The vaping industry has seen an exponential growth over the past three years or so. Despite the phenomenal growth and thousands of people switching to vaping, many still have no clue. Not a single day goes by when I don’t get asked the question: what is vaping? I get this question everywhere: emails, parties, gatherings, social media, text messages and what not. Sometimes, its close cousins also accompany it: is vaping safe, what is a vaporizer, is it safer than smoking cigarettes and so on.
So, today I decided to write this guide to answer all these questions.
“Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the water vapor produced by an electric device called vaporizer (or e-cigarette).”
And if you’re wondering what is water vapor or vapor, it’s the e-liquid in gaseous form that is inhaled and exhaled by vapers. It usually looks thicker than smoke, but dissipates more quickly into the air and smells much batter, usually like fruit, candy, mint or the flavoring used.
Vaping is a tobacco-free, and in some cases even nicotine-free, version of a traditional tobacco cigarette, but we don’t use the word smoking as there is no smoke. But just for better understanding for those who don’t possess enough knowledge about what is vaping, I would say it’s smoking minus tobacco, the obnoxious smell, virtually all the side-effects and health risks, and even the smoke. Instead of a pack of cigarette, you use an electronic device which is usually refillable and rechargeable.
What is a Vape and How it Works?
To understand vaping, let’s figure out what is a vaporizer, sometimes also called a vape, and how it works.
A vape or vaporizer consists of a mouthpiece, battery, cartridge, atomizer or cartomizer, and circuitry with a sensor. A cartomizer is a modern replacement for atomizer that combines an atomizer and the cartridge into one unit. The cartridge contains the e-liquid or e-juice, while atomizer has a heating element, usually a thin metallic coil that is heated by the power generated by the battery. When a user takes a drag on the mouthpiece, the battery heats up the coil, a cotton wick absorbs e-liquid from the cartridge and when it gets in contact with the coil, which is hotter than the boiling point of the e-liquid, it naturally turns into vapor. This vapor is then inhaled by the user that reaches his lungs and is then exhaled. The e-liquid usually consists of PG/VG blend, nicotine, and flavoring.
In contrary to the popular belief that vaporizers were “invented” a few years ago, their history dates back thousands of years. The earliest mention of vaping can be seen in the book called The History of Herodotus by the Greek Historian Herodotus. He talks about the first use of vaping while writing about the customs and traditions of Scythians, a massive clan of Iranian Eurasian rovers who used to live in the lands of what is now Southern Russia, back in 500BC. Scythians would throw weed on red-hot stones, which would turn into vapor immediately, and they would bathe in it and inhale it. Probably not the most sophisticated vaporizer, but that surely was an interesting ritual.
Irfan Sheikh – the physician of the Mughal emperor Akbar I (1542 – 1605 AD) – is accredited with inventing hookah, many consider it a key step towards the making of the modern vaporizer.
The first modern-style vaporizer in the history is believed to be created and patented in 1960, by a Korean war veteran Herbert A. Gilbert. It’s amazing that the basic anatomy of a vape is still pretty much the same as Gilbert designed it. Towards the end of the 20thcentury, Bill Amato created a cult at the Sensi Seed Bank’s Hash Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands with his outsized weed vaporizer, which won several awards at the exhibitions. His biggest success is known as the “shake and vape” vaporizer.
Early and mid-2000s mark the modern era of vapes when many manufacturers started creating and selling small, portable vaporizers. Some of the early vapes looked pretty much like a real cigarette and are sometimes referred to cig-a-likes. Nowadays, you can find vaporizers in all shapes and sizes, from giant desktop models to portable ones that are as small as a memory stick.
You might have seen someone using a vape at your local bar, heard a news story about them, or seen them on our website. But all that is just the tip of an iceberg. Vaping has become a whole new culture, with vape manufacturers selling apparels, hats and gear with their name on it. What’s more, there are vape bars and online communities. To top it off, there are always people who want to take it to a whole new level, and in the world of vaping, they’re called cloud chasers. These folks have turned vaping into a competitive sport, which is called cloud chasing. The goal is simple, to produce the biggest, thickest and badest plumes of vapor. And guess what, this is just the beginning.
Lately, vaping has grown into something more than a subculture. For some people, it became a way of thinking. There are many communities around vaping.
Since vaping looks similar to smoking, the first thing people ask after they know what is vaping is where they can and cannot vape. In the early days, smokers were allowed to smoke anywhere, then airlines banned smoking, and eventually they have been banned virtually everywhere. Vaping is going down the same path, even though several health practitioners and health institutes recommend using vaporizers, because of their potential for harm-reduction.
