The world of vaping is vast, wide, and cool. Whether you are a stoner hanging out with the concentrate heads or you can do super cool tricks where it looks like a tornado in your mouth, there is room for you in the vaping world.
That’s one of the amazing things about vaping; it brings together all sorts of different people. One thing that seems to unite most vapers is that most people have no clue how their vape works. Crazy, right?
Well, whether you are new to vaping and want to know how vape pens and electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) work, or you are a seasoned vaper who should already know this (that’s right, we’re looking at you), you’ll find something new and useful for you!
What Is a Vape?
Vape pens, e-cigarettes, and dab pens are similar devices that are sometimes referred to as vapes. These vaping products use electrical power to create heat with a heating element, which vaporizes an e-liquid, e-juice, or concentrate rather than combusting it, which creates vapor.
While all the devices we listed above are variations of the same thing, that doesn’t mean they are all the same. Cannabis dab pens can contain different parts and vary sized and placed parts to most vape pens that you might see in a convenience store or available at most smoke shops.
What Are the Parts of a Vape?
Every vape is different, but the most basic and practical vapes (and the kind you are most likely to find and want) consist of just a few parts. The more complex option is a box mod or modified vape. Here is a brief overview of the basic components of every vape pen.
Battery. A battery powers every vape pen. If a battery doesn’t power it, it needs to be plugged in anytime you want to use it — which is even less sexy than it sounds. Lithium-ion batteries power many vapes with different wattages, and some vape pens are rechargeable batteries while others are disposable.
Atomizer. The atomizer is the engine that makes your vape run. The atomizer takes the electrical energy produced by the battery and then runs it to your vape coils. Vape coils are coils of metal, which, when exposed to electrical current, get hot. Atomizers also contain the wick, a (usually cotton) string soaked in vaping liquid and connected to the vape cartridge.
Cartridge. The cartridge is where your vaping liquid lives. Most cartridges are not refillable; however, some of them are. That said, it is a skill that is best reserved for experts and not beginners. Vaping liquid stains clothes and furniture, and refilling can be messy, especially if done incorrectly. Some vapes will offer replaceable cartridges, so you can swap the whole cartridge out for a new flavor.
Mouthpiece. The mouthpiece is the part of the vape pen you put your mouth on and pull from, creating airflow. The mouthpiece is also where the vapor will come out of the pen. The cartridge and mouthpiece are the same on many devices with replaceable cartridges.
- (Maybe) Button. Some vape pens have one more piece on the body of the vape pen: a button. You may need to push the button to activate the battery to send current to the atomizer. In vapes without buttons, the battery is activated by the suction of your pull on the pen.
How Do Vapes Work: Step-by-Step-Guide
Now that you know all the basic components of a vape pen, we can go through the basic process by which a vape pen works to make the vapor you inhale. Each vape is different, so the parts and process can vary somewhat from this guide.
Step One: Close the Circuit
The first step of operating your vape is closing the circuit. This means that you have to close the electrical circuit connecting the battery to the atomizer.
If your vape has a button, that is what the button does. If your vape does not have a button, you can close the circuit and activate the mechanism of your vape by pulling on it.
Step Two: Heating the Coils
Once the circuit is closed, the electrical current will begin flowing from the battery to the atomizer. In the atomizer, the electrical current is directed to the vape coils, which get superheated to hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit.
Step Three: Vaporization
A wick in the atomizer near the vape coils is exposed to the heat produced by the vape coil. The liquid in the vape coil is vaporized by the heat, creating clouds of vapor, which is much less hot than smoke since it does not involve fire, only high heat.
Not every liquid vaporizes the same way; the vaping liquid is formulated to provide thick and satisfying clouds for you to inhale.
It’s as easy as that, one, two, three, and you’ve got vapor in your mouth. Of course, it gets more complicated than that; you can customize nearly every aspect of the vaping experience to get the best clouds possible, from modifying the battery, tank, vape coils, atomizer as a whole, or using specially formulated vape juices.
How Does Vaping Liquid Work?
As we just mentioned above, not all liquids are meant to be vaporized. If you take water and heat, it will indeed become a gas, but a very thin gas that is difficult, if not impossible, to inhale and enjoy. Not to mention that water does not have nicotine, CBD (cannabinoids), or THC to give you a chemical effect.
