man in a hoodie blowing a vapor cloud

What is a Disposable Vape? Everything You Need to Know

Disposable vapes have been gaining in popularity for years. People love their convenience, ease of use, and portability. Even tobacco users are turning to these devices to help kick the smoking habit.

But what are disposable vapes? How do disposable vapes work? Are disposable vapes dangerous? What do you need to know before you jump on the bandwagon and try them yourself? What is a disposable vape pen?

This article offers a short primer that will answer all those questions and more. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about disposable vapes to get you started off on the right foot. Plus, you’ll get some help choosing a brand or two you may want to try.

Let's dive in and start by covering the basics.

What is a disposable vape?

A disposable vape is an electronic cigarette (or e-cigarette) that's pre-filled with a liquid called “vape juice” or “e-juice” that can contain a variety of ingredients and flavorings in some sort of a carrier base — typically propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, or water.

Many disposable vapes contain herbs, vitamins, or other substances commonly found in supplements (such as melatonin or amino acids). In contrast, some contain nicotine and serve as alternatives to traditional tobacco cigarettes.

Other disposable vapes contain different substances like CBD or THC (the ingredients in marijuana that can cause soothing and psychotropic effects). Some vapes contain nothing other than flavoring.

Disposable vapes cannot be refilled. Once they exhaust their supply of vape juice, you just throw them away. This setup makes them convenient for people who don't want to have to carry around a vaping device and a separate supply of vape juice.

How do disposable vapes work?

Disposable vapes and refillable vape kits generally work in much the same way — a battery-powered coil inside the device heats up, and this heat vaporizes a liquid, turning it into a vapor cloud you can inhale.

Most disposable vapes produce a vapor that's inhaled through your mouth and windpipe, but some — usually referred to as “nasal diffusers” — are meant to be breathed in through the nose.

What are the different types and kinds of disposable vapes?

woman sitting on a bench while vaping

While diffusers come in various shapes and sizes, there are two main kinds of disposable vapes — non-nicotine disposable vapes and nicotine disposable vapes.

Non-nicotine vaping devices are generally favored by people who want the vaping experience but don't want to inhale nicotine. They're also popular among people who are trying to give up tobacco cigarettes and quit smoking.

Non-nicotine vapes and vape juices will usually contain some other ingredient — melatonin, caffeine, or Vitamin B12, for example — that serves an active role beyond adding flavor. Non-nicotine vapes are becoming more and more popular every day, but nicotine vapes remain, by far, the largest category of disposable vapes.

In terms of device appearance, you can find disposable vapes that mimic the look and feel of traditional cigarettes, disposable devices that look a little bit like flattened cigars, and others that are small, handheld, and box-shaped. This latter version is the type you'll most likely find people using today.

What are the benefits of disposable vapes?

The main benefit of a disposable vape pen or other disposable device is the ease of use — there's much less work involved in getting a disposable vape up and running than setting up a non-disposable vape solution.

Think of it like the difference between a Bic disposable pen and a fountain pen that needs to be filled (and regularly refilled) with ink.

With disposable vape kits, you simply pop them out of the package, and they're ready to go. With pods or refillable vape devices, you need to manage your e-juice supply.

However, you should remember that with the benefits of convenience come some drawbacks. In a global "I care about the planet" sense, it’s important to realize that anything disposable either winds up in a landfill or, hopefully, gets recycled.

With an eye toward their impact on the planet, several vape manufacturers (particularly non-nicotine vape manufacturers) offer the ability to return used disposable vapes for recycling. Some manufacturers will even give you a small discount (typically around 10%) off future orders when you participate in such programs.

What are some of the best disposable vapes on the market?

We cover this topic more extensively in our article on Top 10 Disposable Vape Brands, but here's a brief overview of a few of the top disposable vapes on the market today:

Z Stick Disposable Vape Pens

Z Stick Disposable Vape Pen in Fresh Mint flavor

Our own line of disposable vape pens, Z Stick, is famous for its ease of use and mouthwatering flavors. It's also the only disposable vape line to have received an acceptance letter from the FDA for a PMTA (Premarket Tobacco Application), which requires a thorough review of the vape's ingredients.

Elf Bar

Ripple+ brand disposable vapes are consistently found near or at the top of most "best disposable vapes" lists. Ripple+ products generally get good marks for the quality of their devices and the flavors they offer.

Learn more about Ripple+

IVG Max Bar 3000

The IVG Max Bar was voted Best U.K. Brand in 2022. It features award-winning flavors and a solid design, making it one of the most popular disposable vapes on the market.

Learn more about Max Bar

Monster Bars Max

The Monster Bars Max is known for being one of the most economical disposable vapes available. Each device lasts 6,000 puffs and costs typically less than $10.

Learn more about Monster Bars Max

Are disposable vapes good for beginners?

Most of the time, disposable vapes are going to be better for beginners than their refillable counterparts. There's less to do and worry about with a disposable vape, and they're generally going to be more portable and discrete.

A pod-based system will require you to maintain a primary device that vaporizes the various e-juice pods you attach to it. For a beginner, there may be too many "moving parts" to deal with, which is why many people who are new to vaping choose disposables.

What is typically inside of a disposable vape?

group of friends sitting on the bank of a river at sunset

A disposable vape is generally going to contain two components — the e-liquid (also known as e-juice, vape juice, or nic juice, if the vape in question contains nicotine) and then the "machinery" that heats up the liquid and turns into a "vapor cloud." Let's talk about the e-juice first.

This liquid can be made up of a number of different ingredients, but in general, it will contain three parts — the base, which, as mentioned above, will most likely consist of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, or water, as well as "active ingredients," and flavoring.

Some disposable vapes dispense little more than "flavored air", but most will also include some sort of additional ingredients.

Aside from the vape juice ingredients, disposable vapes will also contain a mechanism to heat the juice so it can be inhaled as a vapor. This mechanism generally consists of a battery which heats up a coil. The coilthen atomizes the e-juice and turns it into an inhalable vapor.

Are disposable vapes safe?

There are two aspects of this question to consider — is the act of vaping safe overall, and are the ingredients used in a particular device safe?

To answer the first part of that question, most experts say that vaping, while not free from risks, is still safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes. Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 250 of those — compunds like cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia — are definitely known to be harmful.

Most disposable vapes don't contain nearly as many chemicals. There are, however, several compounds that were once quite common in disposable vapes, which are now known to be harmful. Diacetyl, for example, can cause a long-term respiratory illness called "Popcorn Lung.” Other formerly-popular chemicals, like Vitamin E Acetate, have also been shown to cause health problems.

The good news is that those chemicals are seldom found in vapes today. Still, it can't hurt to read the label of any vape you're considering to ensure it’s free of diacetyl and Vitamin E Acetate.

It has always been our position that you should stick with disposable vape manufacturers that have long track records, and that are upfront about the ingredients they're putting into their vape juice.

Remember, the higher quality the ingredients, the more likely a manufacturer is to talk about them! Always read labels carefully to keep yourself safe.

Enjoy the Simplicity and Portability of Disposable Vapes

blonde woman outside with outstretched arms

We hope we’ve been able to give you some insight into disposable vape devices and help you make a more informed vaping decision.

To sum up, most people choose disposable vapes over pod-based vape kits because of the simplicity and portability that comes from being a “one and done” device.

If you decide to go this route, remember that some manufacturers offer recycling programs so you can limit what eventually makes it into a landfill.

Remember to read labels, stick with trusted manufacturers, and turn to helpful pages like our review of the top 10 disposable vape brands, or our articles on 9 Best Online Vape Stores, Best JUUL Alternatives, and 10 Best Disposable Vape Pens for more guidance.

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