Vaping 101


What are Electronic Cigarettes?

These are devices which mimic the smoking experience through vaporization of a special type of liquid. This solution is comprised of propylene glycol, nicotine and often a flavoring agent. Small amounts of it are vaporized when you draw upon it instead of burning like smoke from tobacco in a traditional cigarette. The process of “vaping,” as it is generally known by users, works through a battery heater known as an atomizer.

Many e-cigarettes appear like a regular cigarette, especially from afar. These tube shaped devices contain all of the working elements within each one. Other styles may be larger and have replaceable liquid tanks and atomizers. There are various designs and sizes that you can choose from when purchasing.

Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe?

While nicotine is not entirely safe, these are often considered a healthier alternative to regular cigarettes. The majority of risks associated with smoking have to do with the carcinogens created by tobacco combustion. Studies have indicated that the illnesses and death associated with traditional products are from smoke inhalation and not the nicotine itself.

Is Anti-freeze Used in E-cigarettes?

No. This falsehood is a result of a statement from 2009 in which the Food and Drug Administration found trace amounts of diethylene glycol in one of eighteen cartridges tested by the agency. While this chemical is sometimes used in anti-freeze, this is the only instance of it being found in electronic cigarettes.

Propylene glycol is the base of the liquid in e-cigarettes and is Generally Recognized As Safe, or GRAS, by the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency. Some manufacturers of non-toxic anti-freeze use it as do many other companies. It is a common ingredient in the medical and cosmetic industries as well as some types of food. Fog producing machines also utilize it.

Can You Get Cancer from E-cigarettes?

The liquid in e-cigarettes contains small amounts of nitrosamines, which can be harmful in large doses. The small amounts in the vapor are comparable to that found in nicotine patches and is far less than what you will inhale from burning tobacco. It is not significant enough to be labeled cancer causing.

Can You Quit Smoking with Electronic Cigarettes?

These products are not marketed as such though there have been reports of people successfully using them in this manner. They are an alternative to smoking that can be enjoyed in many places that smoking is forbidden.

Which Ones Are Most Similar to Traditional Cigarettes?

There are many varieties on the market, including those that are flavored like regular cigarettes. Other flavors include menthol and clove, which mimic the smoking experience of those types as well. One advantage to them is that they do not have the lingering aftertaste or smell of burning tobacco. Experimenting with different manufacturers and flavors will allow you to determine which you find most appealing.


Analog: A name used by electronic cigarette users to describe traditional tobacco cigarettes.
Atomizer: One of the components inside an electronic cigarette which functions with low heat to turn e-liquid into vapor so it can be inhaled. Atomizers are used on a multitude of products from perfume bottles, inhalers and cooking sprays.

Attys: shortened version for Atomizer.

Automatic Battery: An electronic cigarette battery which automatically functions when someone inhales (no switch).

Battery: This typically rechargeable component provides power to the atomizer when the user inhales on the mouthpiece. Most electronic cigarettes employ a lithium ion battery which ranges in size. An LED light on the end glows to signal activation from inhalation or when the button is pushed on a manual battery.

Batts: shortened version for battery.

Battery Charger: There are many different battery charger types available to charge an electronic cigarette. These include standard wall outlet, car and USB chargers. Adapters are available to use an electronic cigarette in the car or to convert chargers for travelling.

Blanks: Cartridges which come filled with a dry material and ready for the user to add their own e-liquid.

BP: Also known as “Big Pharma”, these are the large pharmaceutical corporations who produce approved nicotine replacement therapy products and medications.

BT: Also known as “Big Tobacco”, they are the top-producers in the tobacco industry and supply the public with cigars and cigarettes.

Carcinogen: A substance which is known to cause cancer in humans.

Cartomizer: A combination disposable atomizer and cartridge employed by 2-piece electronic cigarettes. This can be refillable and non-refillable.

Cartridge: The cartridge sits within the mouthpiece and contains absorbent material (the wick). This is where flavored liquid containing nicotine is stored. When the liquid is depleted it can either be refilled or replaced with a new pre-filled cartridge.

