The Top 6 Innovations That Changed Vaping Forever – Note: As a special gift to the readers of Spinfuel, Vape-Hub would like to extend the offer of a coupon code that’s good until the end of this year. Through December 31, 2017, use the coupon code vapehub10off when checking out for a 10% discount on your purchase. One use per customer, please.
Although there are times at which the e-cigarette still feels like a very new product, the fact is that the invention of the first modern e-cigarette — as we understand the term — occurred nearly 15 years ago. During that time, we’ve seen so many innovations that the e-cigarettes of today hardly resemble those of the past. As the owner of Vape-Hub, I have seen more e-cigarettes than most. I have identified the six points at which the e-cigarette industry changed forever. The next time you buy a new box mod or vape pen that you really love, you’ll have these innovations to thank.
1. The Cartomizer
If you started vaping during or after 2011, it’s unlikely that you ever had an opportunity to buy a first-generation e-cigarette. That’s a good thing for you because the earliest e-cigarettes are why mods exist. In 2010 and earlier, an e-cigarette held its e-liquid in a disposable plastic cartridge with a sponge. The wet sponge would touch the bridge of an atomizer, and the e-liquid would flow down the bridge until it reached the heating coil — in theory. In practice, the e-liquid often didn’t flow down the atomizer bridge at all. You’d get e-liquid in your mouth almost as often as you’d get vapor. If the atomizer got too hot, the sponge inside the cartridge would melt and stick to the atomizer bridge.
First appearing around 2010 — and finally replacing the original style of cartridge in 2011 — the cartomizer is a much smarter alternative to the original disposable e-cigarette cartridges. A cartomizer — the word combines “cartridge” and “atomizer” — is a self-contained unit that contains both e-liquid and a heating coil. In a cartomizer, e-liquid has no trouble reaching the heating coil because the e-liquid is suspended in a filler material that’s wrapped around the coil. Cartomizers are reliable, affordable and produce plenty of vapor. That’s why most cigalikes still use them today.
2. The Mod
Today, the term “mod” essentially describes any e-cigarette that isn’t shaped like a tobacco cigarette. There was a time, though, in which “mod” was short for “modified.” E-cigarette hobbyists modified flashlights, Altoids tins — anything they could find — to add batteries, buttons and atomizer threading. In doing so, they created the first high-power vaping devices.
Why did people create mods? There have always been electronic hobbyists who enjoy the thrill of creation, but mods mostly appeared because the first e-cigarettes were underpowered, unreliable and had poor battery life. Mods enabled vapers to use batteries such as the powerful 18650 — still the most popular vaping battery today — to vape at higher voltages for longer and get rid of the old unreliable plastic cartridges.
Do you use a vape pen or mod with excellent battery life? Do you use a dripping atomizer? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, you have the original creators of mods to thank for the excellent vaping experience that you enjoy today.
3. Variable Voltage and Wattage
Do you use an e-cigarette with variable power settings? You can also thank the original mod makers for that. Even after upgrading to 4.2-volt batteries, some people found that they still weren’t getting enough out of the vaping experience. Cartomizers and dripping atomizers were getting better, and they could deliver more vapor with a bit more battery power. So, mod designers created the first variable-voltage e-cigarettes by adding boost circuits to single-battery mods and by adding buck circuits to dual-battery mods. Adding a potentiometer made it possible to control the voltage sent to the atomizer or cartomizer.
It wasn’t long before e-cigarette makers noticed the trend and began to market variable-voltage e-cigarettes of their own. The heyday of the variable-voltage e-cigarette brought us mods such as the ProVari — manufactured in the United States — and the Chinese-made Lavatube. Variable-wattage devices appeared later. Today, apart from mechanical mods and cigalikes, it is virtually impossible to find a vaping device without some form of power control.
