When it comes to vaping, there is a vast number of devices available, ranging from off-the-shelf products, to custom builds tailored to suit different preferences.
This guide is designed to help you understand how different vaping devices function – from an introduction to the different types of devices, to practicalities such as refilling and maintenance. You can also check out our page on how a vape works, as well as the vaping FAQs and Glossary to find out more.
Step 1: Understand the different device types
There are two main types of vaping devices – open and closed systems. Each works in a slightly different way:
Devices that are either prefilled with e-liquid or use prefilled cartridges that can be disposed of and replaced after use. These are generally more convenient to use and tamper-evident, to reduce the risk of contamination.
Devices with a removable mouthpiece and a refillable tank that can be filled with e-liquid from a bottle. These offer greater performance customisation and flavour options compared with closed systems and generally have greater battery life.
Step 2: Choose your device
Across both closed and open systems, there are various types of devices to choose from:
- Cig-a-likes - similar in appearance to tobacco cigarettes, they tend to have small batteries and can be disposable or rechargeable
- Pod systems - compact rechargeable devices, using pre-filled or refillable e-liquid pods, and are both simple to use and easy to maintain
- Vape pens - shaped like a pen or small tube, they have a tank to store e-liquid and replaceable coils. Batteries tend to last longer than cig-a-like batteries and are rechargeable
- Mods - come in a range of shapes and sizes but are generally the largest e-cigarette devices with a refillable tank, longer-lasting rechargeable batteries and variable power
The decision ultimately comes down to budget and personal preference, and you should research the different products available. Many smokers who are first-time vapers prefer a simple vape pen or pod starter kit.
But always consider that the best thing you can do for your health is to not smoke, and if you don’t smoke, you shouldn’t start - nor should you start vaping.
Step 3: E-liquids and your device
How you use your vape will depend on whether you’ve chosen a closed or open system.
For most closed system vaping devices, cartridges or pods can be inserted for easy use.
Open systems will require you to fill the tank manually using e-liquids. This generally involves unscrewing the atomiser and removing the mouthpiece to open the e-liquid tank. With an open system, the most important thing is to only use e-liquid suitable for the specific device, obtained from reputable manufacturers and retailers.
Every device is slightly different so be sure to consult the owner’s manual for the proper steps to follow. And don’t forget to make sure the battery is charged.
Step 4: Choose your settings
Basic vapes allow you to simply draw on the device and inhale, meaning you can jump ahead to step 5.
More complex devices will have several temperature settings so you can fine-tune, and more advanced vapourisers even have unique profiles and settings. Generally, lower temperatures preserve e-liquid and flavour, as well as producing smaller clouds. As you increase the temperature, vapour production increases as well.
Step 5: Inhale vapour
The advice for smokers making the switch to vaping is to mimic the same action you would with a traditional combustible cigarette. When drawn into the mouth and inhaled, the vapour released produces pleasurable flavour and other sensorial stimulation.
Step 6: Clean your vape
For long-term usage and performance of your vaping device, regular maintenance of open systems is key.
It’s recommended to give your device a weekly clean, alongside a regular deep clean every few weeks.
If there are signs of resin build-up, or if you find you need to draw harder to produce the normal effect, it’s a common sign that a service is needed.
For more intensive cleaning of specific components, always consult the owner’s manual, but with some systems it’s best practice to remove tanks to soak them in warm water until they’re fully clean, and regularly replace coils if you’re experiencing any leakage or if it is visually dark or crusted.