Carts: Shortened version for cartridge.

Cigar Style: The e-cigar looks similar to a cigar. Thicker around than most other e-cigs, they employ a similar cartridge to the pen-style, with a greater capacity. E-cigars can sometimes hold as much as 1.5mL of e-liquid. There are also disposable e-cigars available, which look extremely similar to an actual cigar with no external mouthpiece.

Condoms: The rubber sleeves that come on the ends of cartomizers.

Clearomizer: A clearomizer is a cartridge without the polyfill. It has a wick and a coil but no filler material.

Cutoff: Some battery models utilize a cutoff mechanism to turn off the battery when it is overused; this protects the atomizer from burning out and the user from inhaling too much nicotine.

Drip/Dripping: A method of dripping e-liquid directly onto the atomizer or fill material to refill an electronic cigarette.

Drip Tip: Used to directly drip E-liquid onto the atomizer or into a cartomizer. Preferred by some for comfort as the soft drip tips feel more like a cigarette filter in the mouth.

Direct Drip: Or “dripping”; the action of dripping E-Liquid directly onto the atomizer instead of delivering E-Liquid through a cartridge or cartomizer.

Disposable E-Cigarette: A single-use electronic cigarettes designed to throw away when the e-liquid is empty. There are many shapes and sizes of disposable e-cigarettes & e-cigars on the market. These are not refillable.

DIY: Do it yourself.

Dry Smoking: A method used in 3-piece electronic cigarette models when the atomizer is flooded with solution or needs to be cleared of residue. May damage the atomizer by overheating it.

Electronic Cigarette: An electronic Cigarette is a battery-powered electronic device that converts a liquid nicotine or non-nicotine solution (e-liquid) into water vapor. Many resemble traditional analog cigarettes in size, shape and color, but they are also manufactured to mimic pens, cigars and pipes. Increasingly, Custom color combinations, styles and modifications are becoming popular.
E-Cigarette, E Cigarette, ECigarette, ECig, E-Cig, Digi-cig, E-Ciggy, Personal Vaporizer –other terms or variations of terms for electronic cigarette.

E-Liquid: The nicotine or non-nicotine solution used in an e-cigarette. This solution usually consists of nicotine dissolved in propylene glycol (PG) and/or vegetable glycerin (VG), natural and artificial flavorings and water. Both PG and VG are common food additives and create vapor at low temperatures. Flavors often imitate well-known cigarette brands, tobacco flavors, menthol, fruit and other flavors. Hundreds of different flavors are available. Nicotine concentrations range from zero to extra-high (0 mg to 54mg). See propylene glycol
Other terms for e-liquid: E Liquid, ELiquid, eLiquid, Juice, E-Juice, Nicotine Fluid, smoke juice

E-Smoke: E-Smoke is a term used for the vapor emitted by an electronic cigarette. “E-smoking“ is the action of smoking an electronic cigarette.

Filler: The cartridge’s component (typically some sort of wick or fiber) which is used to hold e-liquid.

Manual battery: An electronic cigarette battery which functions only when a button is pressed while inhaling. They typically produce more vapor that an automatic battery.

mg: Milligrams.

Micro Cigarette: 50mm – 99mm in size, a compromise between physical size and liquid capacity/battery life. These generally look quite a bit more like a traditional cigarette, but are still slightly larger. Mini cartridges vary greatly, but usually contain between .5mL to 1mL of e-liquid.

Mini-Cigarette: A small version of an e-cigarette, ranging in size from 116mm – 139mm.

Mod: Short for modification, this is a homemade or purchased design alteration of a manufactured battery, atomizer or cartridge. Mods are generally done and/or used by avid e-smokers looking to increase vapor production, battery life or ease of use.

Mouthpiece: The tip of an electronic cigarette which is placed into the mouth. It often looks like a cigarette butt. This piece houses the cartridge in a 3-piece model. 2-piece models contain the cartridge and the atomizer.

Nicotine Level: The amount of nicotine present in a cartridge or bottle of e-liquid. It is usually measured in mg/ml.

