Electronic cigarettes may look like traditional cigarettes, but they function quite differently. Learn the basics before you take your first puff.
There are three essential parts to an e-cigarette: the battery, the atomizer, and the cartridge.
The battery is located on the end facing away from you as you hold the e-cigarette to your mouth; it typically has an LED light on its tip to indicate whether your device is on or off. Some batteries are automatic, meaning they turn on via a pressure switch when you take a drag, while others require manually pressing a button to turn them on. All batteries require regular recharging to maintain peak performance. If you make sure to never completely drain your battery, and always charge it for the recommended amount of time (usually three to four hours), you can expect to get about 300 full charges out of it.
The engine of your electronic cigarette: the atomizer
The atomizer screws onto the battery and make contact with it via a small metal plate. Inside is a wick surrounded by a heating coil. When the battery heats the coil, the small amount of vape liquid around the wick vaporizes and is ready to be drawn out through the inhaling end of the e-cigarette. This simulates the experience of smoking. It’s very important to make sure the atomizer doesn’t overheat. If there is no e-liquid inside it, either because the cartridge is dry or because you’ve just cleaned it and haven’t given it time to draw in the liquid from the cartridge, the atomizer can burn itself out and fail prematurely. A good atomizer will last between two and eight weeks, depending on how heavily you use it.
Atomizers, if they are separate units and not part of a single disposable atomizer/cartridge combo unit (called a cartomizer), need to be cleaned regularly or they will clog, leading to reduced vapor production. They should also be cleaned when you switch between different flavors of e-liquid so you don’t mix up the tastes. Cleaning an atomizer is relatively easy. Remove it from your e-cigarette and immerse it in hot water for ten to fifteen minutes. Then take it out and place it on a paper towel to dry, metal sponge end down, moving it to a new spot every minute or so to ensure the paper towel continues to absorb excess water from the sponge. You can also blow into the battery end several times to dislodge any gunk that may have built up inside. When the atomizer is dry, place a new, full cartridge on it, and wait about five minutes for the liquid to be absorbed before re-installing it in your e-cigarette.
Your electronic cigarette’s cartridge stores its “juice”
An e-cigarette cartridge may be a separate unit or may come as part of a cartomizer. It is where e-liquid is stored before being drawn into the atomizer and vaporized. Inside is an absorbent filler material which is saturated with e-liquid. A cartridge typically lasts for 180-200 puffs before needing to be refilled. (A cartomizer, designed to be disposable, lasts for only about a week of use no matter how many puffs you take.)
Refilling a cartridge yourself takes a bit of care, but can be done, which saves you money, as you then only need to buy occasional e-liquid refills and not an entirely new cartridge each time one runs out. You do it by disassembling the cartridge (removing both the inner cartridge and the filler material), cleaning the parts separately, and then adding new e-liquid to the filler material until it is absorbed. Next, reassemble the cartridge, taking care that everything is positioned properly, screw it back into the atomizer, and you’re good to go!
Understanding how the parts of an e-cigarette work help you keep yours properly maintained. Proper maintenance ensures it will last as long as possible, giving you the most for your money and guaranteeing many enjoyable hours of vaping.