How Do Electronic Cigarettes Work?

Electronic cigarettes hit the mainstream market in the early 2000s, and have since become hugely popular worldwide. Promising to deliver an experience that’s extremely similar to traditional smoking, but without the ash, tar, and strong-smelling smoke, e-cigarettes have quickly become an enjoyable hobby for millions of people. 

Convenient, affordable, and versatile, the e-cigarette (often called the e-cig), has birthed a diverse community of individuals referred to as “vapers.”

Whether you’re considering trying vaping for the first time, or you’re already a fairly experienced vaper who wants to learn more about your favorite hobby, you might have a long list of questions about the elements of a basic vaping set-up. 

Here at South Beach Smoke, one of the most common questions we hear (from both new and experienced vapers) is: How do e-cigarettes work? Most vapers understand that these handheld devices take their preferred e-liquid and transform it into a flavorful, fluffy vapor – and yet, the topic of how exactly e-cigs function can be a little foggy.

Because the South Beach Smoke team believes strongly in the power of information to transform your vape experience for the better, we’re always happy to put together useful reasons to help you become a more knowledgeable vaper. Today, we’re breaking down how electronic cigarettes work, exploring everything from their basic components and fascinating history to what you should look for when buying one for yourself.


What is an Electronic Cigarette?

Using a carefully-engineered series of parts, e-cigs use heat to convert vaping liquid (usually called e-juice, e-liquid, or vape juice) into vapor. Then, the vapor is released via a mouthpiece on the device, where the vaper can enjoy it as they please.

E-cigarettes might look like a standard cigarette, pipe, or cigar, or they could more closely resemble a sleek, high-tech electronic device. There are numerous brands that manufacture varying models of e-cigarettes, with many offering unique features or benefits.


How Do Electronic Cigarettes Work?

Now that you’re more familiar e-cigarettes, it’s much easier to imagine how they work to produce the deliciously flavorful mist that so many vapers enjoy.

When a vaper takes a drag on the e-cig’s mouthpiece, it prompts e-liquid from the cartridge or reservoir to move into the portion of the device that contains the heating element. There, it is absorbed by a wick (often made with cotton or similar material), as the coil increases in temperature. Once the coil reaches a temperature past the e-liquid’s boiling point, the liquid is transformed into a vapor. This vapor can then be drawn out through the mouthpiece and enjoyed by the vaper.

Some e-cigarettes are designed with a firing button, which is used to activate the device. Others operate using a solely draw-activated design.


A Brief History of the E-Cig

Most vapers assume that e-cigarettes are a fairly recent invention, but they actually have an interesting history that dates all the way back to the late 1920s. In 1930, a man named Joseph Robinson received a patent for his electronic vaporizer, which he had designed to be paired with various medicinal compounds. A few years later, in 1934, another patent references a vaporizing device that turned liquid into a fine mist, again created for medical purposes. 

By the 1960s, vaporizer devices were no longer just considered for medical use. American inventor Herbert A. Gilbert patented what he called a “smokeless, non-tobacco cigarette… replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavored air” – sound familiar? Gilbert is considered the creator of the earliest version of the e-cigarette, an innovative invention that unfortunately didn’t receive the attention it deserved. Because smoking was very much in style at that point in history, Gilbert’s e-cigarette never reached the commercial market. 

Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, various versions of the e-cigarette were developed by inventors, including those working for tobacco companies. But in 2001, a Chinese inventor named Hon Lik was motivated to drop his smoking habit after his father passed away from lung cancer. 

He wanted to create a device that offered a similar experience to smoking and ended up being the first inventor to finally create an e-cig that became commercially successful. Today, virtually every e-cigarette for sale is inspired by his original designs, though new features and advancements have been added over time.


How to Use an E-Cig

Ready to try out an e-cigarette for yourself? One of the best parts of making the switch to an e-cig is how simple it is to learn to use one. Although varying e-cig models may work slightly differently, most follow a very similar sequence of steps:

  1. Charge the e-cig according to manufacturer instructions.
  2. Fill the tank with e-liquid, or attach a compatible pre-filled cartridge.
  3. Press the button (if needed) to activate the device.
  4. Take a drag to draw the vapor out of the device, and enjoy your first-ever vaping experience!

