Vaping - e-smoking My alternative to smoking tobacco
So in my tradition of being a weirdo, I may have found my solution to finally quit smoking.
I’ve taken up vaping, using a PV (personal vaporizer) to consume nicotine as an alternative to actually smoking. I’ll outline what it’s all about on this page for those who are interested.
Before moving on… This is for people who already smoke. If you don’t smoke, do NOT do this. If you do smoke, make your own informed decision on this as an alternative. What I find is working for me may kill you for all I know.
What is it?
An e-cigarette in a nutshell is a PV (personal vaporizer) that takes a base liquid, generally Propylene Glycol (PG) or Vegetable Glycerine (VG) infused with nicotine and flavoring and vaporizes it into a mist for inhalation.
PG very briefly is a pharmaceutical and food grade base used in a myriad of things from asthma inahlers to all sorts of household goods. PG is also the base liquid you have surely seen in fog machines in dance clubs.
You may find some whack job sites that insist that PG is antifreeze…this is simply not true. They are not the same thing at all. It is as absurd as telling people that because they make hydrogen bombs with hydrogen, they shouldn’t drink water. The information from the antis is incredibly ignorant.
The basic concept is, I can get my nicotine fix without inhaling smoke and the myriad associated miserable compounds in the smoke itself. Although nicotine itself isn’t the best for me, it’s by far a lower risk agent compared to the contents of tobacco smoke.
Studies are just getting started to really analyze the effects (make your own informed choice here, do some research), but there are noted cardiologists on record and similar professionals who are estimating this is about 1000 times safer than inhaling cigarette smoke.
I’ve smoked for 27 years at this point, though I’ve been off cigs now for 7 days as of this initial writing. I’ve tried cold turkey, the patch, gum, lozenges, Welbutrin… nothing really does the trick for me and at this point I really need to stop. I stumbled upon e-cigarettes very recently and was very surprised to find that it’s actually working for me.
Vaping feels very much like smoking. You can feel it in your throat and in your chest and it quiesces that craving like no other nicotine replacement available. The nicotine hit will vary with the concentration you choose for the e-juice, but I find it to feel somewhere between a cigarette and a strong cigar. It’s not quite as instant as a cigarette and takes a few puffs to kick in, but will linger fairly well once you get your pace adapted. I generally ‘had’ to smoke cigarettes about every 2 hours. With this, I can vape a few puffs about every 45 mins and keep myself on a similar level. This is with 24mg and 36mg concentration juice. This refers to mg/ml concentration.
But you’re smoking inside, near me and it makes spotted owls cry!
The vapor you see me exhale is simply PG vapor. This is the same thing that comes out of a fog machine in a club, only a fraction of a percent as concentrated. This will not hurt you. It is so filtered by the time I exhale it, you won’t even be able to smell anything…so relax, it’s just fog.
As expected there are whacko factions trying to ban e-smoking in public now. It’s all based on misinformation or coming from groups who just like to make other people miserable because they can. There is nothing substantive out there that even suggests that the exhaled vapor from doing this causes any issues for bystanders.
Remember if you do come across the anti sentiment, there are two massively powerful lobbies trying to ban this who are funding a lot of the propaganda, the tobacco companies and the pharmaceutical industry. Both are only profit motivated in their pursuits. Both industries stand to lose billions in profits if people can attend to themselves in this way. In addition to this, our own government has been leaching on the pockets of smokers for tax revenue for decades…they too are suspect in their motives.
What does this look like? How does it work?
The basic mechanicals are as follows.
- A battery or other power supply. It can be a battery holder, a USB PT (pass through) or directly fed from say a wall wart or a 12V cigarette plug in a car.
- An atomizer. This is basically a heating coil that creates the vapor.
- A cartridge or other source of the e-liquid (the base+nicotine+flavoring) to feed the atomizer
- A switch of some sort to activate the atomizer.
There are many variations on this combination of items. A common one is a ‘cartomizer’ which is the atomizer and cartridge combined into a single module. Which one to use becomes a matter of personal preference.