NRT: Abbreviation for Nicotine Replacement Therapy, this is a device which has been approved by the FDA to assist nicotine-dependent individuals in their attempt to quit tobacco use.

Pass-through (PT): Unlike batteries, the pass-through plugs into a USB port on your computer to allow you to vape without worrying about battery life. They also run at a higher voltage so you often get warmer vapor and increased throat hit from them.
You can also use a PT with a portable USB power supply or a USB power adapter, as long as they are compatible.

PCC: Abbreviation for Portable Charging Case

Pen-Style: A style of electronic cigarette, known for its resemblance to a ball point pen and/or a 1920’s to 1950’s cigarette holder. These are the first type of electronic cigarette created and range in size from 140mm – 160mm.

Personal Vaporizer: (PV) – another term for an electronic cigarette.

Pipe Style: As the name may suggest, these look just like a pipe. They have big cartridges, but blanks aren’t quite as readily available as the rest of the styles. The cartridges hold more than 2mL of e-liquid at a time.

Pooling: There are 2 versions of this. One is when the liquid pools at the bottom of the cart and does not soak into the filler. The other is when the cart is overfilled and the liquid creates a “pool” on top, causing the electronic cigarette to leak.

Priming: A puffing technique used on automatic batteries to produce the most vapor. This requires taking a deep inhale to “warm up” the atomizer. Once warmed, the battery is primed.

Propylene Glycol (PG): Propylene Glycol is the most commonly used base carrier for nicotine and flavor solutions for electronic cigarettes. It is also commonly used in inhalers, medicines, foods, and other consumer products.

Portable Charging Case: A case that allows you to charge your battery on the go, no need for a power source like a computer or wall adapter. Usually can also hold a couple of cartomizers/cartridges.

PV (Personal Vaporizer): Another term for an electronic cigarette.

Reverse Taryn Spin: Using centrifugal force to remove e-liquid from an open-ended cartomizer. SeeTaryn Spin

Starter Kits: This is usually where new users begin when they try their first electronic cigarette. A starter kit can contain anything from the basics (battery and charger) to a complete assortment of parts and accessories.

Supermini: (100mm – 115mm) frequently almost the same size as a traditional cigarette, this hardware has smaller capacity cartridges and batteries. The batteries do, however, charge significantly faster than other types. Supermini cartridges also vary greatly, holding between .2mL and .5mL of e-liquid.

Tank: A container that holds a substantial amount of liquid, generally clear so the amount is visible

Taryn Spin: Using centrifugal force to fill a cartomizer. See Reverse Taryn Spin

THR: Tobacco Harm Reduction – policy or practice of providing less harmful nicotine containing products.

Throat Hit: A descriptive term used for the sensation felt in the back of the throat when an inhalation is taken from an electronic cigarette. A good throat hit closely mimics the feeling from traditional cigarette smoking. Nicotine levels greatly affect throat hit strength with higher nicotine levels having a harder throat hit sensation.

Topping/Topping off: Topping a cartridge with e-liquid.

TSNA: Tobacco-specific nitrosamine

Vape: The act of inhaling vapor from an electronic cigarette.

Vaping: An alternative word for e-smoking; the habit or pastime of using electronic cigarettes. Many electronic cigarette users call themselves, “Vapers” and participate in “Vaping” instead of smoking.

Vapor: (vapour): The smoke-like vapor produced from an electronic cigarette when e-liquid is turned from a liquid to a gas by the atomizer. This vapor is a pure food grade version similar to the smoke produced by a fog machine. The most common ingredient is propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin.

Vaporizer: The electronic component which turns e-liquid into a gas or a vapor. This is also another term used for Electronic Cigarette.

Vegetable Glycerin (VG): Vegetable Glycerin is a natural alternative to Propylene Glycol and is sometimes used as the majority base in the E-Liquid. Vegetable Glycerin comes from the production of palm or coconut oils and is suitable to be used in sweeteners and in skin care products. It creates a slightly thicker vapor.

Wick: A poly fiber with the appearance of cotton. Usually a silica thread that soaks up e-liquid to be vaporized by the heating element.