Vaping Glossary - what does it all mean?
The ultimate vaping glossary
AKA Atty, an atomiser is the component which turns e-liquid into vapor (technically an aerosol).
Tobacco cigarette. A tongue-in-cheek way of differentiating an e-cig from an ‘analogue’ smoke.
Anti Nicotine and Tobacco Zealots: Typically members of anti tobacco groups, but also unaffiliated individuals who hold strong, unscientific beliefs about the dangers and nature of nicotine, and who collude in keeping the public in the dark about the safety of non-smoked tobacco products relative to smoking.
The component part of a vaping device which causes e-liquid to turn into a vapor. Contains one or more coils of resistance wire, and comes in a multitude of formats depending on the device.
An ampere is the international system of units unit of electric current. Currents passing through vaping products are in the Milliamps (thousands of an amp) range.
A feature on some vaping devices where the vape is generated when the user puffs, rather than by pressing a button.
All Day Vape
Some vapers have an eliquid or eliquid/device combo which they use ‘all day’. Some vapers will have other vapes for different circumstances.
APV: Advanced Personal Vaporizer
A vaping device with high battery capacity and advanced microelectronic features such as the ability to vary the voltage or wattage, or the ability to monitor puffs taken.
AWG: American Wire Guage
A North American system of measurement for the diameter of electrically conducting wire
Um, a battery! Although in this context, “battery” often refers to the whole ‘power unit’ of an e-cigarette or eGo type device (i.e. including the switch, LEDs and threading for cartomiser or Tank). Many other batteries are used in Mods/APVs
B&M: Bricks & Mortar
Sometimes know as “vape stores”, these have sprung up across America and other parts of the world in recent years.
BCC: Bottom Coil Changeable
A tank design in which the coil sits at the bottom (battery end). The coil is housed in a protective unit which is replaced regularly.
BDC: Bottom Dual-Coil Cartomizer
Similar to the above, but utilizes twin-coils for greater performance.
Empty (I.e. not prefilled) cartomizers which vapers purchase to fill with their favourite e-liquid
A mod in a box shape! Has a number of advantages over cylindrical devices, such as the ability to contain additional functionality in a configuration that only a cuboid shape can permit. The box mod form-factor is preferred by many vapers. If you are thinking about purchasing one, check out our guide to buying your first box mod.
Typically found on older devices or on dripping atomizers, the bridge is a steel mesh which wicks e-liquid onto the atomizer coil.
Originally referred to a larger (transparent) cartomiser which did not require filler material, but now used generically to describe tank systems with ‘viewports’ (such as the EVOD or CE3 etc) which allow the user to see how much eliquid remains in the tank. Semi-disposable
Deprecated to some degree, although still available from a few sellers. First generation cigalikes were 3 piece devices comprised of a battery, an atomizer and a cartridge containing an e-liquid saturated filler which was inserted into the atomizer.
Many different chargers are provided for use with vaping products. Some are classic battery chargers for rechargeable batteries, some are designed for the specific e-cigarette, typically with a screw-threaded attachement.
It is important to only use the charger provided with the vaping product purchased. Using incorrect chargers has been implicated in some battery fires.
Once referred to as a “mini”, e-cigarettes which resemble cigarettes are often now referred to as cigalikes, cig-a-likes or cig-alikes. This is to differentiate the category, which is commonly found in places where smoked tobacco is sold, from the rest of the vaping devices, which are found online and in dedicated vape stores.
CASAA: Consumer Advocates for Smokeless Alternatives
A consumer-led, volunteer Tobacco Harm Reduction organisation which campaigns for the truth to be told about the relative safety of smokeless tobacco and vaping products compared with smoked tobacco. They spend much of their time organizing against state and city wide restrictions being applied to vaping products, and have had a huge amount of success. If you haven’t yet done so, please become a member and donate if you can.
An automated feature in some vaping products (usually cig-a-likes) which cuts off power to prevent overheating and the associated dry-puff.
All atomizers utilize a coil of Kanthal or Nichrome wire which heats when current is applied to it, and produced the vapor from the e-liquid. Coils are configured in a myriad of different ways, and are of different lengths and thicknesses. Many vapers choose to ‘build’ their own coils according to their own preferences. The overall output of a coil is subject to ohm’s law.
Dripping is a technique whereby a dripper (usually a pipette) is used to drop small amounts of eliquid directly onto the atomizer. This is in contrast to the typical eliquid in a tank or filler material being wicked to the atomizer.
A drip tip is a mouthpiece which enables e-liquid to be dripped through it onto the atomizer.
