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How Do Vapes Work? (Explained!!)

John Doe

Written by: John Doe

Updated on May 10, 2024

How Do Vapes Work?

Vapes are touted as healthier and safer alternatives to smoking cannabis or cigarettes, and with good reason. The biggest difference is that vaping devices turn vape juice or e-liquid into aerosol vapor while smoking regular cigarettes, pipes, or cigars produces smoke and tar, which contains over 7,000 harmful chemicals.

When they first hit the scene as a means to quit smoking, vapes were designed to look pretty much like a cigarette. That’s why they were so-called electronic cigarettes. Modern vape devices, however, have become more complex with an assembly of components and come in an array of sizes, styles, and designs.

Most vape devices nowadays are disposable or reusable. Either way, understanding how a vape pen works makes it much easier to choose the right device for your needs, as well as take care of it with proper cleaning, maintenance, and storage.

In this beginner’s guide, we’ll give you the nitty-gritty of vapes so you can learn the ins and outs of vaping. We’ll cover everything, from how they work to care tips.

What is a Vape?

A vape is short for vaporizer, a battery-powered device used to produce and inhale an aerosol vapor containing e-liquid, flavors, and other additives. It can be used to vape nicotine, cannabis, or other vape juices like CBD oil. Some vapes look like traditional cigarettes, smoke pipes, or cigars. Meanwhile, others feature a box or pod design.

No matter how they look, vapes generally feature similar components and work almost in the same way. The biggest difference among them is what type of e-juice you are going to vape.

As such, a vape can be an electronic nicotine delivery system that transforms e-liquid into vapor for inhalation. Unlike traditional cigarettes, which burn tobacco and produce toxic chemicals, electronic cigarettes use a battery-powered heating element to vaporize a liquid solution, typically composed of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine, and flavorings. This vapor is then inhaled, providing a sensation similar to smoking without the harmful byproducts of burning tobacco.

The same goes for a cannabis vape. It uses the atomizer coil or heating element to vaporize weed concentrate, wax, or cannabis oil. The user then inhales the cannabis-laddened vapor into their lungs.

How Does a Vape Device Work?

Parts of a Vape

Vape Pen Components

Vaping devices come in various shapes and sizes, but they all share a few essential components that work together to deliver a satisfying vaping experience. Let’s take a closer look at these parts in more detail.

Vape Battery

The battery is the power source that drives the entire vaping device. It supplies electricity to the heating element and facilitates the vaporization process. Batteries can be rechargeable or disposable, with varying capacities measured in milliampere-hours (mAh). Higher mAh ratings generally translate to longer battery life.

Vape Cartridge (Pod or Tank)

Often shortened as cart, the vape cartridge, tank, or pod system is the component that holds the e-liquid. In some devices, the cartridge is pre-filled and disposable, while in others, it is refillable. Tanks typically have a larger capacity than cartridges, allowing for longer vaping sessions before needing a refill.

The Mouthpiece

The mouthpiece is the part of the device where users inhale the vapor. Its design and diameter can vary depending on the vaping style (MTL, DTL, or RDTL) the device is intended for.

Vape Coil

The coil, or heating element, is responsible for vaporizing the e-liquid. It consists of a coiled wire made of resistance wire, often wrapped in wicking material that absorbs the e-liquid. When the coil is heated by the battery, it vaporizes the e-liquid, creating the vapor for inhalation.


The atomizer is the component that houses the coil and wicking material. It plays a crucial role in the vaporization process by ensuring efficient heating and vapor production.

Vape Juice (E-Liquid or E-Juice)

E-liquid, also known as vape juice or e-juice, is the liquid solution that is vaporized and inhaled during vaping. It usually includes nicotine, vegetable oils, propylene glycol (PG), and flavor additives. The ratio of PG and VG affects the vapor production and throat hit.

The Vaporization Process

In the world of vaping, understanding how the vaporization process unfolds is pivotal. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:


It all begins when the user draws in air or activates the device through a button press. This action signals the battery to kickstart the vaporization process.


Once activated, the battery supplies power to the atomizer, the essential heating component responsible for vaporizing the e-liquid. At the heart of the atomizer lies the coil—a thin wire encased in a wick or cotton. As electricity courses through the coil, it heats up rapidly, reaching the ideal temperature for vaporization.

Vapor Production

With the coil now at the perfect temperature, it starts vaporizing the nearby e-liquid. Stored within the device’s tank or cartridge, the e-liquid moves towards the heated coil, drawn by capillary action. Upon contact, the e-liquid undergoes a phase change, transforming from liquid to vapor. This vaporization process emits tiny droplets of vapor, which mingle with the surrounding air, forming the visible cloud that users inhale through the mouthpiece.

