Author: Ed Swain
Last Updated: 18/02/2019
If you’re ready to step into the world of vaping but aren’t sure where to start, going into into your local vape shop can be a bit daunting.
There are so many types of e-cigarette to choose from and a lot of new terms to learn, choosing the best vape starter kit for you is an important step especially if you’re making the transition from smoking to vaping. So - let’s start at the beginning.
Drip tip: This is the bit that you inhale from, it acts as a chimney for your vapour to travel from the coil to your lungs.
Coil: Made of wire and cotton, the coil serves to absorb your e liquid from inside the tank, heats it up and turns it to vapour when you press the button and inhale. Vape coils come in variable resistances depending on the kind of vape you have. Typically new vapers go for a standard vape with a coil of 1 ohm or greater, and more experienced practitioners go for a sub ohm vape which has a coil of less than 1 ohm.
Tank: The plastic or glass casing that surrounds your coil, sitting between the drip tip and battery - the vape tank is what holds your e-liquid so it can be fed into the coil.
The battery: The powerhouse of your vape, the batteries are what heats the coil to activate it.
Some of these components can look a little different depending on the type of vape kit you have. Which leads us nicely onto…
Cig-a-likes are discrete, lightweight and mimic the design and style of smoking. They’re a disposable variety of e cigarettes. The limitations are they carry a finite amount of vape juice as they’re not refillable and also have a limited battery life. They’re a starting point for your vaping journey but can end up costing more over time.
Pod kits are another lightweight option, small enough to fit in your pocket and have a similar feel in the hand and vaping Pod Mods replicate the feeling of smoking, they’re also often a higher nicotine option. They’re fuelled with replaceable pods which are sometimes refillable making them a little more cost effective than cig-a-likes.
Vape pens are one of the most popular choices for new vapers. Their battery longevity is improved again on pod vapes, with charging usually just being through a USB port. Their battery life ranges from a few hours up to a day (obviously this is variable depending on how much you use it). Pen style vape kits are simple to use and you can refill the tank with more juice, meaning you don’t need to spend money on pod refills. They’re simple to use, with just a quick fire button on one side, what you see is what you get.
Box mod kits are usually for the more experienced vapers of the world, with options to adjust wattage, temperature and ventilation these offer an incredibly customised vaping experience. Box Mods have significantly more battery capacity, are larger and heavier in size and can be customised more with the option to change to a different tank. Like vape pens, they’re also refillable. Advanced sub-ohm box kits will be powered by an external battery, generally an 18650 li-on battery, as these have the ability to cope with the increased power.
Finding the best e-cigarette to buy really comes down to three things: nicotine strength, how you want to vape and the PG:VG ratio of your juice.
The strength of nicotine in your e-liquid is really important, especially if you’re making the switch from smoking to vaping. The amount you get from a traditional cigarette is higher than what you’d get from vaping due to the way smoke reacts with your body compared to the aerosol vapour from an e-cigarette. Essentially, the level indicated on the bottle is how much nicotine you get per 1ml of vape juice.
For a general break down this is what we’d recommend:
If you’re a heavy smoker (over a pack a day) we’d say to start on a high nicotine level, around 18-20mg, which is the highest strength we stock.
If you’re more of a pack a day kind of person, go for a middle-of-the-range 12mg.
For those of you who are light smokers, smoking only a few a day try out the 6mg strength.
Finally, anyone who’s a social smoker, start out on 3mg and see how you feel. If that’s too much you can always get some e-liquid in a 0mg strength as well to dilute it down, if you’re only wanting just a little nicotine in the mix.
Once you’re used to the feel of vaping and have settled on a strength that works, over time you can gradually reduce the nicotine level. If you cut out nicotine altogether but still enjoy vaping you can still get your favourite e-liquids - just look for it in a 0mg instead.
Right - now we’ve got through that part let’s talk about propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. They sound like something you’d find in a lab but they’re actually common ingredients in a lot of your kitchen and household products, from flavour enhancer, cake mix, soap and toothpaste.
Propylene glycol (PG) is the flavour carrying ingredient in your e liquid (for a full break down of everything that goes into juice have a look at our E Liquid Guide). It’s thin in consistency, meaning it’s easier to vaporise, so a higher PG content liquid is ideal for beginner vape kits. It’s also what gives you more of a throat hit that gives you that smoking feel.
Vegetable glycerin on the other hand is a much thicker, sweeter liquid. It’s there to give you the vapour clouds you see people blowing all over the streets these days.
What does it mean when you put the two together? Well, for those of you needing a higher nicotine level, you’re probably best off with an even PG:VG ratio, like a 50:50 e-liquid, and should go for a standard vape pen or pod mod. The reason behind this is when you’re vaping with a higher level of nicotine and using a more powerful vape, it can be too easy to get a bit too much nicotine.
If you’re after something with a lower level, you have a few more options - if the sensation of smoking isn’t as important to you, you can go for a higher VG e-liquid. The most popular ones are 70 VG: 30 PG and 80:20 though there are numerous options in between. You’ll get some mammoth clouds and a pleasant drag. You’ll also have the option to jump in the deep end and try out a sub ohm vape, giving you more power and flavour.
Finally (we’re nearly there) how you want to vape is also a factor in which vaping device you should get.
There’s two methods when it comes to how you use your vape (no, it isn’t exactly like smoking and yes you may take a few coughs to get used to it).
MTL or, mouth-to-lung, is mimicking the technique used by smokers in that you first draw vapour into your mouth, then into your lungs. There are certain vapes that are designed especially for this, typically those with a coil of 1 ohm resistance or higher.
DTL or rather, direct-to-lung, is usually the method used by more experienced vapers who want a deep lung hit. You inhale deeply and get more of the flavour on the exhale, bypassing the part where the vapour sits in your mouth on its way through. This method is usually best suited for sub ohm vapes.
If you want any of the following:
High nic content
MTL (mouth to lung) vaping that’s a similar method to how you’d smoke a cigarette
That “throat hit” effect akin to smoking
More powerful flavour
Go for a vape pen or pod kit.
If instead you want:
Some massive vapour production and huge clouds
DTL (direct to lung vaping) for those deep lung drags
A more gentle throat hit with a smoother pull
Customisable options with your vaping
You’ll want to look at a sub ohm vape pen or a box mod kit.