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The Wonderful World of Vaping - (Part 3 of 6) Software and Process

Discussion in 'The ECF Library' started by DonDaBoomVape, Sep 15, 2009.

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  1. DonDaBoomVape

    DonDaBoomVape Reviewer / Blogger ECF Veteran

    Jun 5, 2009
    South Florida
    Please do not post in this thread until all parts have been completed. That's to keep all six installments grouped together. However, I welcome your comments. To facilitate that, I've started this other thread in the General Discussion forum. Don't hesitate to pose questions and share your reactions, suggestions, and critique there.

    An Illustrated Guide to E-cigs

    Part 3 (of 6)

    Please see Part 1 (the post at the top of this thread) for an explanation of what this six-part series is all about, including a Table of Contents and relevant caveats. This rather long installment focuses on the software and the process of vaping.

    Just as a computer needs applications software and an operating system (i.e., a process for the microprocessor) to be more than just an expensive paperweight, so does the e-cig hardware (presented in Part 2) need its own kind of software and process for using it.

    THE SOFTWARE (i.e., the juice aka e-liquid)

    As important as the hardware is – and as enamored as many of us become with all the models (we’re like children clamoring to buy the latest and greatest toy) – the liquid that goes in it (sometimes pre-inserted in the cartridge) is what it’s all about.

    [center illustration courtesy of Kalin Nacheff,]

    It’s analogous to the quality of the tobacco in an analog cigarette (ooh, I love saying analogous to analog). But, unlike analogs, the nicotine levels and flavor choices are vast.

    Nicotine levels

    • None = 0 mg: Some vapers use only this level. For me, this is great for “pacifiervaping. As with many vapers, I like to vape a lot, more than my body craves nicotine. So, in between nicotine vapes (akin to smoke breaks), I often suck on my e-cig, inhaling flavored non-nicotine vapor. I prefer non-tobacco candy/fruit/desert flavors for this, e.g., mint, chocolate, butter rum, pineapple, caramel, pralines & cream, etc., etc.
    • Low = 6-8 mg: for those 1-5 cigarettes/day “social smokers” … whom I’ve never understood. How can anyone smoke occasionally?
    • Medium = 11-12 mg: just right for me (I had cut down to 15 Ultra Lights per day prior to vaping).

    • High = 16-18 mg: probably good for a pack a day, regular cigarette smoker (unless you smoked them all at the same time).

    • Extra High = 24-26 mg: may be good for a two-pack per day and/or unfiltered analog smoker. [Although 18mg might work for you, especially if you vape a lot.]

    • Ultra High = 36 mg: this level is intended for cutting with inexpensive non-nicotine liquid to save money, but a few people vape it uncut. This is not recommended.

    • Unrated = 48 – 60 mg: only for cutting. You’ll poison yourself vaping at this level.

    [NOTE: Some juice manufacturers and suppliers shift this scale, e.g., categorizing 11-12 mg as Low.]

    Flavors – Tobacco

    Do not expect an e-cig to taste and smell exactly the same as an analog cigarette (most of us feel it tastes much better), even a flavor that is named after a cigarette brand, such as those shown here.

    Sometimes the names are deliberately misspelled or distorted (to avoid trademark lawsuits, I assume). Care to guess what cigarette brand these are alluding to?

    Other tobacco flavors are Virginia, Flue-Cured, Cuban Cigar, French Pipe, Turkish Blend, or simply “Tobacco.”

    In addition to the basic tobacco flavors are those enhanced with other flavoring, e.g., Menthol, 555 (nutty), Hilton (slightly sweet, mild spices), and RY4 (sweet with caramel and vanilla overtones).

    I like to begin my vaping sessions with a basic tobacco flavor and end with Hilton or RY4. [BTW, I used to think that RY4 meant Rye (whiskey). No, RY stands for Ruyan, the originator of RY4 (and the first manufacturer of e-cigs).]

    Not everyone likes (or only likes) tobacco flavor. In fact…


    The following observation is provided for entertainment value only (and to provoke controversy, which is always funJ). Fledgling vapers are cautioned to avoid being guided by it (or to repeat it in the presence of other genders).

