Vaping: The Complete Beginner's Guide

Vaping Guide

Vaping is the iPhone generation’s pipe and bowl.

Like Mark Twain's beloved pastime it's relaxing, social, and pleasantly aromatic – but so much cooler.

Techy and gadget prone, cutting edge and experimental, it even has its own expanding ecosystem of accessories and innovations to make sure things never get boring.

But whether e-cigs are your first experience with nicotine, or you’re tossing out tobacco in favour of the infinitely less damaging alternative, crossing over to the vape side can be a confusing and intimidating experience.

If you’ve ever considered vaping, we’ve compiled a go-to source for every step of the process.

From the history of e-cigarettes to selecting your first 'mod', we'll explain all the components and accessories, and how they fit together.


Part 1


What is Vaping?

Part 2


Vaping Formats and Options?

Part 3


Choosing the Right Eliquid

Part 4


Switching from Tobacco

Part 5


Bonus Tips

Part 1

What is Vaping

What is Vaping

Are you unsure what vaping actually is but are too afraid to ask?

Everyone and their mothers seem to be vape experts by now and maybe you feel like it's too late to ask, so you just pretend to know what's what.

Fear not! We'll walk you through some of the basics so you no longer feel left out.

A man vaping

In the simplest of terms, "Vaping" is a modern form of smoking.

Vapers inhale a nicotine-infused vapour from "e juice" or "e liquid".

The e liquid is heated by an electronic device, creating the vapour which the user then inhales.

Vape devices come in different styles, sizes and formats, including e-cigs and mods.

Each is comprised of a heating element, wicking material, battery, and a tank that holds the e liquid.

The wicking device is wrapped around a heating coil. It absorbs the eliquid and then when the power button is pressed, the vapour is produced.

Vaping Through History

Vaping Through History

Believe it or not:

A patent for the first ‘Smokeless, non-tobacco cigarette’ was filed in the US back in 1963.

It was a pretty basic device made up of a heating element, battery, and a narrow tube that tried to mimic the look and feel of an old-school cigarette.

The patent expired before it could be commercialised.

The next attempt came much more recently, in 2003, when a Chinese inventor came up with the idea for a small electronic cigarette that used ultrasound tech to transform nicotine-infused liquid into vapour.

It used different technology than the devices in common use today, but the format and simplicity of the design rekindled interest in electronic smoking – particularly as an alternative to traditional cigarettes.

Vape Pen

On the back of that innovation, the first commercial e-cigarettes brought vaping to a wider audience.

The devices replaced ultrasound with a small heating element powered by a built-in battery.

Highly visible and glowing bright blue at the ignition end, they quickly gained a reputation for ease and convenience.

That mass-market success made the technology widely available, allowing a raft of competitors to enter the market.

But for all their choice and convenience, the first wave of vaping brands lacked something many smokers crave: a heightened physical sensation when inhaling and greater strength.

A DIY vaping subculture grew up with enthusiasts inventing their own higher-powered vaping devices, perfecting their own e-liquid recipes, or buying from a budding 'craft brew' e liquid cottage industry.

DIYers often used the case and circuitry of handheld torches -- no, really... take a look for yourself below -- to make their modified devices or 'mods'.

Mods rapidly became more and more popular among vapers.

A modified e-cigarette torch

A modified e-cigarette torch

Manufacturers cool-hunted the trend and started making larger, more powerful e-cigarette alternatives, selling entire kits as well as individual components.

Today's e-cigarettes now feature tanks, heating elements or atomisers, and replaceable batteries – making it easier for vapers to make the experience more bespoke.

Part 2

Vaping Formats and Options

Vape Format

Today, you can choose from four main categories of e-cig:

  • Pen-style mods
  • Box-style mods
  • Disposables
  • Mechanicals

This section will take a look at the features of each one.

Pen-Style Mods

Pen-style mods represent the next step towards fully bespoke vaping.

They are physically bigger than a cigarette-style e-cig, with pick-and-mix main components that can be swapped around, allowing you to change the tank, heating coil, or tip for more personalisation.

