I just got back home from ECC 2016. It was a great time, full of excellent people, interesting products, and a few surprises. I have plenty of previews to write and photos to post from the event, but before I get to that, I wanted to talk about the show as a whole. The best word to describe it was surprising. Here’s a brief breakdown of ECC 2016.
Bigger Than I Was Expecting
Given California’s new laws — no vaping indoors and a higher vaping age of 21 — I was expecting a relatively small show. While ECC 2016 was certainly smaller than the gargantuan expo in Pomona last year, it was bigger than I thought it would be. There were more companies and more attendees than I expected, which is a credit to the show’s organizers. Several of my industry colleagues were similarly surprised.
The word on the show floor was that ECC 2016 will be the last major vaping event in California, given the new restrictions. If that’s the case, at least California vape shows went out on a strong note. Hopefully that’s not the case and there will be more great California vaping expos in the future.
MasterCard Incorporated appears set to take action against vape retailers in 2017. Some of it was expected, as per the recent FDA regulations. Some of it is arguably excessive. The ones set to be hit the hardest are online vape retailers.
I recently obtained an email sent from credit card processor US Merchant Systems that was sent to a vaping retailer friend of mine. He has a brick-and-mortar store, as well as an online business. The email was a warning that his business must be in compliance with MasterCard’s Business Risk Assessment and Mitigation (BRAM) program. Here are the BRAM requirements from the email that pertain to brick-and-mortar vape shops.
It’s election day in United States, a glorious time when Americans get to hire and fire a bunch of public servants. The 2016 presidential election has been astonishing. The campaigns have easily been the angriest and most divisive that I’ve ever seen. There are strong emotions coming from the supporters of both major-party candidates. Whether you care about politics or not, I’m certain that some of those emotions have crept into your life. As a vaper, I was wondering if the election has had any influence on your vape life. As for me, there’s one modder and one retailer that I’ll no longer buy from due to politics.
My interview with Blow E-Juice co-owner Farid Zahreddine comes with an added bonus. As expected, he told me about Blow E-Juice and its three launch flavors. In addition to learning about the company and its tasty dessert e-liquids, Farid went on an inspired rant of how it’s wrong for politicians to equate vaping with tobacco cigarettes. His passionate diatribe was a pleasant and welcome surprise.
As for the company itself, Blow E-Juice started in mid-2015. The owners are people that are passionate about vaping and got into the scene. In addition to appreciating the fact that vaping got them off of tobacco cigarettes, the owners were fascinated by the vaping community. As with many new and rapidly growing industries, the vaping business is relatively small and has a sense of family. The owners of Blow E-Juice seem to genuinely enjoy that aspect of vaping.
Moving onto the three Blow E-Juice vaping e-liquids, the company’s most popular flavor is Om Nom Nuke. It’s a savory dessert blend that combines toffee custard, vanilla ice cream, and caramel. It’s a very rich flavor that’s bursting with complexity. Vapers that enjoy simple, straightforward flavors will likely be overwhelmed by Om Nom Nuke. The bit of it I vaped was quite delicious.
Dolce Fuel is the company’s strawberry cheesecake e-liquid. While not as rich as Om Nom Nuke, it’s still quite flavorful. The company did a good job of mixing the cheesecake creaminess and the bright fruit notes. While there are a lot of strawberry cheesecake flavors on the market, I believe that Dolce Fuel is certainly worth a try.
To my surprise, my favorite Blow E-Juice flavor was the company’s simplest blend. Orgasmic Aftermath is a straight-up cheesecake. Perhaps I was influenced by its fantastic name, but I really enjoyed this straightforward cheesecake vape.
For more information on Blow E-Juice and to hear Farid’s fantastic rant, please check out the interview below.
When I first met the Hold Fast Vapors crew, I was excited by the prospect of meeting a group of pirates that made vaping e-liquid. Sadly, Hold Fast Vapors doesn’t have any actual pirates on staff (or so the company claims), but what it does have is a bunch of delicious flavors. Senior account executive Connor O’Brien spent some time with me to talk about the company and three of its flavors.
The newest addition to Hold Fast Vapors is the Ironclad line. The Ironclad e-liquids use a higher percentage of vegetable glycerin (VG) for more vapor production. The first Irconclad flavor is Key Largo, a yummy Key lime sherbet. I very much enjoyed this e-liquid’s blend of light sweetness and tanginess. It was my favorite of the three flavors covered in this interview.
One of the earlier flavors in the Hold Fast Vapors line, Mutiny is a blend of pear, berries, and cream. It’s an interesting mix that stands out from the numerous berries-and-cream concoctions on the market. Mutiny’s use of pear gives it a tasty edge. While I’m generally not big on fruit vapes, I do enjoy fruit-and-cream blends. With its pear kick, Mutiny was a pleasant surprise.
The last flavor in the Hold Fast Vapors lineup is a dessert mix called Port Royal. Vapers with a sweet tooth will enjoy this medley of cake, maple sugar, and nuts. I love me some dessert vapes, so I was instantly drawn to this flavor and enjoyed the bit I had during my meeting with Hold Fast Vapors.
