When I first tried to quit smoking, I was worried about a lot of things. I wondered if vaping might be just as bad as smoking. I worried that I would look weird or like I didn’t know what I was doing.
But mostly I was desperate to quit smoking and I worried whether this would work, or if (like everything else I tried)- it would just be another waste of time and money.
I had a lot of questions before I bought my first vape pen, and I had to scour a bunch of different sites trying to find the information I needed. What I really wanted was to find a site where the information was complete but also easy to understand, because I was starting with zero knowledge. This is where this page comes in, as I want to provide the best vape info possible for beginners.
First of all, I’ll state my opinion- which I feel strongly about. If you don’t smoke already, there is really no need to take up vaping. While lots of preliminary studies are claiming that vaping is up to 95% better for you than smoking- vaping hasn’t been around long enough to produce any data on the long term effects. If you are a smoker, and need something to help you kick the habit, vaping can be an excellent choice. If you’re just looking for a new hobby, this is probably a poor choice.
Ok, we’ve got all of that out of the way. Let’s get started with the basics.
How is vaping different than smoking?
With vaping, there is no smoke or combustion. A device vaporizes a solution of water, nicotine & flavoring, which creates the sensation of smoking.
Some other pretty sweet benefits of vaping include:
- No tar
- No second hand smoke or odors
- No more yellow teeth or fingers
- No carbon monoxide
- Ability to vape indoors without the smell of smoking (as long as the people your household don’t mind, of course.)
Most people start vaping with what’s called a “cig-a-like”- these are sold at corner stores, are generally disposable and look a lot like a real cigarette. This isn’t really vaping and I honestly don’t recommend this as a solution to keep you away from smoking.
I’m not really going to cover those here, I’ll just skip over them and go straight to talking about vape pen style devices.
Despite the wide variety of vape devices that you’ll find on the market today, they all have a few things in common. They all use a battery to heat a wire coil. There is a wick which draws e-liquid into the coil. When the coil heats the eliquid, it vaporizes it, and you inhale that vapor the same way you would inhale with a cigarette.
Here are some terms that you may hear thrown around:
Device – Vape devices come in many different shapes, sizes and colors. In general, you’ll see devices that look like a pen, a tube or a box. Despite the differences in how these devices look, they all ultimately operate the same way. They take power from a battery and they deliver it to an atomizer.
Battery – This is the part that supplies power to the device. Most devices use one or more high power, rechargeable batteries.
Atomizer – This is the part of your device that houses the coil(s) and wick(s) and usually a tank or reservoir which holds e-liquid.
Coil(s) – These small coils resemble a spring. The type of wire that’s used, the diameter of the coil, and the number of wraps will affect the coils resistance. Resistance is what determines how much power is needed as well as how much heat will be produced.
E-liquid – Sometimes called e-juice or just juice. This can contain a base of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin (or both mixed together. You’ll also find food flavourings and nicotine. You can get e-liquid with no nicotine, but I don’t really recommend this if you’re vaping to quit smoking. It’s best to try to find a level of nicotine that matches the amount you were smoking to help with your withdrawal symptoms.
Wicks – These can be made from cotton, silica cord, eco-wool, ceramic, or even stainless steel mesh. The wick is what carries the e-liquid from the tank to the coils, where it gets vaporized.
Mouthpiece- This one is pretty self explanatory. Put the piece in your mouth.
So, what should I start with?
This is a very common question, and there really is no straight answer- because it really depends on you!
What works best for one person, may not work for someone else at all. This gets even more complicated because of the number of devices that are out there on the market. On this site, I have tried to put together some really comprehensive lists of recommended vape devices, as well as e-liquids, which should help you figure out what might work best for you.
You’ll see a couple of categories of devices on this site.
Vape Pens- vape pens are best for the occasional or casual smoker. While there are a few models that provide the power and the vapor that heavier smokers crave, for the most part- these devices are not powerful enough to satisfy someone who is trying to kick a pack a day habit. At least, this is my personal opinion. I personally know quite a few people who have quit using a vape pen, and continued to use the vape pen for almost a year with no issues before they decided to upgrade. But I would have to say that this is a minority. Vape pens can also be really good if you currently just like to smoke with friends, or when you’re drinking- and you’re looking for a healthier alternative for those situations. I know a few other people who have a pen as well as a more powerful mod, because they don’t like to carry a bulky mod around with them. So they use the mod at home and they take a pen with them when they go out. So if you know that you’re a light smoker, or you want to get more than one kind of device, this is the one for you.
