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The Wonderful World of Vaping (Part 5 of 6)

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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. Please use either this thread here in the New Members’ forum or this thread in the General Discussion forum. Don't hesitate to pose questions and share your reactions, suggestions, and critique there. I look forward to interacting with you!

An Illustrated Guide to E-cigs

Part 5 (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 installment picks up where we left off in Part 4 (Purchasing Your First E-cig) and focuses on the big guys … and the juice.

Specific Recommendations and Supplier Links Based on Your Priorities


Shown in this photo (left to right) are: one of the larger Hybrids, a Penstyle, an E-Cigar, and one of the smaller Hybrids … compared to a Mini and a Super-Mini (and a quarter).


4. If you want more puffs per battery charge than the minis or super-minis, very smooth draw, wonderful vapor, good flavor, and mellow throat hit (which I often like, especially for long lingering vaping sessions like with my morning coffee or evening cocktail, or for my non-nicotine vaping) – and you don’t mind a long e-cig (50% longer than a 100s analog) – consider the Penstyle.


[photo courtesy of MNichopolis]

I think it is elegant. It looks kind of like an analog cigarette in an old-fashioned cigarette holder, such as used by FDR and Holly Golightly (although hers is much longer) … and by my avatar.


The cartridges are large and can hold a lot of juice. Their atomizers are unexposed; in fact, they’re at the bottom of long tubes. With two exceptions, these all have automatic batteries.
With the exception of the final model discussed below, all models look the same on the outside. So I’ll just show various penstyle photos in this section.

  • The 153 (155?) mm DSE801/RN4072: Two different manufacturers, but virtually identical and totally compatible. Like the 901, the 801 (which I use) is the “tried and true,” but the 4072 often is sold as an 801. [I’m not sure if it actually is an 801 (atomizer and/or battery) that I’m vaping at the moment.] Like the 901 and 510, most of the hybrids (e.g., Prodigy and Janty Stick) are designed to work with the 801 (or 4072 and the BE112) atomizer. A manual 801 battery (compatible with the other two models’ atomizers) recently has been made available. As stated previously, I don’t like its implementation. You might. Most 801 atomizers these days are high-bridge (which cart users don’t seem to like). [I don’t care; I always drip.] Explore these further in the DSE 801 *Penstyle* and RN-4072 *Penstyle* model-specific sub-forums.

  • The 145 mm BE112: Totally compatible with the above penstyles. Until researching details for this guide, I didn’t realize that it’s a different length, supposedly. I’ve not used it, but I’ve read very good things about it, especially the cartridges. [NOTE: The linked supplier is the retail website (in English) for the Chinese manufacturer itself. I don’t know of any (reliable, inexpensive) western supplier. But, even with its hefty $17 shipping charge (less for Asians and Aussies), it is price competitive with other models; and shipping time is only a couple days more than intra-continental (e.g., within North America).] I understand that the atomizer is low-bridge (better for use with carts). There is no model-specific sub-forum dedicated to it, but there are several posts you can search for.

  • The Joye302 (if you don’t mind it in white, it’s cheaper here). I’m not sure of its exact length (VapeAtron’s claim of 108mm is obviously incorrect). I almost omitted this one. Hadn’t heard much about it, but I stumbled on an old thread about it (that has had some recent posts), which commends the Joye302 (especially for its low-bridge atomizer). I’ve read that it is fully compatible with the 801, 4072, and 112.

  • At the same length as the 801 is the 154 mm M201, about which I’ve read very positive comments here on ECF (e.g., better throat hit). It is not compatible with the 801/4072/112, or with most hybrid adapters … except the VP-1 and VP-2. [The M201 is the only atomizer that can utilize all of those hybrids’ features.] Find out more in the M-201 *Penstyle* model-specific sub-forum (and search for it throughout ECF, because there’s not that much going on in that forum). As indicated by the Smoore logo, the units shown below are specifically M201’s. I just don’t know where you can actually purchase such neat-looking ones.

  • I am surprised to see that the Janty Kissbox is only 123 mm (again supposedly). I always thought it was basically an 801 with a manual (or automatic) switch mechanism inserted between the atomizer and battery. As you can see from the photo below, that’s correct in concept, but at 123 mm, there’s no way that’s an 801-length battery. At twice the price of any of the above, I don’t see the point.

