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Guide for new vapers, or aspiring former smokers

Monday, 14 October, 2013
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This article is six months old as I type and out of date. It remains as an information source, and as a personal log. The personal vaporizer industry is evolving so quickly any information over three months old should be considered well out of date.

Although I haven’t said anything here, I have in fact stopped smoking cigarettes. I am now using a personal vaporizer to get a regular nicotine fix. Don’t tell me I’m doing it wrong. I know. At another time I may elaborate on the phenomenon of “vaping”, and my experiences within the scene.

As ever, I am cost conscious. My first rig was purchased just a few weeks ago, specifically at about 3 PM Friday, October 6, 2013, and cost a little under $60 in a retail vape shop. This included a T2 clearomizer, a 650 mAh battery with wall charger, two spare wicks and two 7 ml bottles of “juice” in coffee and RY4, a tobacco-blend taste-alike, flavors. I spent the remainder of the weekend exploring just what I had gotten myself into. Vaping is a superior experience to smoking, especially as poor as common tobacco is today.

  1. As I walked into the shop, I had no idea I had already smoked my last cigarette.*
  2. As I left the shop well pleased, I had no idea what I was getting into. I had no awareness of liquid vaping as recently as July, and am presently enraptured with the scene and its characters.
  3. It’s a good thing I’m generally broke because I could lash torrents of cash at the many products and methods about which I am curious.

As long as I’m spending less than $148 per month on vaping, I’m ahead. In the last 38 days I have spent:

  • $74 on juice, at this point I have a significant pantry
  • $50 upon my initial purchase, save the juice.
  • $21 on an impulse buy of a superior clearomizer and some wicks.
  • $53 on an order from a China-direct website with an especially well developed “e-cigarette” section. This includes five additional clearos, ten wicks for those clearos, three especially large batteries, an additional wall charger, two different “passthrough” units which allow plugging the clearo into a USB power port in lieu of using a battery with the intent of keeping one of them in the car.
  • $15 locally on wicks for my first clearo.

That is $213, or almost six weeks of cigarettes. I’m actually right on budget. Many of the things I have purchased were purchased at a poor price, and I have re-learned that lesson I must learn repeatedly. Many of the items are durable if not permanent, batteries last about 400 charges, clearos 300-500 fills, etc. This includes enough juice, or the elixir of vaping, to last easily through the end of the month, possibly until Thanksgiving. Sadly, I’m champing at the bit. At the moment I have $63 of stuff sitting in a wish list on the alpha site for ordering vape supplies.

Part of the objective is to save money tending to my addiction, which no one, least of all modern medicine or me, knows how to amend, but also to have a nice time doing it. Please note that vaping is such a pleasant exercise there is a market, albeit a niche one, for nicotine-free juice. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before some smart cookie works out how to put other stuff in the juice, especially in California, Washington state, Colorado, etc.

Based on my modest experience, but also knowing the mentality of a chronic nicotine addict, I am prepared to make recommendations to help get that nicotine addict in your life away from smoking, if not their drug of “choice” with a focus upon people like me, the “hardcore smoker”. This is someone who consumes thirty, or a pack and a half of cigarettes daily. The heavy smoker in your life has dedicated much energy toward insuring they are never without the means to consume a cigarette. This person has backup lighters hidden throughout the home, car and satchel littered with both ash and ashtrays. You find sturdy matches in the house despite their electric appliances. Your smoker has a great deal of their soul vested in keeping a steady supply of their drug flowing in a manner they comprehend. This person is leery of anything other than the tried-and-true cigarette due to the inadequacy of other methods of nicotine delivery. I know of this from first-hand experience. Your smoker wants to quit cigarettes, but simply cannot without a degree of physical pain and mental anguish those who practice medicine are not capable of comprehending.

Please note many people adopt the PV or e-cig and stop smoking immediately. Others require several weeks to taper their cigarette intake as they vape more and more. If you share a home with your smoker, do not impose any new rules during the transition period. In fact, you may consider letting your addict vape in the house or perhaps certain areas within the house, such as near their office or hobby areas.

Practical instruction on the assembly, maintenance and use of these items are available on the internet via your favorite search engine. Try YouTube as well.

The first step is to find a vape shop in your area which features a tasting bar. This will allow your smoker to try the device and decide whether it will work. Submit the word “vape” and the name of your metropolitan area to your favorite search engine to find one. Yelp is good, too. If at all possible, avoid kiosks at shopping centers or malls as they tend to offer especially poor merchandise at the highest prices. Provided your smoker is willing to attempt the change, consider the following.

No one will blame you for purchasing the rig right on the spot. However, following is a list of essential items, beyond what a brick-and-mortar shop is prepared to provide, as listed on, a leading vape-supplies and general-gadget vendor.

The key to the personal vaporizer or electronic cigarette is the atomizer itself. The most common ones, especially for beginning vapers, are called clearomizers. The former heavy smoker requires large clearomizers, which carry a great deal of juice and will require two or more to carry around for the day. Your new former smoker will also require at least one clearo to keep in reserve.

For a start, buy three or four T2-clone clearos. These are large, 2.4 ml units and are especially easy to maintain. (Rinse in warm water and replace the wick when the vapor tastes a bit like metal, a “dry hit”.) Replacement wicks tend to be available locally, but are especially cheap online. Be certain to buy several weeks worth, no fewer than three packs of five. The T2 provides a great deal of warm vapor for its size and price. The most common clones tend to be regarded as superior to the authentic article. Having multiple clearos also allows your new vaper to keep several flavors of juice going at once.

You may also wish to consider the iClear 16, which is much smaller and somewhat more expensive, but is the “name brand” unit recommended for beginners. The same rules apply, including the purchase of additional coils and wick right away.

