Beginners Guide to Vaping

If you are here then you have already decided to stop smoking. The most important part of the process has already been done, now it’s just a case of choosing your weapon of choice in the war on cigarettes.

The next few decisions are:

  • What strength nicotine eliquid will I use?
  • What flavour will I choose?
  • What device will I pick?

Nicotine Strength

Most shops will ask you how many you smoked a day or what brand you preferred to determine what strength nicotine you should choose. In reality, what you smoked can have very little impact on the nicotine strength of the eliquid you use. We have seen people who smoked 40 Major a day using 6mg nicotine liquid and moving down swiftly to 3mg. We’ve also seen people who smoke maybe only 6 Silk Cut a day using 12mg and taking quite some time to move down to 6mg and finally to 3mg.
The lesson we have learned from this is that there is no real way to tell just by examining your smoking history but generally speaking, most of the time, heavier smokers pick higher nicotine content liquid and light smokers choose lower strength nic content liquid.
Our advice, as always, is to aim low. If you feel 12mg nic liquid might be what you need then buy a 6mg and if you want to be safe – buy a 12mg too. This way if you feel the 6mg isn’t strong enough you can pour some 12mg in on top of it and bring yourself up to a higher nic content liquid. So consider that when you buy your first liquid. Buy one strength and then the next strength up from that in the same flavour.

Flavour

This is something we can’t help you with as much as we would like as you are buying online and not in one of our stores. Here’s what we have learned in the last 7 years…
Everyone is different. What you may like, someone else may hate. We have been so surprised by the endless ins and outs of the human taste buds that we really just can’t know what someone will like until we get to know them and see their vaping habits.
What we have noticed is that people who vape tobacco flavours generally seem to stick with tobacco flavours. In fact, tobacco flavour vapers generally tend to stick to one particualr tobacco flavour and it is very hard to get them to try something else. This causes problems when you run out of their favourite flavour so we try very hard to make sure all our tobacco flavours are always in stock!

A great deal of people will try not only tobacco flavours but menthol flavours also. This is a good thing. The menthol gives a real ‘hit’ and can transition many tobacco flavour enthusiasts onto other flavours like fruits. For instance, someone who is vaping a rolling tobacco type flavour might also be willing to try menthol and then might try a menthol fruit flavour. Blueberry menthol and strawberry menthol, for instance, are very popular flavours. Once the tobacco vaper is comfortable with a little fruit flavour mixed with menthol they might be willing to try fruits on their own and then might also be open to the likes of custards, creams, desserts and even, dare I say it – cereals!

Devices

Devices are almost as individual to the vaper as flavours. Some people want a pen, or cylindrical shape vapouriser. Some people might want a box shaped vapouriser. It really just depends on what you like the feel of in your hand. Maybe you need something discreet that will fit easily in your pocket and attract no attention. Maybe it doesn’t matter who knows what you have and you are more interested in a longer lasting, bigger battery. Maybe you just really enjoy creating huge clouds of vapour and are interested in the newest, shiniest, most powerful device.

If you can’t make it to a store you cant feel the device in your hand. You can’t feel its weight or its shape. If this is the case perhaps you know someone who vapes. They really won’t mind you handling their device and seeing how it feels, even a stranger in a pub won’t mind showing you the vapouriser they use so you can judge what you want yourself. Just don’t stick your lips around the thing without asking, this is obviously a big no no!

Generally, most people start with a pen style device. There are some very, very cheap and shitty versions of these on the market. They leak constantly, take ages to charge and break easily. They also don’t allow you to use the device while it’s charging.
What you really want is something which charges directly by USB. If the device you are looking at needs to be charged by separating the tank and the battery and screwing the battery onto a charger which then in turn must be inserted into a USB charging port … you are looking at an out of date and possibly sub-standard vape…run away.

