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What is vaping?

Vaping is the act of using an electronic device called an e-cigarette or vaporizer to inhale nicotine or non-nicotine e-liquid/e-juice in vapor form. Dry herb, oil, and wax/concentrate can also be vaped, but for the purposes of this FAQ, we will primarily be discussing e-liquid vaping. Vaping is meant to replicate the feeling of smoking a cigarette, but without burning tobacco. Someone who uses a vaporizer or e-cigarette is called a ‘vaper’. 

E-cigarettes use atomizers (a.k.a coils) that heat the e-juice into an inhalable mist. E-cigarettes come in a variety of styles- some e-cigarettes are made to be the same shape & appearance of normal cigarettes, while others are bulkier and more technical-looking. Regardless of what they look like, all e-juice vaporizers operate in that basic fashion: a coil heating e-juice until it vaporizes. 

There are a few different kinds of vaporizers available on the market these days, with the most common being: Vape Pens, Pod Systems, and Mods. 

Vape Pen: Vape pens are super simple systems that are either a separate tank and battery that combine to form the entire pen, or the tank is built into the body of the pen and cannot be removed. Vape pens are reusable, as the tank can be refilled with whatever e-juice is preferred (as long as the juice is compatible with that style of pen). Some vape pens use sub-ohm coils, and some do not- if using a vape pen, make sure the e-juice you’re using is compatible with that pen’s coils. 

Pod System: Pod systems are relatively new and have taken the vape world by storm. These systems consist of a battery with a slot in the top that pods click into. Pods typically come pre-filled, however, there are some brands that sell empty pods that can be filled manually. These systems typically aren’t very powerful, so higher nicotine concentrations are used in order to provide a similar kick to cigarettes. E-juices made with nicotine salts (which are stronger than traditional e-juice) are often used in pod systems. 

Mod: Mods are perhaps the most popular and most powerful way of vaping. Mods consist of a battery which is either internal or removable, and a tank filled with e-juice is attached at the top of the mod. Two major kinds of mods exist: Regulated and Unregulated. Regulated mods have built-in circuit boards that regulate when the battery can or cannot fire, and are generally considered safe. Unregulated mods do not have any circuit boards or safety mechanisms in place, which means that any time the power button is pressed, the circuit is closed and the device will fire, even if it is unsafe to do so- there is no regulation. These devices are not safe for beginners and are the most frequent cause of vaping accidents. We do not recommend the use of unregulated mods unless you are very familiar with vaporizers and how they work. 

  • Also answer on this page:
    • Is vaping better than smoking?

The benefits and risks surrounding vaping are unclear. There is some evidence that vaping may be helpful for people trying to quit smoking, however, there is a concern that children and non-smokers might start using nicotine at higher rates because of how easy vaping is. E-cigarettes are generally considered safer than combusted tobacco, but long term effects are unknown. 

  • Does vape juice have nicotine?

Vape juice, or e-juice, does not always contain nicotine- however, most vape juice does. The primary reason for vaping is to get a nicotine fix, without burning tobacco. However, zero-nicotine juice is available for people looking for an oral fixation without an addictive element, or for vapers who no longer feel the need to inhale nicotine in order to satisfy their cravings. E-juice without nicotine is typically flavored just like e-juice with nicotine, and contains the same ingredients (aside from nicotine). Typically, these ingredients are a combination of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, and food-grade flavoring. 

  • How old do you have to be to vape?

The federal legal age to purchase e-cigarettes is 18 years old. However, some states have passed legislation that raises the vaping age to 21 years old. Texas recently passed a law raising the smoking/vaping age to 21, and it will go into effect September 2019. Check the laws in your state before attempting to purchase an e-cigarette/vaporizer. 

  • What are e cigarettes?

An e-cigarette, otherwise known as a vaporizer, is a battery-powered device that’s used to replicate the feeling of smoking. When people vape, they’re using an e-cigarette. Some styles of e-cigarette are disposable, although reusable designs are more common. E-cigarettes are filled with a liquid that can be vaporized, typically called e-liquid or vape juice. 

  • Also include:
    • Are e cigarettes safe?

The health benefits and risks of using e-cigarettes are not fully understood. Generally, e-cigarettes are considered safer to use than combusting tobacco, but the long term effects are unknown. E-cigarettes create vapor that’s inhaled, and while e-cigarette vapor contains fewer toxic chemicals than cigarette smoke, the vapor does contain chemicals that could potentially be harmful. The chemical content of e-cig vapor depends on what’s in the vape juice, and the model of e-cigarette used. 