The quickest/easiest intro is one of the two staple generic types. The KR808D-1 or the Joye 510. These two look sort of like a cigarette in form. The 808 has a cartomizer which is a cartridge and atomizer combined into a single unit that screws onto a battery and is roughly the size of a cigarette. The 510 has a cartridge -> atomizer -> battery, all in a row or alternately a 510 cartomizer, depending on the model.
I got a KR808D-1 model called the Vaporking from Vapor4Life as my intro unit. The batteries were ‘auto’ batteries, meaning when you draw air through them, they turn on and ‘light up’.
The other option, which I actually have grown to like better is the manual battery type. You simply push a button to start the current heating the atomizer up and draw air about a half second after you hit and hold the button. You just let go of the switch a second or so before you stop drawing on it. The manual option allows you to pulse it on and off to control the heat level.
Whichever you choose, get at least two batteries and a convenient means to charge them. I would also recommend at least two atomizers as well. You can burn them out when you are first figuring out how to work things and they are a consumable product anyway so you’ll eventually need to order more.
Cartomizer capacity in rough terms for a pack a day smoker, I’m going through at least two a day, so judge how many pre-loaded cartridges you need based on that. Liquid lasts a fairly long time so a 30ml bottle will get you more than started out. I recommend getting the 5-packs of pre-loaded cartomizers or cartridges in several flavors so you can get an idea of your options in the easiest way possible.
A 36mg/ml strength cartomizer generically speaking will deliver about 16mg of nicotine. A Marlboro red is about 1mg, so this is roughly 16 cigarettes worth. The absorption rate and variations in capacity of the cartridge though actually make this a bit less based on what I feel from it. I would personally say it’s closer to 8-10 cigarettes in effective feel.
The next step is to what is called a ‘mod’ or basically an extended battery pack. The reason is simple. The starter pack I got had two batteries with it and a handful of the cartridges. The issue is that the battery in the KR808 only lasts a few hours, maybe 2 with any regular use. You can easily wind up swapping the batteries with a charger a few times a day, particularly having just come off of a cigarette habit. This gets annoying quickly and is an issue if you are out somewhere without a charger available. A mod has a much longer battery life depending on the capacity of the model you go with.
Remember, these all do the same thing basically. The biggest difference is the size of their battery pack and what you can discover later, some differences in how the atomizers work and feel.
To start over, as advice to anyone considering this, I might tell you to go with an eGo/Tornado type unit. These are the same functional idea, but have a 750mAh battery as opposed to the more standard 380 or smaller of the other units. This is sort of the cheapest way to get a higher capacity battery as an intro to trying this.
The unit pictured here is called a Riva and if you note, there is a USB cord in the picture. This is another option to consider carefully. This is referred to as a PT or pass-through. You plug your atomizer directly into this in place of your battery. It is very nice for sitting at a computer as you aren’t running on battery power while you are stationary.
A PT unit runs at 5V where most of the base models are 3.7V. This gives you a denser vapor. You get a better nicotine dispersion in the vapor this way. It’s nice for starting out the day to get yourself on the level.
Sources for equipment and juice are all over on line. You will find that only a few places actually make the units and everyone is private labeling or re-selling them. So the base product is the same, but the packaging may be fancier. You can pay too much for the same unit if you don’t shop around.
Some sources that have the basic starter kits ready to go…
- Vapor4Life A bit pricey, but good svc and quality, a one-stop shop, the WOW series of juice is great
- Vapor Junction Great prices for basic units/kits
- CigNotAnother great source for basic intro kits
- BestECig A wholesale source for parts etc better for bulk ordering
- Heaven Gifts Another bulk/wholesale source
- Alt-Smoke A great 'mod' seller and parts etc - I own a BB so far as of this writing and love it
- Blue Mist Vaping A great source for ejuice for refilling cartridges or direct dripping. Highly recommended, my favorite juice vendor.
- AvidVaper.Com THE source for the "Cisco spec" LR306 atomizers, my personal favorite and I very much respect the vendor
There’s a lot more to say here, about reloading cartomizers, direct dripping into an atomizer, drip-tips, mixing one’s own juice recipes and on and on. This is already a lot to read so I’ll finish this out with links for excellent information from people who have been at this longer than I.