Drip On-Demand (DOD)
DOD systems are designed to allow the semi-automated dripping of e-liquid onto the atomizer coil/wicking. In some respects, this is the "holy grail" of vaping product design.
The nJoy king was the first "all-in-one" e-cigarette designed to be fully disposable. Once it's spent, it is discarded.
In direct dripping, the e-liquid is dripped onto the atomizer coil itself, as opposed to on the wicking material surrounding the coil.
The DNA is a series of integrated power regulating chipset and display screens produced by Evolv. They are often used by modders, but also in commercially available offerings.
An accessory that prevents e-liquid from leaking when using drip tips. Drip shields are hollow metal tools that slide over the device’s atomizer and covers it’s airflow holes to catch any juice that may leak through them.
If there is not enough e-liquid in the device, the remaining e-liquid may overheat causing a dry-puff. Almost all new vapers will experience this nasty phenomenon a few times in the early days, but it's easily avoided by ensuring sufficient e-liquid is present.
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Many of the innovations in vaping products have come from hobbyists DIYing their own devices and e-liquids. ECF has an active community of DIYers, but it's not for everyone - there are risks involved, particularly with handling concentrated nicotine e-liquids.
Depending on who you talk to, “e-cigarette” is either the name for the whole category of vaping products, or refers to those devices which resemble tobacco cigarettes (see Cigalikes). Also, E-cigars, E-pipes, E-hookahs: all terms describing vaping versions of traditional tobacco products.
E-liquid is the liquid which is aerosolized by vaping products. It's typically comprised of 4 ingredient categories: nicotine, humectant (PG/VG), water and flavorings.
The first mass-produced 2nd generation vaping product, eGo was never trademarked and is sold as a generic product by many suppliers. The original eGo device was produced by Joyetech, but all the major manufacturers have a similar device in their inventory.
E-Cigarette-Forum.Com, the first online community for vapers and still the largest and most active. ECF has been hugely influential in the formation of vaping culture and the vaping industry.
A silica braided wicking material used by many vapers, particularly in rebuildable atomizers. It is preferred because of its excellent wicking and its heat-resistant non-toxic properties.
All Cig-A-likes contain a filler which acts both as a binder for the e-liquid (so it doesn’t leak) and a wicking material for the liquid to reach the atomizer coil.
The genesis rebuildable atomizer was one of the first commercially available. The name is used generically to refer to rebuildables with specific design features.
A tank system with a glass (or pyrex) sheath, as opposed to polycarbonates. Some vapers believe these to be safer than plastics.
A long and flexible extension piece that exists to put space between the device and the user’s face for improved safety. Goosenecks provide better positioning when vaping while lying down, prevents spitback and also keeps the mod further away from the user in case a rare battery venting incident takes place.
Abbreviation for "Generally Recognized As Safe". This applies to food and cosmetic ingredients only, and not to inhalable products since they’ve not been tested for inhalation safety. Regardless, GRAS ingriendients should only ever be used in e-liquids.
High Resistance (HR)
Atomizers which run at a higher resistance typically run cooler and drain less power from the battery.
A phenomenon where a rebuilt atomizer coil is not fully in contact with the wicking material. This causes hot-spots which can often be seen glowing, and causes a burned taste. Vapers rebuilding their coils must learn to avoid this.
HV High Voltage HV Atty
High Voltage atomizers typically use a higher resistance coil, due to Ohm’s law: Lower resistance atomizers would run too hot.
2 Meanings: Hybrid atomizer or Hybrid PV. Hybrid atomizers are a dripping atomizer designed to allow greater performance from directly dripped e-liquid. Hybrid PVs are designed to be seamless all-in-one devices, raising the design standard of the PV from a cobbled together look to a sleek, beautiful artisan creation.
Refers to lithium manganese batteries. IMR batteries are often referred to as “high drain” batteries. IMR batteries have a higher discharge rate than ICR batteries and it is generally accepted that they use a safer chemistry. IMR batteries are available both with and without protection circuits.
Refers to a typical lithium ion battery. Since other battery types (such as IMR) use a much safer chemistry, ICR batteries are generally no longer recommended for vaping purposes.
A popular alternative name for "e-liquid".
An alloy composite wire used to build atomizer coils.
A circular chipset inserted into cylindrical mechanical mods to regulate the power output of the batteries. Produced by Evolv.
Tank systems are prone to leaking e-liquid, either due to being improperly filled, or in the process of refilling them. E-liquid in contact with skin is not problematic so long as it is washed off soon afterwards.
Refers to a lithium polymer battery; a rechargeable type of battery that comes in a pouch as opposed to a metallic tube shape. These batteries have a higher discharge rate and higher power capacity, which vastly reduces ramp up time when compared to dual 18650 devices. These batteries are sometimes used with vaping, but it is important that users learn how to care for and use them properly.
