Sunday, June 16, 2013

Letters to Virginia Vapor: The Juice

My Dearest Virginia:

At long last we come to the pinnacle of our discussion about vaping; The Juice. It is the sweet nectar that brings us that which we most desire. The liquid pleasure that delivers the nicotine to quench our fire and still our raging minds. That it comes is such a wide variety of flavors to make the experience even more enjoyable is a delicious a bonus.

There are essentially three factors you should consider when selecting your juice. In order of least important to most they are the base, nicotine level, and flavor. All three require a small amount of experimentation to discover a blend that makes your vaping devine. Finding that perfect juice, however, is without doubt the most important part of vaping!

The base is most likely chosen for you, although there are some important reasons to consider seeking out different ones. The purpose of the base is to act as a carrier for the nicotine and flavoring.  Most juice is made from a base of propylene glycol, or PG, as it is known in vaping circles.

PG is a thick, liquid substance that is commonly found in many personal products you use every day, as well as the carrier for intravenous drugs in hospitals. It vaporizes nicely at relative low temperatures, as well, is completely harmless, and is thus used frequently in vape juice. Some people, however, do find it a throat irritant, particularly when they first begin vaping.

Common Vegetable Glycerin, or VG, is another oft used base. It's much thicker in viscosity than PG, but tends to vaporize smoother and is less irritating for many people. It is food safe and harmless, as well, and produces large amounts of vapor. It is quite fun to be walking fog machine.

Unfortunately, VG tends to dull flavorings and is terribly thick. It does not work well with juice delivery systems that rely on wicking, such as a tank or cartomizer. For pure VG applications, dripping is the preferred, and often only, method of vaping. Flavor boosters are also recommended.

Increasingly more common, these days, a combination of these two bases is used. PG to thin the juice and carry the flavoring, with a percentage of VG to enhance the vapor and "throat hit." For use in a tank system, I suggest 80% PG and 20% VG, though a 70/30 mix (such as yours truly prefers) works well.

The nicotine level of the juice is measured in milligrams (mg per part). The higher the mg rating, the more nicotine in the juice. A low nicotine juice would be in the 6 mg or 12 mg range. Medium would be 16 mg or 18 mg (my preference), and high would be around 24 mg.

Some enthusiasts actually go as high as 36 mg, but that is pushing it. Beyond that it becomes dangerous. In its diluted form nicotine provides a brain boost that is divine. In its more pure forms, nicotine is a deadly poison. Having been near you to some extent, this angel/devil dichotomy is not lost on me, I assure you.

Start with something in the medium range, say 18 mg, and move up or down based on your experience and preference. I find I like a little tingle in my vape, which the nicotine provides, though some prefer none and so go lower. Others prefer to have their eyeballs seared out. Disregard the rough equivalents you will find advertisers making. Such as one bottle of juice equals 10 packs of cigarettes. They are ludicrous, as your experience will quickly bare out.

Finally, my dear Virginia, we get to the good part. The tasty pleasure that is the juice. There is no one recommendation I can offer you. It is purely personal. As such, it takes a considerable amount of experimentation to settle on what vapers call their "go to juice" or "all day vape." Indeed, you may find several you enjoy. Variety is the spice, after all!

I grant you a few clues, however, to assist narrowing your search.

Start with flavors you already know you enjoy. Many people, myself included, like tobacco flavors and most start with these. They aren't for everyone, though. You'll also find fruits, drink (of the common and adult beverage varieties), spices, savory, and dessert flavors.  If you like blueberries, try blueberry. If you like cheesecake, try it.

Find a flavor you like and shop around. There are many vape shops in town, however they often only carry one or two of the chinese-made brands of liquids. While these are perfectly acceptable, there is an alternative juice scene that offers up tastes that are quite out of the ordinary.

Mostly found online, alternative juices are often created by some mad flavor genius. Like a demented DJ at a rave, these juice savants mix and blend some of the most unusual and delightful concoctions in the vaping world. They require a certain dedication to the process and a connoisseur's taste, but these juices take vaping to a whole new realm.

Many of these vendors offer sample sizes. Find a juice you enjoy and order it in the larger size. With every order try a different sample. You will get some that are horrid, but when you find that gem that tickles your tastebuds, it is well worth it. (And trade the unliked samples with friends and other vapers!)

