Beginners guide to e-cigarettes

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Electronic Cigarettes

Last update: June 2016

Why this guide?

Plunge into the world of electronic cigarettes and you could easily get confused.

There is just so much information, and so many terms! But at the end of the day, getting started can be as simple as picking up a disposable electronic cigarette and inhaling on it.

In this comprehensive guide to vaping you’ll get a complete overview of everything you need to know to get started. There’s a lot of information here, so feel free to bookmark it and come back later. Alternatively, use the navigation to find exactly what you want.


Why Use Electronic Cigarettes?

i. Scientists Claim Health Benefits

If all the smokers in Britain stopped smoking cigarettes and started smoking e-cigarettes we would save 5 million deaths in people who are alive today. It’s a massive potential public health prize.

Headshot of Professor John Britton. Professor John Britton, chair of the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians Source: BBC

Many scientists believe that electronic cigarettes are vastly safer than tobacco cigarettes – in fact Professor Carl Phillips has argued that the benefits of switching are almost identical to those of quitting.

You see, 99% of the problem with smoking is not nicotine, it’s the combustion. When you burn tobacco, you create thousands of chemicals, dozens of carcinogens and tar.

In contrast, electronic cigarettes do not burn tobacco. It vaporises a liquid (called e-juice or e-liquid) which contains nicotine. And scientist Professor Michael Siegel argues that while we have yet to identify all the chemicals in cigarette smoke, we know exactly what is in e-liquid. (For more information see our section on e-liquid below.)

An expert independent evidence review published in August 2015 by Public Health England (PHE) concluded that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking.

Key findings of the review include:

  • the current best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking
  • nearly half the population (44.8%) don’t realise e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking
  • there is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers

The findings were backed up by a Royal College of Physicians report released this year.

Our own surveys suggest that users may experience quick benefits – see the Electronic Cigarette Lung survey for the most recent results.

Smoker's cough after switching, results of an online survey.

Also see: Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe: The Shocking Truth

Side Effects

While usually perfectly safe, the propylene glycol (PG) in electronic cigarettes can cause dryness of throat and sore throats. In addition, a small percentage of people are allergic to PG.

At times, allergic symptoms may be confused with the effects of quitting smoking. Quitting smoking symptoms can include:

  • mouth ulcers
  • coughing
  • chest pains
  • respiratory problems
  • mood swings

See here for a full list or here for a list of E-Cigarette Side Effects.

If you have any concerns at all, consult your doctor!

ii. How Much Can You Save With An Electronic Cigarette?

It’s possible for a UK smoker smoking 20 cigarettes a day to save close to two thousand pounds a year.

Exactly how much depends on the amount you spend on cigarettes, and how much you are going to spend on e-cigarettes, which e-cigarettes you use, how you use e-cigarettes (long or short drags) etc.. If you are using regular e-cigarettes, our handy calculator will give you a very rough idea of how much you could save.

See what our customers said about money savings or click here to read about how one customer saved enough to buy a house.

iii. Can You Quit With Electronic Cigarettes?

At the time of writing, electronic cigarettes may not be marketed as a quit smoking aid unless they have a medical authorisation. Only one company has yet been able to develop an electronic cigarette which matches the requiredthis medical authorisation, and because of the complex process involved, by the time a product is approved the technology is years out-of-date.  .

Nevertheless, a number of studies suggest that smokers may be able to quit smoking – or at least switch to a different form of nicotine usage.

iv. Where Can You Use E-Cigarettes?

Enjoying an electronic cigarette while having a bath.

Above: William enjoys an electronic cigarette in the bath! 

Currently, e-cigarettes can legally be used in most public places, indoors as well as outdoors. Some pubs have banned electronic cigarettes on the basis that they could be confused with regular cigarettes. However, this is a decision made by the owner of the establishment, not a legal requirement.

