Switching to electronic cigarettes is a hugely positive move for any smoker to make; however the vaping scene can often be intimidating for anyone new to the world of e-cigs. With such a huge range of complicated products on the market, as well as a baffling array of technical acronyms and jargon, vaping can be both confusing and alienating to new vapers.
Sadly enough, I’ve met countless smokers who have tried to switch to e-cigs, only to make some of these common vaping mistakes and then revert back to smoking because of it. In this article I’d like to cover the five most common mistakes new vapers make, and hopefully give newcomers all of the information they need to get the best possible performance out of their electronic cigarette.
1. Bad Vape Equipment
Without a shadow of a doubt, poor quality vaping equipment is responsible for more people turning their backs on vaping than any other factor. A bad e-cigarette not only makes e-juice taste terrible, but can break easily, leak and, in rare cases, seriously malfunction.
Because the vaping industry is growing so rapidly, low quality electronic cigarette manufacturers are hopping on the gravy train. The problem is that the average smoker looking to start vaping doesn’t really know what to look for. To make matters worse, price points aren’t always a good indication of quality, as there are unscrupulous vendors selling poor quality e-cigs at wildly inflated prices. Therefore, uninformed consumers can end up spending a good amount of money on a bad product which performs terribly.
SOLUTION: Read plenty of reviews and get a good idea about what type of e-cigarette is best for your vaping needs and budget, before you make a purchase. Websites like ours, or the Vapehut in the UK, are a great place to start for beginners, and if you need specific tips or advice there are various online vaping communities where people are happy to offer you guidance along the way.
2. Getting the Wrong E-Juice Mix
With so many exotic flavors of e-liquid available online and in vape stores, a new vaper can end up feeling like a kid in a candy store, dazzled by the sheer volume of unique and flavorful choices. However, there’s much more to choosing an e-liquid than just finding a delicious flavor that appeals to you, as getting the base ingredients right will strongly impact your experience.
E-liquid is made using two base ingredients in varying proportions:
Propylene glycol (referred to as PG), is a thin liquid offering more throat hit, which better replicates the sensation of drawing on a real cigarette.
Vegetable glycerine (VG) is a more viscous liquid that adds the body required to produce thick clouds of vapor.
SOLUTION: The trick is figuring out which PG/VG blend suits you best. This can involve pricey trial and error if you’re buying blindly on the internet, but if you have access to a brick-and-mortar vape shop, stop in and sample some first. By trying before you buy, you can get a better idea about which PG/VG mix performs and tastes the best. If you don’t have access to a good vape shop, then start out with a 50/50 PG/VG blend and then slowly modify things from there.
3. Too Much (Or Too Little) Nicotine
Another rookie mistake is buying e-juice with an unnecessarily high concentration of nicotine. Too much nicotine can give vapers the symptoms of a mild nicotine overdose (nausea, dizziness, headaches). Likewise, if you don’t purchase e-liquid with enough nicotine, you’re likely to be left unsatisfied and tempted to start smoking again. Here’s a rough guide to help you choose the right strength:
Heavy smoker – 20 or more cigarettes a day
We recommend that heavy smokers start off with 1.8% or 18 mg of nicotine (if available). If you’re a chain smoker, perhaps even consider 24mg; but be aware, many new vapers tend to overdo it a bit.
Medium smoker – 10-20 cigarettes per day
12mg is the prefered nicotine level for most new vapers. If you’re on the lower end of this scale give 8mg a try (if available).
Light/social smoker – Up to ten cigarettes a day
Extremely light smokers should consider 3mg nicotine. Otherwise, 6mg is very common and not a bad choice either.
4. Confusion About Electrical Principles
We’ve already discussed how being well informed about electronic cigarettes is the best way to avoid getting fleeced by unscrupulous (or uninformed) vendors, and nowhere is this more important than when it comes to choosing your e-cigarette components. Understanding basic electrical principles will ensure that you choose the appropriate parts, and it will prevent poor or unsafe performance.
Unless you plan on diving straight into complicated mods (which, I don’t recommend if you’re a newbie) you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to start using e-cigs. With that being said, you should understand these basic concepts:
Volts / Watts
Most of today’s devices are variable voltage and/or variable wattage. Basically, both are units of measurement used to quantify power. As a beginner, you’re probably going to start off with something in the 10 to 30W range, so it’s important to ensure that you’re choosing compatible components.
In particular, coils used in atomizers and tanks are normally rated for a specific wattage range. If you make the mistake of selecting the wrong coil for your setup, you’ll either end up with little or no vapor, or you’ll fry the coil entirely.
mAh stands for milliamps per hour. A measurement of battery capacity, it’s basically an indication of how long your battery will last between charges. The higher the mAh rating, the longer your battery will last.
One of the main mistakes newbies make when it comes to batteries, is buying batteries that are too small. If your battery is constantly dying or in need of a recharge, you’re much more likely to get frustrated and give up on vaping. In general, heavy smokers can expect a day or more of use from a 1300+ mAh battery, whereas casual smokers may get a day’s use with 650mAh.
A measurement of resistance, the higher the ohm rating, the more resistance to the electric current in a coil. You’ll find that coils are available at various ohm ratings. The higher the ohms, the less power going through the coil. Likewise, a lower ohm rating means that more power is passing through the coil.
Without getting overly technical, most e-cigarettes for beginners have an ohm rating in the 1 to 2 ohm range. The important part is that if you buy a variable voltage or wattage device, you need to make sure that it’s compatible with the ohm rating of the coil. This information should be in the device’s spec sheet, but if you stay in the 1 to 2 ohm range, any device should work just fine. It’s when you purchase “sub-ohm” (less than 1 ohm) coils that you may need to worry.
* Learn more about the technicals: Guide to Volts, Watts and Ohms
5. Improper Maintenance
Despite all of their advantages, e-cigarettes need to be cleaned and regularly maintained. If a new vaper ignores this fact, the performance of their device will slowly degrade over time, which often causes them to return to smoking.
Coils are the most common, and regularly replaced item. Atomizers get dirty and need to be switched out every so often, since flavor and vapor production will reduce as the coil ages. As a general rule of thumb, atomizers should be replaced every two weeks or so, but you’ll be able to tell when yours is ready for a replacement when the vapor starts to taste burnt or metallic.
Another tip to keep in mind: before you vape with a new coil it’s important that you prime it. Failing to do so can burn the wick, resulting in a horribly bad taste.
To prime an atomizer, follow these steps:
1. Put a couple of drips of eliquid directly into the juice holes of the atomizer before screwing it into a full tank of eliquid
2. While gently covering the airholes on your clearomizer, you should take a couple of drags, without firing the battery. This will draw more eliquid into the atomizer and pull out any trapped air which is keeping the wick dry
3. To be extra safe, leave the atomizer for 10 minutes or so to get fully saturated before taking your first drags
4. If you have a variable voltage/wattage battery, reduce the power output and take a few drags before powering up to your usual output
* For more tips, see our article: Troubleshooting Common E-Cig Problems