From Cig-A-Likes To Forced Air Technology, A Quick Breakdown Of Different Types Of Vapes From Cig-A-Likes To Forced Air Technology, A Quick Breakdown Of Different Types Of Vapes

It can be hard to stay on top of all the latest in vaping tech. Each different style has its own pros and cons, so a refresher course is always useful

The humongous and ever changing landscape of vaping can be daunting for many beginners. Even some experienced vapers don’t really understand the differences between types of vaporizers, and it’s understandable with such a wide variety of products. But for beginners it’s extra important to know what options are out there before committing to anything. From box vaporizers to the brand new forced air vaporizers, there is something for everyone, you just need to know what you like and what to look for.

Box Vaporizers, Cig-A-Likes, and Vape Pens

Some of the earliest vaporizers were what is known as box vaporizers, sometimes called hookah style vaporizers. This is not to be confused with box mods, which are an entirely different, and much newer, type of vaporizer. Most box vaporizers are not portable, relying on a power socket to operate. They generally work through a convection current process. The ceramic heater raises the temperature directly near the herbs and the user’s inhalation pulls this heated air over the dried herbs. Usually attached to one end of the tubing is a glass herb chamber. This allows vapers to ensure even heating of materials without putting their hands in danger or even having to take the setup apart. Box vaporizers may have lost prominence during the swell of vaping culture, but the newest hookah style vaporizers are a far cry from the highly inefficient first generation.

The first popular electronic alternatives to smoking were known as cig-a-likes. They were called this because most were made to look like high tech cigarettes. These simple vaporizers consisted of two main components, the battery and cartomizer. Different from the atomizers found in most modern portable vapes, cartomizers combined the atomizer and the e-liquid cartridge into one closed part. This was useful in making them safer and cheaper to manufacture, but limited the types of flavors you could use to those offered by the manufacturer. Cig-a-likes were the first vaporizers to be widely marketed as a possible smoking cessation aid. In fact, this remains one of the biggest focuses of cig-a-like makers, to create an experience that looks, feels, and tastes like the real deal. In this way they can be a useful bridge between traditional smoking and the more advanced forms of vaping.

The natural progression from cig-a-likes lead to vape pens. Vape pens retain most of the portability and shape of cig-a-likes, while significantly improving the power, battery life, and versatility of the vaporizers. They have quickly risen to become the most widely used form of vaporizer, and for good reason. They’re simple enough for most beginners to easily handle, but versatile enough that many advanced vapers still use them primarily. Vape pens consist of a battery, atomizer, and tank packaged inside a cig-a-like type tube, but larger and with less stylistic choices to look like a real cigarette.  Vape pens can be customized with different compatible tanks and batteries. Most modern pens are 2-in-1 or even 3-in-1 devices that can vape multiple mediums, given the correct cartridges. But vape pens do not always satisfy the power, battery life, or customization requirements of the most advanced vapers. That is where box mods come in.

Regulated and Mechanical Box Mods

Box mods were created to give the utmost control to the user over their vaping experience. From atomizers that need to be manually rewicked, to precise control over wattage and temperature settings, box mods offer vapers who know exactly what they want the chance to safely make it a reality. There are two main types of box mods, regulated and mechanical. Regulated box mods have safeguards in place to ensure the battery isn’t overworked. This is great for beginners who may not fully understand the correct practices. But the presence of this safety feature limits the range of functionality easily achieved. Fo very advanced vapers who have a strong understanding of battery safety, such as professional cloud chasers, mechanical mods are the way to go. They lack the internal circuitry that limits the boundaries of what can be done, but also makes them susceptible to major malfunctions if improperly charged. This is part of what makes them such a popular option with professionals. Mechanical mods allow them to produce astounding clouds, and their knowledge allows them to do it safely.

Next Big Thing?

The latest form of portable vaporizer to hit the market have been the extremely high quality, forced air vaporizers. A tweak on the convection current technology of the original box vaporizers, forced air vaporizers use an internal fan to propel extremely hot air over the dry herbs or oils. These devices are some of the most expensive portable vaporizers you’ll find, but they’re worth the price tag. The utmost in efficiency, they are descended from the volcano vaporizers of old which were famous for being the pinnacle of conservation. These devices typically have very small chambers, but are good for the same amount of pulls as much larger chambered devices. Like box mods, they are fully temperature controlled, giving the user the ability to alter their experience on the fly.

There are new vaporizers hitting the market everyday. It can be hard to really understand what is out there, especially for beginners. So hopefully this will provide a useful quick breakdown of the major types. From classic box vaporizers to the brand new portable forced air technology, there is surely something out there for everyone. The key to figuring out what is right for you is to first understand what you want, and then comparing it with the strengths and weaknesses of each type.

What is your favorite kind of vaporizer/what was the first one you used? Do you find it difficult to keep on top of all the latest in vaping technology? Let us know what you think in the comments.


Katie Bercham - CocktailNerd Editor

Katie actually had a negative first experience of electronic cigarettes, picking up a cheap and horrible model from my local mall. Thanks to a chance meeting with co-editor David, she hasn’t had a tobacco cigarette in over 5 years. She brings a strong female voice to the e-cig community.