5 Questions Everybody Asks About Vaporizers And E-Cigs

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We get a lot questions about vaporizers and the act of vaping.  And many of those questions are answered in The SmokeSmith Gear Guide To Vaporizers.  But there are 5 questions we get more often than any other, so we thought we'd answer them below.

What is vaping?
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the vapor which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term is used because vaporizers and e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke due to the fact that they vaporize at a temperature that does not reach the combustion point. Vaping has grown in popularity with the rise of e-cigarettes, which were introduced to the mass market in the U.S. in 2007. Vaping devices include e-cigarettes, pen & portable vaporizers, desktop vaporizers, and advanced personal vaporizers (also known as ‘mods’). Generally a vaping device consists of a mouthpiece, a battery, a cartridge for containing the e-liquid or e-juice, and a heating component for the device that is powered by a battery. When the device is used, the battery heats up the heating component, which turns the contents of the e-liquid into an aerosol that is inhaled into the lungs and then exhaled.

Who invented vaping?
The first electronic cigarette was developed in America in 1963 by a man named Herbert A. Gilbert, who applied for a patent for his “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette.” Gilbert’s invention was nicotine-free, but it produced a flavored that was supposed to replace tobacco smoke. But the invention was ahead of its time both socially and technologically, and after Gilbert’s patent was granted the concept sank into obscurity for almost 40 years.

Fast forward to 2001, when Hon Lik, a pharmacist and Chinese traditional medicine expert who had recently lost his father to lung cancer began experimenting. Hon, a heavy smoker himself, decided it was time to quit the habit. Like many people do, he tried nicotine patches, but they didn’t work. Hon started experimenting with a vaporization system, testing various liquids to find one that could replicate the feel of inhaling tobacco smoke. Eventually he settled on propylene glycol, a common food additive. Hon’s first designs used an ultrasonic emitter. However, when the first commercial product was released in 2004, it didn’t use the ultrasound system. Instead Hon switched to an atomizer using a heated coil (the same principle as Gilbert’s original design). All subsequent vapes have used this system, which offer better, more efficient heating and vapor production.

How old do you have to be to vape?
Rules, regulations and laws regarding the use of vaporizers differ from state to state. But typically the use of e-cigarettes and vapes is guided by state regulations on the purchase of cigarettes or other tobacco products.  That means the minimum legal age to vape is 18 (though in some states it is 19).  At SmokeSmith Gear we maintain a very strict age policy and we require all users of, visitors to and purchasers from the site to be at least 21 years of age.

What is in e-juice?
E-juice or e-liquids are the liquid that is converted to vapor by an electronic cigarette or e-liquid device. E-juice is typically made up of propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerin (VG), or both.  Often natural flavors are added to this base ingredient, giving the e-juice a unique flavor. Many times nicotine is also added, providing cigarette users with an alternative to combustion.

Propylene glycol (PG) has a scientific sounding name but in truth it’s a benign substance that the FDA has approved for use in food and medication (it’s also in most toothpaste brands). Vegetable glycerin (VG) is another common food additive, and it’s derived from vegetables, so it is safe for vegetarians. VG has more viscosity than PG, so the resulting e-juice is a bit thicker.

What is a vape pen?
A vape pen is a type of vaporizer that, the name suggests, has the appearance of a fountain pen.  Vape pens are popular because they offer many of the benefits of larger desktop models with the advantage of being small, discreet and highly portable.  Vape pens can be used to vaporize dry herb, waxes or oils. Vape pens consists of four basic parts:  A tank, an atomizer, the sensors and a battery.


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