How Does a Vape Pen Work?

How Does a Vape Pen Work?

December 11, 2021

Vape pens or e-cigarettes have become extremely popular with smokers over the last couple of years, and it is easy to see why. Versus their traditional cigarette counterpart, vape pens are portable, odor-free for the most part, and relatively simple to use. The device has loads of perks as a smoking alternative, and is worth considering for personal use.

While there may be some drawbacks to vaping, doctors feel it is still a better alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. But how does a vape pen work? What is in the e-liquid, and what makes up a vape pen? This guide will cover all the fundamental aspects of this device.

Vape Pens vs. Cigarettes: What Is the Difference?

First things first: what exactly is a vape pen? A vape pen is a reusable electronic device usually made of metal. It does not make use of tobacco like a traditional cigarette, but there may be nicotine, among other substances, in the e-liquid. How a vape pen works is by creating a mist that the smoker activates by turning on the device and inhaling.

A traditional cigarette consists of crushed tobacco encased in rolling paper, topped by a filter at the end where you inhale. When the user lights up a cigarette, the combustion creates smoke for the user to inhale. Cigarettes contain tar and other combustion byproducts that are known to be damaging to the lungs.

The primary difference between a vape pen vs a cigarette is that a vape does not contain the many addictive chemicals found in cigarettes.

Content differences between traditional cigarettes and vape

However, it is crucial to note that vape pens can create other chemicals, though more research is necessary to define the extent of their impacts on health.

How Does a Vape Pen Work?

A vape pen is typically electronic, and you activate it by turning the device on via a press-button that engages the battery. Some, like RELX’s rechargeable vape pens,  now adopt a touch-free design that only uses vibration and indicator light to interact with the user.

In summary, the battery power works to heat the liquid contained in a chamber in the device via a wick. The wick usually consists of cotton. This process produces a vapor, or more accurately, an aerosol, that the smoker inhales.

Vape Device Structure and Components

To better understand how your device works, it is helpful to know what are the various components in a vape pen and their different functions.

Basic Structure of a Vape Pen

How does a vape work
A vape pen typically contains a small number of essential parts. These parts include: 
  • a mouthpiece 
  • a battery 
  • an e-liquid chamber or cartridge 
  • an atomizer or heating element 
  • a microprocessor
  • a button to activate the vaporizing process
  • some models have an LED light display that shows when the device is active 

Most vape pen models include rechargeable batteries. You can keep a spare charged battery in case the one in the device runs out. Some rechargeable vape pens provide portable battery charger cases and even wireless charge functions.

Some models are purely mechanical and have no electronic aspect. A Mechanical Action Switch controls these. 

Vape Atomization

During the vaping process, the vapor gets produced by a component called an atomizer within the vape pen, and, even more precisely, the heating coils inside the atomizer.

This component is essential to the vape pen – it does not work without it.

The atomizer's measurement is in ohms, which tells you how much resistance the atomizer possesses. 

You can buy a huge variety of e-liquid pods compatible with your rechargeable vape pen to make the experience more varied than traditional smoking.

The vapor produced often has a faint hint of this flavoring as well. The taste is much more pleasant and dissipates quicker than the ashy, tobacco smell of a traditional cigarette that clings to upholstery, clothing, and hair.

What is in the liquid used in vape pens?

The liquid used in vape pens–whether rechargeable or disposable–typically has three main ingredients. These are:

  • solvents 
  • sweeteners 
  • and flavorings 

Component of E-liquid

What is a solvent’s purpose in a vape pen? A solvent is necessary to dissolve substances like nicotine compounds such as THC or CBD so that a smoker can inhale them. 

The solvent most commonly found in vape pens are propylene glycol and glycerin. The glycerin helps to create the vapor cloud. Propylene glycol is a colorless, syrup-like liquid.

The sweeteners used in vape e-liquids typically contain ethyl maltol and sucralose. Administrative bodies consider all these ingredients as relatively safe for consumption. However, there is some debate about this concerning their consumption through a vape pen.

What Price Range Are Vape Pens?

The average vape Starter Kit will cost you AU$35 to AU$45 for the device, and the vape pod usually costs about AU$25. With the RELX Classic Starter Kit as an example, 1 Device + 1 RELXPod (2ml) + 1 Micro-USB Cable package will cost you AU$55.

You will probably save money using a rechargeable vape pen in the long term, depending on how often you use it and how much vape e-liquid you go through.

As with most things, it is best to select a quality, middle-range vape pen rather than one of the lower price range models. Spend a bit more on a top of the range pen if you can and if you know you will be puffing quite a bit.

Can Vaping Harm Your Health?

When vape pens were invented, many believed they were the solution to the health problems caused by traditional cigarettes. One of the more severe conditions of cigarette smoking is lung cancer.

Vape pens vs cigarettes has long been a subject of divided opinion, and many people incorrectly believe that vape pens are as harmful as traditional cigarettes. However, this is not true. Although not completely risk-free, health authorities from Public Health England have found evidence that e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than smoking.

The e-liquid components, as discussed earlier, are also under ongoing research further for their effects when consumed with a vape pen. Currently, not too much knowledge exists about their health effects when inhaled.

Research does indicate that vape pens may be more reliable vs tobacco cigarettes as they:

  • have lower levels of toxic substances such as carbon monoxide and nicotine;
  • may assist smokers in switching away from traditional cigarettes. 

With the known adverse health effects of traditional cigarettes, many doctors say that any device that can help wean smokers off them is worth consideration.  

There have been instances where e-cigarette models have blown up literally in their users' faces. However, vaping experts say this is due to users cranking the device up to unsafe settings to create more vapor than the device is meant for in order to achieve a more powerful 'hit.' Again, there is not yet enough information about the devices yet to completely discount other causes for these instances.

Final Thoughts

What is most important when vaping is to always use your vape pen in a responsible and safe manner as recommended in the user manual. Refrain from dismantling or modifying the vape pens, and always be sure to keep them away from minors or non-smokers.

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