Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Vaping Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Vaping

If you’ve been asking yourself what’s in vape, what is vape made of, or even simply what does vaping do, don’t miss our guide all about vape.

In the past decade or so, vaping has transformed from a small niche market, that wasn’t widely known, to a billion dollar industry that everyone and their mother has some kind of opinion about. The problem with those opinions is that many people still don’t honestly know what vaping is; they have a lot of questions. Is it a drug? How does it work? Is it healthy?

To break it down to absolute basics, vaping is the inhalation of water vapor. The vapor is created by heating a given material, more often than not e-liquids. Vaporizers, the tools that do the heating, are powered batteries that can be internally or externally charged.

Again, those are just the absolute basics. In truth, there are plenty of variables that can change the specific answers. That is why we’ve put together this guide to help you know what vaping is and how the different parts and type of vaporizers work.

Is Vaping Considered A Drug?

This is one of the more common vape information questions we come across, which is why we are answering it right off the bat. Media coverage on the subject often sensationalizes or makes the truth a lot murkier. The straight answer is no, vaping itself is not a drug. As stated before vaping is just the ingestion of a vapor created from heating a material. A vaporizer is just the tool or method used to heat the material chosen by the user. That material is the primary factor regarding if it’s a drug or not. So while some of the substances can be classified as drugs, others should never be thought about that way.

Even among e-liquids, which is the most commonly used substance in a vaporizer, there are fundamental differences. Many people vape e-liquids with nicotine in them. Normally these e-liquids come in a variety of nicotine strengths, allowing users to pick whatever is best for them. Often, people use this to wean themselves off nicotine as they work to quit smoking. There is also a substantial portion of the vaping community that vapes zero-nic or e-liquids with no nicotine at all. In these cases, the e-liquid should not be considered a drug.

That said vaporizers are an excellent method for ingesting medicinal marijuana and CBD. Some states are even starting to offer incentives to prescribed medicinal marijuana users who choose to vape it. This is because vaping eliminates the carcinogens one breathes in when smoking anything, ensuring it’s a much safer method for reaping the benefits of medicinal marijuana.

All that considered, the answer to is vape a drug is still a resounding no. Whether the material being vaped is a drug is entirely up to the user. If users are opting to use marijuana or nicotine, they should note that vaping these substances may lessen much of the harmful results of smoking, but it does not stop it from showing up on a drug or nicotine test.

Vaping Background

While vaporization, the process of turning something from a liquid state into a gaseous one, has been known and understood by humans for centuries. It was not until the last decade or so that vaporizing became synonymous with an alternative to smoking. The first vaporizer with intent for smoking cessation was created by Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik. His father passed, like so many other lifetime smokers, from lung cancer and it was this that inspired Hon Lik’s work.

The device he created is what’s now referred to as a cig-a-like. They utilized basic technologies in a way that emulates cigarettes. The cig-a-like style is still very popular, although makers are more and more often opting for new and unique designs that don’t innately tie them with cancer sticks. The defining factors for a cig-a-like are their focus on portability, and that they also tend to be disposable. As far as the upfront starting costs for vaping these will also be the cheapest option.

As vaping grew, users started looking for more advanced options with more power and versatility. It was then that the first vape pens were developed. These pens, while retaining the emphasis on portability, offers a much wider range of customization. With interchangeable parts, different options for flavors and atomizers, as well as rechargeable batteries, the ways to make your vaping experience precisely what you want became much easier. These were also the first devices to utilize replaceable coils, substantially lowering the cost of upkeep for vapers. Many advanced vapers were still looking for a more customizable and powerful way to vape.

It was for that demographic that manufacturers began producing larger, heftier vaporizers called box mods. Box mods are bigger and well, boxier, but that doesn’t mean they’re still not relatively portable. The larger size is mainly needed so they can hold their powerful externally charged batteries. They also hold the chipset and circuitry which monitor the device and ensure everything works correctly. The atomizer is either sold with the box mod in a starter kit, or separately which offers even more customization options. Box mods have exponentially expanded what can be accomplished in the world of vaping. Being able to control temperature and wattage helps users get exactly the experience they’re looking for, every time.

Parts Of A Vaporizer

All these vaporizer types are still widely used, but each has evolved differently. There are cig-a-likes today that function better than high-end pens from five years ago. The boundaries of what vaping is and the plethora of ways it can be enjoyed continue to be pushed further and further. The first step in understanding what each of them offers, and how it’s the best fit for you, is understanding how vaping works.

