How do I start vaping?
New to vaping and not sure where to start? If you don’t know your nic salts from your nic shots, then this beginner’s guide to vaping can help you sift through the jargon. We’ll get you familiar with the basics of vaping, allowing you to make an intelligent decision about how to take the first step on your vaping journey.
Figuring out which vape devices do what and which e-liquids are right for you can be overwhelming if you’re new to vaping. We’ll describe in plain English what an e-liquid is, whether or not vape juices contain nicotine, what kinds of vapes there are and how much it costs to vape.
Are you wondering if vaping could help you to quit smoking? Read our Stoptober guide for more information on why vaping could be an option when quitting cigarettes for good.
What is e-liquid and will I need it for my vape?
E-liquid, sometimes known as vape juice, is the fluid that is heated in vape devices to produce a vapour that is inhaled by the user. It’s usually made of a combination of Vegetable Glycerine (VG) and Propylene Glycol (PG). E-liquid can contain nicotine – although many e-liquids have no nicotine content.
Vegetable Glycerine (VG)
VG is safe to ingest and produced from vegetable oils. It is used to thicken the e-liquid to produce vapour clouds. Generally, the more VG present in an e-liquid, the thicker the cloud of vape will be (handy when performing vaping tricks).
Propylene Glycol (PG)
PG is also safe to ingest and is the ingredient which helps to carry flavour in an e-liquid. It also provides the sensation of a ‘throat hit’ usually associated with smoking. This can often help ex-smokers to quit by mimicking the feeling of smoking a cigarette.
You can find e-liquids with different ratios of VG/PG, including 50/50, 70/30 and 80/20. These offer different vaping experiences, such as a more flavourful tasting vape or a thicker, denser vape cloud for performing vaping tricks. Check out guide to 7 beginner vaping tricks on our blog.
Some vape devices, such as disposables, come pre-filled with e-liquid. Others come with interchangeable, pre-filled pods that are disposed of once they are finished, like vape pods. Most vape devices have refillable tanks/reservoirs that hold e-liquid and can be refilled as required. These include vape pens, vape pods and vape mods. Read on for more details on the types of vapes and what they do.
What types of vapes are there and how do they work?
Vapes come in many shapes and sizes. There are smaller devices that are ideal if you’re on the go or prefer a low maintenance device. These smaller vapes can be single-use disposable devices as well as refillable, rechargeable devices.
Larger vapes like mods and pods can last for a long time, are usually refillable and require some maintenance to keep them working efficiently. This usually involves changing the coil regularly (depending on how often they are used, this can be weekly or longer) and sometimes the cotton that absorbs the e-liquid. Not changing them regularly can lead to a harsh burning taste on intake.
However, mods do offer greater flexibility for vaping and many allow the user to change the power output, resistance and amount of air inhaled on intake. This allows the user to personalise their vaping experience more than with devices like disposables or some vape pens.
Here’s a detailed description of the most common types of vape devices you can buy in the UK:
One of the easiest, risk-free ways you can try vaping. These are small, portable devices that usually provide between 300 and 600 puffs (drags). They are the cheapest kinds of vape on the market, starting from as little as £4.
Disposables can be a great way to start vaping without having to maintain and commit to a larger device, like a mod. They come in many different flavours and styles. See Top 5 Disposable Vapes of 2021 guide here to find the perfect disposable for you this Stoptober.
Often known as pods, these are one of the most common types of vapes. They are refillable with most e-liquids, are rechargeable and they last much longer than a disposable . You can change the liquid that you’re using between different flavours and they only require a small amount of maintenance.
These can be a great and cost-effective way of stopping smoking, and typically cost between £10 and £30 depending on the model. But because they are refillable, they can be better for heavy smokers who will quickly use up a disposable.
You will have to replace the coil from time to time and remember to charge the device so you have it available when you need it most. E-liquids are very cheap compared to tobacco, so this can be a great way to quit and save money at the same time.
