What Is Vaping? The Complete Guide For Vape Info


One of the most common question people ask what is vape made of or what is vaping, so we made this guide to offer more vape information

What Is Vaping?

Vaping has quickly grown from an unknown niche market into a billion dollar industry. That has inevitably lead to many questions from consumers wondering what does vaping do, or is vape a drug? The basic answer is that a vaping is inhalation of the water vapor created by heating a given material. Vaporizers are almost always powered by batteries, either internal or externally charged. While many things can be vaporized, the most popular material is called e-liquid or vape juice.

But these are just the absolute basics. We’ll go over each component of a vaporizer in more detail as we go along. But first, we’re going to go over the history of vaping and how we ended up with such a wide variety of different style vaporizers. Next, we’ll go over exactly what’s in vape and is vape a drug. Finally, we’ll go over the best way to ensure a consistently excellent experience from your vape and e-liquid.

History of Vaping

While humans have known about vaporization for thousands of years, it wasn’t until the last ten years or so that it became a viable alternative to smoking. The first modern commercial vaporizers were created by Hon Lik, a Chinese Pharmacist. He developed the devices after the death of his father from lung cancer caused by a lifetime of smoking. These first models utilized very basic technology, but the overall style has remained popular for many simpler vaporizers. These devices are known as cig-a-likes, and they’re designed to resemble traditional cigarettes. Although as time goes on more makers of this style of vape are opting for new and unique designs. The distinguishing factor for cig-a-likes is the focus on portability and frequently disposability. They’re also usually the cheapest option in regards to starting costs.

Cig-A-Like Vaping Components

At first the only vaping was done on cig-a-like style vaporizers. But as advanced users longed for more powerful and versatile vapes, manufacturers developed larger devices called vape pens. These devices retain the portability minded nature of cig-a-likes, but introduced a much wider variety of accessories including different tanks and atomizers. Unlike many cig-a-likes, these vapes are designed to be repeatedly used, only replacing the coils as they get dirty. These were also the first devices to utilize replaceable coils, making the upkeep costs of vape pens much lower than cig-a-likes. But advanced vapers were not satisfied there, wishing for more customizable and powerful vaping experiences.

Vape Pen Components

As vaping grew into its own as an industry, more manufacturers began making and selling hefty vaporizers called box mods. These box-like devices housed either externally charged, or internal batteries, as well as the chipset and circuitry that makes everything work. With box mods, the atomizer is either sold separately or together with a box mod in what’s called a starter kit. These powerful vapes have greatly expanded the variety of things that could be accomplished, especially in regards to power controls. It was with box mods that you first started to see sophisticated temperature and wattage controls that allowed for precise control over your experience.

Components used for Vaping

All of these types of vaporizers can still be found today. From advanced cig-a-likes that function better than many high-end devices from five years ago to top-quality mods that push the very boundaries of what’s possible, what is vaping can often depend on precisely what kind of vaping you’re talking about. So first let’s ensure that you fully understand each part of a typical vaporizer.

Most every vaporizer you’ll find on the market today is made up of the same basic set of parts. The only real difference is how advanced and powerful each component is. The best way to understand the different pieces is by breaking them into three major categories, cartridges, atomizers, and batteries.


Cartridges can represent a wide variety of different pieces depending on what type of vaporizer you’re using. Generally speaking, the cartridge can be viewed as the piece that houses the atomizer. In some cases, such as cig-a-likes, the cartridge and atomizer are essentially the same piece, as the atomizer is not replaceable. With these vapes, you usually have to dispose of the entire cartridge when replacing the atomizer.

That isn’t the case with most pens and box mods. Pens will occasionally have a cartridge without an option for a replaceable atomizer, but most modern vaporizers take advantage of premade, replaceable coils. With these devices, the cartridge, or tank, should be viewed as separate from the atomizer, as the coils can be replaced without having to purchase a new cartridge.


The atomizer is the heating element that vaporizes your material. That is typically a wire coil, but as the technology improves new types of coil-less atomizers are becoming more viable. With most pens, the atomizer is a pre-made coil that can be purchased and replaced as needed. This idea was taken even further for many box mods, which use rebuildable coils. This advanced technique requires the vaper to construct their coils out of metal wire and some basic tools. While it takes much longer and more knowledge to pull off, the results are hands down the best you can get.


