Vape pens are a convenient, discreet, and simple way to get a fresh, flavorful burst of nicotine wherever you are. However, the rise in product options over the years may have left you confused as to what makes something a vape pen, as opposed to other means of consuming nicotine like oils and cigarettes.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to use a vape pen, keep reading to find out how they work.
What is a Vape Pen?
Sometimes referred to as e-cigarettes, vape pods, sticks, JUULs, or ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery system), these vapes are small devices that visually resemble a pen or USB stick. All vapes typically include a few major components: the battery, which powers an internal coil or “atomizer,” and the cartridge, which contains a nicotine-based, flavored oil. Additionally, a vaping device will have a mouthpiece which the user inhales from.
Other components of a vape pen may include a drip tip, coil holder, airflow control ring, indicator light, and a power or draw button.
When the user presses a button or draws on the mouthpiece, the battery quickly heats up the coil, and in turn, vaporizes the oil in the cartridge. The oil is then delivered to the user’s lungs via a vapor substance, rather than the harsh smoke you’d find in traditional cigarettes.
The oil is commonly referred to as “e-juice” and is a required part of any vape system. Manufacturers offer many unflavored and flavored options alike, as well as different battery capacities and coil styles. There are four main categories of vape pens you may encounter while browsing your options:
Prefilled, Single Use, Disposable
This style of vape pen, often called a “pod” or “stick,” is popular among vapers who want an easy-to-use, disposable option. These come with non-replaceable coils and non-refillable cartridges. When depleted, simply throw it away and open a new one. There are many disposable options, although not all are approved by the FDA.Refillable, Multiple Use, Disposable
Refillable vape pens have a stronger battery and a removable cartridge that you can add more e-juice to if you want to try out different flavors. Although they last for hundreds to thousands of puffs, depending on the model, these come with non-replaceable coils and a battery that will eventually die and need to be replaced. At that point, you simply recycle the battery at a head shop or tobacco store, or otherwise dispose of the components responsibly.Refillable, Non-Disposable
For serious vapers who want something permanent, high-end refillable devices provide indefinite use and the ability to replace coils, should they experience burn out. These are great for vapers who don’t want to worry about running out of battery and being left without the use of their pen.Build Your Own
There is also the option to build your own custom vape. If you choose this option, you’ll have complete control over device components. From wicks and coils to fancy atomizers, look for models written as an acronym beginning with “R” which stands for “rebuildable,” like RDA, RTA, and RDTA. Custom vapes are ideal for those who have been vaping for some time, and have specific preferences about what they like.
Disposable Vapes vs. Non-Disposable Vapes
Broken down further, you may want to consider the advantages of using disposable vapes versus non-disposable vapes, as it pertains to price and convenience, among other criteria.
Disposable devices are the most convenient option available today, as they come pre-filled and pre-charged, with no need to buy any supplemental items. Simply remove the vape from the package and take a draw to activate it. When the e-juice runs out, dispose of it in the nearest trash receptacle.
Non-disposable devices, on the other hand, may not be as convenient. However, they allow you to pick and choose different flavors and nicotine strengths by purchasing a number of different cartridges. You can expect to pay higher prices for non-disposable components since they are expected to last longer. In addition, these devices aren’t as “grab-and-go” friendly, in that they require re-charging, re-filling, and atomizer maintenance.
Now that you have some background on vape pens and how they’re designed, let’s get into the nitty gritty of how they actually work.
How to Use a Vape Pen
In general, using a vape pen is a pretty easy — just follow the five-step process below to make sure you have an enjoyable vaping experience:
1) Read the Instructions
First, depending on which type of vape pen you buy, it will have its own unique way of powering up, firing, as well as other things like charging and filling. Before diving in, take a moment to read any instructions that are included within the packaging.
1A) Push-Button vs. Draw-Fire
A push-button vape will require you to press a button, located on the battery, in order to activate the coils and draw vapor. With a draw-fire option, you simply put the mouthpiece between your lips and inhale for activation. The main difference between the two is that buttons can sometimes break or malfunction, rendering your device useless without the option to repair it.
2) Activate Your Device
If you have a device with a button, you’ll likely need to press it a few times in a row in order to power it up for the first time. To activate draw-fire vapes, however, simply inhale through the mouthpiece until the light illuminates.
3) Take Your First Puff
When you inhale, the battery sends power to an internal sensor, which then signals to the atomizer to heat up. This heats up the e-juice and transforms it into vapor. The vapor then runs through the device and into your lungs. Take your first puff to get the coils warmed up. If nothing seems to be coming out, give it a few more puffs so the atomizer temperature rises. After a few puffs, you should see a thick cloud emerge. If not, you may have a defective device.
4) Powering Down
When you’re satisfied, you may need to hit the button again, or a series of times, in order to power down your push-button device. Draw-fire devices require no powering down and are ready to go at a moment’s notice.
5) Maintaining Your Vape
If you’ve chosen the non-disposable route, make sure to implement the proper steps to ensure your device is well-cared for. In general, vape juice lasts a long time but can go bad without proper attention. Proper maintenance helps ensure your battery lasts as long as possible, your coils don’t fail, and your e-juice never goes bad.
See How Vaping Works:
To see a visual example of how vaping works, check out the review below of Z Stick, the latest disposable device from Z Labs.
Advantages of Vaping Nicotine from a Pen
Vaping nicotine from a pen provides a smoother hit, a more discreet experience, and a never-ending supply of new and unique flavors to keep your palette interested.
Enjoy a Burst of Nicotine Almost Anywhere
Because of their slim profile, odorless cloud, and simple push- or draw-to-activate, you can enjoy a burst of nicotine wherever you go, without worrying about bothering anyone around you.
No Bad Odors to Deal With
Vapes are known for their discreteness because they don’t give off an odor that’s as prominent as cigarettes. Any odor they do leave behind does not linger for more than a few seconds. Plus, unlike traditional cigarettes, odors don't stick to clothing, hair, fingertips, or cause bad breath. And, with the variety of flavors, you can even find some that smell quite pleasant.
Countless E-Juice Flavors Available
From classic flavors like menthol and tobacco to exciting fruity options, like strawberry banana, watermelon, and blue raspberry, there are many interesting flavor options — even the downright unorthodox. Use your imagination and try new and unique flavors while vaping.
Master Your Vaping Technique
Vape pens are great because you can use them virtually anywhere, they’re convenient and easy to use, and they taste and smell much better than traditional tobacco alternatives. And, now that you know how to properly use one, you can explore the never-ending supply of new flavors that vape manufacturers are dreaming up.
If you’re looking for a better vaping experience, we’ve made an easy-to-use, flavorful, and disposable device called the Z Stick. From the makers of Ziip Pods / Z Pods, we present to you a no-maintenance device that provides a strong burst of nicotine on the go. When you’re done with your Z Stick, simply toss it in the trash, tear open a new one, and keep rockin’ — it’s that simple.
Interested in learning more? Get better e-juice flavor at your preferred nicotine strength: browse all 13 Z Stick flavors.