However, unlike cigarettes, vapes are more socially acceptable and can be vaped in more places. Different cities and countries have different legislations, finding out if there are any restrictions in a certain area is simple. Respect the rules and be mindful of the people around you, and you’ll be fine.
What Do You Need to Start Vaping?
There are different vaporizers for vaping different material such as dry herbs, oils, and wax concentrates. Although there are some hybrid vapes that allow you to use multiple mediums by simply switching a cartridge, they either are very expensive or perform poorly. Here are some of the types of vaporizers:
Vaporizers or are usually used to vape dry herbs. These vaporizers are usually expensive, and can cost you anywhere between $45 and $300, or even more. Since there is no combustion but weed is turned into vapor by extreme heat coming from either a heating ceramic plate or hot air, the harmful compounds don’t get to your lungs.
With so much variety, choosing a good vape for your dry herbs can be extremely confusing.
They turn e-juice or e-liquid into vapor and are the most common types of vaporizers. Electronic cigarettes or e-cigs can be cig-a-like disposables that cost just a few bucks or high-end rechargeable, refillable devices that can cost up to $200. These vapes try to mimic the sensation of smoking a real tobacco cigarette. In addition to the device, the vaping experience mainly depends on the e-liquid. They are flavored e-juices that may or may not have some nicotine in them.
If you want to know more about e-cigs, the best brands or the best products, check our electronic cigarettes page here.
Vape tanks or cartomizers are one of the very important parts of your vaping gear. They hold the e-liquid and have a coil that, when activated, can turn the liquid into vapor. Choosing vape tanks can be a pain in the butt, especially if you don’t know this stuff really well. When buying a tank, it’s very important to make sure it matches your mod or the best of the tanks even when paired with the best of the mods, might not offer good vapor just because they are not optimized for each other.
Vape tanks come in four major types: Standard, Sub-Ohm, RDAs (Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers) and RBAs (Rebuildable Tank Atomizers). Each of these is suitable for different type of mods. Vape tanks can be expensive, and it’s not a good idea to experiment.
Vape mods are enhanced vaporizers with additional parts, more power, and more features. Mods are customized to cater vaping needs of different types of vapers. For example, some vapers prefer their vapor to be more flavor-rich that goes easy on the throat and is easy to inhale, while others want thick vapor, so they can exhale big plumes. Each of them will need a different type of vape mod.
How to Find Vape Shops Near You
When people want to try out a vaporizer, they usually go to their local gas station or convenience store and usually end up buying one of the worst products available. These types of stores only sell cheap products for inflated prices to get the maximum profit margin. Other, smarter people, would go online where they can find all types and quality of vaporizers and other vaping gear, and even find some discounted deals.
However, some people want to actually feel a product before paying their hard-earned cash for it. Also, waiting for like two weeks for a new vaporizer to arrive when your old one goes bad is simply not an option for many. This is where you need to go a local vape shop, that offers a greater variety at a good price. But finding a vape shop can be hard because not many people will know about it.
Is Vaping Really Safe?
Well, this is a question that usually follows the question what is vaping. So, instead of giving you my personal opinion, let me simply state the results of some of the researches carried out to find the answer:
- “Vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking.” Public Health England
- Vaporizers are many times less harmful than traditional tobacco cigarettes, and vaping can even help smokers quit. American Heart Association
- The proven advantages of vaping outweigh its “potential” harms. Vaporizers are the first genuinely new way of helping people quit smoking that we have seen in many years. Royal College of Physicians
- Exhaled vapor has lesser volatile organic compounds than the normal exhaled breath, let alone exhaled smoke. Spanish Council of Scientific Research
So, is vaping safe? Well, despite all these researches and studies, we can’t say that vaporizers pose absolutely no threat to your health. But hey, even the healthiest foods you eat aren’t 100% safe. So let’s put the answer this way: vaping is exponentially safer than smoking, and can be a great aid in harm-reduction.
After reading this guide, now you know what is vaping and how you can vape. However, vaporizers are only an ideal device for ex-smokers who want to try to avoid the countless health risks of tar-laden tobacco cigarettes. If you are underage or don’t smoke, just stay away from vaping. Although there is no combustion and vaping really doesn’t have any hazards, vapers must take caution when charging their batteries, or vaping around other people, kids or pets. Also, remember nicotine can be poisonous if ingested, so make sure you keep it in child-proof bottles, away from kids and pets. Enjoy your vape, and say goodbye to bad breath, cancer risks and many other perils of smoking.