The battery is simply the power source for your vape. Cig-a-likes often use disposable internal batteries, but many are rechargeable so be sure to double check. Vape pens usually have internal batteries like cig-a-likes, but they’re not disposable and tend to be much larger and more powerful. Box mods on the other hand often use extremely powerful 18650 externally charged batteries. These high-quality and versatile cells are quickly becoming the standard for advanced mods. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any mods that utilize internal batteries, in fact as the technology improves some prefer the ease of having an internally charged box mod.

Vaping Anatomy

Is Vaping A Drug?

One of the most common questions we are asked regarding what’s in vape is if vaping is a drug. Given what you hear in the media and the inconsistency in reporting, it’s no wonder why so many seem to be unsure about this very basic question. The bottom line is that vaping is not a drug in and of itself. Vaping, like smoking, is an intake method for a nearly infinite number of different substances. That means your vaporizer can be used to vape lots of different things, some which would be considered a drug and others which would never be seen that way.

Many vapers use e-liquids in their vaporizers that contain nicotine, but a substantial portion of the vaping population uses juice that is entirely nicotine free. Vaporizers are also often used to take marijuana, where oil or wax is vaporized instead of e-liquid. Even in these cases though, vaping shouldn’t be considered a drug because the vape itself is not the drug, it’s just part of the delivery method. That would be like calling carbonated drinks beer because beer has carbonation. That being said, both nicotine and marijuana will be detected in a drug test taken by someone who had been vaping either substance. So keep that in mind if you’re trying to keep things on the down low.

What’s In E-Liquid

E-liquid is the most commonly used substance in vaporizers across the world, but what exactly is in them? The answer may surprise you with how simple it is. In fact, e-liquids only contain a few key ingredients. The two primary substances in any e-liquid are Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerin (VG). These substances are both known as GRAS or Generally Recognized As Safe by the FDA, and can be found in many everyday products.

These tasteless substances are perfect for fostering massive clouds and potent flavors depending on the ratio at which they’re mixed. You’ll find all types of blends, from pure PG or VG to 50/50 splits and everything in between. PG is a thin liquid that is better at carrying flavor than VG, but it produces less thick clouds. Finding the right balance for you is vital for any vaper who is just starting out.

The only other substances found in e-liquids are nicotine if it’s desired, and food-grade flavorings. The flavorings used in e-liquids are the same found many foods you eat on a regular basis. The key thing to remember when looking at the added flavoring is whether or not they used oil-based flavorings. These have been known to cause adverse effects and should be avoided whenever possible.

How To Vape

Many new vapers, when not directed otherwise, end up taking huge pulls as if they’re smoking a cigarette. While big drags are more satisfying while smoking, the best way to vape is actually by taking long and slow pulls. You should aim to heat up your vape to the proper temperature before starting a natural breath-like drag. This method is the best way to produce massive, satisfying clouds; Not to mention it’s much less harsh on your lungs.

The last thing you need to do to ensure a fantastic vaping experience is appropriately preparing and maintaining your vaporizer. That means making sure that your batteries are fully charged before using, and not overusing a dirty coil. Little changes like these can have a significant impact on your results. Finally, you must make sure you’re using the correct type of e-liquid for what you want. If you’re looking for humongous clouds, opt for a high VG liquid, while if you want excellent flavor, a high PG liquid is ideal.

Once you’ve gotten everything down and are consistently creating massive clouds, you may want to consider working on vape tricks. These evolved versions of classic smoke tricks have become one of the most influential sections of the vaping industry. Be sure to check out our guide to getting started with vape tricks.


Vaping can be a lot of different things. Learning about vape can seem challenging because of it, but the truth is it’s quite simple. So what is vaping?  Vaping is the act of inhaling vapor produced by heating a material without burning. Whether or not it contains nicotine or drugs is entirely up to the user, not the act of vaping. Ultimately, most vape is made of common PG and VG plus natural flavorings, not anything sinister. Unfortunately, many still view vaping as harmful despite the growing evidence for it as a powerful harm reduction and smoking cessation tool. That’s why it’s important we educate as many people as possible about what’s in vape.

Jimmy, lover, blogger, vaper and ex-smoker. I’ve been blogging about and supporting Vaping since 2009. They changed my life and I think history will show them as one of the most significant public health invention of the 21st century.

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1 Response

  1. Martin Hedington says:

    Excellent post Jimmy. I’ve been looking for something exactly like this to post to my 41,000 monthly readers, much obliged.

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