So, I’ve been silent for a while, I know. Truth is, things are moving so fast (in the world of vaping and in the rest of my life), I’ve just been dizzily clinging to the safety straps and waiting to see what shakes out.
They do say that the sign of a cultural phenomenon is when a trend develops its own language. As many non-vaping friends have remarked, listening to a bunch of vapers talking can be as incomprehensible as trying to eavesdrop on an alien invasion force. Aside from the technological jargon that is associated with vaping activities, vaping vocabulary has expanded to include a variety of terms to describe the behaviors, supplies, and people participating in the change. The following is a truncated list of terms, a vaping glossary if you will, to assist the non-vaper or neophyte vaper understand the conversation of their vaping friends. So, without further ado…
Vape – v. The action of inhaling vaporized nicotine suspension medium from an electronic cigarette or other electronic nicotine delivery system. v.t. vaping; n. vaper
510 threaded connector – Electronic nicotine delivery devices usually have two basic sections: A battery or power supply and a vessel of some sort that holds the liquid suspension providing the vapor/flavor/nicotine inhaled. For most of these, the vessel is connected to the battery with one of two connectors which involve threads that allow the vessel to screw onto the battery. The 510 threaded connector is one type of these. It allows for a post to screw down into a couch type gizmo… and, nevermind. Point is, this is the skinny one with the threads on the inside of the battery and the outside of the vessel connection.
Atomizer (aka tank) – This is one type of vessel that holds the suspension medium discussed above. Believe me, it gets confusing trying to figure out what is meant, and I am pretty sure that people use the names interchangeably with no real differentiation, but here is what I was able to glean from those more in tune with the technological aspects. The atomizer draws juice from the wick and heats it to a vapor. The wicks are generally suspended in the liquid which is held in some sort of container (glass, plastic, acrylic, metal). It works very much like an oil lamp would, provided you have ever seen an oil lamp in action.
· RBA (Rebuildable atomizer) – While some atomizers/tanks are disposable, most vapers eventually move to the rebuildable variety. The initial cost of the RBA can be slightly more… or more than slightly more than the disposable variety, but the cost in the long run is less. Instead of buying new tanks to replace an old burned-out one, only the coil need be replaced. There are pre-made coils for some models, but the tinkers and adventurous vapers build their own.
· RDA (Rebuildable dripping atomizer) aka Dripper – Yet another type of tank. They are constructed so that the suspension medium is added by dripping directly onto the wicking material. Drippers are usually rebuildable to allow the vaper to adjust the coils to allow for more resistance (remember physics and electricity) and thus more heat, and that produces more vapor. Also, due to the temperature difference, the taste of the vapor in a dripper is often very different than that in an atomizer tank.
· Hybrid tank – These are a type of atomizer that works somewhat like a dripper in that the coils are rebuildable and often produce higher temperatures and more vapor, but instead of requiring the vaper to drip liquid a few drops at a time, they have a tank that will automatically drip onto the wick rather than draw constantly (like the oil lamp type).
Beauty ring – Nope, not some type of body modification. This goes with those 510 connector doo-hickies (technical term) or post conversions for other connectors (see below). You’ve heard of innies and outies? Well, this is when the innies and outies are somehow mismatched. While, the vessel and battery actually will attach to each other, it sometimes produces what appears to be a very unstable and not-so-very esthetically pleasing construction of a skinny post screwed into a skinny connector. The beauty ring covers that up to make a smooth transition from the power supply to the tank, thus saving those of us with a touch of the obsessive compulsive from a full meltdown.
Cartomizer – This is another of those vessels I mentioned earlier. While the atomizer is more like an oil lamp, the cartomizer is … not. I really don’t have much of a metaphor for this one. This one uses wicking material (polyfil) that is soaked with the suspension medium and surrounds the coil to keep it wet and producing vapor like laying a wet blanket on a stove eye. Ok, that didn’t sound good, but you get the idea. The main point is that there is no free liquid medium. It is all soaked into the wicking material that is wrapped around the metal coil.
