Vaping mistakes... Yikes! Who knew??
Vaping has become a prevalent pastime the world over, with many users picking up a vaping kit as a means to quit smoking, and some picking up the vape as a means to pass the time - I’m talking about those vapers participating in competitions to make amazing shapes from the clouds of vapour!
A vaping device functions by using a battery to heat a coil, which in turn heats up what is known as e-liquid or ‘vape juice’ into an aerosol, which is then inhaled and exhaled by the vaper. Some people do this to enjoy the flavours found in the plethora of e-liquids on sale, some people - smokers - may take up the vape to say ‘goodbye’ to the traditional tobacco cigarette.
So what exactly is a vaping mistake? What can you do to minimise them?
VAPING MISTAKE TO AVOID
A new user is prone to mistakes - it’s part of the learning process, so should be expected - even so, some of these mistakes can be costly in different ways, and some more problematic than others. Being aware of some of these mistakes is the first step to avoiding them!
IS CHOOSING THE WRONG VAPE AND VAPE KIT A MISTAKE?
The first mistake any new user can make is: choosing the wrong starter kit!
There are a few ways to go wrong here, and knowing what you want from your vaping experience will help guide you to the right style of device. Many smokers do well with an electronic cigarette - low powered cheap devices that produce a small, inoffensive amount of vapour (unless you really puff hard). When you’re just starting out, choosing a more complex device like a vape pen or box mod may be too much trouble, so starting with something simple is a good idea.
Are you someone that spots a micro-USB cable and plugs your phone in for some juice? Have you ever noticed that sometimes your phone gets hot when you do this, unlike when you charge at home? Well the simple answer to this mystery comes in the form of the charging port - you see, not all USB ports are created equally: USB 1.0 and 2.0 can provide up to 500mA of current, a USB 3.0 port can deliver up to 900mA, and dedicated charging ports can have a current up to 1500mA. So for a battery that was designed to be charged at the level of USB 1.0 or 2.0, charging with a USB 3.0 or dedicated charging port could lead to overheating the battery, which can reduce it’s integrity, increasing the chances of a short circuit - and with Lithium-ion batteries, this could mean an explosion.
To be safe, only use the charger provided with the device, and where a slow charger may take hours to get you fully juiced up, a fast charger may result in a battery explosion, so if you are unsure of the amps coming out of a given USB port, I would suggest DON’T RISK IT!
The biggest issue for a new user is going to be telling if the vape device is low quality. If you can tell the difference between high quality steel and low quality steel by eye, you might be ok (and superhuman), but for those who aren’t aeronautical navy engineers, chances are you can’t tell whether the steel used is high or low quality, and likely the same for the ceramic used. So what are your options?
You could request details on the device - the UK’s TDPR regulations mean that all liquids are tested out and in the device, so details should be accessible. If not, there might be a reason for it. Also, check how long the device has been around; newer generation devices are higher quality and have refined the technology, so things like the nicotine delivery are more efficient, as well as improved design and construction.
ARE THERE WRONG VAPING TECHNIQUES?
The big thing to remember when vaping is: you aren’t having a cigarette. I know it sounds obvious, but when you have a cigarette, you naturally stop smoking when the cigarette is gone. When it comes to vaping, there is no natural stopping point - unless you count the end of the refill - so it can be easy to keep vaping when you would normally have stopped.
The problem here is that if your e-liquid contains nicotine then you could end up consuming too much, resulting in nicotine poisoning. A lower nicotine strength liquid will reduce this risk, however the device may play a part in determining the nicotine level of your liquid. The bigger devices that produce more vapour are generally used with lower nicotine level liquids because the sheer amount of vapour produced, combined with the throat hit provided by high nicotine liquids, can make the vaping experience harsh and unpleasant.
The device you vape with will also be designed for a particular inhaling technique: the two types of technique are known as ‘mouth to lung’ and ‘direct to lung’. Mouth to lung is the technique typically used for cigarettes - you drag on the device, taking the vapour into your mouth, and inhale to the lungs from there. The e-cigarettes and pod vapes tend to use this technique, with the vape pens and box mods favouring ‘direct to lung’ inhale - where you inhale from the device straight into your lungs.