These are the things to look for-
Direct USB charging (not screwing into a charger that has to be then placed in a USB port on a laptop etc)
1000mah battery at the very least (650mah or 900mah isn’t bad but please look for 1000mah plus, otherwise you will be a slave to charging!)
Brand name device that is easily available (for example Aspire, Innokin, Eleaf, Smok, Kangertech, Joyetech, Vaperesso, Uwell, UD etc)
Coils are very important, your device is useless without them so make sure you can get a hold of them easily. Look for the brand!
A receipt. It’s customer safety number one. Ask for a receipt. Receipts are generally not needed for liquid or tanks (because they are consumables that basically can’t be returned) but you need a receipt for your actual electrical device. If the shop you are dealing with hesitates to give you a receipt…run away!
So now let’s look at the whole thing in more depth. Let’s start with eliquid (also known as liquid, juice and sometimes oil).

E-liquid – What is it, what’s in it, what does it do?

What is it?

E-liquid is the fuel for your device. The fuel for your war on the fags. The most important aspect of vaping.
It seems to the untrained eye that all eliquid is the same but this is wrong. Here’s what you need to know to keep yourself informed and vaping the good stuff!

There are generally 4 strengths of nicotine. 3mg, 6mg, 12mg and 18mg. The legal limit is now 20mg. Over the years we sold stronger….much stronger levels of nic like 24mg and 36mg but these are now banned and, to be honest, rightly so. 18mg is very strong and we generally try not to get people started on this level of nic. It takes a long time to come down from this strength of nic.

Very few people start on 3mg but it’s where most people end up and if you have a shop for a long time, or if you open a shop in an area where there have been people vaping for a long time you will find that most of the community are on 3mg as they have started higher and over time come down.

6mg is not a bad place to start, you will get that throat hit along with the enjoyable sensation of vapour passing through your throat and creating that nice cloud on the exhale. The flavour will also be quite strong and this is a huge plus. Basically, you want to get to the stage where you aren’t even worried about smokes and nicotine but more interested in flavour and feeling. This way, cigarettes are no longer an issue and you are more interested in new flavours and good quality juice.

12mg is that bit stronger of course and the throat hit is much stronger, the flavour is diminished because of the amount of nicotine in the juice but that is the sacrifice you must make for the more full-on throat hit.
18mg is…strong….very strong. We try our best not to put people on 18mg. But, if 18mg is what you need to stay off the fags…then so be it. Remember, this is all about getting you away from the smokes and onto the vape. Hopefully, over time you can move down on the nicotine strengths and eventually get to the stage where you are on 3mg or zero and you can stop, not just smoking, but also vaping.

Whatever way you do it, don’t worry, everyone is different and as long as you are reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke – you are improving.

What’s in E-Liquid?

E-liquid is actually a very simple mixture of a small number of ingredients. If you want to get technical, the liquid contains many components, but, these are all part of the flavouring and so you needn’t bother yourself with these just now, the TPD regulations ensure that these are all within safe parameters for you to vape.

You can see the contents of your liquid on the label of your bottle. The most important aspects of the liquid are below-
VG/PG ratio
Nicotine strength
Flavour
VG and PG are easily explained. VG is Vegetable Glycerin. PG is Propylene Glycol.

They might sound very chemical but in fact, they are used in many products that you use every single day of your life.
VG is extracted from the plant oils like Palm and Coconut. It has many uses in cosmetics and such, including baby wipes. Whether VG is used in cosmetics, food or vaping doesn’t matter much as VG is also used in food to keep products fresh and soft, in cakes especially. It is also available in the likes of Boots as a cough syrup. It soothes the throat and is that thick, gloopy substance most cough medicines are suspended in. VG when vaped, is smooth and creates those big clouds you see many vapers exhale. VG is nothing to be afraid of.

PG carries flavour in food and beverages. The flavour in your juice will be carried 99% of the time in PG. Not only does it carry the flavour but it also helps give that throat hit many vapers seek to replicate the feeling of smoking. It is the perfect partner to VG. It is also used to keep food fresh and can be found in non food products like medicines and so on as it is the perfect solution to dissolve drugs etc in to make them acceptable for consumption. Do not be afraid of PG

What ratio VG to PG do I want in my juice?

50/50 is really the minimum ratio you want. Above 50/50 you really need to keep the PG in the minority. So 50/50 is good and 60 VG to 40 PG is good etc but if you start heading towards PG 60 VG 40 then you are on the wrong course.