An additional possibility is the CE4, but not the CE4+, which is quite similar to the iClear 16 in its fundamental design. CE4 kits are common and are actually quite good, despite their low cost. Many vapers, including your correspondent, find the CE-series clearos do not wick as well as other varieties and add a plastic taste to vapor.

The wicks for each of these may be rinsed once or twice instead of replaced. This washing or replacement rate depends on how heavily the clearo is used. A single clearo used alone will require a new or rinsed wick after five days to a week. Rinsing a wick involves simply soaking the disassembled clearo in warm water, some use room-temperature vodka, for several minutes and letting the parts dry completely before reassembly. The drying process for a wick can take several hours, and it must be saturated in fluid for at least an hour before use.

For every pack of cigarettes smoked, anticipate the consumption of at least 3 ml of juice daily. Because of the different nature of the delivery system, consumption rates of 4 to 5 ml daily is not uncommon.

A common “full flavor” or red cigarette offers 1.0-1.3 mg of nicotine. A heavier smoke, often found in generic brands, offers 1.2 – 1.5 mg of nicotine per cigarette. What was once called light, offers 0.5-0.7 mg per cigarette.  A new vaper transitioning to from cigarettes may require 20% more nicotine available in a daily, or even hour-by-hour basis.

The “hardcore smoker” consuming 30 heavy-smoke cigarettes daily consumes 40 mg of nicotine daily. (1.35 mg average x 30) This should illustrate the inadequacy of 21 mg nicotine patches for the people who require them most. When transitioning to vaping this should be assumed to increase to 48 mg daily, and this must be available over the course of a day. To consume 48 mg daily one will consume 2 ml of 2.4% solution, or 3 ml of 1.8% solution daily, A 15 ml bottle of juice will last about a week. In actual practice, a vaper keeps several bottles of juice and changes flavors frequently. Special cases are available for both the carrying of batteries and a variety of clearomizers each with a different flavor of fluid.

The fiddling with the batteries, clearos, fluids and so forth fulfill a hardcore smokers habituation toward making a fuss over his habit. This is a direct replacement for maintaining lighters, emptying ashtrays or even cigarette holders and the like.

The atomizer or clearo is activated through what is called an Ego connection which is the bottom of the clearomizer. You will require a minimum of two batteries of considerable size. For a heavy user, three large batteries are preferred. Specifically, one battery to be in use at any particular time, another which is on the charger while the other is in use, and a third “backup” unit. These are the same chemistry as batteries used in your computer and phone which may be charged at any time without ill effect. Batteries are measured in milliamp-hours as are all batteries. Do not consider “variable voltage” batteries or more complicated devices called mods at this time. Keep it simple for a start.

For every pack of cigarettes smoked, anticipate the use of 700 mAh of electricity. More is always better. Two batteries for every vaper in the house, and a spare should be considered a minimum. With consideration of the price differential, on the overseas-direct sites, you may as well get several 1300 mAh batteries. The batteries charge through USB interfaces, just like on your computer, despite actually using a computer to charge batteries is not recommended.

Batteries must be charged with a steady current flow which computers and automobiles cannot provide. Never charge a PV battery in an automobile. The irregular current flow can and has caused Ego batteries to explode. Instead use a dedicated charger. Have at least one for every four batteries in the house. Always charge new batteries before they are used to get a solid first “fill” of electricity, aligning the molecules and so forth. The linked item may seem flimsy, but it is the industry standard device.

For vaping without using a battery, you will want at least one passthrough which plugs into a USB power port, which is more powerful than a USB charging port which is often found. These may be safely used with your computer. You can use a passthrough with a powered USB hub. The use of passthroughs in automobiles depends on the power of the ports provided, typically and with a certain irony, often in a cigarette-lighter-type outlet with USB adapter. You cannot power the passthrough with the wall charger above.

Once you have your passthrough, batteries, chargers and clearos, you need the actual elixir to vape. This is called juice, e-juice, vape juice, vaping liquid and lots of other things. All it is is propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, or both with the addition of flavorings and optional nicotine. Nicotine is available in 6, 12, 18, 24 and rarely 32 mg/ml. 18 mg/ml or sometimes “1.8% solution”, is analogous to a mainstream, middle-of-the-road cigarette. 6 an ultra-light, 32 for a filterless Pall Mall or Camel. A former heavy smoker should start with a 24mg/ml or 2.4% solution. You are encouraged to purchase juice from the above mentioned website. These same juices are readily available throughout the western world. You may also buy juice locally from your local vape boutique. Some “adult gift shops”, what we used to call head shops, have mass-produced juice available. Many vendors are emerging who specialize in selling juice via internet. I have a particular fondness for Mt. Baker Vapor due to their price, quality and variety. Wherever you buy start with the popular RY4 and 555 tobacco blends, but you will quickly discover flavors unlike tobacco which suit you. The flavor varieties may be endless.

Happy vaping. Your putting up with smoking days may soon be over.

* On Saturday, October 12, I was performing the bimonthly quasi-deep clean of my humble home. Behind a freestanding cabinet I discovered what I presumed was a poorly discarded, empty packet of Pall Mall cigarettes. There were two inside of which I did not dispose. In lieu of my now usual vape break, within an hour, I decided to have a more conventional smoke break. The cigarette, my brand, smelled of chemicals and rotting hay. Within minutes I had developed a headache and was somewhat nauseated. The second cigarette was thrown out the moment I got out of bed.

One Comment
  1. Sunday, 2 March, 2014 5:29

    magnificent story simply put i really like my personal cute litttle e cigg


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