In the US, e-cigarettes are currently banned on airlines – but in the UK some airlines sell electronic cigarettes. If you are not sure, check. Be sure to point out that electronic cigarettes ARE legal to use indoors.

v. Taste and Ability to Smell

Sense of smell after switching to vaping.

A story I love is when vapers talk about, a few days or a couple of weeks after switching to vaping, they walk into a kitchen and suddenly realise they can suddenly smell the coffee brewing!

Indeed, when we surveyed vapers in 2009 in a study analysed by the University of Alberta, 79.8% reported an improvement in sense of smell after switching to e-cigarettes.

Read more: Do E-Cigs Smell on the Vapour Soul site.

How does it compare to a regular cigarette?

Smoking a regular cigarette.

Weight: I think we’ve already discussed health and returning taste buds. So, the other principal difference you’ll notice first is the weight of the electronic cigarette.

While a disposable or regular electronic cigarette does not weigh a great deal, you will notice a difference the first time you use one. However, I’ve yet to meet a vaper who has not got used to this after the first few days, and many users progress onto heavier, refillable tank systems or variable voltage electronic cigarettes.

Taste: Depending on what cigarettes you smoke, and what electronic cigarette flavour you order, the taste may be different or it may be very similar. What I find is that many users want something as similar as cigarettes as possible to start with, but as they go on they start to graduate away from tobacco flavours and experiment with other flavours.

Throat hit: Throat hit is a massive discussion subject amongst vapers, and refers to the hit you get at the back of your throat after inhaling the vaper from an electronic cigarette.

It’s been so long since I smoked a cigarette now I can barely remember what the throat hit from a cigarette is like. However, when I asked a newly converted smoker what the difference was, he said it depended on the e-cigarette he used – one was slightly tickly on the back of his throat, while another was  virtually identical to a cigarette.

To learn more see 6 Tips to Tailor Your Throat Hit Experience.

Quick Glossary

A to Z Button

Users of electronic cigarettes (vapers!) have evolved their own vocabulary. You can read a full guide to vaping terminology here, but here’s a very quick guide to terms that will help when reading this article.

Atomiser: The part which heats the e-liquid in an electronic cigarette.
E-juice (or e-liquid): A liquid which contains nicotine.
Sub Ohm: Is a coil with a resistance value of less than 1.0 ohms which increases the power output and produces more vapour.
Vape: To use an electronic cigarette (equivalent of smoking a cigarette!)
Vaper: A person who uses an electronic cigarette.

We’ll go into several of these phrases in more depth later in this blog post.

Read more: The Secret Language of Vaping

How do electronic cigarettes work?

Diagram showing how electronic cigarettes work.
Click for a larger image.

While there is some variation between electronic cigarettes, the following is applicable to most devices.

Contained within the cartridge of an electronic cigarette is an atomiser. (This may also be a separate part which screws onto the electronic cigarette.)

In regular e-cigarettes there is a wad of absorbent batting, while in other electronic cigarettes a wick extends from the bottom of the cartridge which soaks up the e-liquid, and draws it down to the atomiser.

Cut out diagram showing how the Smoker's Halo e-cigarette works.

The atomiser is activated when you either inhale or press a button. As you inhale, the atomiser heats up a liquid which contains nicotine. This creates a vapour which resembles smoke (although, crucially, it is NOT smoke.)

The vapour produced is created by the use of propylene glycol, which is also used in stage smoke, air-conditioners, drinking water, medicines and cosmetics. Click here for more information about propylene glycol.

Free Trial Scams


How Do You Avoid Scams and Why Free E-Cigarettes are Not Usually Free

Credit card trap!

Unfortunately, the e-cigarette industry seems to attract scams, some of them (barely) legal.

The most common form of a scam is to offer a free electronic cigarette – typically, you’ll only have to pay for the packing and shipping. However, hidden in the terms and conditions is a term where you pay for refills to be sent monthly – this can be high as £60 a month. These can be difficult to cancel, and you’ve almost no chance of getting money back from the company. As these companies have no interest in building a long term relationship with customers or a reputation in the market place, you’ll probably also find that the e-cigarette you are sold is complete rubbish.

