E-cig Basics

What Is An E-cig?

Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cig devices, vapes, and AVPs (Advanced Personal Vaporizer), were invented as a healthier and more economical alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. Although it may seem like a new phenomenon to some, e-cig products have been around for over a decade. They were originally invented by Hon Lik in 2003, as a smoking cessation tool. Since then, vape culture has experienced a huge surge in popularity, and a “vaping boom” can be in markets around the world.

E-cigarettes come in a multitude of different forms and configurations, that can often be customized depending on what the user is looking for. Because E-cigs and AVPs have become such seen such a huge cultural boom, e-cig manufacturers are now producing e-cigs with a wide range of brands, quality, aesthetics, and overall performance. Out of the many types of devices out there, most AVPs fit into one of these specific categories:


Cig-Alike/Cig-A-Like: This style of e-cig was one of the first to be developed, and is often the style initially picked up by new vapers because they make for a good introduction to vaping or replacing the feel of a cigarette. Cig-alikes provide intuitive functionality, are safe to use, and mimic the feel/look of analog cigarette. Plus they are easy to find in vape shops and convenience stores. However the are not without limitations. This e-cig style uses pre-filled cartridges, and cannot use external Tanks/RDA. Cig-alikes generally produce less smaller vapor clouds and less flavor. Blu, Vuse, and GreenSmartLiving can all be described as Cig-alike brands

cigalike, cig a like, ecig, e-cigarette, ecigs san rafael, ecigs marin

Regulated Mod/APV:  This term can include a dauntingly large selection of e-cig brands, functions, and levels of device performance. The most basic parameter of a Regulated Mod, or AVP, is that it contains a computer chip that prevents adverse effects from unsafe use. Unlike cig-alikes, most AVPs feature preset variable wattage/voltage and temperature controls that can be changed based on user preference. Regulated Mods can have either built in or external batteries, depending on the brand. This style of e-cig is much more customizable overall, and can usually be accessorized with various types of tanks, drip tips, and decorative elements. On the more simple end of the AVP spectrum, you’ll find Ego style vapes. On the more elaborate and advanced end of the spectrum, you’ll find brands like Provari, Reuleaux, and Sigelei.


Mechanical/Unregulated Mod:  Mechanical Mods are definitely the most advance and complex style of e-cig device. Although they are excellent quality and highly customizable, we do not recommend mechanical mods for most beginning vapers. That’s because vaping with a mechanical mod requires considerable knowledge of battery safety, Ohms Law, and basic maintenance. Mechanical mods are most easily categorized by their use of external rechargeable batteries. This style will always feature removable batteries and mechanical button components because they do not have an internal microchip that controls the device, or any kind of built in charging port. Mechanical mods come in a very wide range of brands and styles. They are generally cylindrical but sometimes available in a box look with room for more than one battery. Brands like The Rig, Petri, and Nemesis all manufacture Mechanical Mods.

e-cig, mechanical mods, mechanical vaporizer

Parts of an E-cig

E-cigs come in many different styles and configurations, but all share a few basic components: A battery (either internal or removable), a reservoir for e-liquid, and an atomizer or coil, which is used to chemically change the juice into vapor. Below, we’ll outline the various types of e-cig hardware that make up an AVP device.


e-cigs, ecig batteries, external battery, mod battery, e-cig
e-cigs, ecig batteries, external battery, mod battery, e-cig