Bystanders inhaling e-cigarette vapor are theoretically at less risk than people inhaling second-hand smoke, but there is not enough data to know for sure. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the impact of inhaling secondhand vape may be similar to the symptoms of inhaling other airborne pollutants, which can include: respiratory infection, coughing/wheezing, inflammation of the throat, and increased allergy symptoms. 

The technology of e-cigarettes has advanced enough that nowadays, most vapes are considered safe to use. Vape mods that are unregulated, meaning there’s no safety mechanism in place to prevent the battery from firing in unsafe conditions, aren’t made very much anymore. Unregulated vape mods were responsible for most of the vaping accidents that occurred, as regulated vape mods will not allow the battery to fire unless it is safe to do so. While these regulated mods aren’t always perfect and can misfire if they’ve been damaged, they have greatly reduced the number of vaping accidents, making vaping much safer overall. 

  • How do e cigarettes work?

While there are many different types of e-cigarette, most of them operate more or less in the same way. Vapes are comprised of a battery, a coil, and a tank/pod of some kind to hold the vape juice/e-liquid. Regardless of what make or model of vape you’re using, it’s sure to have some variation of those three parts. 

The coil (also called an atomizer) sits in the tank with the vape juice and is heated by the battery to a specific temperature, at which point the vape juice is vaporized and can be inhaled. 

For many vapes, the coil must be saturated with vape juice before it’s used for the first time, as coils are frequently filled with cotton. The cotton inside should be fully saturated with vape juice before the battery is fired, otherwise the cotton will burn rather than the vape juice being vaporized. This produces a very unpleasant taste, and the coil is ruined- once cotton in the coil has burned, the burnt flavor cannot be removed. If you burn a coil when setting up your vape or while using your vape, throw it away and get a new one. 

Depending on the style of vape that you have, your vape juice could come pre-filled in a pod or cartridge that clicks into the battery, or you could have a refillable tank. If you have a refillable tank, you simply need to select a vape juice flavor and strength, and fill the tank with your chosen juice to the appropriate fill line- ask a salesperson to point this out to you when buying in a store. 

  • Can you take e cigarettes on a plane?

The major rule of thumb when it comes to taking an e-cigarette or vape on a plane is: Carry-On Bags Yes, Checked Bags No. 

There is, of course, no vaping or charging of vape batteries allowed on planes. It is both illegal and extremely dangerous. 

Vape juice alone can be placed in either carry-on bags (under 3.4 oz) or checked bags, no problem.

However, e-cigarettes themselves and their batteries are only allowed in carry-on bags, as the cabin is pressurized. For safety reasons, batteries, atomizers/coils, and vape devices themselves must be in carry-on bags. 

  • Also address in this FAQ:
    • Can you bring a vape on a plane?

You can bring a vape onto a plane, as long as the vape and any external batteries are kept in a carry-on bag. Vapes are not allowed in checked bags whatsoever. 

  • Why does my vape taste burnt?

Vapes can acquire a very unpleasant burnt flavor a few different ways. When putting a new coil into a vape, any cotton in the coil must be fully saturated with vape juice before firing the battery with the new coil. If you don’t fully saturate the cotton and do fire the battery, the dry cotton will burn immediately. At this point, the new coil is ruined as there is no way to reverse the burnt flavor. That coil must be disposed of. 

Sometimes coils start to taste burnt after they’ve already been in use. If a vape’s tank is allowed to get low on vape juice, it’s possible for part of the coil to dry out again, at which point the dry section will burn when the battery is fired. To avoid this, make sure to keep your tank relatively full at all times- don’t leave the coil exposed! Again, once there’s a burnt flavor from your coil it won’t go away, and the only solution is to toss it out and get a new one. 

  • What is in vape juice?
    • Also include:
      • What is e liquid?

E-liquid, or vape juice, is typically comprised of four main ingredients. Propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, nicotine, and food-grade flavoring. 

Vegetable glycerine (VG): A nontoxic substance made from plants. The higher the VG ratio, the thicker the vape juice is and the more cloud it produces. 

Propylene glycol (PG): Used in food and pharmaceutical items. Responsible for flavor and throat hit.  PG is thinner than VG, so the higher the PG content, the smaller the cloud size, and the better the flavor. 

