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How I do the vape, an advisory guide

Friday, 28 February, 2014

I have been called upon to describe my method for acquiring vapor supplies. In person this has not proved successful. Cartridge-based systems will not be discussed. The starter kits available at the big-box stores are cartridge-based systems and are, largely a mere gateway to “hobbyist” vaping, the subject of the guide. If you are starting out, skip the purchase of a big-box store vaping kit and go directly to the hobbyist-level gear.

The essential bits of an electronic cigarette are

A battery:

  • Sometimes a “mod” which is a flashlight battery or two within a case. Many batteries are available which allow the user to adjust voltage or wattage with the objective of effecting the flavor and vapor temperature.
  •  The most common batteries are stand-alone eGo batteries; eGo being a trade name for a specific battery connection. After the eGo, a 510 is quite popular and is the default connection on a “mod”, although eGo-compliant mods are common. The eGo is an evolution of the 510 connection, and 510 devices connect readily to eGo batteries and mods.
  • You may use a “passthrough” in place of a stand-alone battery which allows you to plug into the wall or a USB outlet. A few batteries are available which allow you to use them, while plugged in, as a passthrough.

An atomizer to utilize the battery’s electricity to make the juice into vapor. Among these you find:

  • Simple atomizers whose use is sufficiently advanced it reaches beyond the scope of this guide. Different types of atomizers are available which function with electronic-cigarette components for the use of dry material, especially botanical matter, which is also beyond the scope of this guide.
  • Cartomizers which have a modest reservoir of juice ( .25 ml to 1 ml) stored within wicking material, and are often used with “tanks” which wrap the cartomizer to extend usage. This style of juice vaporization is popular and common.
  • Clearomizers which are the atomizer and a reservoir in a solitary, readily removable unit. This unit includes a wick, sometimes “coil head” which is immersed in juice and eventually wears out. The word tank is occasionally used to refer to large (<2.0 ml) clearomizers. In smaller less expert-driven brick-and-mortar shops any device which sits on a battery and makes vapor is a tank. Glassomisers are clearomisers, typically larger capacity ones, with reservoirs made of Pyrex glass and are substantially more expensive but resistant to higher acidity juices.

Starting out you will almost certainly be handed an eGo-style battery and a clearomizer. Rebuildable atomizers, conventional cartomizers, and cartomizer tanks are beyond the scope of this guide.

As the Kanger T2 and its clones appear to be phasing out, your options for starting out are Vivi Nova, CE4 which includes the Innokin iClear 16 and iClear 30 although the wicks are different among these, and Evod among “clearos”. If you are purchasing a starter kit, take what they give you. These three are so functionally similar one need not worry too much about it. The Vivi Nova is a 510 connection and typically your setup will be supplied with a “beauty ring” or collar to complete the eGo connection. Each of these is distinct and uses distinct service parts. If you are starting from scratch, be sure to buy a packet of replacement wicks and know which wicks your device uses.

Invariably you will start with a humble eGo battery, ideally two. These may be charged ca. 400 times and need not be empty before charging. They use a similar, although less dense, kind of battery system as found in mobile phones. eGo batteries are available as variable voltage models and, although more expensive, these should not be explicitly avoided.

An electronic cigarette requires servicing. Batteries must be charged through a wall wart or USB connection. Wicks or coil heads, the terms are interchangeable, must be occasionally replaced. You will find dozens of videos on Youtube with explicit instructions on maintaining your electronic cigarette. Some folks occasionally rinse their clearos and such in vodka or similar alcohol solution. This is optional.

When driving an extended distance, the preferred method is to insert a USB converter into the outlet on your vehicle we once called a cigarette lighter. Connect this, through the USB cable, to a fully-charged battery designed to be used as a passthrough. Atop your battery mount a particularly large clearomizer which is full. Do not even think of attempting to fill a clearomizer or similar device while the vehicle is in motion. The USB connection and disconnection should be made while the vehicle is parked and switched off. Between major metropolitan areas vape juice may not be available. You should carry your own supply. Never, ever, not ever so much as consider charging an unprotected battery, such as an eGo with an automobile electrical connection. The unstable electrical supply can and has caused explosions within operating cars.

I acquire my service parts, accessories and batteries from the internet. Largely from Fasttech.com. They have far and away the best prices on this kind of thing. All of my four surviving clearos, and my two surviving batteries come from Fasttech. As I type more are on the way. The local brick-and-mortar store is very convenient. An iClear 16 at that shop is nine dollars, but three dollars on Fasttech. Wicks and such are similar. When buying higher-end items, such as mods, variable devices and so forth it is worth the trouble to look elsewhere. Although Fasttech may have the best price this should not be assumed. Fasttech takes between three and six weeks to deliver items to North American addresses from their warehouses in China.

I spend roughly $38 per month and am a very heavy user, although nothing compared to how much nicotine I consumed while smoking.

All of my juice comes from two vendors. I do not bother with exotic, high-end vape juice. The two vendors I adore are Minnesota’s Vista Vapors and Washington state’s Mt. Baker Vapor. I have placed a few orders with both and they are never more than five days away. Their prices on juice are the best around, as this is their specialty which they do in very high volumes. The selection of flavors is nothing less than intimidating. However, for the most part these juices need to steep, or just sit around with the cap off ideally in a darkened place, for about a month. This is also true of some of the allegedly nicer vape juice I have conveniently purchased just up the street. Their juices are roughly one-third the price per ml than established brands like Johnson Creek, and a quarter of what you pay for custom mixing at the B&M. These shops have very consistent sales, and I tend to stock up at those times. Six 50 ml bottles can run $50-$60 even on sale, but this is roughly equivalent to 18 cartons of cigarettes.

My only nicer items are an Innokin iClear30S dual-coil, high-volume clearomizer and an Innokin iTazte VV 3.0 variable-wattage, passthrough battery. If I run out of anything, I can always run up the street but I tend to keep an eye on it. I remain a big fan of the Innokin iClear16. My present flavor inventory includes black currant, butterscotch, cinnamon roll, clove, coffee, cream tea, dk-tab a classic tobacco vape, dulce de leche, green tea, “professor pepper”, “red cream soda”, root beer, RY4 an evolution of the original e-cig flavor essentially caramel and vanilla with a hint of capsicum, my favorite teaberry, vanilla and 555 an old, dark British tobacco. I am considering my first proper “mod” but am intimidated by choice.

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