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Welcome to our Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Vaping.
Whether you know a lot about vaping or are a complete beginner, you might have questions about vaping devices, e-liquids or specific aspects of vaping. This guide provides a step-by-step introduction to all things vape related.
The guide is organised into 8 thematic chapters, followed by a glossary of vape terms.
If you are ready to jump ahead to a particular topic, click on the link below to go to that chapter.
In addition, each chapter starts with a series of ‘quick links’ which allow you to jump down to the relevant section in that chapter. Let’s get going!
Index of Chapters
What is a vape?
A vape is the device you use. It’s typically called either a vaping device, a vaporiser or an e-cigarette but it is often shortened to vape or e-cig.
The vape contains a metal coil, wicked with cotton or another suitable substance, which heats up the e-liquid in the device to produce vapour.
They can range in size and shape. Some are extremely compact and are barely any bigger than a cigarette, whereas others are sturdy boxes the size of your hand.
There are lots of different kinds of e-cigarette, which we’ll go through later.
If you want to know more about them now, go straight to Choosing a vaping device.
We can help you find the one that suits you best.
What is vapour made of?
Vapour is produced when the e-cig heats the e-liquid. The ingredients in your e-liquid are vaporised and you inhale the vapour. All e-juice is made from PG, VG and flavouring, with the option of adding nicotine as well.
What is E-Liquid Made of?
If you’re going to be inhaling something, you probably want to know what’s in it first.
These are the two most commonly asked questions about e-juice:
What’s in e-liquid?
You might have heard of PG/VG but don’t know what it means.
PG (propylene glycol) is used as a base liquid to carry flavours in vape juice.
VG (vegetable glycerine) is a base liquid which is a vegetable derivative and it’s what produces most of the vapour.
These are the two base liquids in e-juice and are blended together to form the bulk of the e-liquid.
Both of these are commonly used in pharmaceuticals and food products.
You can choose what ratio of PG and VG you want in your e-liquid.
Different ratios will have different effects.
Check out our Mixing e-liquids section to work out just how much PG/VG you want in your vape juice.
The other ingredient in e-liquid is flavouring and is what makes your vape juice taste great.
In the earliest e-liquids, these were often food flavourings but, since vaping has become more popular, flavour concentrates have been produced specifically for the vaping community.
It means there’s a much wider range of flavours on offer these days.
If you are making your own liquid, it is common to use small amounts of concentrated flavouring, which usually come suspended in PG.
Nicotine commonly comes in liquid form. In the EU, this is most often 18mg per millilitre of liquid, suspended in a PG, VG or mixed base.
These products must be sold in bottles of 10ml or less.
This liquid is added to the other ingredients to achieve the desired final strength.
If you have some nicotine-free liquid, and want to work out how much to add to achieve a particular strength, you can use our simple Nicotine Strength Calculator.
It’s not necessary to have nicotine in vape juice.
Vapers who have reduced their nicotine to zero and still want to vape can choose not to add any nicotine.
Those who want or need nicotine in their e-liquid can choose exactly how much to add.
Use the Nicotine Strength Calculator if you are just adding nicotine to ready-to-use liquid like a shortfill.
If you are mixing from scratch, use our E-Liquid Calculator to work out how much of each ingredient you need.
What should I not put in my e-cig?
When mixing your own vape juice, it is vital that all your ingredients come from a trustworthy source and from a vendor who can trace their supply chain back to manufacture.
It’s not worth taking risks with unknown or untraceable substances.
These tips will help you to avoid anything dangerous:
- Only use pharmaceutical grade ingredients from trusted suppliers
- Always follow the guidance that comes with the products you buy
- Always ask for help if you are unsure
- Never try to mix other substances (for example real or synthetic THC products) into your e-liquid
- Never vape oils of any kind (although e-liquid is sometimes referred to as vape oil it should not contain oils)
How to Use Your Vaping Device Safely
Especially if you are new to vaping, it is best to keep in mind a few points about using, storing and maintaining your device, so that you can use it safely.
If you want to learn about vaping etiquette and how to vape responsibly, go to How to Vape for a practical guide.
Why you need to look after your device
An e-cigarette is an electronic device which contains a battery and an e-liquid tank.
Common sense should tell you that you need to look after it to ensure it continues to function efficiently and safely.
To stay safe, just follow basic precautions the way you would with any electronic device like your mobile.
In the UK, vaping devices are regulated and must comply with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulation 2012 (RoHS), just like any other piece of electronic equipment (such as power tools and medical devices).
This means they do not use the hazardous materials restricted by the RoHS and this helps to reduce damage to people and the environment, especially in landfills where high-tech waste ends up.
Carry your e-cigarette safely
Carrying it safely means it won’t get cracked, dented or bent.
If you do damage your device, you should be able to spot the damage quickly. However, particularly small damage is difficult to spot and will stop your device functioning efficiently.
