An electronic cigarette (or e-cig), is an electronic inhaler that is meant to simulate tobacco smoking. It generally utilizes a heating coil that vaporizes a liquid solution. Some solutions release nicotine, while others merely release flavored vapor. Often, they’re designed to mimic traditional smoking implements in their appearance and use, such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes.
Most electronic cigarettes have a cylindrical shape. Common components include e-liquid, a cartridge, an atomizer, and a power source. Many electronic cigarettes are composed of streamlined replaceable parts, while disposable devices combine all the components into a single part that is discarded when its liquid is depleted.
- Cartridge: The cartridge generally serves as both a liquid reservoir and mouthpiece (though some devices have separate mouthpieces). It is designed to allow the passage of liquid into the atomizer, and vapor from the atomizer to the user's mouth. Some models employ a tank that holds loose fluid, while some use a poly-fill material to hold liquid in place. When liquid is depleted, users can refill the cartridge or replace it with another ready-filled cartridge.
- Atomizer: The atomizer is the central component. It generally consists of a small heating element for vaporizing the liquid, as well as a wicking material that draws the liquid in. "Dripping" atomizers leave off a fluid reservoir, and instead require a periodic moistening of the wick.
- Cartomizer: Since atomizers tend to lose efficiency over time due to a buildup of sediment, or "burn out" entirely, some models employ a disposable "cartomizer" component that also doubles as the device's cartridge. The piece consists of a heating element surrounded by a liquid-soaked poly-fill.
- Power: Most portable devices contain a rechargeable battery, which tends to be the largest component of an electronic cigarette. The battery may contain an electronic airflow sensor whereby activation is triggered simply by drawing breath through the device, while other models employ a power button that must be held during operation. An LED to indicate activation may also be employed. Some manufacturers also offer a cigarette pack-shaped portable charging case (PCC), which contains a larger battery capable of charging e-cigarettes. Devices aimed at enthusiasts may sport additional features, such as variable power output and support of a wide range of internal batteries and atomizers.
Liquid for producing vapor in e-cigs, commonly known as e-juice or e-liquid, is a solution of propylene glycol(PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), and/or polyethylene glycol 400 (PEG400) mixed with concentrated flavors; and optionally, a variable concentration of nicotine.
The solution is often sold in a bottle or in pre-filled disposable cartridges. They are manufactured with various tobacco, fruit, and other flavors, as well as variable nicotine concentrations (including nicotine-free versions). The standard notation "mg/ml" is often used in labeling for denoting nicotine concentration.
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