Refers to lithium-ion batteries, which include a variety of battery types including IMR, INR, ICR and more. Lithium ion batteries are a much more common form of battery in the vaping world and use a liquid inside of a polymer. There are considered to be more hardy than the Li-Po batteries.
Low resistance atomizers run hotter than their higher resistance counterparts. This in turn produces a warmer vapor, with a stronger throat-hit sensation.
Many vaping products require the user to press a button to provide power to the atomizer coils (as opposed to activating through puff). This is preferred by many, as it allows the preheating of the coil prior to taking a puff.
Mechanical Mod (Mech Mod, Mech PV, Mech)
Mechanical mods are devices in which there is no microelectronic circuitry (unless a Kick is added). Power output is controlled through Ohms law - that is to say, by combining battery voltage with specific resistance of the coil to create the desired heat.
For more information about these mods, check out our article on the basics of mechanical mods.
The convention has been for manufacturers to describe the nicotine strength of their e-liquid in terms of the number of milligrams (weight) per milliliter (volume) of e-liquid. Some manufacturers are now choosing to use percentages instead, as this is based on volume alone.
Deprecated - used to describe smaller cigalikes.
MilliAmp Hours: This is the rating of energy density in a battery. It describes how long (time) a battery can provide a current for. An 18650 battery rated at 2600 mAh run at a setup draining 2amps will last for 1.3 hours on a full charge, for example.
A smaller diameter coil, typically constructed by wrapping kanthal around a hanging nail or some such, and having the coil pushed together without space between wraps. See this ECF thread for a nice example
Vaping devices that are typically more powerful than vape pens. Compared to vape pens, vape mods are usually larger and accept more powerful batteries. As a result, ‘mods’ usually produce more power, give off more vapor, and allow users to have greater control over their vape experience. There are many different types of mods including pen-style mods, pod mods, box mods and more.
Individuals who make their own mods or modify existing devices for better performance or to improve the mod’s design. Box mods for instance were created by modders who wanted better performance from their e-cigarettes and pen style devices.
A multi-voltage or variable-voltage device is one that allows you to manually adjust the mod’s voltage. More specifically, multi-voltage devices allow you to manipulate your mod’s power to increase or decrease vapor production. MV devices are similar to variable voltage devices, except they offer clear set points as opposed to a voltage range.
Nickel chromium, used in vape wire. Typically has a shorter life span than kanthal wire, but still a very common wire used in the creation of wicks or coils.
A stimulant normally found in the tobacco plant. In vaping, nicotine is put into liquids at different strength levels, normally measured in milligrams.
An abbreviation for Nicotine Replacement Therapy. Typically, this type of therapy includes nicotine patches, nicotine gum or nicotine lozenges. These items include nicotine, but omit all the other harmful chemicals that are typically found in tobacco and cigarettes. NRT is a broader term used to discuss smoking cessation. Vaping can be considered a form of NRT, but it not officially recognized as an NRT in most places.
Nickel-metal hydride. A type of battery, frequently used to power vape devices.
The standard unit of electrical resistance. Represented with the symbol Ω. Used in conjunction with watts and volts in vapes.
This term refers to polyethylene glycol which was once used by some e-liquid manufacturers in the production of their vape liquids. When processed, PEG produces ethylene glycol. In regards to vaping, PEG has mostly been replaced with Propylene Glycol (PG).
Personal Vaporizer (PV)
PVs are commercially produced devices used to vape e-liquid. Mostly, these devices consist of housing, a battery, a coil/atomizer and a tank. Unlike mechanical mods, personal vaporizers are typically regulated and include features to maintain the devices safety.
This refers to priming a coil to prevent it from burning out. New coils should be primed; pre-soaking the cotton to ensure that there are no dry spots before activating the device.
Protected Li-on batteries include a small electronic circuit that is integrated into the cell packaging. This circuit makes the battery safer to use in your mod and are less likely to to become faulty.
Propylene Glycol (PG)
PG is a synthetic organic compound. This colorless and odorless liquid ingredient is often combined with vegetable glycol (VG) to form a base for e-liquids.
Passthrough vaping refers to vaping while your mod is attached to the charger to conserve battery life, or eliminate the need to rely on battery power. Vapers often passthrough vape when their battery is low, or when they are vaping stationary at home.
An abbreviation for Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer. These atomizers include connection points where the coil can be built and inserted. Cotton or wick is added between the coil and saturated with juice. As opposed to having a tank to hold liquid, RDAs require users to re-saturate their wick with e-juice whenever it begins to dry out.