5. If you are a cigar or pipe smoker, the obvious choices are e-cigars and e-pipes … and there are some. However, there seem to be a dwindling number of suppliers. I get the sense that the heyday of e-cigars and e-pipes may have come and gone (supplanted by the hybrids probably). [If that statement provokes protests to the contrary … good. The more spirited discussion about various model choices, the better. It’s what makes our subculture and ECF so vibrant.] The models include:

  • The 148 mm DSE-701 Cigar described in some detail (and with many great photos) in this Electronic Smokers Magazine article … and the virtually identical RN4062 E-Cigar. [Those RNs do seem to be copycats, don’t they?] These e-cigars are about the same price as a typical e-cig, but the atomizer tube (which also contains the battery) is more than twice the price of an e-cig atomizer. The generic rechargeable 3.7 Volt, 360 MaH battery (that goes inside that tube) costs about half the price of a typical e-cig battery. So it balances out. There are no model-specific discussion forums for the e-cigars, but search in ECF for either of the model numbers or “cigar” to learn more. If you squint, I suppose you could say it looks something like a cigar.

  • The much more expensive Greentech G120 Cigar, which (along with the next two models shown) actually looks like a cigar.

  • The 147 mm DSE 501 Disposable Cigar. Yes, it is disposable, but inexpensive (e.g., that linked supplier has them on sale for $9). Search in ECF for “cigar” in the title to learn more.

  • At $28 per stogie, The Greentech Disposable Cigar is much more expensive than the above. You know, I think I see a pattern. Greentech (which also offers that expensive Greencig counterpart to the KR808D-1 cartomizer e-cig discussed in Part 4) is positioning itself as the Rolls Royce (or at least Lexus) of PVs. And, like a Rolls Royce or Lexus, if you can afford it, go for it.

  • The 156mm DSE601 E-Pipe really does look just like a pipe. It is about 50% more expensive than the typical e-cig. The e-pipe’s atomizer (shown on the right) is the bowl of the pipe and costs around $40 to replace. Find out more about pipe vaping in the DSE 601 *Pipe* forum.

  • And here’s Greentech again with their G500 pipe – more than three times the price of the above.

  • The 110 mm RS888 Mini Pipe (aka “Lady” Pipe) – UK, US – is, of course, smaller than the above and slightly less expensive, but is a bit difficult to find, e.g., that U.S. supplier currently is out of stock. It’s well-liked, but users complain about its battery life. I’ve read that it uses a penstyle atomizer, but confirm that by exploring the Mini Pipe ECF forum. [Good news for those (like me) on a budget: I don’t think there is a Greentech version of the Mini Pipe.]

However, since you are used to smoking something that is much larger and doesn’t look anything like a cigarette – and if you are willing to be somewhat flexible –


I urge you to consider this final category…

6. If you would like to puff for a long time between battery charges and/or want maximum vapor and throat hit…


…(and don’t care if it doesn’t look like a cigarette … and are willing and able to invest more money upfront), then one of the Hybrids is for you. These all have a manual switch. Hybrids can cost 2-4 times as much as a standard e-cig, but (the battery housing) can last for years, rather than weeks or months. Shown below (clockwise starting from the upper left) are the Copper, AdapteveR, Bulli, and Zimoshi (which is not to scale).


There are two basic types:
  • Those using 3.7V batteries (of various sizes) – the same voltage as standard e-cig batteries – but lasting a lot longer before needing to be recharged. The Screwdriver and Janty Stick are leading examples.*

  • High-voltage devices (5V - 6V) providing both longer lasting batteries and more power – yielding huge plumes of vapor and major throat hit. The Prodigy and the GG Transformer are prime examples.*

* But don’t ignore the newer models (many of which are more streamlined), which are coming out almost every week. Some of these look really neat, in a Jetsons’ kind of way. Shown below are the VP-1 and VP-2 on top, the Super-T on the lower left, and the Silver Bullet on the lower right.


This already referenced and highly recommended article shows pictures and describes in detail virtually all of the current hybrids – including links to the relevant supplier (there’s usually only one per model). Please read nothing into my not going into more detail about the hybrids. That article has done it for me.