Alas, my sweet Virginia, it is with this that we must end our discourse on vaping for now. It is my fondest hope that you will discover the joy, satisfaction, and better health that comes from vaping that I have. I long for and look forward to spending a quiet Summer's evening, sitting quietly, a cool tropical drink in hand, and vaping with you someday soon. We have much to talk about, and the soothing effect of a good vape will most certainly be a requirement!

I remain forever yours,


The above is a transcript of the second in a series of letters to a new and curious vaper, Virginia, and her diligent vaping suitor, Vaporous. The letters were found in an old shoebox in the attic of a recently renovated house and given into my possession by a friend. While they were in tattered shape, I have endeavored to reproduce the letters accurately and in their entirety. Any misrepresentations or errors are entirely my own. -Capt.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Letters to Virginia Vapor: Attys

Dearest Virginia:

When last we met, you expressed a degree of concern about the myriad type of Attys available and their array of configurations and functions. This is quite understandable considering there are nearly as many types of atomizer as there are stars in the sky! It can all be overwhelming and, truth be told, mind numbing.

As it often is, the whole conundrum is much more mundane and simple. Too often we over complicate things, creating complexity where simplicity will do, and over analyzing as you, my Dear, are so oft inclined to do.  So in today's letter, I will endeavor to set any apprehension you may hold aside, and explain the purpose of the common atty (or atomizer), and some general guidelines on selecting a device that will please the virgin vaper.

An atomizer itself is a simple device. An artist I am not, however in the diagram below we see the atty in it's most simple form.

Electrical current is supplied from the battery, through the connector, and then to the atomizer coil, a tightly wound bit of conductive material. The resistance of the wound conductive material causes the coil to heat up rapidly. Nicotine liquid (the juice) is applied to the coil in some fashion (which we'll explore in a moment). The heat generated by the electrified coil vaporizes the liquid, turning it into steam, which is then inhaled.

Heat + liquid = vapor. Simple and elegant.

A simple atomizer works exactly as pictured above. Juice is dropped directly onto the atomizer from the bottle; a process called "dripping."  Many argue that this is the purest and best way to vape for the perfect experience. I would agree. However, it is an advanced technique that requires considerable amount of practice and patience. There are better, and completely satisfactory, options for the neophyte vaper.

Much as you continue to do with my affections, my dearest, resistance is the key. It is, after all, what generates the heat. Atomizers are measured by this property in a unit called Ohms. When combined in different measures with the voltage from the battery, you can get differing level of heat that can greatly affect the experience of vaping. The higher the ohm rating the more resistance, the lower the heat at a given voltage. The less resistance, the more the heat. Too much voltage, combined with too little resistance, can cause the atomizer to pop. It is a delicate balance, as you know, to keep the right amount of resistance, to get the desired heat, while maintaining control so that the whole thing doesn't overload.

In the early days of vaping, many people would utilize a cartridge that mounted on top of the atty. The cartridge contained an absorbent wicking material, much like what you would find in a Zippo lighter. The material would deliver the juice to the atty as it heated up and the vaper drew on the tip. Later, this was combined into a single, one piece unit called a "cartomizer."

Cartomizers are still in use today, though they continue to fall out of fashion for more effective juice delivery systems. The problem with the "carto" is that they are spotty in consistency, at best, and they wear out fairly quickly. With no replaceable parts, eventually they start to taste like your feet after a long day and must be disposed of promptly. I simply can't recommend these any longer, as they tend to not deliver an acceptable vaping experience compared to other methods. Unless, of course, you enjoy the taste of sweaty feet. Then by all means.

Skipping past the rest of the PV atty history lesson, we'll go straight to the most common and more effective means of delivering juice to the atty.  The rage these days are juice tanks that are either disposable or contain replaceable atomizers and parts. Generally speaking, disposable is less to worry about, but replaceable tends to be better.

Most vaporizers now utilize a tank based system to deliver the juice to the atty. In this configuration, a small vial is filled with juice, which is then wicked to the atomizer. Many of these "tank" systems now have replaceable atomizers, as well, making them quite efficient and cost effective to maintain. The are quick and easy to refill. When the vape loses its punch, simple unscrew the atomizer, toss it, and screw in a new one.

