E-juice is a syrup-like liquid used in vaporizers (often called vapes). It comes in a variety of flavors and nicotine concentrations. Nicotine is what causes the “buzz” smokers feel, and it is the chemical in tobacco that makes cigarettes addictive.
Vaporizing has been around for centuries as a way to inhale chemicals in dry herbs, but e-juice is a new technology. In the mid-2000s, vaping exploded in popularity. The first popular step was the e-cigarette, which was disposable and could not be refilled. It was marketed as a healthier alternative to cigarettes. People started building their own vapes, often called mods, and a few entrepreneurs made standardized devices to sell in stores. As the technology of vaping improved, materials became easier to get, more people took up the practice, and e-juice became widely available.
A lot of people who used to smoke cigarettes switch over to vaping. Unlike cigarettes, e-juice tastes sweet, smells good, and can be used discreetly. You can taper the nicotine amount over time, which many people say helps them quit smoking for good. Also, some research suggests that vaping e-juice is healthier than smoking cigarettes. That seems obvious from a common sense standpoint, but most doctors are still wary of suggesting vaping as a healthy alternative to smoking.
E-juice has three major ingredients – vegetable glycerin (VG), propylene glycol (PG), and nicotine – but also has additives for flavor or smoke effect. E-juice labels usually have two numbers on them which tell the ratio of VG/PG. Some common figures to see on labels are “40/60”, “50%-50%”, or “70%VG.” The numbers vary, but the format is consistent.
When vaping first got popular, the ingredients were not regulated by federal governments. There was more variety in additives back then and some of them turned out to be dangerous. In the late-2010s, several major governments put regulations in place to help keep vapers safe.
Vegetable glycerin (referred to as VG) is a sweet-tasting liquid made from plant oils. Most e-juices are at least 40% VG; usually more than that. It occurs naturally in plants and is collected using water and pressure. Palm oil, coconut oil, and soy oil are all used to make VG. Soy is usually cheapest, so it is what a lot of store-bought vape juices are made of. Soy products are usually genetically modified (GMO), so some people prefer to get their e-juice VG from the other sources, which are more often organic. VG is also used in some food products as a low-carb tooth-friendly alternative to sugar.
Propylene glycol (referred to as PG) is not very flavorful and is not naturally occurring. Not all e-juice contains PG, some juices only have VG. It is made from propylene, a byproduct of natural gas refinement. Despite that, most federal governments say it is safe to use. It is found in many foods as a preservative and anti-clumping additive. When anti-freeze needs to be used near food, PG is usually the solution. In e-juice, it is used to make smoke clouds thicker and bigger. It also creates a stronger sensation (sometimes called the throat-hit) during vaping. It also dissolves some flavor additives better than VG.
Nicotine (referred to as nic) is not present in all e-juice. Usually, e-juice has a label which will say “nic content” on it. Most stores stock 3mg as their lowest nic concentration and up to 12mg as their highest. For those that don’t want any nicotine in their juice, they can purchase 0mg. Nicotine is naturally occurring in tobacco plants (and a few others) but can also be made synthetically. Both approaches have their advantages. Synthetic needs less refinement but is not as psychoactive as the plant-extracted alternative. Nicotine extracted from tobacco has a taste and coloration which is difficult to get rid of, but synthetic nicotine is comparatively tasteless and colorless right from the start. E-juice used to be almost exclusively made from tobacco nicotine, but it is synthetic nicotine is becoming more common.
Additives can vary a lot. Some additives change the feeling of the smoke. Menthol and similar substances (often referred to as kool-, cool-, or ice-powder on DIY vape websites) cause a soothing sensation of cold in the throat, comparable to an extremely strong cup of mint tea. Some additives are things you might find in your average baker’s kitchen, like cinnamon, cucumber extract, honeydew extract, coffee, chocolate, salts, and sugar alcohols. Some are made with the real thing and some are made with synthetic flavors which mimic the real thing. If you have ever eaten a piece of banana-flavored candy, you know the sort of difference you can expect between real fruit extracts and a synthetic replacement.
E-juice comes in a huge variety of flavors. You could have e-juice that tastes just like sugar cookies, another that tastes like bubblegum, or one that tastes like your favorite cereal – milk included! Most flavors are sweet and sugary, but some of the menthol or tobacco flavored ones are plainer. Candy and fruit flavors are generally sweeter than bakery or coffee type flavors, but that is not always true.
A lot of the best flavors have creative names like Looper, Unicorn Vomit, and No. 32. Those crazy names do not tell you much about what is in them, though. When you shop online, categories and descriptions will help you find a specific flavor. Vape shop workers are very knowledgeable about their products; if you want a specific flavor combination, they can usually suggest a product.
Some e-juice flavors and brands are better than others. The e-juice industry has been around long enough that some companies have a reputation for well-made, delicious tasting products. ANML has made a name for itself with the Looper flavor, reminiscent of a certain fruity cereal. Milkman has been raising dessert standards since 2015. My favorite of theirs is a flavor that tastes just like those warm cinnamon churros you get from a street vendor. Candy Pop specializes in – you guessed it – strong candy flavors. Peach gummies, grape soda, minty gum, all available at the press of a button.
So, you found a flavor or ten that you want to try, maybe you are ready to throw away the cigarettes for good, or you want to join the cloud-chasers and breathe huge puffs of smoke like a dragon. How do you actually vape e-juice, though? It depends, but the basics are usually the same. All vapes have some similar features: a battery, a coil or atomizer, a container for e-juice, a charger, and an activation button. Many vapes also have temperature and/or wattage controls.