Nicotine: Not all vape juice contains nicotine, but when it does it tends to go in increments of 3. 0mg (no nicotine), 3mg, and 6mg are common vape juice strengths. Some vaporizers use vape juice made with nicotine salts, which are considerably stronger than normal nicotine, and those vape juices can range from 0mg of nicotine all the way to 50mg of nicotine. 

Vape juice uses food-grade flavorings in order to create all the wild and wacky flavors that can be found nowadays. 

Vape juice that uses a 50/50 concentration of VG and PG will be a fairly thin vape juice, which works best in simpler vapes. 80/20 VG/PG vape juices are known as high-VG juice and are very thick, so they need to be used in higher-end vape mods with coils that are large and powerful enough to deal with the thick juice.   

  • Does vape juice go bad?

E-liquid is what’s known as ‘shelf-stable’, meaning it’s unlikely to react with the environment, and can take a looong time to go bad. Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) recommends that shelf stable products be labeled with an expiration date 1 month and 1 year from the date the juice was made, but the FDA does not require expiration dates for vape juice. The manufacturer has sole discretion on whether or not to include an expiration date on their product, and to decide what counts as a reasonable expiration date. Nicotine, propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerine all have a shelf life of roughly 2 years- if you’ve had a bottle of vape juice for longer than 2 years, it may be time to consider tossing it. Store your vape juice in a dry, dark, cool area for the longest-lasting juice. 

Over time, it is possible for changes to happen to vape juice, even if it’s being stored properly. These do not necessarily mean the vape juice is bad/no longer safe for consumption. 

-nicotine breaks down and potency diminishes

-flavor may fade

-texture or mouth-feel may change over time

  • Does vape juice expire?

According to the FSIS, expiration dates are signifiers of quality, rather than safety. That means it is safe to use vape juice after the expiration date, if there is one, but that the quality of the juice might get worse. 

Want to know if your vape juice is safe to use? Check it, just like you would check your milk to see if it’d gone bad- if the vape juice is separating or starting to form solid pieces, it is no longer good to use. If there is an unpleasant or offensive smell, it is no longer good to use. However, if your vape juice smells and appears normal, it’s probably safe to use, even after the expiration date. 

  • Is vaping addictive?

While vaping itself is not inherently addictive, most vape juice is made with nicotine, which is very addictive. If you are using a vape product that contains nicotine, the product is addictive. The higher the nicotine concentration, the more addictive the product will be. 

  • How to clean a vape tank

When changing from one flavor of vape juice to another, or every once in a while, it’s important to give your vape tank a good cleaning. Here’s how!

First off, make sure your vape is turned completely off so you won’t accidentally fire the battery. 

If your vape has a detachable tank, take the tank off and set the battery/mod to the side. 

Unscrew the lid of your tank, and dump out any remaining vape juice still inside. Then, access the coil (in some vapes this is through the top of the tank, in other vapes you will need to unscrew the bottom) and remove it from the tank. If you are planning on reusing the coil save it, if not it can be thrown away. 

Run your empty tank under a steady stream of water until all excess vape juice is off of the sides. Then, take q-tips or a folded-up paper towel, and thoroughly clean out the inside of the tank. You do not want any water remaining in the tank after it’s been cleaned. Wipe down the outside of the tank to ensure that no water remains on the threading. With another q-tip, clean out the mouthpiece- both the removable drip tip, if your vape has one, and the hole in the tank that it pops into. It is natural for skin particles to build up in the drip tip, so be sure to give both the drip tip and the hole in the tank a good wipe down before popping the tip back on. 

Now, either put your previously used coil back into the tank, or get a new coil and prep it with vape juice until it is fully saturated before screwing it into your tank. Then you can refill your tank with juice, and you’ll be good to go!

  • Also address:
    • How to clean a vape coil

We do not recommend cleaning vape coils. While it is theoretically possible to run the coil under water in order to remove the last flavor of vape juice you used, it is nearly impossible to dry out the coil completely after washing it. This is problematic. If you run water over a coil and use it again without completely drying it out, there is the potential for bacteria to grow on the still-damp coil, which would then be inhaled when the vape is used. This is potentially dangerous and could lead to illness. For this reason, our recommendation is never to clean your vape coils. Coils are fairly inexpensive, and it’s worth it to buy a new coil when you want to change flavors rather than potentially make yourself sick. 

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