I will add here a suggestion: If you are considering a hybrid, think about the position of the manual switch button: visualize how you would hold the device … and what finger you would use to press the button. This certainly would be different for the devices with the button on the side of the battery pack near the atomizer vs. at or near the end of the battery pack. There is no right or wrong to this, but a matter of personal preference and comfort.

Hot off the press:

Since I began this opus, at least two new models (not included in that article) have been released: the Protégé (younger brother to the Prodigy) on the left … and, on the right, the relatively inexpensive Chuck (and its brother, the Little Chuck):


Actually, it’s difficult to show a representative photo of the Chucks, since they are handmade to order, with myriad color and design choices. Shown below are just two of those custom-ordered designs:


A few months ago, someone titled an ECF post (or had in his signature): “Sooner or later you’ll vape a Screwdriver” (or words to that effect). If we broaden that to include the Hybrids category (which Trog’s Screwdriver launched), I’m tempted to agree. There are just too many limitations, hassles, and disappointments with most traditional e-cigs. [‘traditional’ – That’s a strange word to use for a five year old phenomenon.] I still love my penstyle (a lot), but when the chips are down, I can always count on my Prodigy to deliver. Once you get over your infatuation with the teeny tiny “it looks just like a cigarette!” … you’ll see the light.;) IM(not so H)O.



You definitely will also need to order e-liquid (otherwise you’ll have nothing to vape). Oh, I suppose, you can just order additional prefilled cartridges. However, that’s not terribly cost effective and the flavor choices (and perhaps nicotine levels) are much more limited. Do get some blank carts to fill with the juice, at least until you’re comfortable with dripping or dipping.

Speaking of cost-effective, my personal benchmark price for e-liquid is 50¢ per ml, plus free shipping. Very few suppliers meet that benchmark (and, below, I tell you about the ones that do or come very close). Most far exceed or even double that price, or more.

China Juice or Made in the USA/UK Juice?

The vast majority of e-liquid is manufactured in China by just three companies (mainly Dekang Biotechnology) and sold by Chinese suppliers or exported to the west. I order China-manufactured juice from the least expensive US or China supplier who carries the flavors I like. [NOTE: Chinese suppliers better that price benchmark, but then their shipping costs are very high. Good for large orders.]


Most (but not all) of the western-produced e-liquid [‘western’ = North America and Europe, not cowboys] seems to be simply LorAnn flavoring mixed with base PG or VG (and China-produced nicotine) and sold at what I regard to be highly inflated prices. [A couple of those suppliers even supplement their offerings by reselling LorAnn flavorings, at a substantial markup.]


The best of that group combine more than one LorAnn flavor to create unique and tasty concoctions, e.g., Walrus's Mad Scientist's Laboratory. [EDIT: kristin just reminded me that Drew at NHaler also mixes delicious (and herbal) combinations. There was a part of my brain, which knew that, just not the part that was writing.:oops:]


A very few (e.g., ECOPure and Decadent Vapours) start from scratch and create something truly special, which I would be unable to do with my own limited DIY supplies (and talent). Those may be worth the prices charged.

I am very impressed with what the Chinese manufacturers have created. For example, how do they extract both subtly different tobacco flavors and controlled amounts of nicotine from tobacco leaves? I doubt any DIYer can replicate that. [And what the heck are the ingredients in RY4 (or RY1, 2, or 3 for that matter)?]

But 0mg Butter Rum e-liquid? Nah! Even I can do that. [And I have; it’s really inexpensive and easy … and it tastes good! (All credit to LorAnn.) More on this in the DIY section of Part 6.]

Your First Juice Order

For convenience, you probably will want to include juice with the starter kit order from your hardware supplier, who almost certainly carries at least a few flavors at various nicotine levels. I suggest that you order at least 30 ml (perhaps three 10 ml bottles, different flavors and nicotine levels), which takes us to…

Choosing Initial Nicotine Level


Very likely, the five prefilled cartridges included in your starter kit will be at varying strengths: None (0mg), Low (6-8mg), Medium (11-12mg), High (18mg), and, perhaps, Extra High (24mg). [Those mg levels vary.] You might want to start vaping the second strongest cartridge. If it seems too strong, try out the next one down, then one more down, if needed … or if it’s just not packing enough punch (e.g., you were a pretty heavy smoker), try the strongest cartridge. If that is 18mg and it’s still not strong enough, you’ll probably need the Extra High level.