Vape Mod Starter Kits- in general, these are for people who have some familiarity with vaping. They tend to be a little bit bigger in size, and also provide more power and control. For the majority of new vapers who were heavy smokers, this is what I recommend. These devices will provide the power, vapor and flavor you are looking for. There is really no reason to graduate from this type of device to a box mod unless you move into vaping as a hobby. Even if you know that you will never be able to stop smoking and decide that you will vape long-term instead, I still recommend starting out with a starter kit because it will help you learn more about vaping before you start using more advanced equipment. And let’s be honest, smoking is expensive. If we look at the cost of smoking being around $7 a day, a heavy smoker is spending about $200 a month on smokes. Most starter kits are between $50 and $150. So even if you only use the kit for a month before you move up a level, you really aren’t out any money, because you would have spent that on smokes anyway.
Box Mods- Once you’ve been vaping for a little while and have a better understanding of how vape devices work, you may be ready to move up to a box mod. Usually people will move up into this category because they are looking for bigger clouds (a cloud chaser) or better flavor (a flavor chaser). On this site I recommend mid powered regulated devices (80w or less) and atomizers that have replaceable coils. These devices will give you the better flavor and vapor that you’re looking for without sacrificing ease of use or safety.
Advanced vaping- I’m not going to cover off too many advanced vaping devices here on this site. In general, beginners (and most people, if we’re being honest) don’t have the advanced knowledge of Ohms Law and Joules Law to operate advanced devices safely. If you want to graduate from a box mod into more advanced devices, there are lots of sites out there that can help you make this leap, so for the most part I’m going to focus on beginner stuff (with the very occasional article on more advanced stuff, but I promise to keep it to a minimum). I also just want to say that I am very against mech mods. These are rugged and simple mods that lack protection circuitry. There’s a lot of risk with mech mods and I absolutely do not recommend them for anyone. These used to be your only option if you were looking for power, but the industry has grown so rapidly that there are a lot of regulated box mods out there that provide way better performance. So why bother using something that carries a lot of risk with it? It makes no sense. I’ll say it again, mech mods are 100% NOT for beginners.
Ok, I think I know what I need. How do I get started?
Obviously, the first step is to order your device and your juice. This is probably the hardest decision, but as I said earlier in this article, when you think about how much smoking costs ($200/mo)- if you are making the commitment to vape instead of smoke, this gives you a fair amount of budget to play with to get the device that is perfect for you. And if you get the wrong one, you probably still saved money from not smoking because smoking is crazy expensive.
Ok, so every tank has two pieces to it. The base holds the coil and the glass portion holds the e-liquid. The first thing you’re going to do is prime your coil. Unscrew the coil from the base of your tank and put 2 small drops right down the center of the coil. Let it soak into the cotton. You’ll notice some small holes exposing cotton on the outside of the coil- put a few drops of liquid there as well. Screw your coil back into the base of the tank.
Second step will be to grab the glass portion of the tank and fill it up. Try not to get liquid into the chimney (the center of the tank). This is where the vapor comes from and the e-liquid is going to end up in your mouth if you fill up the chimney.
Now, re-attach the tank and screw the glass to the base carefully. Without firing your device, pull on the drip tip (just like you’re vaping) without pressing the power button. Just do this for a few seconds. Turn on your device and if it allows you to turn the wattage down, go to a low setting. You can start to fire your device and vape. Slowly turn up your wattage, which is going to produce more vapor and flavor.
How many coils will I need to buy?
You’ll likely need to replace your coil at least once a week, although if you’re vaping really clean juice, you may get more than a week sometimes.
How will I know when the coil needs to be changed?
If you start to taste a burnt taste then you know it’s time to change the coil. Some other signs that it’s time to change it is if you hear a gurgling noise when you pull from your device, or if you feel like you’re pulling harder than you normally do, and the battery is fully charged. To change your coil, just repeat the steps above and you’ll be good to go! It takes less than a minute to change your coil once you get the hang of it.
What about battery safety? My mod comes with external batteries, how do I take care of them?
Battery safety is something you need to take very seriously.It is so easy to care for your batteries properly. Don’t toss batteries around or leave them lying loose in your car, pockets, purse or backpack. Battery cases are extremely cheap. (Get one here). If you are going to go with a mod that uses external batteries, this is a mandatory expense you need to be willing to invest in. Use the charger that is right for your device. Or even better, get a smart battery charger. Watch your batteries when they are charging and do not leave them plugged into the wall unattended. Almost all accidents with batteries occur because people have left them plugged in for too long. And the few minor cases of battery incidents hurt the vaping industry in general because they make a great story for the media. Please just take care of your batteries and you will have no issues at all.