To use e-juice, you first open the glass container (the atomizer) by twisting the cap off – sometimes they have buttons or locks, so keep an eye out. If you have a pod vape cartridge, it might not be refillable – check the packaging to be sure.
If it is your first time using this atomizer or you just put in a new coil, this next step is important! You need to make sure that all the cotton wick in the atomizer is soaked by vape juice before you do anything else with it. E-juice usually makes this easy, because it comes with a dripper. I like to fill the atomizer with e-juice from the outside, then carefully add a little extra in the middle while I spin it around. Do not add too much to the middle, or you are going to end up with a mouthful of droplets instead of vapor. It is a good idea to let the juice soak into the wick for a minute.
Atomizers usually either snap onto the mod/battery or are screwed in. If they do not have good contact, they will not work, so be careful not to cross-thread while screwing in. After you have got it screwed in, you can turn the mod on and set your temperature or wattage. We will go into more detail on this in the next section. In general, you want to set the temp/watts low and move it up over time. Vapers call this “breaking in” the coil. If your temp/watts is too low, you will not get a lot of vapor at first. If you set them higher, you’ll pull a bigger and stronger rip.
Today, pod vapes are a popular choice for beginners. You have probably heard of Juul, famous for its small size and ease of use. Some Juuls are disposable, but others can be opened and refilled. Eon Smoke is another popular brand for beginners. It is a pod vape pen that is compatible with Juul pods.
All atomizers and coils are different. On the package, they will tell you what temperature and wattage range they work best with using box mods. This is important to pay attention to for seasoned vapers, because certain e-juices also have ideal temperature and wattage ranges. It is important for beginners too, because you want to make sure you do not go above the recommended temp/watts. Box mods are the square vapes with big e-juice containers. They usually produce the biggest clouds, best flavors, and have lots of customization options.
Really, there is no “best” temperature or wattage for vaping. It depends on the equipment, the e-juice, and the person doing the vaping. If you are stuck, try reading the packaging first. Online forums also have a lot of information about how to get the best performance out of your box mod vape, and employees at vape shops can also help you find something ideal. There are limits to most pod and pen vapes; if you have been experimenting with your vape for a while and are not happy with your clouds or your flavor, it might be time to upgrade.
People have different preferences, but box mods are the vaping standard for a reason. They have big batteries, big atomizers, space for fancy coils, and customizable temperature and wattage parameters. A lot of them also keep track of your vaping stats, so you can keep track of how much you vape. If you want the best vape pen for blowing big smoke clouds, you need a box mod.
If you are looking to smoke something more discreet, a pod or pen vape might be a better choice. Nowadays, a lot of people deal out their products in small pre-made cartridges that screw into any given pen vape or clip into pod vapes. You would not know anything was amiss, glancing at it. It looks like regular e-juice. Pods and pens also tend to make small vape clouds, so that helps them stay discreet. While the smell is more subtle from a vape than it is from a burning plant, the nose knows, so be careful.
Flavor matters too. New legal regulations have made good pod flavors harder to come by, and their weak batteries were not very flavorful in the first place. If you want to breathe in a heavenly mixture of unicorns, tangerines, and sunshine, a box mod is still the way to go.
So, we have talked about the basics of using e-juice and discussed why you might want a box mod. Box mods have good power, replaceable high-quality parts, and customizable settings. Box mods rip the biggest clouds and have the strongest flavors. They usually look cool too, like something out of a sci-fi steam-punk movie.
A lot of box mods will let you set both wattage (or voltage) and temperature. That means you can control how fast the atomizer heats up and set the maximum temperature that it will reach. That helps you get a smooth, consistent hit every time. It will also help protect your wick from getting burned. Higher wattage results in a quicker heating time and a sharper hit. The temperature is often measured in ohms, a measurement of resistance. Higher ohms means higher temperature; you can find charts online to see estimates in F and C. Higher ohms, when used with the right vape juice, will generally give you larger clouds and stronger flavor. That’s not always true, though; remember that atomizers have recommended settings. If you go too high on though, you might find the hit harsh on your throat.
There are a lot of mods available. The SteamCloud Box Mod with e-juice is an excellent choice for a beginner. It’s reasonably priced, has good options, and works whether you are chasing clouds or trying to be discreet. It supports any 510 connection, a standard for most atomizers. At vapevetstore.com, the mod has some options for dry herb vaporizing in addition to regular e-juice atomizers. It comes standard with the Kamry X6 Plus, a high-quality atomizer that supports a dynamic range of temperature and wattage settings to help you get the perfect hit.
It is a relative question. E-juice has gotten something of a bad name because it is attractive to minors. A lot of high school kids get in trouble for things like selling Juuls in the bathroom, and we obviously do not want to encourage kids to smoke anything. E-juice usually contains nicotine and is age-restricted just like tobacco products.
For adults, when used responsibly, some studies have shown that e-juice is safer than smoking cigarettes. Some online stores, like the Vape Vet Store, are making the effort to be responsible about selling their products. They have age verification checkers to prevent e-juice from getting into the hands of minors.
There are a ton of places to buy e-juice from. Since it has become so popular, you can find it in most corner stores and gas stations. They usually have low-quality, cheap products. Smoke shops and head shops have almost all caught up to the vape craze, so you can check a nearby water-pipe store to see if they carry e-juice.
The best places to buy E-Juice, though, are places that specialize in it. That means vape shops and online stores. Some vape shops can give you discounted juice that they make themselves. They also have the benefit of letting you taste-test. Online stores usually have the best deals, though. Signing up for email lists will alert you to coupons and bargain opportunities. Vapevetstore.com is a good place to do online e-juice shopping, since they ship anywhere in the US for free. They also carry a lot of popular well-known brands and flavors, including some of the ones we discussed earlier.
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