Last Updated on November 14, 2023 by

Out of the Box Modding: From Ex-Smoker to Vaper

Pascal Culverhouse from the Electric Tobacconist explains why the box mod has been such a hit in the vaping community.

A box mod is more than just an e-cigarette with a larger battery, larger tank and more complex circuitry. The box mod represents an important step in the evolution of e-cigarettes, a radical departure from the cigarette imagery that “cig-alikes” and even vape pens still adhere too to some degree. The box mod also represents an important maturation of the vaping community. When you see someone with a box mod, you know they are not an ex-smoker nursing a nicotine addiction, but rather a dedicated vaper pursuing their passion.

Since they were invented less than ten years ago, modified e-cigarettes have become wildly popular. Box mods have a number of additional features that distinguish them from vape pens: the bigger battery and larger tank means that you can vape for longer without interruption, and the larger tank and battery have given the box mod its eponymous shape. But newer models are offering a broader range of technological features, including temperature control, digital displays, the ability to ‘save’ favourite settings and firmware upgrades. A box mod, in essence, delivers a more customisable experience and this appeals to users that savour the experience of vaping and are content to spend hours in pursuit of their personal vaping sweet spot.

The kind of user that is dedicated enough to cycle through different settings, experiment with them and take note of what works and what doesn’t is someone who is thinking deeply about vaping — not just chasing a cheap nicotine hit. This is one of the key reasons why owning a box mod differentiates you as a vaper rather than simply an ex-smoker. By abandoning the tube-style cigarette image and adopting additional technology, box mods have helped to distinguish vaping as a totally different pastime to smoking, a pastime that involves acquiring and applying substantial amounts of specialist knowledge. Indeed, for many vapers it is more appropriate to consider their use or construction of a box mod as a craft rather than a habit or hobby.

To understand this, you only have to look at the original e-cigarette mod: the now infamous ‘screwdriver.’ It was invented by a father and son team known as Trog and Mrog on online vaping forums, a pair of tinkerers who converted a small torch into a prototype box mod in Newark-on-Trent, England. The screwdriver was the first device which allowed users to vape for hours at a time due to its extended battery capacity, and was an immediate hit on vaping forums. They developed a commercial version of the screwdriver shortly afterwards and the modified e-cig quickly entered the consciousness of the vaping community.

The screwdriver was instantly popular within the still relatively small circle of people that recognised its potential, and its success inspired other tinkerers to try their own hand at modding. Arguably the first true box mod was developed by Larry “Little Feather” Ross — who not only wanted to extend the battery life of his e-cigarette but also wanted to increase the time between e-liquid refills by enlarging the tank. A box-shaped device was his innovative solution, and since then thousands of others have been making or enjoying their own box mods — either as a personal passion or as a profit-making venture.

But just as important as the effects that box mods were having on the commercial landscapes for e-cigarettes, box mods were an essential driving force in shaping a more knowledgeable vaping community, one that pushed its understanding of physics and electronics to greater and greater feats of craftsmanship. This is true to such an extent that the otherwise excellent Provari Radius drew widespread criticism for its decision to offer only 40 watts and not to offer temperature control.

From this perspective it’s easy to see how box mods have changed not only design of e-cigarette, but just as importantly the mentality of the vaping community. Using a box mod is much more complicated than huffing on a cig-alike, and the potential dangers of improper mod-use means that a supportive vaping community is essential for helping newcomers understand the craft. The modding scene has a hugely positive role to play in the educating newcomers about the safe-use of box mods. And the more educated the community is, the better they’ll be able to continue to positively shape the future of vaping.

Author Bio: Pascal Culverhouse founded the Electric Tobacconist in 2013. Less than 18 months later the business was the UK’s number one online retailer of e-cigarettes. He still finds time to vape everyday and keeps up with the latest e-cig trends.