In the kit I presented you with, you have a ViVi Nova, a wick based system with the atomizer at the top and long wicks that lay inside the tank to bring the juice to the head. I also put a Kanger T3 tank in the kit, as this my prefered system. The atomizer is at the bottom of the tank with a small wick feeding directly into the coil. I find this to be a cleaner vaping experience, but I leave it to you to decide which you prefer. Life is all about choices, after all.

The key thing to remember, when selecting an atomizer is voltage + resistance = heat, and by changing the variables in this formula you can change how much vapor is produced, how harsh or smooth the hit is, and even how the juice tastes. One of the easiest way to accomplish this variety is to change the resistance of the atty. As in all things, Virginia, I encourage you to experiment. The pleasures you will discover will bring considerable delight.

I remain humbly and always yours,


The above is a transcript of the second in a series of letters to a new and curious vaper, Virginia, and her diligent vaping suitor, Vaporous. The letters were found in an old shoebox in the attic of a recently renovated house and given into my possession by a friend. While they were in tattered shape, I have endeavored to reproduce the letters accurately and in their entirety. Any misrepresentations or errors are entirely my own. -Capt.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Letters to Virginia Vapor: Bats

Dearest Virginia:

As I mentioned in the small pamphlet sent to you last week, we will now take a journey deeper into the heart of the vaping experience. While I know your hesitancy and rebellious nature frequently inspire you to buck the trend, I hope you will find these letters informative and motivational.

There are three main components to a personal vaporizer (PV) that matter. While these components can be broken down into subcomponents, my missives to you will focus on the more broad delineations and how they affect the experience of the virgin vaper.  Today we will be discussing bats.

Not the kind in your belfry, my Dear, but rather the kind that hold electricity. A PV uses the rechargeable kind of battery and, much like other distinct collections, they come in a wide array of colors, sizes, and power levels.  They are not, however, dishwasher safe.

Bats have various attributes that describe how they work and what they can do. When we discuss a PV, the first aspect we look at is how long it will last.

The easiest way to roughly guesstimate how long a battery will last is by it's rating in milliAmps per hour, or mAh. As you well know, bigger is better in these cases. With that in mind, consider our friend the cellular phone. The higher the mAh rating on your phone's battery, the longer it will last between charges. PV bats are the same.

Using a PV involves a few more steps than simply lighting up a cigarette, so having a bat that can last a long time is a desirable trait so as to avoid having to switch out frequently throughout your vaping activities. Simply put, higher mAh rating equals more stamina when it counts.

Don't settle for anything less that 650mAh in your bats when you first start out. Don't worry about going too big. You will wear out long before some of the larger bats. Smaller bats certainly have an appeal, in some regards, and can be quite enjoyable. They require a bit more work and planning to get maximum enjoyment, however. To the uninitiated, they can produce less than desirable results. These days, they are best left to the more experienced.

Another unit of measure we must consider when dealing with bats is voltage (V). How voltage works in an electrical circuit is beyond our little discussion here, but in relation to PVs and vaping, we can make a few generalizations. We'll discuss more specific application of voltage when we delve into attys.

All other things being equal, more voltage will result in more heat coming from the PV. The heat generated directly affects the properties of the vapor produced. We'll discuss those properties last, but keep it in mind.  Fixed voltage bats come in various ratings, most commonly 3.7V. Another popular choice is 4.2V. Bats can also be had that go up to 5V, 6V, and even 7V. The latter are best left to the well seasoned.

Applying more or less voltage can dramatically change the vaping experience, particularly in the amount of vapor produced and the flavor from the juice. It's a quick and dirty method of adjusting your results to your preference.

AS you start out, t's best to stay with the tried and true fixed voltage battery. 3.7V is fine (we can tweak that later by various means), 4.3 will work, as well. The higher voltage devices require a degree of finesse that is not worth considering at this point.

An aside: The allure of being able to have complete control of your experience being strong, however, a simple variable voltage (VV) device might be worth consideration. These devices have a small adjustment mechanism (frequently a nob or dial of some sort, though digital controls are becoming more common) that allows you to adjust the voltage of the bat to your liking. In these cases, however, simpler is better. If you attempt a VV device, start low (3.7V) and adjust it up slowly from there. You will find your sweet spot and bliss.

An additional consideration to let into that pretty head: regulated voltage. You see, in most bats, the voltage will drop off as the battery drains. As you vape, the battery will start of strong, giving quite a powerful experience. However, as you continue to vape, it will tire and weaken to the point of being nearly useless. This is typical of most bats. 