    Men are from Tobacco ... Women are from Sweet-Tooth

    There are many exceptions, of course – which have no bearing on one’s masculinity [Gee, I hope not!] or femininity – but I do think that statement has statistical validity. [Some of the images used in this series took me a long time to track down, but the only challenge I had with the above photos was – not the Marlboro Man, that was a duh! – but choosing just one from among the thousands of photos of women eating candy.J]

    Be that as it may, here now are the “sweet-tooth” and other…

    Non-tobacco flavors

    Everything you can think of:
    • Beverage flavors like cola, green tea, and cappuccino.

    • Candy flavors like chocolate, mint, and caramel. [Notwithstanding anti-vaping claims to the contrary, flavors like these have been developed – not to entice children – but because we adults like them.]

    • Desert flavors like cheesecake, vanilla ice cream, and … cotton candy (desert? well, I had to put it somewhere).

    • Fruit flavors like those shown here.

    • Nut flavors like almond, hazelnut, and coconut (uh, is coconut considered a nut?).

    • Floral and spice flavors like rose, jasmine, and cinnamon.

    • Herbal concoctions like Valerian Root and “lung juice” … oh, and there’s peanut butter (nothing to do with herbs, but I needed a third example, and you can’t forget peanut butter).

    • Liquor flavors like whiskey, rum, Lambrusco, champagne, pina colada, and tropical punch. [Yeah, I know, I broke my three-example pattern. I just really like this category!]

    • And some unusual flavors, e.g., bubble gum, kung pao chicken, and dragon fruit (none of which I’ve tried). [I do think that bubble gum is unwise in light of the current political climate.]

    • There is even an e-Cialis that we joke about here on ECF (but is an example of the type of practice that can give e-cigs a bad rep).
    So … was I exaggerating when I said everything?

    Most of the above tobacco and non-tobacco flavors are carried by many of the scores of suppliers participating in ECF (links for the least expensive of which will be included in Part 5). Supplier links for the more unique flavors (other than e-Cialis) have been provided above.

    The creator/supplier of perhaps the most esoteric (and rather expensive) e-liquid (e.g., Absinthe, Ylang Ylang, Roast Beef, etc.) is Decadent Vapours, based in the UK. [As I write this, they are temporarily closed for a few days.] Very shortly, their offerings also will be sold by Totally Wicked* (UK, US), only in 36 mg strength for some reason.
    * Bonus: Anything you order from TW will be imprinted with their trademark logo a red devil's head which some find appealing ... others, not so much. [I’m somewhere in between. I have used TW atomizers ... but not in the presence of corporate clients.]
    One other supplier you may want to check out at this stage is, not because their prices are especially low (they’re not), but because they’re becoming something of a meta-supplier, offering e-liquids from several other suppliers. Also check out their “Below Zero” NON Nicotine Liquids, for the same reason.


    E-liquid is evaluated – in numerous text and video reviews (especially recently, there has been a plethora of both) – using many of the same factors as hardware reviews, e.g., vapor production, flavor, and throat hit … all three of which are dependent on both the hardware and software. Such reviews and evaluations of juice, however, are necessarily more subjective. For example, my evaluation of banana-flavored juice (whether from supplier X or supplier Y) is … meh (a word I picked up from Gen Y members here on ECF). However, you may think it’s the cat’s pajamas (an expression from my parents’ generation).

    Check out the reviews, but take them with many grains of salt. See if you can identify the reviewers whose “taste” (both literal and figurative) is simpatico with yours. For example, I happen to be very comfortable with GrimmGreen’s and RitaLee76’s demeanor (and I think Chris and Sean are a hoot!). You might prefer MoobyGhost or Crash or SuperVaporBros, etc., etc.

    PG vs. VG

    The nicotine and flavoring are the ingredients that make our world go round, but what gets vaporized is the base liquid. In most cases, this is PG. But some people are allergic. You’ll know soon enough and it’s usually nothing serious. Symptoms vary, but can include: dry or sore throat, muscle cramps and aches, diarrhea, night sweats, and rash (usually not all at once or in the same person, thank goodness). If you experience any of these:
    1. Consult with your doctor (I ain’t no MD), certainly if it is anything other than mild discomfort and/or it continues for several days. [Sounds like the back label of a bottle of over-the-counter meds, doesn’t it … but there is a good reason they do that, you know.]