For example, it might start to leak.
A lot of vaping devices are small enough to carry in your pocket.
That’s a perfectly reasonable way to carry it, but make sure you don’t stick it in your back pocket and then sit on it.
Always make sure your device is turned off before you put it in your pocket.
If you’re putting your e-cigarette in your bag, it might get bashed and battered by whatever else you keep in there.
If you’re carrying large, heavy items then they might damage your vaping device in the bag. If that’s the case, it’s best to protect it from the start rather than risk breaking it.
You can use a specially designed vaporiser case, or something much more common, like a pencil case.
Keep it clean
Simple maintenance will ensure your e-cigarette keeps functioning properly.
For the mod (or battery casing), simply using a cloth to wipe up any leaks or gathering dust should be enough to keep it clean.
You really just want to ensure the buttons don’t get sticky or grimy, and that the USB port (if there is one) and the tank connection are clear.
For the tank, it’s a case of cleaning out the old e-liquid to make sure it doesn’t get gunky and sticky.
To learn how to do that, go to Cleaning and Maintaining Your Device.
Keeping your e-cigarette clean not only keeps it working well but also ensures it’s hygienic.
To ensure there is no build up of germs on the mouthpiece you’ll need to clean it regularly.
Just take it off and clean it with alcohol or washing-up-liquid, rinse it thoroughly, dry it and put it back on.
Keep your vaping device away from children and pets
It sounds obvious, and it is.
Keep your vaporiser away from children.
It is electronic and you need to ensure they don’t open the battery casing.
You also need to ensure that they don’t get to the e-liquid inside the tank.
Although the tank is only likely to be 2ml, it’s best that children can’t access it.
This is especially true if you’re using nicotine.
Some vaping devices (especially modern ones) have child-proof tanks to stop young children from opening them.
Your pet is unlikely to be able to open your e-cigarette.
However, they will be able to damage it.
This means two things: firstly, that you have to repair or replace your vaporiser, and secondly, that they may ingest part of it (the plastic, the glass tank or the e-liquid) if they chew on it.
Store your device safely
As well as storing it in a safe place (away from children and pets and somewhere it won’t get knocked over), it’s best to store your device upright.
This stops it leaking (which wastes e-liquid and makes it less convenient to vape) and it stops any dust or dirt getting in it.
Store your e-liquid safely
As with your vaping device, it’s important to store your e-liquids somewhere safe.
Since e-liquids should be stored somewhere dark, keep them in a cupboard or in a box that’s out of the way.
If you want to know more about this, go to Storing your e-liquids.
Use your batteries safely
Like any other battery, those used in e-cigarettes need to be treated with care.
If you are using a device that has a built-in battery then all you have to do is charge it.
If you’re using a device that allows you to change the batteries, then you need to be sensible.
Don’t use damaged batteries
It’s not sensible to use damaged batteries.
If the casing is damaged or worn, it’s not safe to use in any electronic device, including e-cigarettes.
If there’s any residue of liquids or dirt on them, don’t use them.
They should be clean and undamaged.
Don’t over-charge them
Consistently over-charging your batteries will eventually make them less effective, meaning they run out of charge quicker and you’re more likely to over-charge them again.
If you’re using rechargeable batteries, as soon as your battery is charged, take it out of the charger or buy a charger that stops charging when the batteries are full.
Check out our range of battery chargers here.
The reason that we’re told not to leave charging batteries unattended is precisely so they don’t over-charge.
If you’re in the same room, you can check on them every now and again and you’ll be aware if they start getting hot or showing signs of damage.
If that happens (though it’s extremely rare), stop charging them straight away.
Don’t carry them loose in your pocket
If you vape heavily throughout the day, you’ll probably need to carry spare batteries with you for when your vaporiser runs out of charge.
Don’t carry batteries loose in your pocket or even a bag. Put them in a plastic battery case (they’re not expensive to buy).
If you carry your batteries loose, two things could happen:
Firstly, if they come into contact with metal objects like keys or coins, they will create a circuit.
That means you have a live, unprotected circuit in your bag or pocket, which you don’t want.
Secondly, they’ll get covered in whatever dust, dirt, crumbs and sticky sweet wrappers you have gathered at the bottom of your bag.
It’s never safe to use a dirty battery.
You don’t want whatever gunk is on the battery heating up when you use it.
Don’t leave batteries in extreme heat
This applies to all batteries.
It’s best to keep them out of extreme heat, so don’t leave them in the glove compartment of your car on a hot day or in direct sunlight for a long period of time.
Only use accessories intended for the device
As with all electronic equipment, you should use the equipment (such as the charger) that it came with.
Don’t modify your device (unless you’re using a Rebuildable Atomiser (RBA) which is designed to be customised).
If your device malfunctions, take it to an authorised technician or the manufacturer. Altering or dismantling your device could void the warranty.
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