A regulated battery is another matter. They hold their power steady through the entire ride. As you can imagine, this is quite desirable. Unfortunately, is is very rare is common fixed voltage batteries, and is mostly found in much higher end devices. This is, however, one tweak you should seriously consider, should you find yourself enamored with vaping.

We come now to the matter of making a connection. Perched upon the top of the battery is a device called the atomizer. We'll discuss that in my next letter, so the important thing to note here is that the atomizer must connect to the battery in some fashion. This is usually accomplished by the terribly complex procedure of screwing the atomizer into threads on the top of the battery.

The threads are the thing. They come in different shapes and sizes and matching up the threads on your battery with the ones on the atomizer is vital. Without that connection, the whole infernal contraption won't work. Most threaded battery connectors are indicated by their type, usually some form of number.

The 510 connection is the most common. So much so that it is as close to an industry standard as is possible in the Vaping World.  You can walk into just about any vape shop in America and pick up something that will connect to your 510-style battery.

There are other connectors, such as the 808, 901, 306 and various proprietary types, but they are not anything you should concern yourself with at this point. Each has it's pluses and minus, but the difference they make in your vaping experience is subtle. If your goal is the consumption of nicotine in the most pleasurable way possible, the 510 connector will do nicely.

Our final thought for this round is the look of the PV itself. This may seem like a minor thing, all things considered. However, as I've mentioned previously, the objective we are after is to form a new habit to replace an old one. To do, so we must take every advantage we can. Getting something you'll not only enjoy using, but also don't mind sticking in your face is certainly an important part of it.

PV batteries come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Your basic black, or if you need a little pizazz, silver/chrome is quite good to start with. Many batteries (such as the Ego-C) come in simple solid colors - such as red, pink, blue, green - and add a bit of variety. Any will do for your first forray. Pick something that pleases you. After you've gotten hooked, you can explore some of the more exciting and intriguing designs.

And that, my dear Virginia, is the matter of batteries put to rest for now, at least as far as beginning your vaping journey. Herein, I've only really scratched the surface of the larger world of PV bats. Should you take to the activity with interest, you will find an amazing world of powered devices to enhance your vaping pleasure. See me again when you're ready.

Yours forever and always,

The above is a transcript of the first of a series of letters to a new and curious vaper, Virginia, and her diligent vaping suitor, Vaporous.  The letters were found in an old shoebox in the attic of a recently renovated house and given into my possession by a friend. While they were in tattered shape, I have endeavored to reproduce the letters accurately and in their entirety. Any misrepresentations or errors are entirely my own. -Capt.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Virgin Vaping: Simple Guide

I'm posting again to Vape-O-Rama because a friend just got her first PV. We were sitting at a bar last night and I'm trying to think of an easy way to explain everything she needs to know in a quick and concise manner because, let's be honest, vaping wasn't really the first thing on my mind as far as topics of conversation go. The Tom Collins I was drinking didn't help much either. It did get me thinking, however, about how to condense all the massive amount of information about vaping that's out there into a simple guide.

The more I think about it there are a few things that all vaping virgins need to know to have a great first time. At it's basic level, it's actually quite simple. Your first time shouldn't be confusing or complex. So, let's pop that cherry.

We're going to take a look at the basic considerations from least important to most important. The four things to consider are the battery, the atomizer, the juice and how to vape. We'll look at each in detail elsewhere, but here's the quick version.

The Battery

450, 650, and 1100 mAh batteries.
For virgins, bigger is better.
We'll start with the battery because, to be honest, these days it's not terribly important. It needs to be reliable and have a standard atomizer connector. Just about any battery you buy from a reliable source is going to do the job and do it very well. Don't worry about what all this means, dear virgin. Just relax and go with it.

Happy Vapor Virgin:

  • 510 or "Ego Style" atomizer connector.
  • 650 mAh rating batteries or higher (how long the charge lasts).
  • Buy a kit with two batteries and a wall charger minimum.
  • Pick a pretty color.

Sad Vapor Virgin:

  • Non-standard or proprietary atomizer connectors.
  • Pen-style batteries (280 mAh or lower)
  • Complex "battery mods."

Tweaks To Consider:

  • Simple variable voltage control (like the Ego Twist).
  • Controls to turn the PV off.