It’s important to remember that anytime you’re working with a new e-cig – whether it’s your first one or just an upgrade – reviewing the manufacturer’s instruction manual is a smart first step. Not only will you be able to quickly learn how to work the e-cig, but you might also discover that the device has special features you didn’t know about.


Proper E-Cig Use and Care

If you’ve decided to enjoy the e-cig experience, it’s important to understand how to safely use, store, and care for the device. Like any battery-powered device, an e-cig has a few requirements to ensure safety, as well as optimize your experience:

  • Always follow the manufacturer instructions related to use, storage, and charging.
  • Before using your e-cig, make sure the tank or pre-filled cartridge has a sufficient amount of e-liquid.
  • Ideally, adjust settings to the lowest voltage and/or wattage until you’ve gained some experience.
  • Only use compatible batteries, accessories, and components with your device.
  • Always make sure that you are properly charging rechargeable batteries.
  • Avoid dropping your device.
  • If batteries appear to have been dented or damaged in any way, discontinue use.
  • Don’t store your e-cig in the heat, or in extremely humid conditions. 


Why are E-Cigarettes So Popular?

Odds are, if you’re considering e-cigs, you might already have a friend or family member that’s told you how much they love theirs. Many people wonder how e-cigs got so popular, and what exactly it is about these handheld devices that people enjoy so much. There are many different reasons why vapers might choose an e-cig, including the benefits below.


An affordable entry point into the world of vaping

For new arrivals to the vaping scene, investing in a pricey, advanced vape mod can be pretty intimidating. Luckily, e-cigs offer a budget-friendly option for venturing into vaping, with price tags that range between twenty dollars for a basic starter kit to about fifty for something a little more deluxe. When you compare that to the average price of a box of cigarettes, the savings are easy to see.


The ultimate in convenience and portability

E-cigs are compact, lightweight, and easy to enjoy anywhere, anytime, which is why they’re a staple for so many vapers. You can easily keep an e-cig in your pocket or purse for on-the-go vape sessions, and they are also typically very discreet. Even vapers who enjoy high-powered, advanced mods may keep an e-cig on hand for travel and quick vape sessions on their busiest days.


A user-friendly vape device for new and experienced vapers alike

Learning how to use an e-cigarette is pretty simple and straightforward, and doesn’t require you to figure out how to navigate complex settings and adjustments. It’s this simplicity that makes e-cigs such a popular choice with new vapers, as well as vaping vets who enjoy a no-hassle way of vaping.


How to Shop for Your Perfect E-Cigarette

If you’re searching for e-cigs for sale online, there are a few things you can keep in mind to ensure that you’re satisfied with your purchase:


Choose your retailer wisely 

Avoid buying vaping devices and supplies from disreputable sources, especially because it puts you at risk of receiving a faulty or cheaply-made product. Instead, stick with reputable retailers like South Beach Smoke, so you can be confident that you’re shopping with the best.


Consider factors like your lifestyle, budget, and experience level

There’s no one-size-fits-all e-cig, so you’ll need to ask yourself how you plan to use your vape, what price point you’re looking for, and how simple (or complicated) or a device you’re ready for.


Don’t be afraid of trial and error

Especially for new vapers, there’s a certain period of experimentation required in order to learn about your vaping preferences and style. Luckily, e-cigs are fairly inexpensive, so you can easily buy a few different options and see exactly which one suits you the best.


Find an E-Cig to Suit Your Vape Style from South Beach Smoke

Whether you’re brand-new to the idea of vaping or consider yourself a seasoned cloud chaser, a high-quality e-cigarette is a necessity for an enjoyable, fuss-free vaping experience. Just because you’re sticking with a classic e-cig doesn’t mean that you’ll have to sacrifice on features – especially when you choose an e-cig starter kit from South Beach Smoke

Our selection includes a wide variety of options, making it easy to choose an e-cig set-up that suits your preferences, budget, and experience level. Plus, many of our starter kits include everything you need to vape right out of the box, including pre-filled liquid cartridges, making it incredibly easy to dive right into an exceptional vape experience. 

Browse our full collection of top-of-the-line e-cigarettes and discover why so many people are making the jump to vaping with great products from South Beach Smoke.

Image Credit: Shutterstock / hurricanehank