(A Chinese factory owner once told us: “I can supply electronic cigarettes for any price you want – but the quality will be terrible.” )

Read more: The Great Electronic Cigarette Free Trial Scam | Free Trial Scams 

What Types of Electronic Cigarettes Are There?

1. Disposable E-Cigarettes

The key benefit to disposables is they are readily available – and there is no faffing around with them. Instead, you just pick one up, inhale, and enjoy.

However, you need to be careful with disposables. They sound like a great way to test electronic cigarettes without laying out for a kit, but the problem is the quality can be poor (and they are very rarely as good as a good starter kit.) Their best function, IMO, is for when you run out while on a trip and can hopefully pick one up in a shop.

Disposables can cost anything from about a fiver to eleven or twelve pounds. A few quid may sound like too much, but if you compare the value of a kit which you can carry on using every day for a year or more it’s really very expensive.

2. Cigalikes

Three Part and Two Part Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes used to consist of three parts, consisting of a battery, an atomiser and a cartridge. The atomiser was screwed onto the battery, and the cartridges were either screwed or pushed on to the atomiser.

While a great improvement on smoking, the main problem was that the atomiser was prone to failure. Nowadays, atomisers are now built into disposable cartridges. Not only do these seem to be more reliable than the original atomisers, they are less fiddly. And if you do get an atomiser going wrong you have only lost a single cartridge.

How Do You Use a Cigalike?

Getting Started

As soon as you get the kit, give it a good charge. Batteries may come with some initial charge, but by giving it a long  charge you condition the battery. Then screw a cartridge into a battery, lift it to your lips, inhale – and enjoy 🙂

Position it is held in

Ideally, you’ll hold your electronic cigarette in a roughly horizontal position. This will avoid any danger of e-liquid leaking out of the cartridge. (As technology has improved this now rarely happens.)

When to change batteries

A standard e-cigarette battery will last an average vaper two or more hours under typical use. Once the battery is ready for a recharge, the LED tip will flash and will no longer activate. Simply attach the charger to the battery and connect to a power source. The charger will indicate when the battery is recharged.

When to change cartridges

Unlike batteries, cartridges do not have a visual indicator to let you know they’ve run out of e-liquid. Rather, it’s up to you to realize when it’s happened. There are a few different things you may notice when the e-liquid has become depleted.

You may notice that there’s simply not as much vapour coming out of the e-cigarette as before. In some cases vapour may cease to come out at all! In some extreme cases, you may notice a harsh, burnt taste. That is an indicator that the cartridge has run out of e-liquid and the internal atomiser is now burning through the material in the cartridge. Stop using the cartridge immediately in this case.

Replacing cartridges is simple, just remove the old one and recycle it, then screw a new one back on and resume your puffing.

For an example of a regular e-cigarette, check out the Halo Electronic Cigarette.

3. Refillable Electronic Cigarettes (Tank Systems)

Refillable e-cigarettes (usually called tanks) come in a variety of styles ranging from regular e-cigarettes with refillable cartridges to highly specialized handmade devices designed for hobbyists. The most popular systems currently on the market are often called tank systems because of their high-capacity clearomisers or glassomisers.

Most tank systems consist of:

i. A Battery – Usually between 500 – 13000 mAh and re-chargeable.
ii. A Tank (also called clearomiser) – These house the atomiser and are the refillable part of the tank.
iii. USB charger – The batteries can be recharged on the computer or via a USB adaptor to a mains socket. The plug needs to be 5 volts 1 amp
iv. E-liquid – Most starter kits will give you a bottle of e-liquid for free.

If you’re looking for something with a bit more than an e-cigarette, then a tank system is definitely the way to go. With a much higher capacity and a huge variety of strengths and flavours, it’s not a surprise that tank systems are quickly becoming a most popular alternative to both tobacco cigarettes and regular e-cigarettes.