Cleartomizer – This is possibly the most confusing term to me. It means… a tank, frequently see-through so that you can see the level of juice that is currently in it so you know when to refill. Well, the confusion for me is that some people call the ones that are metal (meaning you can’t see through it unless you are Superman) the same thing. Seems a little counterintuitive to me. So, how about let’s go with cleartomizer being the see-through variety.
Clone – No, this is not some science fiction character or science experiment. In this case, a clone is a replicated version of some particular equipment design, frequently referring to tanks or mods (see below). The replication often addresses flaws in the authentic design and is more often than not a good deal less expensive. However, readers beware, clones are not always better than the original. Some are produced with less attention to quality control and may not function as well. Less scrupulous vendors may also try to sell the knock-offs as originals/authentic. So, just be careful and try to stick with reputable vendors.
Cloud chasing – The activity of trying to produce the largest amount of vapor on the exhale. This has been turned into a proverbial art form. People will build coils and rigs for the sole purpose of producing the biggest clouds. There are YouTube channels devoted to this.
Daily vape – This is the go-to flavor that any vaper will tell you is what they are generally using all the time. The flavors tend to be the one that the vaper does not tire of readily and are not generally the more expensive juices.
Drip tip – A removable mouthpiece which allows access to the wick in a dripper tank, but is also prevalent on various cleartomizers or liquid tanks used to allow people to express their individual identities and styles. Drip tips can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and materials. There are some quite beautiful versions in blown glass, and there are tips that are designed for the long opera cigarette holder or pipe stem effect.
Dry hit – When all of the e-juice has evaporated from wick or polyfil, the draw is a hot, burned cotton or chemical taste that is unpleasant to most vapers. This is called a dry hit. It is accompanied by the dry hit face that generally looks like someone tried to feed the vaper a spoon full of ipecac combined with ear wax.
E-cigarette, e-cig – While most would say that these terms apply to all of the non-combustible nicotine dispensing systems, most vapers use these terms to refer to the devices that look like traditional cigarettes.
E-juice – see juice
E-liquid – see juice
Ego threaded connector – So, remember the first definition about the connectors (the 510)? This is another one. It gets the name from one of the most common type of starter batteries, the Ego. The threads for this one are on the outside of the battery and the inside of the tank so that the tank screws down over the battery connector to create a smooth connection.
Hookah pen – This is a term used to describe the electronic nicotine vaporizers that look like an ink pen and have a drip tip making them resemble the tips on a hookah; can also be called an e-hookah.
Juice – This is the liquid suspension medium that is heated to produce the vapor inhaled by vapers much like traditional combustible cigarette smoke, but with no combustible toxicants or resulting ash from burned product. The suspension is usually a combination of propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerine (VG), flavor, diluting ingredient, and nicotine.
· Dripping juice – These are juices that are meant for drippers. Often they taste better dripped than tanked. They may also be expensive, and dripping makes them last longer. Sometimes, these juices are thicker or have flavor ingredients (such as cinnamon) that might gum up or degrade a regular liquid tank.
· Tankable juice – These juices are more diluted and wick easily without gumming up or degrading a holding tank. The flavors are generally the ones that people prefer as a regular or daily vape.
· PEG – Polyethylene glycol. Suspension medium that was used in most first generation electronic cigarettes. It has a number of uses in the chemical and medical world, one of which is as a laxative. While not terribly deadly, it does occasionally aggravate certain respiratory sensitivities.
· PG – Propylene glycol. Another suspension medium and one of the most frequently used for current e-juices. It is also commonly used in a number of chemical and medical applications, but it (like the PEG) aggravates certain respiratory conditions.
· VG – Vegetable glycerin. It is a carbohydrate derived from plant oils. That’s pretty much it. It is viscous (thick) and is used as a suspension medium like PG or PEG. People who are sensitive to the other chemicals generally are able to use higher VG e-juice with fewer problems. VG is thicker than the other chemicals and many vendors prefer to use PG or a blend of the two. Often vendors will indicate that higher VG liquids are ok for dripping, but not tanking. However, there are tankable high-VG juices available on the market.
Kanthal – A type of wire from which coils can be constructed. Most of your run-of-the-mill vaping types are not going to care one way or another about this word. However, the coil-building tinkers and cloud chasers are always looking for a good price on Kanthal.
