Personal Guide to Vaping E-Juices
An important balancing act for smokers is the ratio between propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin in their e-liquid platform. Vapor Authority has published several articles on the use of vegetable glycerin in vaporizers -- essentially, it's a substance that promotes rich flavors and big, bold vapor production. Vegetable glycerin is also non-harmful to the body, and is used in multiple applications.
Propylene glycol, on the other hand, is a synthetic organic compound. Its primary use is in polymers; however, it also has alternative applications in food processing, condiments such as liquid sweeteners, and in biomedical treatments.
In vaporizers, propylene glycol is a key ingredient in e-juices. Under the vaporization process, propylene glycol is aerosolized in the atomizer element. In combination with vegetable glycerin, the vaper experiences the textured, nuanced flavors so common among today's e-liquid products.
However, more propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin does not equate to greater flavors. As the mixture becomes denser in the atomizer element, their practical benefits goes downhill rather quickly. That's because vegetable glycerin is considerably thicker than propylene glycol, and can become clogged in atomizers that are not properly equipped. Removing vegetable glycerin altogether isn't always an ideal solution because the vaper will then lose the core flavoring of the e-liquid.
According to Vapor Authority, the best way to manage the properties of the propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin mixture is to understand your vaping platform. "As a general rule of thumb, if you are using a standard resistance atomizer coil (1.0 ohms or higher), you will want to purchase e-juices with no more than 40% VG. Conversely, if you are using an ultra-low sub-ohm atomizer coil (0.4 ohms or lower), then using an e-liquid with too low of vegetable glycerin content will tend to burn the atomizer coil, and not deliver a satisfying vaping experience. It is recommended that atomizer coils with a resistance less than 0.5 ohms (0.4 ohms or lower) should be used with liquids that contain at least a 50% vegetable glycerin."
Another suggestion by Vapor Authority is to know yourself as a vaper. While that may sound obvious, it's easy to get caught up in the plethora of options available in the vaping retail market. Stick with the style that gives you the best experience. For smokers, that means dialing up the propylene glycol. This will decrease cloud production but will increase the magnitude of throat hit. Conversely, amping up the vegetable glycerin will dramatically boost vapor production, as well as the robustness of flavors. However, throat hit will be less magnified, depending upon how the propylene glycol - vegetable glycerin ratio is set up.
An additional benefit for smokers transitioning to vaping is the ability to modulate nicotine exposure. It doesn't matter whether you are switching to vaporizers for good, or if you're merely experimenting -- understanding the amount of nicotine levels in your e-juice is essential for facilitating a pleasant experience, and avoiding harsh reactions.
Unlike traditional analog cigarettes, the vaping platform is not a turnkey experience. That is, when you purchase a cigarette, the tobacco company has already specified how much nicotine and other substances are integrated into the cigarette. Aside from the rare occurrence of an undetected manufacturing defect, all the cigarettes within the same carton are produced under identical specifications. As such, there are no surprises when the smoker lights up and takes a drag.
That's not necessarily the case with the vast majority of vaporizers. A standard vaporizer kit will come with an OEM atomizer coil, but that, like most anything in vaping, is customizable. Furthermore, e-juices aren't just e-juices. The same brand and flavor can offer multiple individual choices, and these usually center on nicotine content.
Why understanding the amount of nicotine in your e-juices is so important is because flavors react differently under varying pressure and heat. What is a pleasurable combination at 330 degrees may not be so pleasant at 410 degrees. Part of the discovery process incorporates real-time experimentation; in other words, you don't know until you know. But in many, many cases, you can use simple, scientific deductions to avoid serious problems.
The correlation between resistance and wattage is a great example of utilizing science to ensure a positive experience. An e-device with a lower resistance -- more current is allowed to flow from the battery -- will produce a higher power, or wattage. This is desirable for direct-to-lung vapers because the device literally vaporizes the essence of the e-juice. This results in a richness of flavors that hobbyists and vaping enthusiasts crave.
Similarly, the vaping process also vaporizes the nicotine content in the e-liquid. This creates a worst of two worlds scenario. Because the low resistance/higher wattage scenario outputs tremendous heat, the nicotine is cleanly vaporized, reducing its chemical strength. Those smokers that were looking for the traditional throat hit are going to be severely disappointed. But to make things even more undesirable, the hyper-wattage/nicotine mixture creates a very awful sensation. Vapor Authority contributors and experts have noted that such mixtures will almost certainly make anyone cough and gag -- not the way you want to enjoy vaping, to say the very least.