    2. Explore the Health, Safety and E-Smoking forum, especially its most-read thread: A List of Common Symptoms when E-smoking. ß Recommended for all new vapers. There are lots of “interesting” symptoms (some of them really nice) often associated with stopping smoking and starting vaping, only a few of which are PG-related.

    3. Try VG-based liquid … or PEG (Polyethelene Glycol) ... or ECOpure (brand name of a purported very pure UK-manufactured mixture consisting of VG, ethyl maltol, and nicotine … and no PG).
    Even if you are not allergic to PG, you might prefer VG or those others. Conventional wisdom is that PG packs more flavor and throat hit, but VG generates more vapor. [When I mix my own juice, I use both.]

    • iVapour-Elixir also carries PEG, as does (they call it NON-PG). [NOTE: iVapour-Elixir says this about PEG: “Seems to have more vapour* production than PG liquid, and might suit PG allergy sufferers too (though VG liquid is recommended for those who are PG sensitive).”]
    * I hope that ECF members across the pond will take note of (and appreciate) the fact that I overrode my American-English spell checker and let this British spelling stand.J
    [I’ll be providing links to many more suppliers of e-liquid (mainly PG-based) in Part 5, but I wanted to give a head start to those who may be PG-allergic.]

    E-liquid 102 (i.e., second semester: independent research in the field)

    To learn more about the lavish land of ‘lectronic liquids, explore the E-Liquid Reviews, Video-Reviews, and Supporting Suppliers forums. [NOTE: Some suppliers specialize in e-liquid. However, virtually all suppliers (even those focusing primarily on hardware) also carry e-liquid. And I hope you realize that e-liquid purchased from a supplier of, for example, the JOYE line of models (510, 306, 306a) can be used in any e-cig.]


    Most e-cigs look somewhat like analog cigarettes, but the process of using them corresponds more to pipe smoking (except we inhale). Pipe smokers use (and carefully store) various flavors of loose tobacco that they stuff in their pipes, light and relight the tobacco, use pipe cleaners to clean the pipe stems, and usually keep a variety of sizes and shapes of pipes: contrast Sherlock Holmes’ calabash pipe with Huck Finn’s corncob with a typical straight Billiard pipe.
    Similarly, there is more to vaping an e-cig than sticking it in your mouth and puffing. [NOTE: Three of the following videos (those by RatInDaHat) are taken from just the first post in the Helpful links and videos for a new user thread here in this New Members' Forum. The entire thread is highly recommended.]

    To prepare:
    1. Charge your batteries (until the red charger light turns green)

    2. Screw the atomizer into one of the charged batteries, as demonstrated here by RatInDaHat:

    3. Insert the e-liquid, by:
    • Toping off* the cartridge– good for about two to five analog’s worth of puffing (depending on cart size)
    • OR Dripping e-liquid (2-4 drops) directly onto the atomizer – good for about one analog’s worth

    here’s how to do it with a cartomizer:

    YouTube - Refilling a V9 Nebula Electronic Cigarette Cartridge (cartomizer)

    [NOTE: Dripping typically is not recommended when using an automatic battery, since it is unsealed. However, I have never had a problem with my 801 auto batteries … and I always drip. Proceed at your own risk … or try it out with an old battery you wouldn’t mind shorting out.]
    • OR (if you have an exposed bridge atomizer) you can dip the atomizer into the e-liquid, as discussed in the Don't drip, dip! thread and elsewhere in ECF. [Someone needs to create a demo video of this.]
    4. Plug mouthpiece and cartridge into atomizer ... and you’re set to go.

    * Topping off the cartridge by squirting a few drops on top of the filling (shown in the second video) is simple, but the juice doesn’t necessarily soak all the way through. So the inventive members of ECF have come up with other techniques, including:
    • Injection with a syringe. [You should have seen my wife’s expression when I opened the package of supplies containing the syringe. I think she misunderstood where I was going to inject the liquid.] It’s demonstrated by one of my mentors, RitaLee76: YouTube - How To Refill a Cartridge Using A Syringe
    • The straw mod, demonstrated by MoobyGhost (who has recently burst onto the scene with scores of review and demo videos): YouTube - Straw Mod
    • And the toothpick technique (you can also use a bent paperclip), as demonstrated by John from the Evel Knievel school of driving:
    YouTube - E-cig toothpick drip\tipAnd all this time, I thought texting while driving was dangerous.