For an example of a refillable electronic cigarette, check out the Halo Tank.

There are several key differences to using regular e-cigarettes:

1. Throat Hit: With a more powerful battery, you get more vapour – and a bigger hit to the back of the throat.  This bigger hit to your throat may allow you to use a lower strength nicotine than you would use in a standard e-cigarette.

(I’ve given this to smoking friends and it has made them cough the first few times they have used it!)

2. Longer Lasting Battery: It may be heavier, but it lasts several times as long as a regular e-cigarette.

3. Greater Variety of Flavours: Usually, regular flavours are limited with regular e-cigarettes – but check out all the flavours you can get with eliquid!

4. How it looks: Most tank systems don’t look like a cigarette, which might put you off at first.

How Do You Use A Tank System?

Here’s a video giving an overview of the process (there’s more detail below on refilling electronic cigarettes):

Most people will now start with a tank system. (In fact, in our shops where people can try both side-by-side, well over 90% of people choose to use a tank.)

With higher power and a huge variety of strengths and flavours, it’s not a surprise that tank systems are quickly becoming a most popular alternative to both tobacco cigarettes and regular e-cigarettes.

Variable Voltage/Wattage E-Cigarettes

Once a rare and exotic example of technology, variable voltage e-cigarettes are increasingly becoming the norm.

Variable voltage electronic cigarettes allow you to increase or decrease the amount of voltage passing from the battery through an atomiser. As a result, you can fine-tune the power output of the device depending on:

a. The e-liquid you are using
b. Your personal taste
c. The atomiser you are using

You will need to play around a bit to get the right voltage. Make it too low, and you won’t get enough vapour. Make the voltage too high, and you could get a burnt taste. You’ll also need to adjust the voltage to suit the e-liquid you are using.

These devices are recommended for slightly more experienced users as there is a learning curve associated with variable voltage/wattage devices.

What are Temperature Controlled Devices?

Many devices now feature a temperature control function. Instead of selecting the voltage or power output the mod should deliver, you set the temperature you want the atomiser to run at.

When you press the fire button the mod monitors the temperature and automatically adjusts power to bring the coil up to that temperature as fast as possible, then keeps it there. This carries several advantages:

  • This can prevent the coil becoming dry which can cause a dry hit.
  • Having a consistent temperature delivers a more consistent flavour and throat hit.
  • Could improve the safety of vaping (as dry hits can lead to chemicals being produced.)

For more information see Temperature Control: Everything You Need to Know.

What Are E-Cig Mods?

Traditionally (or as traditionally as can be for a hobby that started just a few short years ago) e-cig mods referred only to electronic cigarettes that had been modified or built by vapers themselves.

These mods can be anything from a beautiful handcrafted wooden electronic cigarette to an adapted piece of junk fitted with an atomiser and a mouth piece.

Again, you need to know what you are doing, or buy a mod from someone that knows what they are doing – batteries will and can explode when you do the wrong thing to the wrong type of battery. There are lots of tips on forums like – accompanied by warnings which you should pay heed to!

Nowadays mods more typically refer to advanced vaping devices such as the Aspire Quest E-Cig Box Mod. Typically, these come with more power and advanced functions than traditional tank electronic cigarettes. For example, the Istick give you the ability to choose between variable voltage and variable wattage mode, while the Pegasus Mini allows you to choose between variable wattage and a mechanical mode.

Also see: What are e-cig mods? (

What Is Sub-Ohm Vaping?

Sub-ohming takes vaping to extremes by using a coil with a resistance of less than 1 ohm.

While this can produce massive amounts of vapour, it also puts stress on both the battery and the coil in the tank. This you will need to have a battery that can produce enough amps (power) to handle the low resistance of the coil.