Connor told me to expect two more flavors in the Ironclad lineup, which makes sense considering that many vapers have moved to sub-ohm tanks. The extra VG will help them fog up some rooms with delicious vapor. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t reveal much about the flavors. Off camera, he said I’d have to walk the plank if he told me what the new flavors were. See, I knew they were pirates!
Foggy Gnome had a number of interesting products for vapers on display at Vape Nights. Mark Gutensohn, the company’s head of sales and marketing, walked me through them. First, let’s talk about the three types of Foggy Gnome cotton. The company doesn’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach for cotton, so if offers three varieties of wicking material. Gutensohn doesn’t believe there’s a “best” one of the three, but rather different types of vapers will have different preferences. Beyond that, the same vaper might find a different type of cotton will match a certain juice.
As for the three specific types of Foggy Gnome cotton, first up is Southern Blend Organic Fogwick. This mix of short-fiber and long-fiber cotton retains the natural oils and waxes. For those looking for the purest flavor, Southern Blend Organic Bath is a good choice. It’s similar to the previous cotton, but undergoes an organic bath to remove the oils and waxes. Last, but certainly not least, is Sub-Ohm Gold Organic Fogwick. Aimed towards vapers that love low-resistance coils and high temperatures, this short-fiber cotton has the highest heat resistance of the three. Gutensohn was quick to point out that all Foggy Gnome cotton is American grown and mechanically processed in the United States.
On the box mod front, Foggy Gnome offers the Fogg Boxx. This parallel box mod is made from extremely sturdy 7075 aluminum. Gutensohn showed me a video of a Fogg Boxx being run over by a large truck. After driving over the Fogg Boxx, the driver got out of the truck and vaped on it. The box mod is available in seven different colors and comes with a certificate of authenticity. The Fogg Boxx is manufactured and assembled in the United States. In addition to its sturdy construction, I love that the Fogg Boxx looks different from all the Hammond-style box mods on the market.
To learn more about Foggy Gnome cotton and the Fogg Boxx, check out my chat with Mark Gutensohn below.
Last week at VapeCon International Washington, RPadholic N8R posed an interesting question while a bunch of us were enjoying a Ciroc-fueled evening (morning, actually). He asked the group, “Do you think rebuildable atomizers will be dead in two or three years? Because the coils on tanks are getting so good!” (At least, that’s what he asked to the best of my memory. There was a lot of vodka.) It’s certainly an interesting question, but to me it has a clear answer — no.
While it’s true that vape tanks are better than ever, they’re still behind rebuildable atomizers in terms of flavor production and vapor production. Certainly the convenience of tanks with replaceable coils is tough to beat. For the majority of vapers, a good tank with a good coil is a more manageable vaping solution than a rebuildable atomizer. In the timeframe N8R mentioned, I don’t doubt that tanks with replaceable coils will greatly outsell rebuildable atomizers. Now having said all of that, I sincerely doubt that rebuildable atomizers will be dead in three years.
One of the cool things about vaping is all the experimentation that occurs. A lot of that experimentation leads to innovation. Much of the experimentation and innovation happens on rebuildable atomizers. Let’s look at exotic coil types, for example. Clapton coils are the rage these days, with vapers enjoying the enhanced flavor they offer. In the last few months, companies have been offering replacement coils that feature Clapton builds. The first time I saw a Clapton coil was in early 2014 on ECF. While the innovative build eventually hit the replaceable-coil space, it first happened on rebuildable atomizers.
The same holds true for the different metals used with temperature control mods. Yes, there are replaceable coils that use nickel or titanium. Coils with stainless steel wire have recently popped up too. Before these metals appeared in replaceable coils, vapers were using them on rebuildable atomizers.
Again, I don’t doubt that tanks with replaceable coils will eclipse rebuildable atomizers in the near future. That trend has already started. Replaceable coils are simply a superior solution for the majority of vapers. At the same time, I don’t doubt that rebuildable atomizers will still be a “thing” in three years. It’s a much better platform for experimentation. There will always be a segment of enthusiast vapers that like to tinker and push the envelope, and they’ll do so on rebuildable atomizers. These pioneers are the trendsetters and tastemakers that will help make vaping better for everyone.
So yeah, that’s my long answer to a question that I couldn’t adequately answer last week due to alcohol. Ha!
The Wismec Noisy Cricket — designed by the infamous Jay-Bo — is one of the most unique box mods of 2015. While many vaping companies are going with regulated box mods, the Noisy Cricket is a mechanical box that offers the unadulterated power of two 18650 batteries in series. For those of you unfamiliar with the difference between parallel and series configurations, the former gives you the combined battery life of both cells, while the latter gives you the combined power of both batteries. The Noisy Cricket is also a very small and pleasantly elegant device. So you’re getting immense power in a cute and tiny box mod, similar to the Men in Black weapon it was named after.