    You can puff and inhale however you like, but the following is typical:


    During each puff (automatic battery / manual battery):

    1. Start with a brief suck (the primer puff) / OR Press the button and simultaneously...
    2. Take a long puff (suck for 2-5 seconds) into your mouth / then release the button
    3. Inhale vapor from mouth into lungs.
    4. Exhale.
    RatInDaHat demonstrates this here: My e-cig drag technique

    and click here if you want to learn how to blow smoke rings.
    Repeat as desired … or until…
    When you notice a fading of the vapor or flavor (or a burnt taste):
    • If you’re using a brand new atomizer (and it’s the taste that’s bad) – it’s probably due to the primer used on most atomizers. You can:
    1. Be patient; this too shall pass … OR

    2. Puff without inhaling for awhile until the gunk burns off. (You may want to use inexpensive, unflavored non-nicotine PG or VG for this, so you don’t waste the good juice.)
    • If you’ve been using a freshly charged batterytop off the cart or drip/dip 3 drops on the atomizer.
    • If you’ve been using that battery for awhile (this varies considerably depending on battery size) – recharge battery and replace with a fresh one.
    • If you’ve been using a freshly charged battery and you’ve just put in more juice (or you’re getting no vapor at all) – it’s time to:
    1. Replace the atomizer (mine last about one week, on average) … OR

    2. Attempt to rescue the atomizer by cleaning it, as RatInDaHat describes here.

    [For me that’s a last resort. Others, more disciplined than I, clean their atomizers daily.] And if you are determined to really stretch out the life of your atomizer, explore the threads in the Experiment with equipmentsub-forum.
    This all sounds more complicated and cumbersome than it actually is.
    • Instead of emptying ashtrays, I charge batteries (much less messy).
    • Instead of using a lighter to light a cigarette, I drip a couple drops on my atomizer.
    • Instead of flicking ash into an ashtray, I press and release a button.
    • And instead of buying a carton of cigarettes, I buy an atomizer and juice (much cheaper). [Actually I buy several in advance, since I can’t just run out to a convenience store to get them.]

    And I don’t even think about the puffing, it just evolved naturally. You probably will draw/suck longer during a puff on an e-cig than you do on your analog cigarette.

    For more on getting the most out of your e-cig, explore the Tips & Tricks forum ... and all threads in this New Members forum (especially the Stickies).

    Preview of Coming Attractions

    Parts 4 and 5 (to be posted separately) are both devoted to purchasing your first e-cig.

    Part 4: Purchasing Your First E-cig – The Little Guys
    • Regardless of Model: Minimum order / Discount Codes / Right for You
    • The Quick and Dirty Approach / A More Thorough Approach: ECF resources
    • Specific Recommendations and Supplier Links Based on Your Priorities:
      • One of the Super-Minis
      • One of the Minis
      • The Cartomizers – KR808D-1 and GreenCig
    Part 5 continues the specific recommendations, focusing on the “big guys” – penstyles, cigars and pipes, and hybrids – and the juice. Both parts will include links to the least expensive (and quite reliable) suppliers I’ve identified as of the date posted.

    Warning: Style Shift Ahead

    The first three parts of this series have been filled with lots of pictures and occasional links. The subject matter of the next two parts calls for that to be reversed: many more links and occasional pictures. And the tone thus far has been rather whimsical. That will change. Don’t get me wrong – it won’t be somber, just more Joe Friday* in approach.
    * [For those whose hair has not yet turned gray, “Joe Friday” can be found under the heading, “Ancient History: 1950’s TV shows: Dragnet” ... or simply by Googling the phrase, “Just the facts, ma’am.”]
    Of course, my sui generis sense of humor may get the better of me and I might feel compulsed to season lightly with DaBoomVape “wit” (or perhaps just 50% of such).

    I'll be back! [imagine an Austrian accent]

    [And remember to post your questions and comments – the good, the bad, and the ugly – not here, but in this thread. The positive feedback lightens my soul; the constructive feedback can help improve the value of this series.]
  2. AngusATAT

    AngusATAT Captain Tightpants Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Apr 2, 2009
    GA, USA
    Posting to get the different parts in order.
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