If you’re looking to replicate the mouth to lung inhale like a cigarette, sub ohm vaping might not be for you. With sub ohm vaping you inhale directly into your lungs, so you can breathe in more vapour and produce a big cloud. However, it’s not all about blowing big clouds – because the vapour is covering more taste buds you get a more intense flavour.

You can also turn up the power of the device to have a warmer vape, which can make flavours like custard taste even better. Also you might find you won’t be vaping as often because you will be getting a bigger intake each time. The downside is you might find you will go through eliquid a little bit faster, because of the amount that is being used each time.

To start off sub ohm vaping I would advise a box mod like the 40watt Istick as it has enough power to start sub ohm vaping. You will then need to choose a sub ohm tank also called a sub tank, like the top filling Aspire Cleito.

After this you will need to choose what eliquid you want to use. Most people prefer to use a higher VG eliquid because it’s smoother on the back of your throat and VG also produces a bigger cloud.

(You don’t need to have a high VG eliquid – after all, it’s all personal preference. You might like the throat hit you get with PG or even the flavours you get with PG. But if you’re trying it for the first time, you might want to play safe and stick to high VG!)

When it comes to choosing the nicotine content, consider lowering your strength to at least 6mg. When breathing in that amount of vapour with a high nicotine content eliquid, it can give you an unpleasant throat hit and a big nicotine rush.

For some more information on sub ohm vaping and ohms law click here, or see All About Sub Ohm Vaping on E-Cigarette Guide.

What Types of Refills Are There?

Dismantled Aspire Clearomiser.

Blank Cartridge: Needs to be filled with ejuice.
Filled Cartridge: Comes prefilled – check before refilling as some are not designed to be refilled, and refilling may void the warranty on your electronic cigarette. Originally these came with a separate atomiser which had to be screwed on, but these are increasingly rare with mainstream electronic cigarettes.
Cartomiser: Comes with an inbuilt atomiser, can be filled or empty.
Clearomiser: Also a cartomiser, its clear sides enable you to see how much juice you have left.
Tank: A large clearomiser or an actual small tank that holds a specially modified cartridge. Tanks are built to hold large amounts of liquid, reducing the number of refills required.

How Do You Refill E-Cig Cartridges and Tanks?

Dan from ECigaretteDirect creating a new mix.
Above, Dan from mixes two flavours together in a CE5 clearomiser.

Methods for refilling e-cigarettes vary with the design of the cartridge or tank.

Regular e-cigarette cartridges are actually slightly more difficult to fill. The trick is to saturate the material inside the cartridge without over-saturating (which can lead to a condition called “flooding.”) The filler also must be fully saturated, otherwise dry spots come into contact with the hot atomiser and burning, causing a terrible burnt flavor.

The simplest method of filling one of these cartridges is to simply drip liquid from the bottle onto the material inside the cartridge. Once the material becomes saturated, let it sit for several minutes allowing for the liquid to absorb into the material. The process must then be repeated several times until the cartridge is completely saturated. This can be a tedious process requiring the steps be repeated several times. However, some vapers prefer this method believing it gives a purer taste.

More typically, cartridges are refilled via either a syringe or e-liquid bottle with a long, narrow tip. Insert the needle or tip between the metal side of the cartridge and the filling and push it in as far as it will go. Then, squeeze the bottle or syringe slowly while slowly withdrawing the needle. This takes a little practice, but it fills the cartridge from the bottom up ensuring there are no dry spots.

Bear in mind that if you refill a cartridge in a kit not designed for refilling, you may void the warranty.

How Do You Refill A Tank?

Tanks were designed to be refilled, and the process is much easier. While the exact filling varies from style to style, you simply open the tank, tilt it slightly and transfer liquid directly into the chamber.

There are two important things to remember. First, avoid getting liquid down the tube in the centre. This is the airflow, and filling it with liquid will lead to serious performance issues. Second, do not overfill. If there are graduated measurements on the tank, do not fill the tank beyond the top marking. Overfilling can cause liquid to be forced down the centre tube.

