*2023 Update - Consider choosing the new SMOKO VAPE POD as your first vape kit! Great-tasting UK-made liquids in a pre-filled pod style vape!
Are you a smoker? Are you a non-smoker looking to take up vaping? Are you a social smoker? These are the first questions to consider when choosing your first vape kit!
The jumping off point is different for everyone - the path that led you to this point is unique, and the fashion in which you want to move forward is down to your desires, so there isn’t really a ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to vaping devices.
CHOOSING AN E-CIGARETTE OR VAPE STARTER KIT
There are 4 main types of devices: electronic cigarettes, pod vapes, vape pens, and vape mods. They all function differently, each delivering a different vaping experience. These different styles of vaping should be considered before purchasing your first starter kit - the different inhale techniques used on the different devices define the experience.
‘Direct to lung’ (DTL) is where you inhale to the lungs directly from the device, whereas ‘mouth to lung’ (MTL) is the typical drag on a cigarette where you suck on the device, taking the vapour into the mouth and inhale from there. If you smoked tobacco cigarettes, for example, you may find the ‘mouth to lung’ inhale works for you, so this will factor in when you choose your first vape kit.
The different style devices also require different amounts of preparation and maintenance. Some users may enjoy the extra parts of ‘the ritual’, but there are definitely plenty of vapers who want something simple and convenient that just works. For smokers using vaping as a smoking replacement, extra hurdles and things that can go wrong are potentially disasters in that they could trigger a relapse, so having confidence in your device is paramount.
The starter kits available also differ greatly between the style of device. Our SMOKO E-cigarette starter kit comes with a battery, a USB charger and 2 flavour refills, in a slim carry case. As a general rule, the smaller and more affordable devices - like the e-cigarettes or cigalike and pod style - often have a refill or two in the starter kit, though this isn’t always the case. As soon as you enter vape pen territory, all that is included in a starter kit are the components of the device.
Another style is a vape pod or vape pen that uses pre-fill refills or pods. Offering a bit more power and creating more vapour, they are quite a popular design for 1st time vapers or advanced vapers looking for an easier to use alternative. The SMOKO VAPE Starter Kit has been very popular with many vapers who have become frustrated with the leaking and maintenance of a larger device.
For a refillable vape pen style, this will include the battery, the tank, a replaceable coil (or two) and ‘drip tip’ if it is separate from the tank, and a charger cable. You won’t find any e-liquids in the starter kit for vape pens - your vape juice will need to be purchased in addition to the starter kit.
Vape mod - or ‘box mod’ - starter kits are very similar to the vape pen, though some of the box mods do not include a battery - it must be purchased as an optional extra. These units require more power so often the battery life isn’t great - spare batteries may be a good idea. A typical box mod kit comes with your battery housing (this often has the controls on), a vape tank, a drip tip, a couple of coils and a charger. These sub-ohm kits may well come with some spare parts too! Like the vape pen, no liquids are included in the starter kit itself, though you may find there are deals to be had when buying your starter kit.
WHAT TYPE OF SMOKER ARE YOU?
So now we’ve covered the options, let’s get back to our jumping off point - why are you looking to take up vaping? Are you a heavy smoker looking to quit tobacco? Do you just smoke socially? Or are you a non-smoker? The answer to these questions will guide you toward a particular style of vaping, which in turn helps you decide which starter kit to go with.
Heavy smokers tend to like a throat hit when they inhale, so the devices that produce a great throat hit are a great choice. The throat hit does depend on the e-liquid as well - the nicotine content and balance of vegetable glycerine to propylene glycol (VG to PG). The more PG in your vape starter kit, the more realistic the throat hit! Occasional or social smokers may find a smoother inhale preferable, as would non-smokers, so this would mean increasing the VG balance, or decreasing the nicotine content. Non-smokers would do well to use zero nicotine liquids if they want to avoid developing an addiction to nicotine.
