What Is An Electronic Cigarette?


An e-cig is a hand-held electronic device that people use to vape. It uses several components to vapourise e-liquid into an inhalable form. It is an alternative way to obtain the nicotine your body is craving from smoking cigarettes.

Made from three component parts; a battery, an e-cig tank and an atomizer head, there are many different brands and styles on the market and more people are turning to them as an alternative to smoking.

What is an e-cig battery?

Every electronic cigarette needs certain components to work, the first one being a battery. E-cig batteries are rechargeable and provide power to your atomizer head, or more specifically the coil inside it. This causes the coil, which should be saturated in e-liquid, to heat up, producing vapour.

There are two different types of e-cig battery, integrated and removable.

Integrated e-cig batteries are fitted within the body of your device and cannot be removed. These are charged using an on-board USB port and the e-cig can usually still be vaped while charging, this is known as passthrough charging.

Removable batteries can be taken out of your device to charge them. Some can be charged within your device using an on-board USB port, but it is normally advised to remove them and use an external charger.

The e-cig battery you choose will depend on the pros and cons for both. Integrated batteries require little maintenance, everything is already combined and it is simply a case of plugging them in, they normally have larger battery capacities too. But once your battery reaches the end of its natural life, as all batteries do, you need to replace your whole e-cig body as internal batteries cannot be replaced.

Removable batteries can be swapped over when they reach the end of their natural life and simply replaced with a new one. Some vapers prefer these for everyday vaping as if your battery runs out you do not need to plug your e-cig in, you can carry a fully charged spare and swap it out. But you need to buy another piece of vaping kit, an external charger, and they tend to have a smaller battery capacity.

Vaping Settings

No matter which type of e-cig you choose, it will either have settings to adjust or it will be a simple press and go e-cig.

If there are no settings to adjust it will have either a direct output or fixed output. This means you have no control over what power the battery provides to your atomizer coil. It is either determined by the remaining charge left in your battery, or it has a pre-set power output.

If there are settings to adjust it will either be variable voltage, variable wattage, variable temperature or a mix of all three. Let’s have a look at these in detail.

What is variable voltage?

Variable voltage in the vaping world is the electromotive force delivered by the battery, this voltage is delivered to the coil contained within the atomizer head. Although this sounds complicated, it is simple. When you connect your e-cig tank, with a fitted atomizer head, onto your variable voltage e-cig battery you will need to adjust the voltage yourself depending on what resistance atomizer coil you have.

Too little voltage and it won't heat up quick enough and you will struggle to produce any vapour. Too much voltage and you run the risk of prematurely burning out your atomizer head. As long as you know what resistance your atomizer coil is, and its preferred voltage you can just adjust your settings and vape. Just remember, if you change your atomizer head to a different resistance the settings will need adjusting each time.

What is variable wattage?

Time to get technical again. Variable wattage refers to the power generated at the atomizer head as a result of the battery's electromotive force. Whatever you set the wattage on your e-cig to, it will give you that wattage by automatically adjusting the voltage for you. For example, if you set it to 10 watts, no matter what resistance atomizer head you have in your tank, it will give you 10 watts by automatically setting the correct voltage to generate 10 watts of power.

You don't need to adjust wattage every time you change your atomizer head or swap tanks, find a wattage and atomizer head resistance you like and stay there. Although as with everything in vaping there are some exceptions to the rules so always read the manuals that are included with your e-cig.

What is variable temperature?

Variable temperature (VT) requires slightly more preparation, but adds another level of control and regulation that can provide an outstanding vaping experience.

When in variable temperature mode you need to use a specific atomizer head that has a coil built using wire designed to work alongside VT. This is usually nickel, titanium or stainless steel. With one of these VT atomizer heads installed you set a target temperature on your VT device in Fahrenheit or Celsius. Your atomizer coil is rapidly heated to your selected temperature, and by continuously monitoring the change in coil resistance which is caused by temperature change, the power applied to the coil is varied to keep your temperature constant. Without the control that VT provides, it means that your coil can surpass its heat limit and fire much hotter than is ideal, with VT vaping the risk of this is drastically reduced.

Your selected temperature is reached in a fraction of a second meaning that full vapour, flavour and nicotine 'hit' are delivered instantly and are much more intense from the beginning of the draw. No flavour degradation from having to take long, slow draws. In fact you can draw as hard or as gently as you want and the temperature control ensures the vapour is being evaporated from a coil close to your set temperature, so the flavour stays the same.

In a nutshell – None VT vaping tends to have its best part in the middle of a vape, whereas VT vaping extends this 'golden period' to make the whole experience the best bit.

What is an e-cig tank?

Your e-cig tank houses your atomizer head and also your chosen e-liquid. They can be constructed from various materials, such as durable plastic to metal and glass.

All tanks are now restricted to a 2ml capacity, this is due to TRPR regulations, so the maximum tank size will never exceed 2ml.

There are different filling mechanisms, but you usually fill a tank though the top or bottom. Each e-cig tank has its own atomizer head to fit it, usually with a variety of coil types and resistances.

Almost all e-cig tanks will work on the majority of mods or batteries, again there some exceptions to this but not many.

What is an atomizer head?

An atomizer head is a unit that sits inside your e-cig tank, it houses the coil and wicking material.

As you draw on your e-cig, e-liquid is drawn into the atomizer head, at the same time you press the firing button on your battery which heats your coil and vapourises your e-liquid into an inhalable form.

There are different types of coil and wicking material available with the most popular combination being kanthal wire and cotton wicking.

Every tank sold at Totally Wicked will have a compatible atomizer head available. Usually with a variety of coil resistances available to vapers.

But why does the resistance of your coil matter? In the simplest terms the lower the resistance the more power it needs, but will provide more throat hit and vapour.

What is a sub-ohm atomizer head?

A sub-ohm atomizer head contains a coil that is below 1.0ohm resistance. As explained above, vapers would pick a sub-ohm atomizer head if they wanted to produce more vapour.

Where can I find electronic cigarettes at Totally Wicked?

There is no single perfect e-cig for everyone. Every vaper looks for something different from their vaping experience. Some people feel more satisfied when they are exhaling a cloud of vapour, some care more about tasting a nice flavour, others want vaping to feel as close to smoking as possible.

You won’t know what type of vaper you are when you first start out, and this is where the experimentation and patience come in. If you buy an e-cig and it doesn’t feel right or doesn’t work as well as you expected, the chances are you don’t need a new e-cig, you might just need to change e-liquid or alter the way you are inhaling.

New vapers can choose from a range of starter kits, each has different features that play to an individual vaper’s needs. They all come with everything that you need to start vaping, and many vapers find they never need to “progress” from their first e-cig.

We also have an e-cigarette chooser to help smokers find the best kit for them to start with. By answering just 2 or 3 simple questions we will narrow down our starter kits to ones that will fit your needs the best.

If you are still struggling and need any further help or advice, you can contact us via phone, email, or live chat on the Totally Wicked website.

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