Cheap liquids will generally have way more PG than VG and this is not good. These type of liquids will really hit your throat and may make you feel unwell. Some people may even have a minor allergic reaction to PG so the PG content of your juice should always be lower or equal to the VG content. if you find your throat is agitated by vaping, check the PG content and consult your doctor. You may only need to lower the PG content you are vaping by using a different brand.

If you are seeking a really strong throat hit and don’t care about a sizeable cloud of vapour on the exhale then PG is what you want, however, we still don’t recommend going past 50/50 in favour of PG, definitely not past 60 PG/ 40VG.

You can tell roughly what ratio juice you have just by shaking your bottle about and seeing how freely the liquid flows inside. If it’s thick it’s mostly VG, if it’s watery it’s maybe 50/50 and if it really sloshes about freely then it’s got a lot of PG in it. If your bottle is missing its label we would warn you not to vape the liquid inside…just in case. Better safe than sorry.

Check out our section on Tanks, Coils, MTL and DTL to learn more about this as there is just a little more knowledge needed on PG/VG ratios when it comes to what kind of tank and coil you use.

Nicotine Strength

The nicotine strength should always be displayed on the label of your bottle. Don’t confuse it with the ’10ml’ as this is the bottle size/volume of liquid contained in the bottle. The nicotine strength will be shown probably as
Zero Nicotine
3mg per ml
6mg per ml
12mg per ml
18mg per ml

Nicotne is addictive and can also be quite toxic in large doses so please be careful when you handle these products. Wash your hands after contact with nicotine and do not rub your eyes if they have nicotine containing juice on them!

Nicotine strengths have already been covered above so we will move onto flavour.

Flavour

The name of the flavour will be shown on the label. Due to the new regulations there can be no detailed explanation of the flavours. This means that you will not find descriptions like ‘Ripe Strawberry’ or ‘Delicious Blueberry Menthol’. The flavour will be named simply ‘Strawberry’ or something like ‘Serious Strawberry’ to make it different from all the other strawberries on the market. The TPD regulations don’t allow descriptions which make claims that the flavour is fresh, tasty, good, ripe etc. TPD also doesn’t allow descriptions which claim health benefits or the superiority of one flavour over another. So names like ‘Fantastic Fruit’ are not allowed, the likes of ‘Supreme Sundae’ wouldn’t be either, neither is any mention of health benefits.

So check out the many liquids available, there are literally millions. There are so many different flavours that right now; if you were just 20 years old you could spend the rest of your life trying 3 flavours a day, every day until you died at a ripe old age and still not taste every flavour that is out there.

How do you choose your flavour? There’s really only one way – trial and error. Your local vape shop should allow you to try at least some of their flavours instore. If they don’t, they may let you smell them instead. In reality, the only way to know is to vape the flavour first, as a test, before you buy it. If you are buying online this is not possible and due to the TPD restrictions on marketing eliquids the description can only be a simple list of flavour ingredients. A couple of years ago we could have described a Strawberry flavour as ‘ Ripe, fresh succulent strawberry with a sweet fruity exhale’. Nowadays we can only describe the flavour as ‘Strawberry’, or ‘Strawberry Candy’ if it’s a Strawberry Candy/Sweet flavour, rather than a real strawberry flavour. It’s hit and miss and you really might need to ask around or look at the range of flavours the websites offer and then check youtube for reviews of the flavours they have. Some sites still allow reviews of the juice and these can help immensley but TPD does not allow this and soon no websites in Europe will have reviews of liquids.

Confused? We totally understand. Our advice? If you really want tobacco flavour then buy several different tobacco flavours to try. Out of 3 to 5 different tobacco flavours you will find one that suits you well enough. But don’t ignore fruits totally. Do try and keep an open mind and try some menthol, fruits or fruits and menthol mixed. The problem with getting stuck on one tobacco flavour only is that this flavour might not be available everytime you want to get it and you should have a backup flavour just in case,

Unlike cigarette brands, eliquid brands change from shop to shop, from city to city and from country to country. I can almost guarantee you that the tobacco flavour you love to buy in Sligo or Louth won’t be available when you go on holiday to Spain or Croatia. It hasn’t got to the stage yet where there are 20 brands that every shop has all the time like Benson or Silk Cut. There are tens of thousands of brands of eliquid and even though there are some very popular brands; you just can’t be sure to find what you want everywhere you go.