So how do we get these liquid concentrates that create thick clouds of vapor that taste amazing and contain a chemical compound of your choice? Here is a look at how your favorite vaping liquids work to provide you with the densest clouds.
What Is in Vape Juice?
Vape juice has several different ingredients, and each manufacturer will have its exact blend. The most common components of vape juice are propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerine (VG), water, flavorings, and nicotine, CBD, or THC concentrate, mixed into a homogenous liquid.
What Is Propylene Glycol?
Propylene glycol is a liquid that is a derivative of petroleum products. It is a clear, tasteless liquid used primarily because of its ability to produce vapor and carry flavor and concentrates through the vapor produced. PG also gives users a “throat hit” when they inhale its vapor, which some users say reminds them of the sensation of smoking.
While propylene glycol may sound scary, it is a safe chemical for oral consumption in common products like toothpaste, oral medications, dog food, shampoo, and other products. There are limited studies on the safety of inhaling PG, but this study from just after World War II found no harm from inhaling PG. Medicine has changed a lot since then, but a fun fact!
What Is Vegetable Glycerine?
Vegetable glycerine is the other main component of vaping liquid that is used for its ability to produce vapor when heated. Vegetable glycerin is a derivative of vegetable oil, making it a naturally derived chemical and vegetarian-approved. VG is a thicker substance than PG and produces very thick, dense vapor while being much kinder to the throat.
Vegetable glycerine is also in household products and items, including toothpaste and dog food (strangely enough). Vegetable glycerine is also a sugar substitute and safe for oral consumption. There are no studies showing harm from inhalation of vegetable glycerine, either.
When PG and VG are combined, you can get the best of both worlds, dense, thick clouds with lots of flavors and minimal throat hit to keep your hits feeling smooth and fresh.
How Do Vapes Work? FAQs
Last but not least, we wanted to leave you with the answers to some of the most common questions we get here at California Honey Vapes about how vapes work. See if you find the answer to a question of your own or just learn something new about how vaping devices work.
1. How Do Rechargeable Batteries Work?
Rechargeable and disposable batteries work the same way as disposable batteries for the sake of operating the vape device. The only difference is that the battery is designed not just to release the energy stored within it but also able to replace that energy with more electrical energy through a charger. It’s important to learn about battery safety when beginning your vape journey.
2. What Are Vape Coils?
Vape coils can use many different kinds of metals, and the metals used greatly impact your vaping experience. The most common metals are nickel, chromium, iron, and aluminum. Vape coils are often made of alloys of these metals, which are mixtures of different metals.
You should regularly replace the vape coils in your rechargeable vapes to keep your pen running smoothly. Over time the metal deteriorates due to constant exposure to electrical current.
3. Can You Recharge a Disposable Vape?
It isn’t easy, it doesn’t always work, and it’s not for the faint of heart, but if you’re very determined and have enough patience and interest, you can recharge your disposable vape. That said, you cannot refill the cartridge of your disposable vape (at least not in a way we know of without making a mess).
Are Vapes Like Cigarettes?
Unlike regular cigarettes, vapes create vapor. In cigarettes, tobacco and the resulting carcinogens go through the combustion process, resulting in cigarette smoke.
There is a misconception that nicotine is the worst offender in cigarettes. The reality is that tobacco products have a host of harmful chemicals (including formaldehyde) to be wary of.
We have all heard of the lung diseases and health effects of longtime tobacco cigarette usage. Many smokers use vapes as a smoking cessation method.
How Vapes Work: Final Roundup
The magic of engineering has brought us many marvels and wonders. There are many greats, from radio and television to automobiles and space travel. And while the technology behind vapes may not be as groundbreaking as these pieces of technology, it is something that all of us can understand.
And now, hopefully, you do! Vape pens are not that complicated when it all boils down to it. You’re just heating a really hot metal piece with a battery to vaporize vape liquid. You are already leagues ahead of most people if you know this much.
Check out our pens here at California Honey Vapes if you want a new disposable vape pen or a rechargeable option. We have disposables in tons of flavors and your choice of nicotine, delta 8, and nicotine free. Look at what we’ve got, and stay tuned for more content like this on our blog.