Mod, tank, coil, drip tip?!
For people uninitiated in the ways of vaping these items could well be ingredients of an explosive device or parts of the T-800 from the Terminator movie franchise. The aim of this article is to explain in detail (no not bomb-making or how to build your own terminator to get rid of your mother in law, sorry to disappoint) what vaping is and where the above-mentioned parts come in.
Anatomy of a vaping device
Vaping devices, vaporizers or e-cigs come in numerous shapes and sizes. Some resemble the classic cigarette, some resemble pens (odd? I know!) and mods. Frankly, first time I laid my eyes on a person with a mod I thought it was a breath analyzer and the person was just being responsible after having done too many shots! It wasn’t till he blew out a cloud of vapour that made me go “well that’s something else”. Getting back to the topic, all vaporizers no matter how different or unique they look to have these basic components:
Remember the breath analyzer type doohickey that I mentioned before? Well turns out it’s called a mod which is short for a customizable module. Think of the mod as a tiny power generator for the vaping device which also houses its control panel. Inside the mod is the power source, lithium battery. The control panel on the outside of the mod comprises of few buttons. The first button acts somewhat like an ignition button that fires up the lithium battery which heats up the coil (more on the coil later). The other two buttons are used for controlling the wattage (put in layman’s term the amount of electricity the lithium battery is sending to the coil). Increasing the wattage means more electricity being sent to the coil heating it up and causing more vapour formation and vice versa.
Touch Screen Mods
The touchscreen tech has infiltrated almost every piece of equipment I know of. Nowadays there are mods which have done away with the mundane buttons (not in my opinion though, I love the buttons and the satisfying feeling you get from pressing them) and put in a touchscreen. These touch screens have onscreen digital buttons which carry out the same function. Now you know why I mistook the mod for a breath analyzer.
Tank AKA the cartridge
Not to be confused with military paraphernalia, the tank itself is made up of three parts:
The drip tip is a hollow cylinder found at the top of the tank. This is where the person puts his or her lips on and inhales the vapour from. The drip tip sits on top of the tube which houses the e-liquid (more on e-liquid later). The tube itself sits on top of the coil. Now the coil is like the furnace of the vaping device. It has a spiralling metal coil through which wicking material (usually organic cotton) passes. The e-liquid passes through the tube into the coil and gets absorbed by the wicking material. The electricity from the mod (usually placed below the coil chamber) heats up the coil and in turn, the e-liquid in the wicking material causing vapour to form which flows upwards through the drip tip to be inhaled.
E-liquids aka vapour juice
E-liquid or vapour juice is the key ingredient of any vaping device. This is the liquid which resides in the tube and upon heating causes vapour formation. E-liquids are made up of:
PG AKA propylene glycol
VG AKA Vegetable glycerin
Food grade flavours and nicotine
PG is a petroleum by-product which is colourless/odourless and has a thin consistency. The main purpose of the PG in e-liquid is to mimic the “throat hit” factor which one experiences while smoking a tobacco cigarette.
Extracted from plants, VG is also a colourless and odourless liquid having a viscous consistency. The main role of VG is vapour formation and inducing a sweet taste in the e-liquid. Both PG and VG are used to distribute flavour and nicotine throughout the liquid.
Food grade flavours & nicotine
As evident from the name, food-grade flavours bestow taste to the e-liquid. These are the same food flavours used in ketchup, salad dressings and ice creams. Nicotine and its quantity in e-liquid are optional. There are e-liquids which are totally devoid of nicotine.
Mixing PG & VG
Usually, the e-liquids are 30% PG and VG and 70% nicotine and food grade flavours. The percentage of PG and VG in a vapour juice is entirely dependent on personal preferences. If you’d like more “throat hit” and minimal vapour increase the PG percentage, if you’d like less throat hit and more vapour increase the VG. A good combination to start with is 50% PG and 50% VG to balance throat hit and vapour production (best of both worlds as in Hannah Montana song).