I vape. I’ve been doing it for about 2 ½ years now, and it was one of the better decisions I have made. I’ll be honest, I did it to quit smoking cigarettes, but I didn’t do it to give up nicotine. Please hold all judgments until the end of the presentation. The reason I wanted to give up cigarettes was my daughter, Madelyn. I didn’t want her to associate that awful smell with me, so I switched to e-cigarettes and never looked back.
I want to talk about the good and bad side of being a vaper, and I also want to pass along some things I have learned along the way. These may be good tips for someone looking to switch over to e-cigarettes or upgrading, or for someone looking to becoming more do-it-yourself in regards to building their e-cigarette or making e-liquids.
I’m going to start with the negative things first. I know everyone has heard the various reports of the ways that e-cigarettes are dangerous. Poisonings, batteries exploding, popcorn lung, metal poisoning, and the list goes on and on. Most of these reports have been debunked, and in some cases, it has been shown that the reports and studies were funded and purposely skewed by the major tobacco companies. Some of these were simply misleading, such as the poisoning report by the CDC, in which it wasn’t the actual smoking of e-cigarettes causing poisoning. Vapers were leaving their e-liquid unattended around small children, and the poisoning would occur after the child swallowed the e-liquid. This, of course, caused a huge spike in reported cases, because they had never tracked them before 2013. The battery explosion nonsense has been blown out of proportion (pun intended). If a battery is mishandled or mistreated, it can catch fire (not explode), which can be seen in phones, vehicles, hover boards, and numerous other electronic devices. Use and handle your batteries correctly, and they will almost never malfunction. As the industry has grown, the manufacturers are becoming more careful about what they use and how they create their products. When e-cigarettes first became popular, the main detractors were claiming that they were using antifreeze as an ingredient in the liquids. Propylene glycol, which is one of the bases of e-liquid, is a commonly used pharmaceutical and food product chemical that has nothing to do with antifreeze in that form. The main problem with the detractors of e-cigarettes is ignorance. Yes, they are obviously less healthy than not smoking, and they are still too new to the market to have been fully studied. I fully accept the fact that I am continuing an addictive habit by vaping, but I would rather deal with materials and liquids that list all the ingredients they use. When you smoke a cigarette, you have no idea what is in it, and we all know the deadly history of smoking.
So, if I knew smoking would kill me, why did I start smoking in the first place? I started smoking because it was the only way you could get a break. When I was younger, I used to give my dad and sister a ton of shit for smoking. I would always say I didn’t want to smoke. I kept that strong until I was 25. When I joined the Navy, you really didn’t get many breaks as an airman. To get a break at work, I would go out to the smoking area because you would get yelled at if you were sitting around the shop. At first, I didn’t smoke out there, but eventually I did because I couldn’t be out there if I wasn’t smoking. Thank You Navy! So, that’s what got me in to smoking, and that’s what brought me around to vaping. I don’t do it to be cool or because it feels good. I know there is a lot of rhetoric about why people start smoking, and there are a lot of reasons, but you get addicted, and it is hard to break bad habits. I quit for 6 months at one point, but started again during a stressful stretch at work. I’m not looking for pity, sympathy, or making excuses. It’s not the best thing in the world for me, but I think it’s better than me smoking cigarettes. I’m really not going to get in to the whole social connotations of vaping. Every group of people has their assholes and douche-bags. Just because some vapers are disrespectful of other people doesn’t mean we all are.
Vaping isn’t for everyone, and some people would rather just stick with cigarettes. Me condemning them would be hypocritical, so I won’t. I chose to vape, and now I want to talk about some of the good things I’ve found along the way. I will tell you that I feel better than I did when I smoked cigarettes. There is something about not inhaling large amounts of tar and other crap anymore that my lungs thank me for. My wallet also thanks me, since vaping is significantly cheaper. I was spending roughly $150 a month on cigarettes, and that was over 2 years ago. It would probably be more nowadays. Vaping usually costs me about $40-50 a month in liquid and sometimes I have to buy new equipment or materials to rebuild my e-cigarette. Recently, I got in to making my own liquid, which I will talk more about later, which will lower my monthly cost even more.
My first attempt at e-cigarettes was with the cig-a-like type, but I wasn’t too impressed with it. When I decided to go with vaping full time, I started out with a vape pen. Vape pens are a cheap starter device for someone looking in to trying vaping, but aren’t sold on it yet. I started out with Volcano e-cigs, but as I moved to an Advanced Personal Vaper (APV) I started trying other brands. Now there are a ton of brands out there for liquids and for devices, not to mention countless places to purchase them. My advice is to do your research in to anything you are interested in purchasing before you do buy it.
