How It Works: Electronic Cigarette (E-Cigarette)

By Alison White
Last Updated on

How It Works: Electronic Cigarette (E-Cigarette)

Whether you be a casual smoker or have been lighting up and puffing for a while now, you might have heard about people making the switch to electronic cigarettes.

Likely, you’ve mostly heard that switching to an electronic cigarette or an “e-cigarette” helps people hooked to traditional cigarettes quit. At the very least, it’s supposed to be a healthier way for long-time smokers to indulge in their habit.

Whatever the reason for your electronic cigarette curiosity, we’re here to help. Here’s our basic guide to electronic cigarettes and how they work.

What is an e-cigarette?

The most basic “dictionary” definition of an electronic cigarette is that it is a cigarette-shaped device that stimulates the experience of smoking tobacco.

Most e-cigarettes have a chamber or container where a nicotine-based liquid is placed. This liquid is heated, vaporized, and inhaled by the user.

Electronic cigarettes and e-cigarettes are basically the same things. Other names for e-cigarettes are e-cigs, JUUL, vape pens, e-hookahs, vapes, mods, vape mods, or if you want to be technical “electronic nicotine delivery systems” or ENDS.

What are the parts of an electronic cigarette?

  • Mouthpiece – a cartridge fixed at the end of the tube, the end which the user puts in their mouth. There is a chamber or cup-like area where the liquid is placed.
  • The atomizer – this is what heats the liquid, causing it to vaporize and create what is called an e-cigarette aerosol which the user breathes in.
  • A battery – this is what powers the atomizer.

How does an electronic cigarette work?

An electronic cigarette works by atomizing or vaporizing an e-liquid, sometimes called e-juice of vape juice.

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Traditionally, this solution is of nicotine, a base liquid such as propylene glycol, and flavoring. Since e-cigarettes were initially used as an alternative to traditional cigarettes, nicotine used to be a must.

But as e-cigarettes have begun to be enjoyed as themselves, nicotine may be left out of the e-liquid or only placed in lower quantities.

Most e-liquids will tell you the levels of nicotine they contain or if they are nicotine-free. They also come in a variety of flavors that you can choose from.

When this liquid is placed in an electronic cigarette and heated, it produces an e-aerosol that users can inhale. E-cigarettes produce no smoke or ash as you are not burning anything, you are just heating a liquid.

How to use electronic cigarettes to help you quit smoking?

Using an e-cigarette can help people who are used to smoking traditional cigarettes quit or at least reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke.

If you are using an electronic cigarette to help you quit smoking, you need to carefully choose the nicotine strength of the e-liquid that you use. You can’t go completely nicotine-free with your e-liquids as you are already used to getting nicotine through traditional cigarettes and will crave it.

What you can and should do is first choose an e-liquid that has a nicotine strength that will provide you with the nicotine levels you are used to. You then gradually reduce the nicotine strength of your e-liquids.

  • For those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day, use an e-liquid with a nicotine strength of 1.8%
  • For those who smoke around 10 to 20 a day, use one with 1.2% nicotine strength
  • For those who smoke less than 10 cigarettes a day, use e-liquid of 0.6% nicotine strength.
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There’s no hard and fast rule about how you should go about reducing the nicotine levels of your e-liquid. You will need to play it by ear.

If you still crave actual cigarettes, you might need a higher nicotine strength. If, however, the cravings begin to abate you can try lowering the levels.

5 reasons to try electronic cigarettes (whether you’re a smoker or not)

Even if the nicotine cravings and the need to “smoke” never quite abate, it’s still better to be using an e-cigarette rather than going back to traditional cigarettes.

Here are the major reasons to make the switch:

1. They are safer to use

Because you are not burning anything when using an e-cigarette, they are a safer habit to have than smoking traditional cigarettes.

Cigarettes are a major cause of fires. An unattended cigarette or ash from a cigarette that lands on something combustible can cause a small fire that, if not caught right away can grow large and life-threatening.

You also can’t accidentally burn someone or yourself with an e-cigarette. The hot tip of a traditional cigarette and the ash it produces can burn skin and hair if you accidentally brush it against someone. It can also cause damage to clothing.

2. No unpleasant odors

The smoke from a traditional cigarette is not just unhealthy to yourself and those around you, it is also unpleasant. The odor created by cigarette smoke sticks to you and you’re clothing. It also lingers in the air around you can stick to objects such as furniture.

Since electronic cigarettes don’t burn anything, they don’t produce smoke or ash or the unpleasant smells associated with cigarette smoking and cigarette smokers.

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E-cigarettes do “smell” but this is only faintly AND many times the smell is pleasant. When you smoke an e-cigarette, the smell produced will match the flavoring of your e-liquid.

3. An e-cigarette is cheaper to use

Compared to buying a pack or two of cigarettes a day, if you switch to e-cigarettes, you will just need to buy e-liquid which is often cheaper and lasts longer than a pack of cigarettes.

The amount of liquid it takes to load your e-cigarettes chamber provides you with the same amount of nicotine that 20 cigarettes would. So, you will need to use an e-cigarette less often than you would need to light up. This will “save” your e-liquid and ensure that you need to “smoke” less.

Depending on the type of e-cigarette you buy, you might need to shell out between $25 to $150, but that’s just at the start. Liquid refills will end up costing you a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $75 monthly.

4. You’re putting fewer toxins in your body

Smoke from cigarettes can be harmful to your lungs and the lungs of those around you. The particles produced by a burning cigarette can be harmful to your respiratory system and others as well. These smoke and particles are not produced by e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes can therefore eliminate the irritating smoker’s cough and reduce the dangers of second-hand smoke. There are also fewer carcinogens associated with e-cigarette use and fewer chemicals.

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5. They are fun and delicious!

One of the best reasons to start e-cigarettes is the variety of fun and flavourful (and nicotine-free) variants that e-liquids can come in.

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Love chocolate? There’s e-liquid that comes in a variety of chocolate-y flavors. Craving strawberries? Even if they aren’t in season, you can find a strawberry-flavored e-liquid that can help assuage your cravings.

The variety of flavours and tastes available to e-cigarette users is one of the reasons that many people decided to start the habit – even if they are not smokers.

You don’t have to crave nicotine or develop a nicotine addiction to find e-cigarettes a fun, recreational habit.

Alison White

Alison White

Alison is a free spirit who is most passionate about writing. She has been working for the vaping industry as a freelance copywriter for quite some time. Alison White can dabble writing while traveling because she is just simply super.

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