In the interview below, Jay-Bo talks about how he came up with the Noisy Cricket. For his first mechanical mod, he whipped up an elegant design that used a hybrid adapter. Before he could put the design into production, mods like the Bay City Vapor Surfrider and SMPL were released. Since he didn’t want to release anything too close to those mods, he tabled his mech mod efforts. Many months later, he came up with the idea for the Noisy Cricket while on an airplane and banged out the prototype in days.
While the series power is the most obvious feature of the Noisy Cricket, I’m a big fan of its aesthetics. It’s a clean and simple device, with no branding on the body. It uses a hybrid adapter for the atomizer and a SMPL-style firing button. The contacts are gold plated, to prevent corrosion. The battery slots are lined to help prevent accidents with batteries with torn wraps (which you should really be rewrapping, btw). Lastly, the button has a PEEK insulator for additional safety.
Vaping the Noisy Cricket is distinctly different from the majority of my vaping setups. Jay-Bo had me put my Indestructible Atomizer on it for testing. My atty had a 0.4-ohm dual-coil Clapton build on it. On the Noisy Cricket, there was no ramp-up time and I got huge hit of vapor straight away. In fact, it was more power than I’m accustomed to and I wasn’t able to take a drag for more than three seconds. In the video, Jay-Bo goes over his build recommendations for the Noisy Cricket. If you’re interested in the mod, plan on building much higher than you normally do.
To learn more about the Wismec Noisy Cricket, check out my chat with Jay-Bo below.
A few weeks ago, I caught up with Wismec senior designer Jay-Bo to talk about the Reuleaux DNA 200 mod. Quite simply, it’s the most unique DNA 200 mod that I’ve seen all year. While most DNA 200 box mods on the market use LiPo batteries, the Reuleaux DNA 200 uses three 18650 batteries. Most enthusiast vapers have an ample supply of 18650 batteries, making the Reuleaux’s use of “traditional” vaping batteries more convenient. The mod also has an unusual shape, which stands out next to a typical box mod and is surprisingly comfortable to hold. In the video interview below, Jay-Bo talks about the Reuleaux’s design and features.
In case you were wondering about the name, the mod is named after Franz Reuleaux, a German engineer best remembered for the Reuleaux triangle. In addition to the name reflecting the mod’s unique shape, it’s also an homage to the collaboration between Wismec, Jay-Bo, and Evolv (maker of the DNA 200 chip).
While the shape and battery usage are its most obviously unique features, the Reuleaux has some cool things happening under the hood as well. For reverse polarity protection (making sure vapers stay safe when inserting batteries incorrectly), the mod uses a mechanical solution rather than the more common electronic one. The Reuleaux’s battery slots feature circles on the positive side that hug the corresponding circle on an 18650 battery’s positive connection. If a user inserts a battery backwards, it will not make contact. Jay-Bo was particularly proud of the simple and elegant solution he came up with for reverse polarity protection.
When you add it all up, the Reuleaux DNA 200 offers the versatility and power of Evolv’s DNA 200 chip, a comfortable shape, and the long life of three 18650 batteries. Jay-Bo has made a lot of cool vaping products over the years and this mod could be his best yet. Check out my chat with Jay-Bo below to learn more about this wonderfully atypical DNA 200 mod.
My buddy Corey has been raving about Beard Vape Co ever since he discovered the company’s vaping e-liquids in 2014. At Vape Nights 2015, I finally got a chance to chat with the company. Beard Vape Co director of sales Lucas Kraft was kind enough to walk me through the company’s history, talk about three of its flavors, and tell me what’s coming next.
Beard Vape Co was started by a local Culver City vape shop. The company made more than 100 flavors to test out and kept a handful of its most popular ones to launch. Two of the brothers that started the company refer to their father as Beard. The company and its logo are an homage to pops, which is very cool.
The juice Corey is enamored with is No. 32, which tastes like a cinnamon funnel cake. The emphasis is on the baked goods side, with enough cinnamon so that you know that it’s there, but won’t overpower you. As a vaper that’s sensitive to cinnamon, the amount in No. 32 is just about perfect. While Corey found it first, No. 32 has become my favorite juice from Beard Vape Co.
Lucas also spoke about two of the company’s other flavors. No. 71 is the newest flavor from Beard Vape Co. It tastes similar to the peach o-ring candies you’ll find at a candy store. Lucas mentioned that this flavor wins over vapers that claim that they don’t like peach vapes or fruit vapes in general. No. 5 is Beard Vape Co’s take on the popular strawberry cheesecake e-liquid. Lucas mentioned that it’s one of the most popular flavors among the people that work in the company.
Currently available are Beard Vape Co’s limited edition holiday bottles. Lucas said that these bottles will appeal to the numerous collectors out there and give the company’s customers a new way to interact with them. Expect more limited edition bottles in the future.
To learn more about Beard Vape Co and its flavors, please check out my Vape Nights chat with Lucas below. You’ll also get to see a super-cool pumpkin carved with the Beard Vape Co logo!