How Vaping Works: The Basic Tools

An e-cigarette or nicotine vaporizer is intended to be a nicotine delivery system similar to that of a cigarette. Its original use, and the most prevalent reason for current use, is to quit smoking.

E-cigarettes (digital cigarettes) look and feel like traditional cigarettes (analog cigarettes) in terms of appearance, weight, and size. Most of them are disposable – once you run out of juice, you toss it away. Vaporizers are refillable but have less resemblance to analog cigarettes; basic models are more like fountain pens and vaporizer mods can be larger than a cellphone.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of digital cigarette. E-cigs tend to emulate smoking more accurately, but they can be costly if you go through them quickly. You also cannot tell when you will run out of juice because the tank is hidden.

Vaporizers are larger but more cost efficient – instead of throwing away the whole thing, you only need to replace the coil and the juice, both of which are relatively inexpensive. They also deliver greater power for bolder flavour and better clouds.

Whichever way you go, digital cigarettes all work in generally the same way, as outlined below.


eGo vaporizer pen with EVOD2 tank – just one example of the many styles to choose from.

A: Mouthpiece, where the vapour is inhaled
B: Tank, where the e-juice is stored
C: Coil, which delivers the juice from the tank to be heated and turned to vapour
D: Connector, connects the coil to the battery and tank
E: Battery, which heats the e-juice

The coil is a piece of metal that has cotton inside of it (called a wick). The wick absorbs e-juice through tiny holes in the coil and waits to be heated. When you press the power button on the battery, it heats up the coil and turns the e-juice in the wick to vapour, which is then inhaled through the mouthpiece. The wick acts as a filter to keep the juice from getting sucked up into the mouthpiece.

Just like any other cotton product, coils don’t last forever. How often you need to replace them depends entirely on your level of use. Manufacturers generally say to replace them every 2-3 weeks but I find once a week is more realistic. When a coil needs replacing, your vapour will have a burnt taste and your liquid may turn brown or black.

***NOTE: if your liquid turns brownish but doesn’t taste burnt, then replacing the coil is up to your discretion. If it turns opaque then dump the remaining liquid and replace the coil right away.***

How long your battery remains charged again depends entirely on usage. The battery pictured above is a beginner level eGo thread battery. I used it regularly throughout the day and found one charge would last approximately one and a half days. Just to be safe I made sure to charge it each night while sleeping, though it only takes three hours to fully charge the battery if you’re in a bind.

So that’s the least you need to know about the mechanics of vaping. It can get more complex, especially when you upgrade to a more powerful battery and/or turn to “dripping,” but for beginners, this is the basic information you’ll need to know.


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