And see if you enjoy the 0mg cartridge, e.g., for the “pacifier” vaping mentioned in Part 3.


But I’ve recommended that you also include e-liquid in your initial order. So order at least three bottles (10 ml or smaller) at different nicotine levels. Use the loose guidelines provided in Part 3 to set the level for one of those bottles … and order one bottle a notch lower and one a notch higher. Base the nicotine level of you next juice order (probably in larger sizes) on your experience with those carts and e-liquids.


The right nicotine level for you will also depend on how often you vape. If you just vape five minutes at a time at the same frequency as your smoke breaks, your body will crave higher nicotine levels than if you vape more frequently and/or for longer periods.


And remember, some devices (especially the hybrids) pack more punch (i.e., throat hit) than others. That’s because they vaporize and deliver more liquid (and therefore more nicotine) per puff … and/or at higher temperatures. Many vapers who move up to 5-6V hybrids, for example, say they need to cut back on their nicotine levels.


[left illustration courtesy of Kalin Nacheff, www.e-cigarettepedia.com]

Choosing Initial Flavor(s)

The abundance of flavor choices you discovered in Part 3 is a two-edged sword: how do you choose?


The flavor of the carts may be preset by the supplier (Marlboro or “Tobacco” is very common) or you may be able to choose a Menthol alternative. When selecting flavors for those three 10 ml bottles that I recommended, consider the following suggestions:
  • As a smoker, you’re used to the taste of tobacco, so order one basic tobacco flavor. If your initial supplier has “your brand,” you might as well try that. Otherwise, get Marlboro – virtually every supplier carries it and it is has a fairly balanced taste, not too strong, not too mild. If a menthol smoker, of course order that. [However, if you never really enjoyed the taste of smoking, ignore this basic tobacco suggestion.]

  • Try an enhanced tobacco flavor as well, e.g., 555, Hilton, or RY4. I’ve just discovered TAB (which, I believe, stands for Turkish American Blend, not the predecessor to Diet Coke). I experience it as similar to Hilton, but with more kick to the spices (not “spicy” as in Tabasco sauce, but intensely flavored). I like it! [But from comments I’ve read here on ECF, it may be an “acquired taste” for some.] I notice that TAB is offered by Rocky Mountain Vapor, Good Prophets, and Heaven Gifts, among others.

  • Definitely try at least one non-tobacco flavor (or three, if you never really liked the taste of tobacco). I know that the choices are overwhelming. Start with one or two of your very favorite fruits, beverages, candies, or deserts. This will not be your last juice order; you can try others during the weeks, months, and years to come. [If you just can’t decide, try the whiskey flavor. If you don’t like it, you can send it to me.:D]
Although you do want to order at least 30 ml, I wouldn’t order too much yet. You need to experiment to find out what your favorites are. And that’s where samplers can be helpful.


Some of the suppliers who offer samplers are:
  • nuVape: Twenty-two different (PG or PEG) “Taster Packs” of five 3 ml-bottles at selectable nicotine levels for $8 per pack = 53¢/ml + $2 shipping. [NOTE: That’s a very good price and shipping cost. However, when I tried these a few months ago, I found the flavors weak. That may have changed and/or you may not feel the same way.]