For more information on clearomisers, see: The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Clearomisers.

How Do You Use Top Filling Tanks?

Lately a lot of top filling tanks have been released. As you don’t need to remove the tank from the battery to fill it, these are quicker and easier to fill than traditional tanks.

Tanks such as the Aspire Cleito have a twist off cap on the top. To fill these:

  1. Unscrew the cap.
  2. Pour your e-liquid down the side of the glass. (Avoid pouring it down the coil.
  3. Fill it up until you almost reach the top of the coil.
  4.  Replace the cap.

Some other top filling tanks like the Aspire Trion Mini have a dial underneath of the twist off cap. These allow you to turn the dial to two different modes – refill and vape mode.

  1. Remove the cap.
  2. Turn the dial to refill mode. This will open holes on the top of the tank.
  3. Pour liquid into the tank.
  4. Turn the dial back to vape mode. The chamber in the middle will turn and open up a hole to the coil, allowing e-liquid to saturate the cotton in the coil.

Caution: If the dial is not turned back to the vape mode, the chamber will stay closed off.  E-liquid will not get to the coil and you will get a dry hit.

Changing coils with this style of top fill tank is still done in the same way – you twist off the bottom. There is no access to fill your eliquid from the bottom, which does reduce the danger of spilling e-liquid when changing coils.

What Is Dripping?

Rebuildable dripping atomiser pictured from above.

Dripping is a method of vaping that has its share of fans, but may not be for everyone due to how complex it can potentially be. The reason for this is partly due to needing knowledge of ‘ohms law’, and having to make your own coils and wicking.

Instead of having a tank system you would use an RDA (rebuildable dripping atomizer), which screws on top of your battery instead. It has a top cap that can be pulled off, which has a negative and positive post underneath.

The user then makes the coils and feeds them through the holes of the negative and positive posts, and adds cotton through the middle of the coils. Then the user would simply drip e-liquid onto the cotton and the coils, put the top cap back in place and vape as normal.

The downside to this method of vaping is that the user needs to frequently ensure that there is a sufficient amount of liquid on the cotton, otherwise it will dry out and the user will experience a ‘dry hit’.

There are some very good reasons for dripping that fans of the method swear by. First is flavour and performance. Despite the advances in clearomiser technology, there is just something about the flavour profile which dripping liquid directly onto the heating coils can provide.

The other advantage is that it’s easy to sample different flavours since you don’t have to go through a large reservoir of liquid before you can try the next flavour.

Also see: Your Guide to Drip Vaping (Vape Resource)

Trouble Shooting

Battery Issues

One of the most common causes of issues with batteries is failing to clean the terminals. Regularly cleaning battery terminals with a cotton bud or alcohol swab (never use water!) will help ensure smooth performance.

Another issue with ego buttons is that the terminal can be pushed back into the battery, and then fails to make contact with the clearomiser. To resolve this, you can usually use a pair of tweezers to take hold of the terminal and gently pull it back out.

If the LED light is sticking on, a gentle tap on a wooden surface can sometimes resolve the issue.

View more troubleshooting steps!


Blowing through a clearomiser.

When too much e-liquid gets into an atomiser it can flood. You’ll usually know when this happens because:

  • there is a gurgling sound from the atomiser
  • vapour production is poor
  • you may get the unpleasant experience of eliquid in your mouth

Sometimes you can resolve the issue with several draws on your e-cigarette, or by removing the clearomiser and just giving it a couple of flicks. At other times you need to leave the atomiser to drain.

Removing the cartridge and blowing through it into a paper towel is also an effective method for clearing excess liquid. See Three Easy Ways to Clear an Atomiser or 10 Tips To Stop Your Clearomiser From Leaking for more useful tips.

Burnt Out Coils

How do you know when your coil is burnt out?