Batteries: All e-cigs require some kind of external or internal batteries. E-cigs with built-in internal batteries are ideal if you’d like a device that’s streamline, self contained, or don’t want  the hassle of carrying around back-up external batteries. Internal batteries often keep your device lightweight and intuitive to use. However, you may find that plugging in your e-cig and waiting for the battery to charge creates a disadvantage. Many of our customers you prefer Ego style devices, buy more than one so that they have a back up device while they charge the battery inside of their other e-cig. Another potential downside of internal batteries is that with some budget-friendly styles or generic brands, it can be difficult to know the quality of the internal batteries. Low quality internal batteries can potentially lead to battery failure while charging, and unintended activation or over firing the device. Most e-cigs with computer chips have an auto cutoff feature to prevent this, but it’s still important to buy your devices from a reputable source!
External batteries, much like other vaping products, have a massive selection of brands, capabilities, and sizes to choose from. Most batteries are IMR batteries, which is a designation of the chemical compound in the battery, and is arguably the “safest” and most common battery. Unlike most battery chemistries whose name defines the chemistry of the anode and cathode, the term “lithium-ion” refers to an ever growing class of cell chemistries that utilize different materials to host lithium-ions in the charged and discharged state of the cell. Most lithium-ion cells use graphite or hard carbon as the negative electrode host material (typically referred to as the anode), but the selection of the positive electrode material (typically referred to as the cathode) is much more varied. The following three-letter designations for lithium-ion cell denote what cathode material is used in the cell: ICR = LiCoO2 (also called LCO), IMR = LiMn2O4 (also called LMO), IFR = LiFePO4 (also called LFP). Generally when looking for batteries you need to know the size required for your device (18650-18500-18350), your desired battery life (MaH –Milliamp Hour), and the Amp rating, which is mostly important on Mechanical mods due to no chip interface regulating power.

Atomizers: The Atomizer is a part of a tank that produces vapor through the process of heating liquid e-juice. Generally an Atomizer is a small metal apparatus that contains cotton for wicking the juice, and is surrounded by a coil made up primarily of Kanthal wire. When power is run into the tank or RDA of an e-cig device, the wiring inside of the atomizer heats up, and warms up the juice that has been wicked into the cotton component of the atomizer. This chain reaction is what produces a vapor cloud. This particular piece of e-cig hardware can be found in many styles and is produced differently brand for brand. Usually when someone refers to a coil or filter, they are actually referring to the e-cigs atomizer. What’s more, some RDA’s and even whole tanks are referred to as atomizers! If you’re confused about what type of atomizer is required for your device, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance! The lingo can be confusing, but the advantage here is that you have lots of potential options!

atomizer, replacement atomizer, ecigs, san rafael ecigs, e-cigs, RDA, atomizer, e-cig, rebuildable atomizer
e-cig, e-cigs, tanks, ecig tank
e-cigs, tanks, ecig tank, e-cig

Tanks: Tanks are cylindrical attachments for e-cig devices that store the e-juice of your choice inside the larger device, and feed the e-juice into the component that creates vapor. Tanks can vary in size, aesthetics, and capabilities, but all of them are utilized in essentially the same way. Fill the tank with juice, refill when the juice gets low, change the atomizer (see below) inside of the tank when the juice tastes stale or burned. The main two types of tanks most commonly used with e-cigs are Sub-Tanks (Sub-Ohm capable) and non sub-ohm or traditional tanks. “Sub-Ohm” tanks will generally have a wide range of powerful atomizers that can handle a scale of lower-to-higher wattage, and put out larger amounts of vapor than most regular tanks. Some SubTanks are known as “RTA’s”(Rebuildable Tank Atomizer). These tanks just give you the option to build your own coils if you’d like too. They also require more advanced devices that can handle low Ohm atomizers, and that can put out decent wattage. For this reason they also go through juice a lot quicker than less powerful tanks, but reward you in better flavor and vapor production. It is definitely recommended to use lower strengths of nicotine in these sub-tanks, due to the heavy vapor production. This style of tank will also feature some type of airflow adjustment, which allows the user to customize their desired draw. Traditional, or “regular” tanks are the most basic type of tank on the market. They are more widely available than sub-ohm tanks, and have a lower price point. “Regular” tanks are essentially the same but put out less vapor and flavor than sub-ohm tanks. However, they do not require a powerful/advanced e-cig device in order to use them, so you can find very inexpensive batteries almost anywhere that sells cigarettes or vaping equipment. With these tanks you can also use a wide range of nicotine strengths due to the lighter vapor production.