Today marks the end of my first week of vaping and smoking, and the beginning of my first week of vaping exclusively. That’s right: I’m going completely tobacco-free. And once I’ve done that, the next step will be vaping sans nicotine.
Yes, you can buy e-juice without nicotine. And that’s what my goal is: nicotine-free vaping.
I can hear your question already: “So if you’re going nicotine-free, why bother vaping at all?”
And that’s a legitimate question. My quick and glib answer is “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” For now, my goal is to be completely nicotine-free. Where I go from there, I’ll worry about when the time comes.
There really is an entire subculture dedicated to vaping. The ban on cigarettes in most places has opened up an entire new marketing opportunity for alternatives, and that’s where vaping comes in. Of course, it’s also where new restrictions can be found. For example, my doctor’s office took down their old “No Smoking” sign and replaced it with one that reads “No Smoking. This Includes Electronic Cigarettes.
From what I’ve been able to determine, there are four broad categories of vaping:
The first three are self-evident; the fourth requires some explanation. You may have already figured out that “mod” is simply short for “modification.” But rather than filling up this post with the details of what mods entail, I’m going to refer you to Steve K’s Vaping World website, which has an excellent “E-Cig 101” article explaining the ins and outs of mods.
When it comes to e-cigarettes, there are basically two different varieties: disposable, and rechargeable/refillable. “Disposables” are exactly what the name implies: you use them until they’re empty, then throw them away. “Rechargeable” (also known as “refillable”) are initially more expensive, but cheaper in the long run.
My first experience with e-cigs was with disposables. I was intrigued with the claim that for the same price as a pack of cigarettes, I could get an e-cig that would last just as long. Yeah, no.
When I smoked a tobacco cigarette, I had cut back to 5 cigs a day. And since smoking meant getting dressed and leaving my apartment (there’s no smoking in the building), I always smoked the entire cigarette. No sense in wasting part of it, right? Although at -8°F, the temptation to smoke less than a whole smoke was pretty strong!
But with the e-cig, I could
smoke vape as little as I wanted. This generally worked out to 2 to 4 puffs an hour. Based on the claim of how long it should last, I expected to get at least a week’s work of vaping from each disposable.
In actual use, I got a little over two days. So my recommendation? If you’re new to vaping, or want to try it out to see if it’s right for you, by all means try a disposable. But if you’re making the switch from tobacco to vaping, and want the most economical way to do it, go with a rechargeable.
Also known as refillables, if you’re a long-term vaper, these are the way to go. You buy an initial starter kit, which usually comes with everything you need to get started: battery, charger, clearomizer, and atomizer. (More on these terms later.) Some kits include refillable cartridges, and some come with pre-filled cartridges.
My own experience has been with the Clear E-Cigarette. I’d love to give you a link to their website, but the sad fact is that they don’t seem to have one. So I’ll give you all of the details about my starter kit:
The kit consisted of several items:
- USB charge cable (no charger, however)
- 2 clearomizers
- 2 spare atomizers
The battery is a variable: different brands come with different options on their batteries; the main variable seems to be the amount of time a given battery will hold a charge. This, in turn, will vary depending on how much you smoke. In addition, there are automatic and manual batteries. Automatics come on when you inhale, while the manuals require that you push a button to activate them. With manuals, you have the greatest control over battery life.
Some kits include a charging unit, while others don’t. The ones that don’t include a charger do come with a charging cable, which can be plugged into a computer USB port or a USB wall charger.
The clearomizer is the tank which holds the liquid, while the atomizer is the element that actually converts the liquid (“e-juice”) into vapor.
And that brings us to the greatest variable of all in the world of e-cigarettes, e-pipes, and e-cigars: e-liquids.
Since the whole phenomenon is known as “vaping,” it should be obvious that you need something to provide the vapor! And that’s where e-liquid (aka e-juice) comes in.
In terms of variety, taste, and price, e-juice is more like the cigar or pipe scenes in the tobacco world. Whereas cigarettes come with very few options (menthol or regular, low-tar or full-strength), when it comes to e-liquids, the sky is the limit. Besides choosing a flavor—do you want tobacco? Fruit flavors? How about a nice pumpkin pie flavor?—you can choose your nicotine content. Oh? You’d rather not have nicotine? No problem! Buy a nicotine-free e-juice!
My first juice purchase turned out to be the most expensive on in the shop. That makes sense when you realize that I inherited my father’s champagne-taste-on-a-beer-budget. Depending on where you shop, you can spend anywhere from $4.50 all the way up to $30, depending on brand, flavor, and bottle size. I opted for a 15ml bottle (both 10ml and 15ml seem to be the most widely available sizes), but you can also find 30ml sizes as well. And it was a premium brand, so it set me back almost $15 for the bottle.
I went back to the smoke shop a few days later and bought a less-expensive juice; I want to make the expensive one last longer!
From what I can determine from the research I’ve done, if your smoking habit was a pack a day, you can expect that same rate of vaping to cost you about $1 a day, which here in New York, is a lot better than $10 a day!
I’ll follow up with reviews of other products as I try them. You can also visit my vaping page on my website.