Atomisers can burn out, especially the lighter version. When inhaling, you’ll either get no vapour or a burnt taste coming through. The only solution is to replace the cartridge or clearomiser head  – good retailers will have these under warranty, so contact them for a replacement.

How do you avoid a burnt out coil?

Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to avoid burn out.

1. Before using a clearomiser/atomiser head for the first time, drip a few drops of e-liquid into the wick.
2. After filling a clearomiser, allow the clearomiser to stand for five minutes before use.

Both the above steps allow the e-liquid to saturate the wick and coil before use.

3. Always ensure that the e-cigs are turned off before putting them in your pocket. This is especially important with powerful box mods – I’ve found several times that I’ve fired up my Coolfire only to find out that the wattage has gone up to maximum in my pocket. The result? A rapidly burnt out coil.

Fortunately, many modern clearomisers feature replaceable heads. Rather than replacing the entire unit, only the head needs to be swapped out for a fresh head. The method to do so varies depending on the model, but generally the steps are as follows:

  • Remove excess e-liquid
  • Take apart the clearomiser by unscrewing the endcap
  • Unscrew the replaceable head, much the same way you unscrew a cartomizer
  • Screw on the replacement head and reassemble the clearomiser
  • Treat the rebuilt clearomiser like a brand-new unit

Also see: 7 Easy Ways to Stop Your Coil From Burning Out

Cleaning Tanks and Clearomisers

Running a clearomiser under a tap.

I’ll be honest, I never clean my tanks – good tanks don’t really need it, and as tanks are usually under warranty you can get a replacement if they fail in the first few months.

However, some people do like to maintain their tanks. Here’s a few methods:

1. Simply flush the tank with warm (not boiling, as this can damage the atomiser) tank. Allow to dry before re-using – as a minimum, leave overnight to dry.
2. Soak the coil in a white alcohol such as vodka. If available to you, try pure grain alcohol. Avoid isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.
3. If you really want to go the whole hog, use an ultrasonic jewellery cleaner using either water or alcohol.

Regular cartomisers can be cleaned in the same manner, but to be honest, the results are often less than optimal. Cartridges were designed to be disposable.

Clearomisers and tanks may also benefit from a cleaning. Many of the tanks on the market now offer replacement vaping coils. It is generally easier to just replace the head when it finally becomes too gunked up to use.

If you want to make your heads last as long as possible, cleaning them is a very simple process.  Remove the battery, disassemble the tank and remove the head as if you were replacing the head.  Clean the head using any of the methods outlined above.  Allow the head to dry at least 24-48 hours then reassemble the tank. The first few draws may be weak if there is still water in the head, but this will work itself out with use.

More About E-liquid

What’s in e-liquid?

We’ve analysed several of the ingredients in eliquid before, so click on the links if you need more information!

Is Eliquid Safe?

E-liquid bought from a reputable supplier, which has been batch tested in the UK by a UK government approved lab, is generally fairly safe. At the same time, do keep it out of reach of children! (All reputable suppliers provide e-liquid with child proof caps – if you have children in the house, go to every effort to keep it out of children’s reach.)

There have been some scares with eliquid sold from dodgy companies where the nicotine content was too high. There is also a growing number of people who mix their own liquid. Nicotine in concentrated form is highly dangerous, and unless you really, really know what you’re doing (i.e. you’re a chemist) we advise against messing with it.

Which Strength is Right For You?

You’ll need to test which is the correct strength e-liquid for you, but as a general rule of thumb start off with 1.2% if you smoke weak cigarettes, 1.8% if you smoke regular cigarettes and 2.4% if you smoke strong cigarettes.

Because you absorb less nicotine when you vape than when you smoke, you may want to consider ordering an eliquid which is slightly stronger than the cigarettes you smoke. This may compensate for some of the things missing in cigarettes. It’s easy to adjust the strength down from that point to a level with which you are comfortable.