A breakdown of different types of vaping devices can be found here: http://www.cigbuyer.com/types-of-e-cigarettes/.
I’m sure you have seen many different brick and mortar vape shops around where you live, and for those times when you need something right now, they are great. The big problem with vape shops is the price mark ups and they often only sell things that they like. I know you have to make money, but I don’t really want to pay mark up on something that I can afford to wait a few days on. If you have the patience and do your research, look online for the best deal and be sure the read reviews. A great thing about the vaping industry is the companies are trying to be as transparent as possible with their products in an effort to attract more cigarette smokers to switch over.
Sidebar: This brings me to the attraction of underage smokers. Let’s get real folks, kids smoked cigarettes underage. You can try and lay the same blame on vaping as they did on cigarette advertising, but the only companies who can afford to advertise their vaping products like that are the tobacco companies who bought in after they decided to stop fighting against it. If kids are able to buy this stuff in stores, then the blame lies on the sellers who aren’t checking their IDs, and if they are getting it online then the blame is on the parents for not paying attention to what their kids are doing online. Age verification online only goes so far, and if they are buying e-cigarettes online, I’m sure they are looking up things worse than that. The key to keeping it out of the hands of minors is paying attention.
Anyways, back to the topic, vape shops are convenient, but a lot of them are predatory towards uneducated vapers. If they are the only shop in the area, they don’t have to be competitive, and the customer pays the price. Something that you can get online for $50 including shipping can cost you upwards of $100 in a vape shop. Liquid can be just as bad. To be fair, not every vape shop is like this. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea, but be a smart shopper and check prices before you buy.
As a vaper, the more experienced you are, the more preferential you become. Some people go for cloud production, and some people go for nicotine content. People also usually stick to flavor groups as well: fruits, sweets, tobaccos, desserts, etc. I could sit here and beat you to death with stuff, but I think I have done that already so here are a few guides for those interested in looking deeper in to vaping.
Beginner’s Guide: http://onvaping.com/guides/beginners-guide-to-vaping/
Advanced Guides: https://www.planetofthevapes.co.uk/guides/advanced-vaping
You can also surf the Internet and YouTube for numerous other resources and information on vaping how-to. One of my favorite things was learning how to build coils for Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers (RDAs). Of course, I got lazy and started buying pre-made coils once I got in to the more complex coil builds, but I fully support anyone who has the time and inclination to do so. I have switched back and forth between sub-ohm tanks and RDAs, but some prefer one or the other.
Here are the sites that I frequent for equipment, parts, and e-liquid:
Mt Baker Vapor
The Vape Mall
The last thing I want to cover is making your own liquid. I guy I worked with started to make his own liquid last year, and he set about making an Orange Cream flavor, and asked my opinion. I had searched high and low for an Orange Cream flavor on the Internet, and had no luck. Anyways, after a couple of iterations, he made a version that was perfect, and I was sold. Last month, after he got transferred, I decided to start making my own liquid. I had done the research, it was cheaper to make my own juice, and I wanted to make the Orange Cream for myself. I needled and annoyed the recipe out of him (which I will never divulge or profit from because I’m not a dick), and got everything I needed to make 500 ml of it. I broke it down in to 100 ml bottles and each bottle ended up costing me about $13. To give you guys an insight of how cheap that is, to buy the run of the mill juice from vape shops or online retailers, 15-30 ml bottles can run you anywhere from $10-30 a piece. I made this stuff at home and made significantly more for substantially cheaper. It will only get cheaper as well, since I didn’t go with the cheapest options on bases the first time around. I can get my costs down around $3-4 per 100 ml if I do it right, which is definitely the only way to go if you have the time and you want to put in the effort. If you don’t want to put in the effort, there are sellers out there who make good liquid pretty cheap, and don’t charge you extra for the name on the bottle. I’m going to send some business my buddy’s way if that is the case: Adam Hesterley
To wrap this all up in a nice bow, I’m glad I made the decision to switch over to vaping. There are a lot of negative things out there about vaping, but I think most of it is due to misinformation. If you are looking to getting in to vaping, there are a lot of options, and if already are a vaper, there are a lot of ways to control your vaping like building your own atomizers and mixing your own liquid. I’m not advocating for anyone to do it, but I’m just putting this out there so people have the information. Do with it what you will.
Let the judgment commence!