Using the wrong technique in conjunction with the wrong device could leave you coughing and spluttering, or unsatisfied. Both results could lead to the user thinking about going back to cigarettes, so taking the time to make sure you are using the device correctly will pay off in the long run!
HOW WILL INCORRECT CHOICE OF E-LIQUIDS AFFECT ME?
Getting the right e-liquid for you can be just as important as finding the right device. The wrong nicotine level will leave you unsatisfied, could lead to over vaping, or at worst, result in the user buying a packet of cigarettes.
The balance of vegetable glycerine (VG) to propylene glycol (PG) in your e-liquid affects the smoothness and throat hit of the vaping experience. Some smokers need enough PG to achieve the throat hit to help vaping feel like smoking, some prefer the silky smooth experience of a higher VG liquid. The type of device can also have an impact on the balance of VG to PG - VG is quite thick so high VG liquids do well with more powerful devices that are capable of vaporizing the VG quickly and efficiently.
There are rare cases of allergy to propylene glycol (PG) - someone with this condition may get away with a 30/70 PG to VG ratio, but there are cases where it has been necessary to use 100% VG liquids to avoid an allergic reaction. If you are one such rare person affected in this way, a high powered device is required in order to vapourise 100% VG liquids.
HOW WILL THE INCORRECT NICOTINE CONTENT AFFECT ME?
As a general guide, heavy smokers - those who smoke 20+ cigarettes a day - would do well with a high nicotine liquid; the maximum available in the UK is a 2% concentration. Medium to light smokers - up to 20 cigarettes a day - may find starting on a 1.8% strength liquid suitable, though a 2% liquid may be a good starting place to ensure the nicotine cravings are dealt with - don’t forget that switching down to a lower strength is always an option.
Social smokers should stick to a low nicotine liquid, or nicotine free if at all possible. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance (1) that affects your body in a multitude of ways, many of which are negative, so any vapers that aren’t smokers would do well to avoid developing a nicotine addiction - use nicotine free liquids!
WHAT IS DRY VAPING?
Dry vaping occurs when there is not enough e-liquid saturating the wicking material when you puff. The wicking material is where the liquid is held and then heated by the coil, so if there is not enough e-liquid in the wicking material, using the vape will give you what is known as ‘dry hits’.
Dry hits can also result from too much power being delivered to the coil, burning the coil resulting in a burnt taste from that point on - time to change that coil, and when you do, make sure to pre-soak the wicking material in the e-liquid, or allow plenty of time for the wicking material to become saturated before taking a hit.
IS NOT BEING PROPERLY HYDRATED A VAPING MISTAKE?
Drinking enough water? Surely that’s not a vaping mistake? How is it even a vaping mistake? Well let me illuminate you, dear reader.
Propylene glycol is a hygroscopic compound - this means it pulls water molecules to it. It is used in cosmetics to keep them moist, as a preservative and humectant (keeps things moist) in food, as a solvent, and as a stabiliser in pharmaceuticals.
This property of PG means that it can dry out your mouth and throat, leading to irritation and soreness. This encourages dehydration, which impacts your ability to focus and get rid of toxins via urine and sweat. Your body also needs water for almost every process, so being dehydrated impacts the normal function of the body. Luckily, the remedy is easy - drink plenty of water!
HOW DO POOR MAINTENANCE PRACTICES AFFECT YOUR VAPING?
One of the more costly common vaping mistakes is not taking care of your device. The more simple the device, the less maintenance that is required. Some e-cigarettes are disposable, some are closed units that allow for re-use by changing the refill, but the more complex devices - the vape pens and vape mods - require cleaning, and replacing parts as they wear.
Not cleaning the tank can impact the flavour of your liquids - residue and liquid left in when you refill with a new flavour could worsen the taste, negatively impacting the experience. Keeping the tank clean will also help you see when the tank has taken some damage, telling you it’s time for a new one.
Battery life is a tricky one, as different devices expect a different battery lifespan.
Closed units may be expected to last a few months before needing to be replaced. Vapers with bigger vape mods should check the batteries regularly for any damage as these batteries can cause some serious damage if the integrity has been compromised.
The coil is what heats the e-liquid up, so any faults and problems with the coil could lead to inefficient power use which can shorten the lifespan of the battery - but the coil itself is constantly getting heated so will wear and accumulate grit as it is submerged in a liquid. So, guess what - burnt coils will add a burnt taste to your e-liquid! More importantly, a deteriorating coil will leak metal into your e-liquid - this should be avoided as this results in harmful chemicals forming and being inhaled.