In order to ensure the best experience, smokers who vape should adjust their nicotine exposure based on their vaporizer specs. A good rule of thumb, according to Vapor Authority, is if you draw from a vaporizer where the system's resistance is lower than one ohm, it's highly recommended to use an e-liquid flavor with a nicotine content of 6 milligrams (0.6%) or less. This way, you're properly balancing between the throat hit, and the magnitude of the overall sensation.
Another consideration for smokers is their frequency in using the analog platform. Those who are heavy smokers -- typically, this equates to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, or even greater -- will have developed a significant tolerance over moderate to social smokers. In this case, a nicotine content level of 24 milligrams (2.4%) could be more appropriate to start, then gradually decreasing the nicotine content. It really depends on the smoker/vaper and what they are used to. For those that are not quite that heavy on the smoking -- let's say somewhere around one pack a day -- a range between 12 milligrams (1.2%) and 18 milligrams (1.8%) could be the perfect fit.
But in all these "higher intensity" cases, there is one standard rule. Smokers who vape nicotine e-liquids under such pressures should only do so with systems incorporating atomizer resistance of one ohm or greater. It would simply be too high of a magnitude -- even for ardent tobacco smokers -- to push beyond the 6 milligram (0.6%) threshold in a sub-ohm system.
Naturally, there are people who will want to push that envelope, and there's nothing that really can be done about that. However, it would be advisable that if your e-liquid nicotine content is 1% -- meaning 10 milligrams -- then you should use a 1-ohm resistance atomizer or higher. Call it the "one-ten-one" rule if you like. It's just a handy guide to help you extract the best vapes without spending unnecessary time and money.
The e-liquid options available, particularly as it pertains to nicotine content, confirms the vaporizer's ability to be a viable alternative to smoking. When smokers first buy their vaporizers and e-juice sets, it's best policy to aim for a nicotine content just slightly less from what they are accustomed. This way, they're getting the throat hits they crave, but in a reduced intensity.
In the weeks ahead, the smoker can experiment with even lower nicotine content levels. This will continue to provide a modest amount of throat hit. However, it will also allow the body to adjust to the new sensations provided exclusively by vaping. It's a much more appropriate facilitation than coercing your body to switch from extreme hot to extreme cold.
As the smoker reaches the lower echelons of nicotine content, he or she can experiment with a myriad of flavors. When nicotine levels reach a certain minimal threshold, they don't interfere as much with the e-liquid as is the case for densely saturated e-liquids. Thus, there is a new distraction for the mind and body in terms of the unique flavors offered. Eventually, there might come a time when the smoker no longer feels compelled to receive the nicotine-based throat hit.
Non-smokers and hobbyists that have never taken up cigarette smoking are obviously at a distinct advantage when it comes to vaping. They can skip through the tiresome process of carefully-controlled nicotine exposure. In fact, every reputable vaping source urges non-smokers to never use e-liquids with nicotine. There truly is no point in starting a habit if one isn't addicted to it.
And make no mistake about it -- nicotine is an incredibly addictive substance. Some studies claim that nicotine is significantly more addictive than illicit narcotics. While debate will surely rage for that particular topic, there is no denying that nicotine exposure -- even just one dosage -- could snowball into other problems later.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, nicotine is quickly absorbed into the smoker's bloodstream. Once there, it only takes 10 seconds for nicotine to reach your brain. This causes the brain to release adrenaline, which then leads to the nicotine high that many smokers enjoy.
The problem with nicotine addiction is that it artificially triggers normal human responses. For example, adrenaline is a common bodily secretion, especially when in stressful situations which triggers the "fight-or-flight" response. But it can also occur in less dramatic scenarios, such as when a gentleman conjures up the courage to ask out a lady on a date.
These situations, though, are periodical -- they don't occur with regular frequency. One situation where adrenaline is constantly pumped is in the battlefield. It's a reasonable hypothesis that one of the central causes of post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers is that the barrage of internal chemical secretions. It's just not natural, and it's not the way humans are designed.