Almost every vaporizer you will come across has the same essential pieces.  There are, of course, many nuanced details regarding which type is most advanced, what kinds are best used together, and how to balance their power. But right now we’ll do a light overview of the different main categories, cartridges, atomizers, and batteries.


Depending on what kind of vaporizer you’re using, a cartridge can mean a lot of different things. The cartridge, generally speaking, is the piece that houses the atomizer. With cig-a-likes and some pens, the cartridge and the atomizer are the same pieces, meaning the atomizer is not replaceable. In that type of setup, you have to dispose of the entire cartridge to replace the atomizer.

With box mods and most pens however that is not the case. Most modern vaporizers use premade or replaceable coils, and the cartridge is replaced with a tank or bucket. Here the atomizer is viewed as separate from the tank, and the coils can be replaced without replacing the whole apparatus.


The atomizer, which is housed in the cartridge or tank, is the heating element. That generally means a wire coil, although recent advances have been made that are making coil-less atomizers more useful and viable. Most pens use premade coils that can be purchased and replaced whenever needed, but box mods take that even further. Many of these atomizers use rebuildable coils, meaning the vaper constructs the coil from scratch out of wire. This requires a little more knowledge, but the results are optimal.


The battery is pretty self-explanatory, simply being the power source for your vaporizer. With cig-a-likes, these batteries are disposable just like the rest of the device. With some newer pens and most box mods, the focus is on rechargeable batteries. Pens often utilize internal batteries that are small and light while still offering more power than your typical cig-a-like. Box mods provide the most power, often using multiple 18650’s, which is a versatile and popular type of lithium-ion battery. As mentioned, most of these utilize externally charged cells, although there are some that also use internally charged cells.


E-liquids, or e-juice, is the most commonly used substance in vaporizers. While the name sounds like some far-flung chemical mixture, the truth is that e-liquids are relatively simple concoctions. They consist of a mix of PG, also known as Propylene Glycol, and VG, also known as Vegetable Glycerin, with food-grade flavorings added in. All of these substances are considered safe by the FDA and are found in a plethora of innocuous products people consume every day.

PG and VG are the main ingredients and are both flavorless, but they serve different roles. E-liquids will have different ratios of the two substances so the user can choose what is a priority, fostering big flavor, or massive clouds. PG carries flavor more while VG produces a thicker, bigger vapor. You can find blends ranging from pure PG to pure VG and every combination in between. Finding the balance for you and your preferences is critical.

The flavoring in e-liquids are the same kinds found in many food products you eat on a daily basis. The most important thing to look out for is any flavorings that are known allergens for you. You should also keep track of if any of the flavorings are oil based, as these have been shown to have some mild adverse effects.

How to Vape

The key to a transition from smoking to vaping is the pulls. Most smokers are used to taking large and robust rough pulls. While this method is more satisfying with combustible cigarettes, the best method for vaping is a long slow pull. Always make sure your vape is properly heated then take a natural breath like drag. This method is also best for producing massive cloud, not to mention much easier on your lungs.

The last thing you need to ensure you continue your positive vaping experience is the upkeep and proper maintenance of your vaporizer. This is more relevant for pens and box mods, as they aren’t typically disposable. This means taking care that your batteries are charged and not over using a dirty coil. As mentioned above your e-liquid choice is also crucial in your vape experience. Opt for a higher level of VG for satisfyingly huge clouds, and higher PG level for rich flavors.

Once you’ve got this down pat and are consistently making massive clouds, you may be interested in learning vape tricks. These are like classic smoke tricks but, obviously, with vape clouds instead. These tricks have become a cornerstone of the vaping community and play a large part in the advancement of technology. Be sure to check out our guide to vape tricks when you’re ready.


Vaping can serve a lot of different purposes for those who do it. Learning to vape can seem overwhelming, as there is a lot to take in and learn. But truthfully it can be very simple. Vaping is the act of inhaling vapor produced by heating a material. What method you choose; cig-a-like, pen, or box mod will be your most significant choice to start. But don’t worry too much, nothing is stopping you from trying another method if the first one you is not satisfying or simply doesn’t fit your lifestyle.

Whether or not your material contains any nicotine is entirely up to you. Whether you prefer focusing on flavor or clouds is up to you. Your vape can be as individual as you are, based on whatever preferences you have. Many people still view vaping as dangerous, but in truth, it is one of the best smoking cessation and harm reduction tools there are. That is why it is continually vital that we educate the public on its benefits.


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.