Make sure you keep an eye on the state of the coil or atomizer and don't forget to carry spares so you are never tempted to use a bad coil. Change your coils regularly for the best vaping experience in terms of flavour, your device’s performance, and for safety. (2)
Take care to charge your device as instructed by the manufacturer! We’ve talked about some of the problems that can arise from using the wrong charger, but charging for too long or not long enough can wreck the battery too. Most devices aren’t designed to be used at the same time as charging, so adhere to the rule of not using it while charging unless it is a device that is designed to be used as such.
HOW SERIOUS IS NOT FOLLOWING SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS?
We’ve covered some of the basic safety recommendations already, but an important one to cover is adding chemicals to your e-liquid. The CDC recommends not adding any substances to your e-liquid or vape device that are not intended by the manufacturer (3).
The FDA have analysed e-liquid samples from over thirty one U.S states from patients hospitalised with a vaping related injury, and while in many cases there is not enough e-liquid to carry out sufficient testing, 843 samples connected to patients have been tested to some degree, and 511 of these were found to contain THC, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis. (4)
The problem with adding such chemicals is that other chemicals are needed as solvents to act as a base for the added compounds, and diluents to achieve a consistency and viscosity appropriate for an e-liquid. In the analyses conducted by the FDA, 50% of the 511 samples containing THC also contained vitamin E acetate as a diluent.
While vitamin E is found in foods and not considered harmful when ingested or applied to the skin (in cosmetics), studies such as the one published by the New England Journal of Medicine in February 2020 have drawn associations between vitamin E acetate and EVALI - ‘e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury’. (5)
Transporting your vaping gear may seem straightforward but I would caution against that assumption. In the UK, a father was carrying his vape pen in a pocket when it short circuited, exploding and causing severe burns. He had keys in his pocket at the time, and it is thought that the keys contacted the device leading to the short circuit. (6)
What we can take away from this is that your vape should not be kept in a pocket with other metal objects - and this is true for your spare battery too. Take the time to pack away any spares properly and, if you plan to keep your device in a pocket, keep it away from metal objects.
VAPING MISTAKES TO AVOID - CONCLUSION
A beginner, new to vaping, will make some of these mistakes. The aim is to be aware of the pitfalls, particularly the big ones, to avoid any substantial consequences. Making sure your device and liquids are safe for use is priority number one, and other mistakes will teach you as you go. It won’t take many times of being caught short to get in the habit of keeping a spare battery and refills to hand, but make sure your battery is stored safely!
At the core, one of these mistakes could leave you unable to use your device, subjecting you to the nicotine craving and withdrawal, leaving you vulnerable to satisfy the need by any means necessary - this could mean buying a cheap disposable vape device - or worse - buying a packet of cigarettes.
If you are just starting your vaping journey, it is well worth visiting or calling your local vape shop for their advice - they work in the industry, after all! They can make sure you’re equipped with everything you need to get started, and advise you on subjects ranging from the individual devices available to the right e-liquid for you.
Knowledge is power; now you have the knowledge - time to use the power!
Many of this issues can be solved using a small and regulated e-cigarette starter kit from SMOKO! So if you want a hassle-free vaping experience, why not check out these popular vape and e-cigarette starter kits that might help you kick the cigarette habit for good!
(1) Harmful effects of nicotine
(2) One Acute Exposure to E-Cigarette Smoke Using Various Heating Elements and Power Levels Induces Pulmonary Inflammation
(3) 5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know
(4) Lung Injuries Associated with Use of Vaping Products
(5) Vitamin E Acetate in Bronchoalveolar-Lavage Fluid Associated with EVALI
(6) Dad, 37, suffers third-degree burns after vape pen explodes ‘like a bomb’ in his pocket
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Written by Dan Overgage
Dan Overgage is a former smoker of 10 years until he became a client of SMOKO E-Cigarettes. Dan started working with SMOKO 5 years ago after successfully quitting using our e-cigarettes and works across our Customer Service and heads up our content creation and research with a strong focus on all things quitting smoking. During his tenure with SMOKO, Dan has written countless blogs and consults with countless clients every day to help them to stay smoke-free.