The Atomizer

The ViVi Nova and Kanger T3
replaceable atomizer tank systems.
Perfect for the budding Vape Virgin.
Atomizers, like many things, come in all shapes and sizes. It's job is to deliver the juice. Drop in the juice, heat it up, and boom, vapor. The combination of battery and atomizer can be one of the most complex, but useful, things to understand about vaping. They come in different ratings (measured by resistance in Ohms) and different juice delivery systems (straight atomizers, cartomizers, tanks, and other wild and wacky stuff).

Your first time, though, just keep it simple.

Happy Vapor Virgin:

  • Whatever came with the kit will probably work.
  • Replaceable atomizer tank system (like the ViVi Nova or Kanger T3)
  • 1.8 to 2.2 Ohms rating. Lower is a hotter vape, higher is a cooler vape.
  • Keep backups and extras (you're going to be trying a lot juice).
  • When the vape tastes funky, replace the atomizer.
  • Pick a pretty color.

Sad Vapor Virgin:

  • Straight atomizers (used for dripping, an advanced technique).
  • Cartomizers with fiber fillings.
  • Low resistance (1.5 Ohms or lower) or HV (2.5 Ohms or higher) atomizers.


As exciting as experimentation is, this is something you can get into later. It can radically change your vaping pleasure, or lack thereof. Go too low and you'll constantly be burning up your atomizers and juice, or both. Go too high and you won't get enough flavor. Save mixing things up until you're comfortable with the regular way.

The Juice

Da Juice! Available in eye popping
flavors, from Cheesecake and
Energy Drink to exotic tobaccos
like Line Rider and Harbor Nite.
Next to actual technique, we're going to maintain (arguably) that the juice you select is the most important consideration you'll have when switching to vaping. The logic is simple: if it doesn't taste good, you won't do it. Vaping is not smoking. It's vaguely like smoking. Sorta. To stick with it, you have to find something that makes it better than smoking.  That would be the juice.

The other consideration with the juice is how much nicotine it contains (rated in milligrams or mg). The nicotine in mg can range from 6mg (low and slow) to 36mg (burn your eyeballs out).  Anything more than that is not terribly safe.

Happy Vapor Virgin:

  • PG juice (more flavor) or a light mix of PG/VG (70%/30% at most).
  • 16 to 18mg of nicotine.
  • Pick a flavor you already enjoy (probably not tobacco!)
  • Go to a store that let's you sample!
  • Settle on a flavor or two and stick with them for awhile (couple of weeks).

Sad Vapor Virgin:

  • Too much or pure VG (vegetable glycerin).
  • Experimenting too much at the start.
  • Too high or too low mg rating (6mg on the low side, 24 or 36mg on the high side).


  • More VG = More Vapor and "throat hit."
  • More PG = more flavor.
  • Adjust the mg rating to your liking after you learn "How to Vape"
  • Carry an extra atomizer tip to "share" with other vapers.
  • Experiment! But to do it slowly. You don't want to try everything in one night.

How To Vape

Vaping is not smoking. I say that to people all the time. Technically, it's a replacement for smoking, granted. But other than inhaling and exhaling, it's pretty different. The goal is to replace the habits of smoking, with the habits of vaping. To do that takes a little practice, patience, and technique.

Don't use a vaporizer like a cigarette. Too often I see people who try to vape just jam the thing in their mouths and start sucking on it willy-nilly.


When you first start out, slow, gentle and longer is better than fast and hard.  You can get into the freaky hardcore stuff later, if that's what tickles your tits. For now, learn to do it right.

Happy Vapor Virgin:

  • Fire the atomizer for a 3-5 seconds.
  • Soft, controlled suckage and let the vapor hit the back of your throat.
  • Hold the vapor in your mouth for a few seconds.
  • You don't need to inhale it into your lungs (won't hurt if you do, though).
  • Exhale slowly.
  • Vaping takes longer than smoking (but you can do it more frequently).

Sad Vapor Virgin:

  • Puffing it like a smoke. No.
  • Firing the atomizer for too long (wait, and take another puff in a few seconds).
  • Giving up. (It takes 21 days to form a habit. Give it a month.)
  • Smoking and vaping. Give up the cigs right from the start.


There aren't any. It takes a little practice, but you'll get the hang of it fairly quickly. Like in one or two tries. If it's not doing it for you, consider trying some of the tweaks listed above.

That's it. Welcome to vaping!