Vaping Diaries #3: Why Use a Variable Voltage E-Cig?

In addition to experimenting with different flavors and different ingredient percentages of e-liquids, hardcore vapers can take things to the next level of (awesome) nerdom by using variable-voltage devices. Typical e-cigarettes, like Safe Cig for example, run at 3.7 volts. Variable voltage models allow you to change the voltage anywhere from three to six volts in increments of 0.1, depending on the model. This allows for even more versatility and experimentation. Different voltages will cause different results with various juices and atomizers, allowing for a myriad of possibilities. Being able to control voltage helps people find the perfect vape.

As far as e-liquids go, voltage levels can alter throat hit, vapor production, and flavor. They’re especially useful for people that are sensitive to or are allergic to propylene glycol. Juices that contain heavy levels of vegetable glycerol or are completely comprised of  it can perform poorly on some e-cig setups. With variable voltage devices, those juices can result in blissful vapes.

Low-resistance atomizers are a no-no on many fixed-voltage devices since they result in more watts. Some batteries simply can’t handle atomizers rated at two ohms or lower. Variable-voltage devices can accomodate atomizers of all ratings. Again, this allows for more experimentation (i.e. nerd fun) that can help people find the perfect vape.

Variable-Voltage devices are another reason tech geeks enjoy vaping. It’s all about experimenting in order to find the perfect blend of taste, throat hit, and vapor. Well-made juices and great equipment will get you far, but finding the voltage that complements that combination perfectly will take things to the next level.

Vaping Diaries #2: What’s in E-Liquid/Juice?

One of the most common questions my friends ask when they see me vaping is, “What’s in that?” That’s a great question and a fairly simple one to answer. Unlike tobacco cigarettes, most of which contain hundreds of additives, the ingredients in e-liquid or juice are pretty straightforward. For the most part they all contain distilled water, food flavoring, nicotine (optional), propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerin. Fancier juices may contain natural tobacco extract too. While there are still ongoing studies of the longterm effects of vaping, I personally feel better about smoking a straightforward blend of ingredients instead of hundreds of known carcinogens (that’s not an endorsement though).

However, not all e-liquids are the same. Some vendors sell “Made in China” goods that can be low-quality. In general, I try to stick with reputable vendors that use quality flavorings and pharmaceutical-grade ingredients. Two of my current favorites (that I’ve been leaching from my friend Kim — love you for that!) are Ahlusion and Heather’s Heavenly Vapes. These vendors sell made-to-order blends and I’ve been blown away by the quality.

One thing to keep in mind when ordering made-to-order e-liquids is that you should give them time to steep. Mass mixed juices are ready to go right out of the bottle, but made-to-order juices need some aging. On the advice of friends, I use a simple method. When my e-liquids arrive, I take off the caps and let them air out for two days. Then I close the bottles up and let them sit for an additional 12 days or more. That should take care of most of your made-to-order juices, though ones with tobacco extract could benefit from a bit more steeping time.

The care involved with made-to-order juices appeals to the nerd in me (which technically is all of me). It’s fun to experiment with different levels of propylene glycol (more throat hit) and vegetable glycerin (more vapor). It’s fun trying different flavors, whether it’s varieties of tobacco, desserts, and beverages. When you find the right blend for the right flavor, it’s a kind of magic. Like I said in Coffee Talk #525, these aspects of vaping are one reason that tech nerds are flocking to the hobby.

If you have any questions about e-liquid, just let me know!

Vaping Diaries #1: Safe Cig vs. V2 Cigs

“Mini” electronic cigarettes are the most popular way to get into vaping. There are a number of reasons for their popularity. Minis look like regular cigarettes, so they feel familiar and they make it easy to blend in with other smokers. They’re also easy to use, consisting of a battery and a cartomizer (cartridge/atomizer) . The battery provides the power (duh) while the cartomizer contains the flavor, nicotine, and the atomizer that turns the liquid solution into vapor. It doesn’t get any easier than they, hey?