In short, keep an open mind, or open palette, when it comes to flavours and learn what type of juice you like. This way, if your favourite juice isn’t available you still know what type, or types of e-liquid you like and you won’t be disappointed when your regular flavour is out of stock or just not available. Definitely find a favourite flavour but make sure you have others to fall back on!

Buying different flavours just to try can be expensive but compare it to the cost of several boxes of cigarettes…you will still come out on top when you do the math!

Coils

Coils are very important. They are as important as the flavour you choose and the device you use. They are a little bit complicated but if a bunch of idiots like us can grasp it then so can you.

Coils are known by many names, atomizer head being the most correct one, but coils are the most common name. They consist of a coil of thin wire wrapped in cotton inside a metal cylinder type encasing which has some openings in it for your eliquid to pass inside and get absorbed by the cotton.
When you press the fire button on your device the battery sends power through the coil of wire and it converts this energy into heat, the coil literally glows red. The eliquid that has now been seeping into the coil unit and being sucked up by the cotton is vapourised by the heat and goes up the chimney or tube and is inhaled by you!

So basically, the cotton in your coil sucks up the juice, the coil heats it, hey presto – vapour production! Imagine the element in your kettle boiling water for your tea and the steam is the vapour, the only difference is is that the element is covered in cotton to slowly soak in the juice.

It can take a while for the cotton to soak up some liquid (especially thicker liquid that has a high VG content) so when you put a fresh coil into your tank don’t fire it immediately. We cannot stress this enough. If you fire your coil before it has had time to soak up some juice or if there is no liquid in your tank, then you will burn the cotton and not only ruin the coil but get an absolutely terrible burnt taste in your mouth. This is one of the roughest and most horrible things ever – please don’t do it!

Treat your new coil like a newborn and go easy. Take 10 minutes (yes 10…not 5 you impatient fecker) to let the juice absorb into the cotton and if you have a variable wattage device (you can put the temperature up and down), lower the temperature for the first few pulls and increase it bit by bit. Break your coil in softly and carefully. Treat it gently at first and then, later, you can hit it at higher temperatures and generally do what you like in search of that perfect spot at your preferred temperature.

MTL and DTL (we told you it would get a little complicated)

Mouth to Lung
Direct to Lung

Basically MTL means using your device like a fag. A sharp inhale into the mouth and then pulling the vapour down into your lung before exhaling it.

DTL is when you open your throat and pull the vapour straight down into your lungs.

MTL is generally practiced on smaller devices with less battery power and coils which are not sub ohm. This means coils whose resistance are 1.0 or above.
DTL is used when you have a seriously powerful device using low nicotine strength and a coil with resistance below 1.0. This is called Sub-Ohm.

This is all down to a calculation of electrical resistance named after physicist Simon Georg Ohm, but to be honest it’s too feckin much to get into right now so we will simplify it.
MTL coils mean that you vape at a lower temperature, or lower wattage. this means your juice lasts you longer, your battery lasts you longer, your coils last longer (approx 2 weeks), but your clouds won’t be as big as they could be. Generally, more than half the population stick with this method.
DTL coils eat more liquid, use more battery power (because you’re using a higher wattage) and your actual coil doesn’t last as long either – sometimes coils only last 2 days. In saying this – the clouds are huge and incredibly enjoyable and the flavour is much, much more pronounced.

Generally, everyone starts on MTL with a smaller device. Many people are happy to stay at this level and that is absolutely fine. Remember, the whole idea is to cut down and quit the cigarettes.
Some people really take a shine to vaping and move onto DTL and become involved in vaping as a hobby as well as a way to try and quit smoking.

Both methods are correct, many people switch back and forth from one to another. Don’t worry, just pick what suits you best as a vaper and, more importantly – as an ex smoker and you will learn what suits you best as you go!