How much e-liquid will I need?
This really depends on you and how much you will be vaping. You will likely be refilling your liquid at least once a day. If you’re going to vape all day, you’re going to go through a lot more e-liquid than someone who only vapes a couple of times a day. For the first little while, keep your e-liquid with you and keep track of how much you are going through. Over time you will get a good sense of how much you will need per day and per week so that you never run out of juice. Refilling your liquid takes less than a minute, it’s really easy once you get the hang of it.
What nicotine strength should I get?
Just like smoking, you can get different levels of nicotine when you vape.
- 18mg- similar to a regular cigarette
- 12mg- similar to a pack of Marlboro mediums
- 3-6mg- similar to an ultralight cigarette
- 0mg- no nicotine at all.
A few things to keep in mind, you may also see 24mg strength. This is likely too strong. There is a caveat to this, if you were a heavy smoker, you may want to get both 18mg and 24mg and see how you feel. If you’re having serious withdrawal symptoms with the 18, switch to the 24 for a bit and see if you feel a bit better.
Do not feel bad about trying out a few different nicotine strengths until it feels right for you. Vaping is not the same as smoking, you are not a failure if you need to start with a higher mg level than what you were smoking with cigarettes. Remember most people will find they can go down in mg strength pretty quickly. Cut yourself some slack. You will get there.
For some strange reason most brick and mortar vape shops will try to tell you that you can go down in your nicotine from what you were smoking when you’re first starting out. For instance if you were smoking a full pack of regular cigarettes a day, they might tell you that you can get away with 12mg. Don’t ask us why this phenomenon occurs, but we know we aren’t the only people who experienced this. What happens is you feel like it’s just not working because you’re not getting enough nicotine. So again, do what feels right for you, and if you’re having crazy withdrawal symptoms or turning into a demon werewolf, do your loved ones a favor and try a higher nic level and see if it helps.
How do I know if I want PG or VG?
PG stands for Propylene Glycol. It is a petroleum by-product that has no odour or color. It’s used as a base in e-liquid. It’s slightly more viscous than VG and it can provide a ‘throat hit’ – which is what some people say is similar to the sensation of smoking. PG can also carry flavour more effectively, so if you’re after strong flavor, usually you will go with a juice that has a higher concentration of PG.
VG stands for Vegetable Glycerin. VG is natural and comes from vegetable oil. If you’re vegetarian, this is completely safe for you. It’s often used in juice to give it a thick sensation. VG will give you a much smoother hit than PG. Some people may have a mild reaction to PG- and find that 100% VG based juices work a lot better for them. Try out both and see what you like the most. One thing to keep in mind is that VG juice can reduce the life of your atomizers because of how thick it is.
Which one is right for you, really depends on your style of vaping:
- Throat hit– if you are looking for the same feel as smoking, then a high PG ratio is probably better for you.
- Smoothness – if you’re looking for a smoother feeling on your throat, high VG eliquid would be a better choice.
- Stealth Vaping- I’m not going to condone vaping in public around others, as you’re probably giving the rest of us a bad rep. But if you are looking to minimize your clouds- then definitely go with a higher PG juice.
- Big clouds- on the opposite end, if big clouds are your thing, a juice with a high VG ratio (or 100% VG) will give you the clouds you’re looking for.
What’s up with all of the different e-juice flavours? Can I get regular tobacco flavour?
You’ll notice right away that e-liquids come in tons of different flavors. Most people go for tobacco when they first start, just because that is what they are used to. You may not even realize how much smoking has altered your taste buds. But after a few weeks of vaping you’ll notice that your food starts to taste better, and at this point you may want to explore other flavors too.
Studies have shown that the availability of different flavours is something that most people who successfully quit smoking with vaping cite as a key reason they stuck with vaping. So experiment, keep your mind open about this- and we bet you will find something that’s right for you. Find out more about e-liquids, and the companies we recommend here >
Thanks for all of this info, but I still have more questions.
My goal with this page was to answer all of your questions as you venture into the world of vaping. If you still have more questions, please email me and I will respond as soon as possible. I will also add any new questions that I receive (along with answers) so this page can continue to grow. No question is too small (or weird), please ask away.