- Vapers Forum A great archive of standing information
- International Vapers A kinder/gentler group compared to Vapers Forum, but a new board so less archives.
- ECF Forum One of the older forums, also a lot of information
- vapors - IRC chat on irc.xeromem.com - great group there
So far this is working out well for me. It requires some patience to figure out working the devices, getting the nicotine juice level that works for you and finding the flavors you like. The best I can say is do try it and I hope it works as well for you as it has been for me so far.
I have no affiliation with any of the vendors listed beyond being a satisfied customer. I’ve fully paid for anything I talk about here and will note if that ever changes.
There are plenty of good vendors out there and a good handful that are overpriced or not so great to deal with…do some shopping around.
I won’t post negative vendor comments here but I also won’t leave anyone linked or mentioned if I had any issues with them.
Updates and Lessons Learned
Cartomizers have turned out to be a great temporary/portable solution. I’m using them only if driving for long periods in heavy traffic, as a backup in case my atomizer dies or in the odd/rare situation where I want a very low profile device and use a KR808-D…very rare.
I’ve found that reloading a cartomizer if you have vaped it dry or until it tastes burnt, is a waste of time. The wadding is wrapped around the heating element inside. Once you burn the wadding, it will never vape the same again and if you burn it dry enough, it will always taste burned.
I’ve pretty much just given up reloading cartos and direct drip an atomizer 99% of the time. I just keep some blank cartos around and load them up when I need them or buy a few packs of pre-loaded to keep around as a backup.
Low Resistance Atomizers This is my latest trial. I have a few LR306 and LR510 atomizers here now. They heat up faster and hotter at 3.7V than a standard does. They simulate close to a 5V vapor. They are awesome. This means that using my altsmoke BB which is a small 14500 battery, I get a really decent vape now. With the Silver Bullet that uses an 18650, it’s a perfect vape.
LR atomizers need to be kept wet or they will burn out easily. They also have somewhat shorter life than a standard. If you take care to keep them wet, they will last a good few weeks though.
Altsmoke Silver Bullet - Just got this mod, it’s the larger brother of the BB that I already had. This one uses a much higher 2450 mAh battery vs the 900 mAh the BB has. Basically you get even longer use between a charge…this gives an entire waking day of consistent vape with LR atomizers. It’s overbuilt, very solid and a bit heavy in weight but I really like it.
Beginner’s Startup Kit Summary
O.k. o.k. so you want to know in a nutshell what I would tell you to get to get started out.
Get a Riva 900mAh or larger starter kit. I’d recommend a two battery kit with a USB and wall charger if possible. These kits give outstanding battery capacity ‘bang for the buck’ and a healthy 900 will get you through most of a day even as a heavy vaper. The size isn’t bad to carry around either.
I would also recommend that you don’t even bother with the atomizer/cartridge that comes with the kit, just keep them for spares. Instead get a pair of LR306 atomizers and a pair of LR306 drip tips. This sets you up for ‘direct dripping’, meaning you put three drops of juice directly into the atomizer from a squeeze bottle. This gives you 6-12 drags before you need to put another three drops in. This gives you a very consistent hit each time and full flavor. This takes a lot of the hassle of cartomizers and cartridges getting gradually more weak as you use them.
All you need then is juice. I would recommend getting a variety of flavors in small 10 or 15ml bottles at first to figure out what you like. I would also recommend that you get 32-36mg strength juice if you smoked ‘regular’ cigarettes at say a pack or so a day. This way it will be plenty strong. If you find they are too strong, you can dillute it or use it less frequently.
If dripping from a bottle each time you use it sounds like too much of a hassle, add one more item, a 510 to 808 adapter that screws into the riva and look at somewhere like vapor4life for the pre-loaded 36mg 808 cartomizers. These are essentially disposable and when you first start, you will use at the least, one per day, and likely two.
You will be all set to go with this and avoid the possibility of too weak a vapor to help you get off smoking cigarettes.