What is vaping?

Vaping is defined as the act of inhaling and exhaling water vapor produced by an electric device called a vaporizer or e-cigarette.

What is a vaporizer (or e-cigarette) and how do they work?

A vaporizer (or e-cigarette) is an electronic device that has two main parts: a battery (also called a mod) and a tank. The tank holds e-liquid and has a heating element in it called a coil. The battery supplies an electrical charge to the coil(s) in the tank, which heats the e-liquid to produce a vapour.

What is e-liquid?

E-liquid is made up of five main ingredients: propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerine (VG), nicotine (currently not available in Victoria), flavouring and pure distilled water.

  • Propylene Glycol (PG)- Typically up to 50% of e-liquid is PG, which is an organic compound that is commonly used in food products, household products, cosmetic products and medicines. PG is thinner than VG and known for enhancing flavour and while it doesn’t produce as much vapour as VG it does often give a bigger ‘throat hit’ comparable to that of a traditional cigarette.
  • Vegetable Glycerine (VG)- Up to and over 50% of e-liquid is typically VG. VG is an organic substance (a carbohydrate) that is extracted from vegetable oils and is commonly used in general food products, food supplements, health products and cosmetic products. VG is thicker than PG and is known for producing larger vapour clouds and being smoother on the throat.
  • Flavouring- Often between 1% and 10% of e-liquid is flavour concentrate. The chemicals used to flavour e-liquid are typically PG based and are the same flavours used to add flavour to food products and are recognised as safe to consume. However flavour concentrates are made up of complex molecules and flavours for e-liquid manufacturing are often further processed to ensure that potentially harmful chemicals that may be present in a particular flavour are within the safety limits of exposure.
  • Nicotine- Currently nicotine e-liquid is not available in Victoria. However pharmaceutical grade nicotine is commonly added to e-liquid at concentrations of between 0.1%-2.4%. Nicotine is a poison which is lethal at high concentrations and 2.4% is considered extremely high and is the highest level recommended for vaping. Nicotine is often measured in milligrams (which is milligrams per millilitre) and the concentrations are from 1MG-24MG.

Understanding your device

The typical vaporizer (e-cigarette) is made up of two parts: a tank and a battery (mod). The tank holds the e-liquid and the coil within it heats the e-liquid (when fired) to produce vapour. The level by which the coil is heated is controlled by the mod using the fire button and the up/down power button.

 

Vaporizer Anatomy

Coils are available in a range of different resistances (often 0.15ohm to 1.8ohm) and can only be used within the range specified by the manufacturer. However coils with a higher resistance (i.e. 1.8ohm) will work effectively at a lower power (wattage) while coils with a lower resistance (ie 0.15ohm) will work effectively at a higher power (wattage). When vaporizers are not operated within the correct power range for the resistance of the coil the coil can burn to produce an unpleasant taste, the tank can leak or the user can experience ‘spit back’ (particles entering the mouth as a liquid rather than a gas).

Mods either have built-in batteries or require batteries that are sold separately. Typically 18650 High Drain Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) batteries are used in vaporizers. Generally mods are regulated and have a circuit board which has a number of standard safety features including regulating the power output to ensure that the load placed on the batteries is within a safe range. However battery safety is very important and caution should be taken to ensure correct use and handling of batteries.

Why Vape?

Vaping is an alternative to smoking which is 95% safer and given the cost of smoking traditional smokes many people find switching to vaping to be a positive alternative.

 

References

Vaper Soul. 2016. What is Vaping?. [ONLINE] Available at: https://quitsmokingcommunity.org/what-is-vaping/. [Accessed 2 November 2016].

Cig Buyer.com. 2013. Inside E-Cigarette Liquids and Vapor. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.cigbuyer.com/inside-e-cigarette-liquids-and-vapor/. [Accessed 2 November 2016].

180smoke. 2016. All About Propylene Glycol. [ONLINE] Available at: http://help.180smoke.com/hc/en-us/articles/202139677-All-About-Propylene-Glycol. [Accessed 2 November 2016].

Lee Johnson. 2016. Propylene Glycol in E-Cigarettes: What All Vapers Need to Know. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ecigarettedirect.co.uk/ashtray-blog/2016/02/propylene-glycol-e-cigarettes.html. [Accessed 2 November 2016].

MistHub. 2014. Tutorial: Propylene Glycol (PG) vs. Vegetable Glycerin (VG) E-juice. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.misthub.com/blogs/vape-tutorials/76788613-tutorial-propylene-glycol-pg-vs-vegetable-glycerin-vg-e-juice. [Accessed 3 November 2016].

Michelle Harnden. 2014. The Truth About Diacetyl. [ONLINE] Available at: http://blog.mtbakervapor.com/the-truth-about-diacetyl/. [Accessed 4 November 2016].

vapersoul.com. 2015. 10 Reasons Why Vaping is Good for You. [ONLINE] Available at: http://vaporvaporvapor.net/blogs/news/45810561-10-reasons-why-vaping-is-good-for-you. [Accessed 8 November 2016].

Royal College of Physicians. Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco harm reduction. London: RCP, 2016.