Eventually you might find yourself requiring less nicotine, and consequently you may wish to drop down to a 0.6%, a 0.3% or even a 0.0% nicotine free liquid. If you are intending to sub-ohm, you will almost certainly want to use a 0.6% eliquid at maximum; typically, sub-ohmers favour a 0.3%.

What PG/VG ratio is best for you and for your device.

E-liquids come with different PG/VGs ratio. These are usually displayed like this “60pg/40vg”.

Your choice of PG/VG ratio will affect:

  • flavour
  • throat hit
  • vapour production
  • the speed that e-liquid saturates into the cotton of your coils.

Having a higher PG level in your e-liquid will give you stronger and more complex flavours. It will also give you more of a throat hit, but won’t give you as much vapour production as a higher VG e-liquid.

Because the viscosity of PG is very thin, you can use high PG liquids in all tanks. When the PG ratio goes below 50% (e.g. 40pg/50vg), some coils (e.g. CE5s) will find it harder to wick. That’s because high VG e-liquid is thicker and takes longer to saturate into the cotton of your coil. This will start to give you dry hits and burn out your coil a lot faster.

If you want to use a higher VG e-liquid but still want to have a mouth to lung inhale, the Aspire Nautilus coils can wick up to 70% VG.

Higher VG e-liquids are smoother on the back of your throat, produce a lot more vapour, but can also mute flavours. VG naturally tastes sweet, so higher VG eliquids can also taste a bit sweeter.

Higher VG liquids are perfect for sub ohm tanks such as the Aspire Cleito because they are lot smoother on the back of your throat and can produce a lot more vapour. Because the coils in sub ohm tanks are a lot bigger, the wicking holes in the coils are a lot larger, helping high VG e-liquid saturate into the cotton a lot faster.

However it all comes down to personal preference; I like a lot of flavour and vapour production AND a throat hit, so I like to use a 3mg 50PG/50VG eliquid like Suzi from 13sins in my Aspire Cleito sub tank.


Did you get some value out of this blog post? If you did, and you think others would too, I’d really appreciate it if you shared it using one of the share buttons on this post.

Thank you 😉

(Note: Huge thanks to Steve from Steve’s Vaping World for his help with this post!)

Further reading

If you are new to electronic cigarettes, I recommend you read the following:

The One Mistake Most New Vapers Make (Video Tutorial – with script for those who don’t like videos)
The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Clearomisers
The Ultimate Beginners Guide to ECigarette Batteries
Five Quit Smoking Side Effects You May Experience: An Essential Guide for New Vapers
Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe: The Shocking Truth
Nicotine In Electronic Cigarettes: 10 Facts All Users Should Know
The Electronic Cigarette Glossary: Essential Words, Phrases and Slang for New Vapers

9 thoughts on “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Electronic Cigarettes”

  1. Hi James, interesting comment regarding filling the clearomiser as I have found I get a better vape from a full clearomiser than one with a small amount of eliquid left. As a result, I tend to keep my clearmoiser as full as possible.

  2. Pingback: How to Use Electronic Cigarettes: Beginners Video Tutorial

  3. Pingback: The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Clearomisers: Essential Knowledge for All New Vapers

  4. Hi James great reading and tips ……….and just to say I have been on holiday with 2smokers had my e ciggy with me and for the first time did not bring duty free home

  5. Pingback: ECigarette Academy: Essential Need to Know for New Vapers

  6. I purchased a CE4 atomizer from Ali Express. I want to use it for a mini smoke machine. What liquid should I use. Is it easily available in Pharmacy. Also can I blow into it or I need to inhale to use it. I am not a smoker.

  7. Longer article but very informative! Cheers for that. Thanks to vaping I stopped smoking and I feel better than ever. I was thinking about buying something bigger (read vaporizer) because now I have the Vapour2 e-cigs and I wanted to try something “stronger” do you have any suggestions? Don’t get me wrong, the e-cigs are great and I want to keep them I just want to try something different.

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