user without the massively harmful combustion products formed when burning tobacco. A traditional cigarette delivers nicotine by the burning of a highly processed and chemically augmented tobacco leaf – the smoker then inhales the thousands of toxic and carcinogenic compounds produced to get nicotine into their system.
There are three broad types, or tiers, of electronic cigarette:
- First Generation – The Ciga-Like
- Second Generation – The Tank Kit
- Third Generation – The world of MODS
First Generation – Ciga-Like
The three e-cig types illustrate the evolution of the technology. Ciga-like electronic cigarettes were the first to be developed and designed to simulate a real cigarette, hence the name. These devices are still available and look very similar to a standard cigarette comprising a battery and a cartomizer. The battery is usually the “white” part of the e-cig. They are often rechargeable and are usually good for a couple of hours use before requiring a recharge. The cartomizer is the brown or orange “filter” part. This section is detachable from the battery and is used to house the eLiquid, which generally contains nicotine as the active ingredient. Cartomizers are usually purchased pre-filled with eLiquid and are simply screwed onto the battery. While it is not the intended use and can become a bit messy, it is possible to refill the cartomizer yourself. The introduction of a device which closely resembled a cigarette was initially widely welcomed by smokers as they felt that using other devices “looked silly”. More recently however, with the continued development and social acceptance of the electronic cigarette, this view has pretty much reversed with vapers now feeling that trying to emulate an actual cigarette seems outdated and counter-productive to their quitting efforts. The result is that the majority of vapers now use the tier 2 technology, with more and more now progressing to tier 3 over time.
Second Generation – The Tank Kit
Tier 2 electronic cigarette technology is commonly known as a “tank kit” because the e-cig comprises a rechargeable battery and a refillable tank. Tier 2 technology generally resembles a large pen with a bigger battery and tank than a ciga-like, which allows longer usage before having to refill or recharge. Standard tier 2 e-cig batteries last an average user from half to the majority of a day before depleting. Vapers should be aware that there are a lot of cheap imported batteries available on the market, which simply do not perform. It is important to remember that, as with everything, you get what you pay for! While tank based e-cigs seem generally more expensive to purchase in comparison to ciga-likes, they actually tend to be much cheaper to run over time, the reason for this being that the tank can be refilled with eLiquid, doing away with the need to buy an entire refill cartomizer. Despite what some vendors may say, any eLiquid is suitable for use with any tank system. As such, there are no limitations as to where a vaper can purchase their eLiquid, tanks or e-cigarette parts, unless the battery is non-standard. With regard to ego fittings, more or less any tank should fit. Tanks contain a heating element with a useful lifespan of around 2-3 weeks, following which the element will begin to scorch or will simply die. Some tanks allow the replacement of the element, often referred to as a coil or wick. These tanks offer cheaper running costs as it’s more cost effective to just buy replacement coils than a full replacement tank. Replacing the coil is very simple as they just screw in and out. Again, no matter what the vendor tells you, the useful lifespan of a coil is only 2-3 weeks at most. This is normal and should be expected.
Third Generation – The World of MODS
MODS are the latest generation of electronic cigarette device. The appearance and build of these devices varies widely, but they all still operate on the same basic principle as ciga-like and tank kits, i.e. the vaporisation of a propylene glycol base containing nicotine using a heating element. These devices are highly customisable (hence the name MOD for modification) allowing the user to fine tune their experience as well as have the option to tinker with the way the unit operates. MODS can be complex, and ciga-like kits tend to be ineffective, particularly for smoking cessation. As such, we recommend that the new vaper starts with a good tank kit. We also recommend that you go into an actual specialised e-cigarette shop, where you can try before you buy, and determine the best nicotine strength for your requirements. Don’t simply assume that because you were a heavy or light smoker you will need high or low strength nicotine. This is not always the case. We would also recommend that you start with a tobacco or a mint/menthol flavour, as your brain associates nicotine with the taste of cigarettes. As your taste buds start to return to their pre-smoking state, explore the other available flavours. Soon, you will no longer associate nicotine with the awful taste and smell of tobacco cigarettes.