Pen mods are more powerful than a disposable e-cig and produce more vapour.

They are usually rechargeable via a USB cable, while some models let you use disposable batteries.

The Good

More vaping power, customisable, larger battery for longer life.

The Less Good

Cost more than disposable e-cigs, less powerful than a box mod, needs regular basic maintenance.

Box-Style Mods

Box-style mods also let you tailor your own vaping experience with a selection of interchangeable tanks, coils, and other hardware.

Bigger than their pen-style cousins, box mods have a large battery and space for interior wiring and circuitry to accommodate built-in displays for temperature, wattage, and other performance metrics.

Box mods have more power than other e-cigarette or mod formats and let you select different settings for the type of tank and coil you are using.

The latest box mods have temperature controls that auto-regulate power and vapour production without user intervention.

The Good

Loads of power, lots of vapour, gadget features galore with software to fine-tune the vaping experience.

The Less Good

Typically the most expensive format. Box mods need maintenance and replacement parts, the advanced features need some time to get used to.



Disposables are the cheapest, simplest, and most accessible vaping device out there.

The latest generation of devices from companies like NJOY, Vuse, and Blu offer all-in-one units that are thrown away as soon as the battery dies, or replaceable unit devices that let you recharge the battery and replace the cartridge holding the juice, wick, and heating element.

The latest box mods have temperature controls that auto-regulate power and vapour production without user intervention.

The Good

Inexpensive, convenient, easy to use.

The Less Good

Typically offers the weakest vaping experience, batteries don’t last long.

Mechanical Mods

Mechanical Mods

Option 4 is the polar opposite of feature-packed box and pen-style mods.

Mechanical mods keep the technology light and limit any circuitry apart from the wires needed to heat the coil.

When the mod is activated, power from the battery hits the coil in an unregulated state – there’s no limiting or tweaking to regulate how the electricity does its work.

Sort of a roll-your-own option for hardcore vaping enthusiasts, mechanical mods aren’t recommended for beginners.

Despite their lack of technology, simplicity makes them a popular draw for regular vapers.

The Good

Simple, powerful, longer-lasting, and easy to use.

The Less Good

For experienced users who understand components and power, components can be easily damaged if they aren’t used correctly.

Replaceable Mod Components

Replaceable Components

Most people tell new vapers to start with disposable e-cigs and move up the hierarchy over time.

When you are ready to step up, you’ll be buying your first mod.

Mods really refer to the power unit so there are additional components you have to buy before you can vape.

These include a tank to hold the e-juice and an atomiser to turn it into vapour.

Here are some of the most popular options...


Vapemate Flare Coils

Vapemate Flare Coils

The coils for sub-ohm tanks can be found on our online store or any vape shop.

Coils do need to be replaced from time to time so they are usually sold in packs of three or more.

As with most things in vaping, you’ll have many options to choose from.

Coils are usually categorised by the metal they’re made from, usually stainless steel, nickel, or titanium.

Each metal has its own temperature and wattage tolerances – which will vary again based on the manufacturer or type of e-liquid being used.

 Pro tip: you need to confirm the coil specifications before you press the power button or risk burning the cotton in the coil, ruining it before you’ve even started.

Sub-ohm Tanks

Sub-Ohm Tank

Aspire Revvo Sub-Ohm Tank

Sub-ohm tanks offer a straightforward all-in-one option for vaping with a mod.

They can be filled with several millilitres of e-juice and screwed directly into an atomiser base unit with a replaceable coil.

The juice soaks into a cotton wick wrapped around the heating coil.

Combining the tank-and-atomiser makes them very easy to use – a zero-fuss way to replace the coils and refill the tank.

Sub-ohm refers to the coil’s current resistance. Sub-ohm mods produce a strong flavour and a volume of vapour, making them an obvious step change for anyone trading up from disposables.


Sony 18650 Battery

Sony VTC5 18650 2600mAh Battery

Many box-style mods allow you to swap out batteries with different power and capacity ratings.

These are large, rechargeable models that you’ll need to find at a specialty vape shop.