4. Vaping Sweet E-Liquids
Do you like sweet e-liquids? Of course you do. Today’s e-cigarette users can’t get enough of their custard, cereal and cream flavors — but it wasn’t always that way. In the early days of vaping, e-liquid makers competed with one another to develop the best tobacco and menthol e-liquids. I’m unable to pinpoint the exact point at which everything changed, but it’s obvious that the vaping community overwhelmingly prefers sweet e-liquids today. Studies have shown, in fact, that sweet e-liquids are far more effective than tobacco and menthol e-liquids in helping people stay away from cigarettes after switching to vaping. So, whoever was the first to add sucralose to an e-liquid, I salute you — but my gunky coils would like to have a word with you.
5. The Sub-Ohm Tank
Until the invention of the e-cigarette tank, people who vaped didn’t have a lot of options for e-liquid delivery. Most people either dripped or used cartomizers. Dripping had excellent flavor characteristics and produced plenty of vapor, but it was messy and required two hands. Cartomizers were cleaner, but they didn’t hold enough e-liquid for serious vaping. Today, tanks combine plenty of e-liquid storage with vapor production that almost rivals that of dripping atomizers — but getting there has taken a long time.
The original tanks were actually cartomizers with holes punched in the sides. You’d fill a cartomizer, place a plastic or glass cylinder over it and fill the cylinder with e-liquid. E-liquid would flow from the tank through the holes in the cartomizer to keep the atomizer coil wet. Cartomizer tanks solved the problem of e-liquid storage, but they did nothing to improve vapor production.
Eventually, companies such as Kanger and Innokin developed tanks more closely resembling the modern sub-ohm tanks that we use today. Rather than using cartomizers, those tanks used replaceable atomizer heads. Otherwise, the design principle of those tanks was similar to that of cartomizer tanks. A tank used an atomizer head with holes punched in the side. E-liquid flowed through the holes to saturate a wick wrapped around an atomizer coil.
Within just a few years, the atomizer heads grew, the wick holes grew and the airflow improved. Most importantly, the coil resistance dropped to less than an ohm — and that’s how we got to the sub-ohm tanks that we use today. Sub-ohm tanks are reliable and provide a great vaping experience. They also help to make vaping more accessible to those with high nicotine needs.
6. Temperature Control Vaping
Temperature control is the current vaping frontier that manufacturers are working to tackle. Over the years, innovations in vaping technology have given us sub-ohm tanks capable of generating huge vapor clouds at high wattages. We also have mods capable of delivering all of the power we could ever need. A sub-ohm tank or rebuildable atomizer needs a wick, and most e-cigarette users prefer cotton wicks because of cotton’s low price, ease of use and purity of flavor. There’s just one problem: If you heat dry cotton, it burns. The byproducts of burned cotton are toxic and intensely irritating to the throat and lungs.
A dry hit is the unpleasant reminder that you’ve forgotten to drip or fill your tank — and temperature control is the technology that’s one day going to eliminate dry hits without compromising the flavor quality or vapor production of the traditional variable-wattage vaping experience.
With a compatible mod, you can enable temperature control operation when you use an atomizer coil made from a supported material — most commonly nickel or titanium. The resistance of the coil changes as the coil becomes hotter. By measuring the difference between the original and current coil resistance, the mod can determine the coil’s temperature. When the coil temperature reaches the limit that you set, the mod immediately reduces its power to prevent the cotton from burning.
At present, people have mixed opinions about temperature control vaping. Some think that it’s more like “temperature guessing” and believe that most current mods don’t get temperature control quite right. Some also don’t care for the flavor changes that result from using a nickel or titanium coil. Like everything else about vaping, though, temperature control will continue to improve as e-cigarette manufacturers continue to innovate. Before long, it is likely that temperature control vaping will become the norm — and we’ll all be a lot safer and happier because of it.
About the Author
Ryan Perry is the owner of Vape-Hub, an online retailer specializing in all forms of vaping products. As a special gift to Spinfuel readers, we’d like to extend the offer of a coupon code that’s good through the end of 2017. When you check out, use the coupon code vapehub10off for a 10% discount on your purchase. One use per customer, please.