GETTING THE RIGHT NICOTINE STRENGTH
If you are a smoker using vaping to quit tobacco, getting the right nicotine strength is very important - the aim is to address the cravings in order to avoid lighting another cigarette. In the UK, the strongest liquids you can buy off the shelf are a 2% mixture (20mg/ml) so make sure to go for that strength - in the slight chance that the 2% mixture isn’t strong enough, you could think about mixing your own liquids to achieve a higher nicotine content. This would mean choosing a device that you can refill yourself, rather than one that uses disposable refills. A higher nicotine content will increase the potency of the throat hit, but by using ‘nic salts’ - nicotine in a different chemical state - you can mix a higher nicotine liquid with a smoother inhale experience.
Social smokers are unlikely to need a nicotine content as high as regular smokers, so the nicotine strengths available on the retail market in the UK are likely to have you covered. If you like the throat hit, a 1.8% or 2.0% strength e liquid might do the trick - but for those using a more powerful device like a pen style or sub-ohm kit that produces more vapour, nicotine levels that high are likely to make the throat hit too harsh and could have you coughing and spluttering. The liquids used with these devices tend to be 0%, 0.3% and 0.6% strength, with a 70/30 VG to PG ratio: the increased VG content leads to more vapour production.
Don’t forget that liquids with zero nicotine are available too - for someone looking to quit nicotine ‘cold turkey’ this might work well as the action of vaping matches the smoking part of the habit, there’s just no nicotine (or the harmful rubbish in tobacco)!
Hopefully now you have an idea of the type of device that appeals to you, and the strength of the liquid you should start on. Time to look at the ins and outs of e-liquids!
Low powered devices favour the 20/80 VG to PG ratio because the PG keeps the liquid thin enough that low powered devices can still vaporize the liquid. The higher VG liquids are generally used in the more powerful devices - though there are pod systems that use the high VG liquids too. Low nicotine liquids ( 0.3% or 0.6% ) are recommended for these units, as the large amount of vapour in addition to the nicotine is likely to hit the throat too hard.
If you have a sensitivity to propylene glycol - fear not! There are 100% VG liquids available too! These liquids are quite thick so should only be used with the higher powered devices, like vape mods.
Now the fun bit - flavours! There are a huge range of flavours available, even in the well regulated UK market - this can be a major advantage if utilised correctly. Variety is the spice of life, as they say, so why not establish a few flavours that you like? This will help to stop you from getting bored of a single flavour, making sure you enjoy every opportunity to vape. Keep in mind that it is propylene glycol that carries most of the flavour in e-liquids.
Smoker’s may initially choose one of the many tobacco-esque flavours on offer as a way of tricking the brain into thinking it’s having a real cigarette, or because it’s just what they are used to. Menthol smokers are covered too, with mint flavours and mint mixes aplenty. For those with more of a sweet tooth, there are numerous flavours of e-liquid styled after classic desserts, ranging from strawberries and cream to blackberry crumble. Last, but certainly not least, there are many fruity flavours - raspberry being one of my personal favourites!
SELECTING A REPUTED AND QUALITY BRAND
Since vaping came along, lots of brands selling vape products have popped up. When they offer many similar products, how do you know which brand to go with? In this time with COVID, trying units in shops presents a fair few problems, so for the time being it would appear that this is off the table. So how can we make sure your first vape kit is appropriate for you?
A recommendation from a friend is always a good start; you may well have had a go on their device (make sure to use a clean drip tip!) and using that as a guide to choose the right direction for you is a great starting point.
Have a look at the websites of these brands - as we covered earlier, the UK has strong regulation on e-liquids, so you know they are safe if they are made in the UK. This may not be the case if the liquids are made elsewhere…
Make sure to check online e-cigarette and vaping reviews - while individual problems are expected (so be sure not to judge a brand on a single review) the brands with a majority of good reviews are likely to be a safe bet.
A visit or call to your local vape store may help - discussing with staff who work in the industry is never a bad idea. They are there to help you figure this stuff out!
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING YOUR FIRST VAPE KIT CONCLUSION
You’ve reached the end of our guide to choosing your first vape kit! As outlined, there are quite a few things to consider when choosing your first vape kit, but you should now be armed and ready to start your vaping journey!