Vaping Equipment Basics: How it Works

The meaning of vape depends on whether you use it as a verb or noun. When used as a verb, it refers to the process of vaping, however, it’s more commonly used as a noun to refer to the electronic device itself.

Some other commonly used terms for vape are “mod”, “vaporizer”, “vapor cigarette”, “electronic cigarette”, “electronic cigarette” and “e-cig”.

Miriam Webster added the word Vape to the dictionary, and awarded it the “Word of the Year” in 2014.

Medical Definition of vape

 Vaped ;vaping

 intransitive verb

:  to inhale and exhale vapor from an electronic cigarette or similar device like someone smoking a conventional cigarette

transitive verb

:  to inhale or exhale the vapor of

Vaper  noun<Vapers can inhale huge numbers of very small aerosol particles into the lung’s tiniest airways.—Janet Raloff, Science News, 28 June 2014>

If we look at the basic parts of an electronic cigarette or vape, it has several different parts but the basics are the two main components: a battery and an atomizer (coil).  The battery is the power source, normally charged with a USB cable or a custom charger. The atomizer has the heating element which is usually metallic coil.

Some other parts and of the vaporizer are: a tube or box which is the main unit for the housing for the battery, circuitry and sensors, a cartridge or “tank” that houses the e-liquid or e-juice, and “drip tip” which is a mouthpiece for the “tank”.

If you’re wondering what is vapor, and why we use the term vaping instead of smoking, it’s just because when e-liquid reaches the atomizer and turns from liquid to gaseous form, it becomes water vapor instead of smoke.

Before we discuss how Electronic cigarettes work, let’s take a quick look at their different parts.

Rechargeable Battery

Most Electronic cigarettes come with a rechargeable Lithium ion battery; some can be charged using a USB cord for added convenience while others support an exclusive charger. “Cig-a-like” batteries can also have an indicator light connected to them that illuminates when the user takes a drag or pull, simulating the burning tip of a real cigarette.

No matter it’s a disposable cig-a-like or a high-tech vaporizer, battery plays a key role in deciding the performance. A powerful, long last battery can prolong and even improve the overall vaping experience.


Atomizer, cartomizer, clearomizer and tank, do the same thing but are slightly different from each other depending on their design. Atomizer is the original design, which is becoming obsolete now. It mainly consists of a coil and requires the user to continuously drip e-liquid onto it. Cartomizer combines cartridge and atomizer, and have a wicking material wrapped around a heating coil. The wicking material soaks e-juice and allows extended vaping sessions. Some cartomizers are housed inside a cylindrical tank, which can hold more e-liquid and allow longer sessions. Clearomizer is basically a clear cartomizer featuring clear polycarbonate plastic or Pyrex glass tank, which lets the user see how much juice is left in the tank. And are the most popular design, as they let you view the remaining e-liquid in the tank, and avoid the burnt taste by refilling it before you run out of e-liquid.


Circuitry is the brain of the device. It consists of a smart power control board and a sensor, which can vary from “cig-a-likes” where the function activates the atomizer when you take a pull on it, to higher tech mods that utilize variable voltage, variable wattage, and temperature control settings.

Flavored Nicotine Cartridge/E-Liquid

It’s the E-Liquid (often referred to as “e-juice”) that can make or break the whole vaping experience. The basic ingredients found in e-liquid comprises of a mixture of PG (propylene glycol), VG (vegetable glycerin) base, natural and artificial flavorings, sweetener and nicotine.

E-Liquid containing a higher VG content will produce a denser vapor when exhaling.  E-liquid containing a higher PG content will produce a less dense vapor, but will produce more of a “throat hit” often sought by individuals wanting more of a “cigarette style” vape.

Common E-Liquid Myth: E-Liquids contain (potentially poisonous) antifreeze.

This myth derives from the use of propylene glycol in e-liquid, often confused with ethylene glycol.   While propylene glycol is an ingredient used in antifreeze, it in fact, is added to reduce the harm in case it is swallowed accidentally.