Regulation and Control

Advanced vaping devices offer users the ability to fine-tune their experience through adjustable settings. From wattage and voltage to temperature, these controls allow users to customize vapor density, flavor intensity, and throat hit. Furthermore, integrated safety features help prevent overheating or misuse, ensuring a consistent and secure vaping experience.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Vapes?

While vaping devices are designed for convenience and simplicity, there are various techniques and practices that can enhance your overall vaping experience. These include:

Curating Your Throat Hit

The throat hit refers to the sensation felt in the back of the throat when inhaling vapor. Different factors, such as e-liquid composition, coil resistance, and airflow settings, can affect the intensity of the throat hit. Experiment with these variables to find your preferred level of throat hit.


Sub-ohming is a vaping technique that involves using coils with a resistance below 1.0 ohm. This method typically requires higher wattage settings and can produce denser vapor clouds. However, it’s essential to use appropriate batteries and devices designed for sub-ohm vaping to ensure safety.

Flavors and E-Liquids

One of the joys of vaping is the vast array of e-liquid flavors available. From fruity blends to dessert-inspired concoctions, the possibilities are endless. Experiment with different flavors and ratios of propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG) to find your favorite combinations.

Using Your Vape for Cannabis Vaping

While vaping is often associated with electronic nicotine delivery systems, some devices can also be used for vaping cannabis concentrates or dry herbs. These nicotine free devices are not designed for cigarette smokers. They can help you get a buzz with weed and quit smoking harsh rolls. However, it’s crucial to use devices specifically designed for this purpose and to comply with local laws and regulations regarding cannabis use.

Using Your Vape for Nicotine Vaping:

If you’re using your vape as a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to quit smoking, it’s essential to understand the different nicotine strengths and formulations available. Start with a nicotine strength that aligns with your smoking habits and gradually decrease over time to achieve your desired level of nicotine intake.

Using Your Vape for CBD Oils

Cannabidiol (CBD) oils have gained popularity for their potential therapeutic benefits. Some vaping devices are compatible with CBD oils, allowing users to vape CBD for its purported calming and relaxing effects. Look for something that works with full-spectrum CBD, which contains cannabinoids and other chemicals that create an entourage effect.

Vaping Responsibly

Vaping etiquette and responsible practices are crucial to ensuring a positive experience for both vapers and non-vapers alike. Be mindful of local regulations, respect those around you, and avoid vaping in prohibited or inappropriate areas.

Cleaning, Storing, and Maintaining Your Vape Device

Proper maintenance and care for your vaping device can extend its lifespan and ensure optimal performance. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning and storing your device, and replace coils and other components as needed.

Disposing of Spent or Depleted Vapes

When it comes time to discard your vape or its components, it’s essential to do so responsibly. Many vapes contain lithium-ion batteries and electronic components that should be recycled or disposed of properly to minimize environmental impact.

How to Choose the Right Vapes for You?

Leading Paragraph: With the multitude of vaping devices available on the market, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. Consider factors such as your experience level, desired vaping style, and personal preferences to find the perfect match.

Vaping Experience Level

Are you a complete beginner or an experienced vaper? Your experience level should play a crucial role in selecting the appropriate device. Beginners may prefer user-friendly options like vape pens or pod systems, while advanced vapers might gravitate towards more customizable mods and rebuildable atomizers.

Desired Vaping Style

Determine whether you prefer a mouth-to-lung (MTL) or direct-to-lung (DTL) vaping style. MTL devices are generally better suited for those transitioning from smoking, while DTL devices cater to cloud chasers and those seeking more intense vapor production.

Battery Life and Portability

Consider your vaping habits and lifestyle when evaluating battery life and portability. If you’re an occasional vaper, a device with a smaller battery might suffice. However, if you vape frequently throughout the day, a mod with a larger battery capacity or multiple battery slots might be a better choice.

Customization and Advanced Features

Do you prefer a straightforward vaping experience, or are you interested in exploring advanced features like temperature control, wattage adjustment, and rebuildable atomizers? Mods and box kits offer more customization options, while pod systems and vape pens prioritize simplicity.

Vaping Costs

While the initial cost of a vaping device can vary widely, it’s important to consider the ongoing expenses associated with maintaining and replacing components. Factors such as coil and battery life, as well as e-liquid consumption, will impact the overall cost of vaping over time. If you’re looking for electronic nicotine delivery systems to help you quit smoking, reusable models can come in handy.

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