Unfortunately, this is the power of nicotine. Although the rate of the adrenaline rush is unnatural, adrenaline itself is a very natural compound. The body can't distinguish whether they are receiving a natural order to produce more adrenaline, or an unnatural order -- they simply take their orders from the brain. And because the body is used to producing adrenaline in many other circumstances, a nicotine-induced rush is perceived to be just the same like any other scenario.
In many ways, it's not the nicotine itself that is so addictive -- it's the changes that it creates in the body. Specifically, it is the rate of a certain function that eventually wears down the body and the mind. Nicotine addiction is an unfortunate social problem, leading to untold troubles and financial expenses. Therefore, the sentiment cannot be repeated enough -- if you've never used nicotine, there is no reason to go down that road.
And really, with the ever-expanding choices of e-liquids, there is even less incentive to go with the nicotine base. What started out as a small, niche offering has exploded into an industry within an industry. For example, PC printer manufacturers quickly discovered that the profit is in the ink cartridges, not the printer itself. Because ink cartridges are usually proprietary to the manufacturer, the ink business funnels customers to their registers.
In a similar vein, e-juice manufacturers understand that vapers aren't going to buy a new e-device every other day. The bulk of the experimentation will center on the e-liquid, not the physical platform. Thus, there's tremendous revenue potential in being an e-juice maker.
At the same time, vapers typically have a refined taste. As connoisseurs of personal liberties, they want to make sure that they are drawing from the best. Many vapers would agree with the sentiment that an additional cost is worth it should the e-juice provide a distinct and desirable experience. So the pressure is really on the e-juice maker to come up with a concoction that satisfies discriminating tastes.
According to Vapor Authority, e-liquids are broken down into seven primary flavor categories: Dessert, Drink, Fruit, Tobacco, Menthol, Candy, and Cereal. Smokers and tobacco users will naturally prefer the tobacco blend, at least initially. They may also gravitate towards menthol, which has a sharp, intense flavor and aftertaste. Some smokers love it, others don't care for it.
But the vast majority of e-liquids today are concentrated in the eclectic blends found in dessert, drink, fruit, candy, and cereal. This is where hobbyist vapers can truly have a field day with experimental blends and utilizing different techniques. With so many options on tap, there's bound to be new discoveries on a frequent basis.
Vapor Authority has a quick reference guide for the different e-liquid flavor categories:
Dessert-flavored e-juices include items such as cakes, custards, ice cream, pudding, pies, and pastries. Some liquids in this category will attempt to mimic popular desserts, such as strawberry cheesecake and crème brulee, while others will consist of exclusive recipes concocted by the specific e-juice artisan who created the flavor.
Drink-flavored e-juices consist of a variety of fluids, including soft drinks, coffee, lemonade, energy drinks, teas, bobas, champagne, and cocktails.
Fruit-flavored e-liquids can consist of individual fruits, such as watermelon, strawberry, peach, and pear, or can be combinations of them. Pure fruit flavors will not include any other flavor additives, while other can includes hints of cream, vanilla, mint, or menthol.
Tobacco-flavored e-juices come in several varieties. Some are designed to mimic the taste of cigarettes, while others are meant to represent the flavor of pipe tobacco or cigars. Many popular tobacco e-juices, such as RY4, will include hints of vanilla, honey, and other slightly sweet notes, which tend to deliver a very pleasant aftertaste.
Menthol-flavored e-liquids come in several forms. Pure menthol juices will have no other flavors added, and will only deliver the cool menthol taste and sensation. Other menthol e-liquids will include other flavors, such as tobacco, fruit, candy, or drink.
Candy-flavored e-juices generally mimic the taste of popular candies, such as Soft Candy, Gummy Candy, Hard Candy, Licorice, and Bubble Gum.
Cereal-flavored e-liquids commonly represent the taste of popular breakfast cereals, such as Fruit Cereal, Crunch Cereal, Frosted Cereal, Honey Clusters, Apple Cinnamon Cereal, and Puffed Cocoa Cereal.
Finally, we'll end on a practical word of advice. Before investing too many funds into e-juices, a convenient approach would be to try small bottle samples. This way, you have a better idea of which e-juice fits your palette, and you can make a more informed decision.