  • DIY Flavor Shack: $30 Six Pack of 6 ml bottles (you choose among five nicotine levels and scores of flavors, all non-tobacco) = 83¢/ml + $6 shipping. [NOTE: That’s not a very good price. However, they are known primarily as a DIY (do your own) e-liquid supplier and have excellent, cost-effective DIY starter kits.]
  • myFreedomSmokes: Exact same deal as above, except they have a lot of tobacco flavors as well, including some I’ve never seen before: “Stepwolves” (the Hermann Hesse novel I read in college?) … and not only RY4, but also RY1, RY2, RY3. And they call their TAB: “Blended DK-TAB” (“Blended” is redundant; I assume the DK stands for Dekang).
  • eSmokerOnline: Two different packs of seven 5 ml bottles (different tobacco flavors) – all at 24mg strength – for $26 per pack = 74¢/ml + $7 shipping.
  • NHaler: A large selection of 6 ml bottles ($4 each), unfortunately only at 24mg strength = 67¢/ml + $10 shipping. [Not sure why Drew’s shipping cost is so high. But he often throws in free samples, which makes up for it.] [EDIT: NHaler's "High Voltage" Samplers are 12mg. Thanks again, kristin.]
  • Johnson Creek: Their $22 “Sample Pack v2” includes 10 different flavors (preset and only at 18mg) in “sample sized” dropper bottles (my guess is 3 ml size). If my guess is correct, that’s 73¢/ml + $6 shipping. Their $40 "Welcome to E-Smoking" Kit v3 also includes the other supplies shown in the picture on the right.
  • EliquidPlanet: Nine different $20 Sampler Packs of five 5 ml bottles, all at 11mg strength. 80¢/ml + $6 shipping. [Maybe NHaler, Johnson Creek, and EliquidPlanet coordinated their offerings to provide a range of nicotine levels to consumers.]

It may be even more cost-effective to order some 10 ml sizes (not usually considered “sample” size) from one of the inexpensive suppliers:

  • LitecigUSA: $5 per bottle = 50¢/ml + $5 shipping. The have a huge selection of flavors.
  • Vapor Country: $5 per bottle = 50¢/ml + $6 shipping. [Their clearance juices are $3 per bottle.]
  • Rocky Mountain Vapor and Good Prophets: $6 per bottle = 60¢/ml + free shipping. [NOTE: Their $15 or $14 price, respectively, on 30 ml bottles meets or transcends my benchmark; and the shipping still is free.]
[When you do start ordering larger quantities, add The House of Vapor to your list of inexpensive juice suppliers. They only have 30 ml bottles and their offerings are very limited, but they do stock three nicotine levels and the classic flavors. $15 per 30 ml bottle = 50¢/ml + $5 shipping.]


I’ve ordered e-liquid from myriad vendors (including in China), basically looking for the cheapest prices (including shipping costs) and who has a sale running. The Supporting Suppliers page of ECF shows the banners and links to many of the vendors (hardware and software). There also are other good suppliers (often with the best prices) who have such narrow profit margins that they probably can’t afford the fee to be listed there, many of whom can be found in the E Cigarette Suppliers Forum. Overall, I have been very impressed with the reliability and remarkable personalized service of the suppliers in this primarily cottage industry.


And don’t forget the sacred Discount Coupon Code! Waste not, want not. – Poor Richard’s Almanac again.*
* Boy, there sure was a lot of good stuff in that Almanac. And we Yankee Doodles really needed it back in the 18th century (and today). I mean, what kind of advice did we get from Great Britain? – Penny wise and pound foolish. What the heck does that mean? – It’s more important to loose weight than to invest wisely? – No wonder Richard was poor (and skinny).

[Before my friends from across the pond chime in – Yes…I know what a Pound Sterling is. As a kid, however, that expression never made sense to me. But I forgave you when you bestowed upon us the Beatles … and, more recently, Harry Potter. Just don’t push down my throat that Shakespeare guy you’re so proud of. Forsooth! ;)]

Next: The Final Episode

Part 6 – During the Weeks and Months to Come
  • Supplies: Replacement parts and juice / PCC / USB Passthrough / Storage and carrying containers
  • DIY – Simple or Scratch Cook
  • Modding – Invent Your Own
  • Onward and Upward – Your Next E-cig
  • Conclusion
I’m overcome with sadness as I contemplate the forthcoming end of this series, so I just can’t think of anything cute or witty to say to wrap up this installment.:(

It’s all been: s’wonderful … s’marvelous … that you should care for vaping!

[I didn’t say I was unable to sing.;)]

See ya real soon!*

* Derivation: M…I…C (See ya real soon!)…K…E…Y (Why? Because we like you!)…M…O…U…S…E! – Mickey Mouse Club, circa 1957.
[That does not count as a song! Think of it as a spelling bee.]

And remember to post your questions and comments – the good, the bad, and the “please, please, please, no more singing!” – not here, but in this thread. The positive feedback will alleviate my sadness. The constructive feedback … well, I’ve learned to put up with it.
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