Or, naturally, you can also find them right here at Vapemate!

The most popular vaping battery is the 18650 (see image) and several manufacturers like Sony and Samsung manufacture high-capacity versions suitable for serious vaping.

Mods are usually packaged with at least one battery, so be sure to match the size if you’re looking for spares.


Great for DIY’ers, rebuildable atomisers (RBAs) allow you to take the coil apart and replace the coil inside, rather than chucking out the whole heating element when it reaches the end of its life.


Rebuildable dripping atomisers (RDAs) have a growing following in the vaping ranks.

They rely on the user to drip fresh e-liquid on the cotton wick, eliminating the need for a separate tank. The wick and coils are accessible from the mouthpiece, with only a small space between the point where vapour is produced and the point where it is inhaled.

RDAs also accommodate customisation by letting users replace the coil and cotton wick inside the heating element with brands and accessories they select themselves.

Some hardcore hobbyists actually make their own coils, though most people are happy to buy new loose coils and install them.

RDAs probably aren’t a great option for casual vapers given the time investment needed to rebuild the atomiser.

They are famous however for producing the greatest volume of vapour, making them an option for users who see vaping more as a connoisseur’s pastime, and something of an art form.

Vape Bands

Vape Bands

A totally cool (and totally unnecessary) add-on, vape bands are branded rubber hoops that slide onto the battery unit or tank of a mod to give it extra visual oomph.

While mainly for aesthetic appeal, some vapers swear by them as a way to protect glass e-juice tanks from damage.

Part 3

Choosing the Right E Liquid

Vape Juice

Having settled on an e-Cig or mod, the next – and probably most personal – choice you’ll have to make is the flavour of e liquid (or ejuice) you want to inhale.

There are hundreds of flavours available online, with more mixes and concoctions being developed every day.

The range of options can be confusing. Here are a few essentials to consider before making the choice.

Selecting the Right E Liquid for Your Taste

Having settled on an e-Cig or mod, the next – and probably most personal – choice you’ll have to make is the flavour of e liquid (or ejuice) you want to inhale.

There are hundreds of flavours for sale online, with more mixes and concoctions being developed every day.

The range of options can be confusing. Here are a few essentials to consider before making the choice...

What is e liquid made of?

Vape Lab

The simplicity of eliquid is one of the main benefits of vaping. It’s usually composed of four primary ingredients:

  • Nicotine
  • Vegetable glycerine (VG) – used in many food and pharmaceutical products.
  • Propylene glycol (PG) – found in everything from fizzy drinks to prescription drugs.
  • Flavouring

Nicotine and flavouring are easy enough to understand, but VG and PG are important to the overall vaping experience.

The ratio of VG to PG sets the viscosity of the liquid and as such the temperature needed to vaporise it. It also determines the most suitable tanks and coils to vape with.

That ratio can also decide how intense the physical sensation of inhaling will be. More VG produces more vapour and a smoother hit. More PG in the mix delivers better flavour.

You’ll want to experiment a bit and try different ratios to work out what’s best for your vaping palate.

How much nicotine?

No Smoking

The nicotine level in an e liquid really depends on your personal preference.

For those switching from tobacco, one option is to consider your previous smoking habits.

Levels from 0 to 18mg/ml are the most popular, moving up in increments: 3mg, 6mg, 12mg and 18mg.

Higher strengths are available from some retailers.

Things to consider when choosing one level over another:

  • 0mg/ml – Perfect for non-smokers or someone who wants to give vaping a go. At 0mg you can try whatever flavour appeals to you.
  • 3mg/ml – Suitable for light smokers who want to see what vaping is all about. Three mg is about as low as you’ll find above nicotine-free.
  • 6mg/ml – Six is the standard launch point for regular smokers who make the switch to vaping. It’s also a good jumping off point, making it easy to move up or down the nicotine hierarchy.
  • 12mg/ml – This is the level for pack-a-day tobacco smokers. At 12mg the ‘throat hit’ is a rougher physical sensation, which could be off-putting for a first-time vaper.
  • 18mg/ml – This is level H for hardcore, suitable for a chain smoker who burns through daily packs without a second thought.