Two of the most popular mini e-cigs are Safe Cig and V2 Cigs. I’ve been using V2 e-cigs since March 2012 and Safe Cigs since May 2012. For people new to vaping, they’re very good products that offer simplicity and are backed by fantastic customer service. Each product has its own advantages. Here’s a comparison of Safe Cig and V2 Cigs “standard” e-cigarettes.

Battery Life: Both companies offer batteries in different sizes with different capacities. For simplicities sake, I’m going to talk about each company’s standard batteries. Safe Cig batteries are rated at 3.7 volts, while V2’s are rated at 4.2 volts. The former lasts longer, while the latter has more power. For people that are used to smoking a pack or more per day, multiple batteries are needed for both products. If you’re sticking with standard cartomizers then Safe Cig is the better choice. Longer battery life is always good and the extra power of the V2 battery is more beneficial if you’re using clearomizer (larger, tank-like products) heads.

In terms of aesthetics, the V2 has a smooth finish that can be slippery. Safe Cig batteries are textured and feel paper-like — a very nice touch.

Edge: Safe Cig

Throat Hit and Vapor: In addition to battery power, there are several factors that contribute to throat hit and vapor production. Higher nicotine levels and higher propylene glycol percentages give you a heavier throat hit, while higher vegetable glycerin percentages give you more vapor.

For comparisons sake, I used the Marlboro and menthol equivalents from Safe Cig and V2 at the light and medium levels. The V2 cartomizers offered more vapor, but a relatively weak throat hit. Safe Cig cartos had a little less vapor, but a more satisfying throat hit. The vapor difference wasn’t that big of a deal, but the difference in throat hit was much more evident.

Edge: Safe Cig

Flavors: Safe Cig offers a wide variety of tobacco-type flavors. You’re bound to find something that tastes similar to your favorite cigarette. Unfortunately, most of the company’s flavors are only available at the 18mg nicotine level. V2 doesn’t have as many tobacco flavors, but offers novelty tastes like cherry, chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. More importantly all V2 flavors come in a variety of nicotine levels, as well as nicotine-free. This is huge if you’re trying to lower your nicotine intake.

Edge: V2

Flexibility: Safe Cig batteries use an RN4081 connection. You can find third-party cartomizers for these batteries, but that’s about it. V2 batteries use the more popular KR808D-1 connection. There are way more aftermarket products available for this type of connection, allowing you to dabble with more advanced types of vaping.

Additionally, V2 sells the tank-like LiquiMax product for people that want to easily use e-liquids from other vendors; many third-party vendors offer juices that are cheaper and available in a wider variety of flavors. V2 also sells a 5.0 volt USB product for people that want a powerful vaping experience while using their computers. This is a nice complementary device that can help you save battery life on your other e-cigs.

Edge: V2

Service and Support: Both companies offer generous limited-lifetime warranties for their starter kits. This is one reason people feel secure going with them when jumping into the vaping world. RPadholic N8R has had outstanding customer service experiences with his V2 products. As far as warranties go, it’s a tie. Here’s more information on Safe Cig’s and V2’s warranties if you’re interested.

As for ordering cartos and other products, V2 is good. My orders with the company were usually mailed out within two business days. One pet peeve is that I’m often given a tracking number a few hours after ordering, but the package isn’t actually mailed for two days. My Safe Cig orders have been much faster, with my orders always being mailed out within one business day. Mail time also depends on where you live; Safe Cig is based in California, while V2 is based in Florida.

Edge: Safe Cig

Conclusion: For novice vapers and those that don’t want to get into things like large personal vaping devices, refilling their own liquids, and experimenting with different vaping heads, Safe Cig and V2 are both very good companies. While they’re on the pricey side for what you get, the customer service is outstanding and the products are super-easy to use.

If you think there’s the slightest chance you want to experiment with advanced vaping equipment, I recommend V2. The product offers more flexibility and is a better gateway to advanced devices. If you just want to stick with a simple mini-battery-and-cartomizer system then I suggest Safe Cig. Its batteries feel better in your hand and last longer, its cartos offer a more satisfying throat hit, and its shipping service is faster.

If you have any question about Safe Cig and V2 e-cigarettes, please leave a comment!