Mod – This is not a fashion craze denoting the hipness inherently displayed by the young, privileged mid-20th century. Well… yeah, I know it actually is, but in this case it isn’t. The term mod, in this case refers to a power supply device. Specifically, these are something that has been modified to use battery(s) to transfer power to the coil of the vaporizing device. Mods can be simply a case with battery and switch, but they also can get much more complex.
· Mechanical mod – There is some sort of switch and the body of the mod makes the connection to transfer the electrical current to the coils of the tank/atomizer.
· Semi mechanical mod – This one involves wires and such to create the circuit.
· Hybrid mod – The atomizer is built into the power supply, all-in-one gizmo.
· Regulated Vs. Unregulated – So, this one was hard for me to wrap my brain around… mostly because when I was asking, people have a very hard time defining the terms without using the actual terms. However, this is what I finally was able to gather: The regulated vs. unregulated situation is somewhat like an electronic funnel. Unregulated devices dump power from the battery to the coil of the atomizer with no real way of knowing how much is feeding into it. The regulated ones have electronics acting as a funnel or gatekeeper that keeps the amount of power consistent at a known amount.
· Variable voltage and Variable wattage – I am so not going into this. Leave it as there are devices that are regulated and allow you to use the electronics to actually adjust the amount of power that is transferred from the battery to the coils of the atomizer. Why on earth would someone do this? Um… well, this goes back to the amount of vapor and the flavor. More power = more heat = more vapor/different flavor.
· Sub-ohm – Again with the trip down memory lane to the physics class. This basically is a term that you will hear from the tinkers and cloud chasers. It involves building coils that have lower resistance that will allow more electricity to flow, resulting in more heat, and thus, more vapor. That’s all I gots to say ‘bout that.
· Protected vs. Unprotected battery – This is the equivalent of the battery version of a ground fault protector or fuse. A protected battery has a saving throw against shorts. So, why in the heck would anyone have an unprotected one? Apparently, unprotected batteries are cheaper, and protected batteries of a given size may not be available. The consensus seems to be that protected is always the better option, though not absolutely required.
Nic’d out – Becoming lightheaded, nauseous, or developing a headache from too much vaping and getting too much nicotine in the system. It’s a slang term of the vaping community. While the term itself implies having too much nicotine in the system, the feeling can occur with zero nicotine juices. Often, the phenomenon is much like what would happen if you hyperventilate into a paper bag. Point being? Take it easy and take good full breaths of non-vapor in between puffs folks.
Tank – Any vessel for containing suspension medium and vapor to be inhaled by the individual using an electronic nicotine delivery device. See atomizer, cartomizer, cleartomizer.
Vape pen – Another name for the electronic nicotine delivery devices that do not look like a traditional cigarette.
Vape tongue – The phenomenon that occurs after repeated vaping or trial of multiple juices resulting in a numbing or inability to differentiate tastes. The effect dissipates readily with hydration and abstaining from vaping for a while.
Voob – I really almost hate to include this and the following term, mainly because they are just silly. However, I feel that no glossary (even a truncated one) would be complete without a few of the strange slang and bizarre practice terms that have been coined in the process. This one, voob, is the “selling with sex” part of any new trend. And now, I’m just procrastinating. This particular practice is for a female vaper to place between their breasts a vape mod and thereby holding said device vape hands-free. Ta-dah. Look ma! No hands! Um… yeah. Obviously, this requires a certain amount of exhibitionism, appropriate foundation garments, and certain anatomical features not always gifted in the appropriate amount to achieve said goal. So, there!
Voop – And… enter the potty humor and proof that there is an adolescent inside the mind of most adults. It was bound to happen (heh heh, bound). Vooping is the act of vaping on the crapper. Yep. That’s it. People sit, @#$%, and vape. Now, I need to go wash my hands. Pass the mental floss, please.
And that, my friends is the basic vocabulary of the vape, though by no means comprehensive. It seems every time I think I have my brain wrapped around all the ins and outs of vaping, someone will throw out a term I’ve never heard before. Every day brings changes, improvements, and adventures in the world of vaping. With those changes, the language expands to accommodate the new. So, now that you know (and knowing is half the battle, right?)… Happy vaping, y’all!