 Pro tip: the higher the nicotine level, the harsher the overall vape experience will be.

Want more? Check out our Vape Juice Definitive Guide

Part 4

Switching from Tobacco

No Smoking

More and more people are swapping analogue smoking for vaping.

ECigs make for a clean and modern alternative to tobacco without the inherent health risks.

Making the switch does require commitment however and, arguably, making new lifestyle choices.

But over the long run vaping becomes a pastime that many people strongly prefer over smoking.

Thinking about crossing over to the vape side? Here are a few things to keep in mind...

You’ll have more choice

Vaping also comes with greater flavour. This benefit comes in two shapes:

  1. Your palate improves as your tongue clears away chemical build-up
  2. The range of eliquid flavours available online is massive

Eliquids are designed to suit many different tastes, with flavours ranging from straight tobacco to kiwi-watermelon and beyond.

Expect everything you vape, eat or drink to simply taste better.

You'll feel the difference

One of the first things that will happen when you ditch tobacco is that the oxygen in your bloodstream increases, as it's no longer being replaced by the carbon monoxide that comes from tobacco smoking.

Your lungs will also start clearing out gunk and mucus within a few days, leading to better breathing.

Real health benefits will take longer to see and need to be confirmed by a physician, but after six months or so many people say the negative health effects of tobacco smoking start to disappear.

Coughing and wheezing should dissipate as your lungs continue to clean themselves. More and more studies confirm that the benefits of switching are significant.

You'll create a new routine

It can come as a mild shock when you’re used to simply smoking a cigarette and stubbing-out that maintaining your vaping kit is a key part of the process.

Disposable e-cigarettes are fine but eventually, people move on to mods to get the full vaping experience.

That means putting in place a solid maintenance routine to keep your devices and components clean and in good working order.

Otherwise vaping becomes a chore where the flavour and sensation of smoking are seriously undermined.

You'll save money

If you move to mods over disposable eCigs vaping can be much more cost-effective than tobacco smoking.

E liquids aren’t expensive and after the initial investment in, say, a pen mod, regular maintenance will ensure a longer useable lifespan.

Smokers know how expensive cigarettes have become.

Along with the health advantages, some make the switch to vaping simply to save money.

Part 5

Bonus Tips

Vape Trophy

You have your mod, you’ve stocked up on accessories, and selected your e liquid strength and flavour.

Here are a few additional top tips to help you become a vaping black belt.. and maybe stave off a headache or two further down the line.

Cleaning the Vape

Taking time to clean out the tank and coil helps ensure the flavour you want comes through with every note intact – especially if you use different flavours.

Vape Cleaning

Disassembling the tank and coil and running hot water over the tank and tip is one simple way to do it.

Be sure to dry all the components completely, ideally with a hairdryer or fan rather than air drying, which can cause staining.

Priming the Coil

Anytime you have a new coil it’s important to prime it with a few drops of eliquid before first use.

Even before filling the tank, add a few drops of eliquid to the exposed wick cotton and let them sink in before putting it back in the tank.

Then give your vape a few minutes to sit before you power up for the first time, otherwise, you risk burning the cotton and ruining the coil.

Experiment, and Have Fun!

Vape Lab

No matter what kind of vape you go with first, the options are pretty much endless.

If you aren’t wowed by your first experience, try, try again with a different e liquid, temperature, PG/VG ratio, or device.

You’ll find each offers an entirely different experience. Vaping is ultimately for fun and relaxation.

If you aren’t having a good time, you’re doing it wrong!


The Complete Beginner's Guide

This complete beginner's guide to vaping is detailed and comprehensive, giving you all the information you need to get you started on your vaping journey.

Understanding what vaping is, why people do it, the different equipment options, e liquid basics and what to expect when switching from regular smoking, means you now understand the basics of vaping.

Now all you need to do is decide on which options you'll choose to get started.

We’ll give you one final tip... our Starter Electronic Cigarette Kits are the perfect place to start!

Vaping Devices
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