Rebuildable Atomizers or RBAs are atomizers that allow individuals to build their own coils. With wick and wire, these coils can be reassembled many times over. Rebuildable atomizers must be assembled before usage and are only recommended for experienced users.
The amount that a conductor resists the flow of electricity. In vaping, it refers to the resistance level of the coils. The higher the resistance, the less power that will be delivered from the battery to the device. Resistance is measured in ohms (Ω).
Refers to ribbon vaping wire, a flatter variety of wire for coils. The flat-style of ribbon wire is meant to maximize surface area.
Battery stacking is an unsafe practice that refers to stacking batteries end-to-end to produce a higher voltage. However, this practice is known to increase the likelihood of malfunction. The stacking method is similar to how batteries are often aligned in a flashlight.
Steeping refers to the process of exposing vape juice to oxygen and allowing it to sit for better flavor. This process allows the e-liquid ingredients to blend together, while releasing alcohol that may be present within the juice. Most premium e-liquid is pre-steeped. See our guide to vape juice steeping for more information.
In general, thermal runaway occurs where an increase in temperature changes conditions in a way that causes an even further increase in temperature. This refers to an uncontrolled positive feedback that often leads in malfunction. In terms of vaping, it refers to a battery breaking down due to overcharging or a short.
Throat Hit (TH)
This term refers to the sensation that one feels in their throat when nicotine is inhaled (regardless of whether it is smoked or vape). Throat hits have many different ranges from a soft and smooth sensation to an overbearing harshness. Vapers often try to find the ideal throat hit by changing nicotine levels or choosing more premium juices.
Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR)
THR is a public health strategy that aims to lower health risks associated to first-hand and second-hand smoking. In most developed countries, tobacco harm reduction has come by way of reducing the adoption of smoking by young people as opposed to improving the quitting rates of established smokers.
A tube mod is a vaping device that is built in cylindrical shape instead of a box shape. These devices are typically smaller and more compact than box mods. Since tube mods more resemble the shape of a cigarette than box mods, these devices are often selected as the transition devices for smokers who are transitioning to vaping.
Unlike protected batteries, unprotected batteries do not have an attached circuit board to regulate the safety of the battery. Users of unprotected batteries must be sure not to let the battery discharge below 3 volts, or the battery will become unusable. Furthermore, it is important to only use the charger made specifically for the type of unprotected battery that is being used, as other chargers can damage the battery.
This term refers to the safety of vaping in general, and the safety of using devices in a safe and proper manner.
This term is given to individuals who vape. There are many levels of vaping from novice vapers who occasionally use a device to advanced vapers who use their devices daily.
In summary, vaping refers to the use of a vaporizor. Using a device, vapers apply heat to e-liquid converting it into vapor which can be vaped. The vape is delivered to the user through the device.
VG: Vegetable Glycerin
Vegetable Glycerin, or VG, is a colorless liquid which is an all-natural derivative of plants and is extracted from their oil. VG can be found in a wide range of products, both meant for consumption as well as beauty. In relation to vaping, VG is often combined with PG, nicotine and flavorings to create vape juice and e-liquids.
VV: Variable Voltage
Variable voltage is similar to multi-voltage and refers to a device that allows the user to switch between a range of voltages to increase or decrease power to their device. For vapers, variable voltage gives the ability to produce more or less vapor on each pull.
VW: Variable Wattage
Variable wattage technology allows users to control the power output of the device. By selecting between different wattage levels, vapers are able to better control vapor amounts and their vaping experience.
If a vape battery is mishandled or pushed beyond it’s limit, it can vent; which means dangerous chemicals leak from the battery, carrying the risk of explosion.
This refers to the amount of vapor produced during a vape pull. High wattage device for instance, have enough power to give off immense vapor production, resulting in huge clouds. Vapor production is a result of several factors including the output of the device, the length of the pull, and whether the vaper is using a mouth-to-lung or direct-to-lung vaping style.
A watt is the SI unit of power. One watt is equivalent to one joule per second. In vaping, a higher wattage means that the device is working harder to produce more vape within the same amount of time. A high wattage creates more vapor, but also uses e-liquid quicker.
Refers to the part of the vape device that absorbs liquid and delivers it to the atomizer. Wicks can be made of a variety of materials including cotton, silica, ekowool and more. Different materials are used to control factors such as wicking speed and flavor.
Whole tobacco alkaloids refers to nicotine additives that also contain other alkaloids from the tobacco plant for a more satisfying experience from former smokers. While USP nicotine contains nicotine on its own, WTAs include nicotine along with other background alkaloids like nornicotine anatabine and anabasine.
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