One of the simplest and most convenient ways to take up vaping, pods can either be refillable or prefilled. They are lightweight and compact, so they are perfect when you’re out of the house, travelling or in the car.
Many models have a battery unit and interchangeable pods you can switch flavours on the go, just make sure you keep it charged for when you need it. You can buy them for around £20, so again they offer a cost-effective way of quitting smoking.
These are large, rechargeable devices that have bigger batteries and the option to change the power output. They’re ideal for experienced vapers as they allow you to control the heat, size and density of the smoke cloud.
They have a large battery unit, a replaceable coil and a liquid chamber that is refillable. Because of their size and power, they are generally a more expensive option costing around £50. With regular maintenance, however, they last for a long time – so over time they’re still much cheaper than smoking cigarettes.
Do vapes and e-liquids contain nicotine?
Vape e-liquids do not always contain nicotine – in fact, many don’t. For example, many vape juice shortfills only contain e-liquid and are zero-nicotine, but have extra space in the bottle to add your own nicotine to taste.
Usually, standard 10ml bottles of e-liquid do contain nicotine and come in various strengths, shown in milligrams on the bottle. These can range from 0mg nicotine to up to 20mg nicotine. In the UK, the maximum level of nicotine legally permitted to sell in one bottle is 10ml (20mg/ml).
What’s the difference between nic salts and nic shots?
There are different types of nicotine that you can buy, including standard nicotine concentrates (nic shots, sometimes called freebase nicotine), nicotine salts (nic salts) and hybrids of the two. Freebase nicotine is usually 10ml of pure nicotine concentrate, used to combine with 0mg e-liquid shortfill bottles to customise the strength of nicotine.
Nicotine salts are a relatively recent phenomenon, made using nicotine concentrates combined with benzoic acid. Many people find freebase nicotine to feel harsh when vaped in stronger concentrations, whereas salts offer a smoother vape and have been said to more closely mimic the feeling of smoking a cigarette. This makes salts ideal for ex-smokers who have turned to vaping to help them quit.
Why buy nicotine shots or salts?
You can buy nicotine shots and nicotine salts separately from e-liquid, which are designed to be added to standard e-liquids ( ) allowing the user to customise the strength of their vape juice. This also allows companies to sell their vape juices in larger quantities. It is illegal in the UK to sell e-liquids that contain more than 10ml (20mg/ml) nicotine in one bottle.
This way you can buy a 100ml bottle of e-liquid alongside a bottle of nicotine shot and combine them as required, rather than buying lots of separate 10ml e-liquid bottles prefilled with nicotine. Therefore, vapers can save money by buying e-liquid flavours in bigger bulk quantities and then adding nicotine separately.
How much does vaping cost?
Vaping is usually a much cheaper alternative to smoking. The average pack of twenty cigarettes in the UK costs upwards of £10 and may only last one or two days, depending on how often they smoke. On the other hand, e-liquid can be very cheap. As the industry has evolved, prices have stabilised since vaping became a trend during the last decade. For example, at Eco-Vape you can buy five bottles of 10ml e-liquid for as little as £10. Depending on usage they could last for well over a week.
The devices themselves are not expensive either. Disposable vapes can be as cheap as £4 per device and often less when bought in bundles. Refillable devices like vape pens and vape pods are priced anywhere between £10 and £30 and last for many months if properly maintained. despite the initial cost being higher, the overall cost drops significantly over time compared to smoking cigarettes.
Are mods good for beginners?
Larger devices like mods vary a lot more but often cost around £50, which again will still be cheaper than smoking cigarettes over time. These also require extra accessories like coils and cotton in order to keep them properly maintained. If you’re a beginner, we recommend trying simpler, cheaper devices first. This way, you can familiarise yourself to vaping before you splash out on something larger.
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Vaping Basics FAQs
This section will cover questions about the basics of vaping, including what vaping is, how expensive it is to vape and what role nicotine has to play.