vape guide for the total newbie

This vape guide will give you the most primordial vaping facts for newcomers. When it comes to vapes versus smokes there are worlds of differences between a thing and the other. Just picture yourself, it’s been years since you lit up your first butt. From a silly hobby to addiction, to be fed with it you feel that it’s time to try vapes for a change. Throw your cigs down the toilet and get the basic facts on vaping devices straight with this vape guide for newcomers.


 Contents of this Vape Guide

How to Choose a Vaping Device

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The most important thing to consider at the moment of choosing a vape setup is where you are going to be vaping. Factors of portability, convenience, and comfort have to be considered.

A box mod is more difficult to handle if on the move. A vape pen or clearomizer may feel limited for a sedentary person. An RDA would be very cumbersome to use while walking or hiking.

This vape guide will help you narrow down choices to your personal preference. Ultimately, once you try, you aren’t going to want to light up a single phallus of the devil anymore.

Give Vapes a Try  

To give vaping your first try, go for a cheap disposable e-cigarette like the blu. They retail for around five dollars apiece. One of these lasts 400 puffs or around thirty cigarettes. There’s no recharging or liquid involved. 

Safety while Vaping

There aren’t big batteries, wires, or chargers involved with this type. In the potential for injury department, these devices are safer compared to dedicated setups.

 Disposables are the new cigalikes. They are an evolution of the cartomizer-based cigalikes of the past. While using cartomizers was similarly inexpensive, they had non-disposable parts. You can get this kind of electronic cigarettes easily since they’re everywhere. 

Vape Liquids

They come with liquid from the factory. The blu disposables, for example, come in many different grades of nicotine content. From 0% to 16%. 

Transition To Vapes

You are a smoker. You are sure that you want to transition to vaping definitively. In this case, it makes more sense to go for a durable setup. If you never smoked, but want to try vaping do it with 0mg nicotine liquid. The choice of vaping equipment doesn’t relate to the nicotine. 

Vapes Safety

These devices require careful handling. They require batteries bought from reputable sellers and made by qualified manufacturers. On the user side, they need care too. Don't drop, scratch, or otherwise rent the batteries' jackets. If one of your batteries' jackets gets cracked or grossly chipped, time for a new jacket (you will need a heat gun to install it). Or buy a new batteries pair. You need to replace the whole pair because their capacity has to be matched (in vape jargon: the batteries must be married).

The best thing to look for at the moment of buying a mod is to check the manufacturer’s reputation. Their certifications and social proof. Also, find out if their products are safe. Find a model you’d like to buy. When you find it, check for safety measures built into the material and logical designs. Like vents in the battery case, digital short-circuit protection, and the like. 

Pens and Clearomizers

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No as common as it used to be in the early days of vaping. A vaping pen is a cylindrical and easily portable vaping device. They are capable of delivering vaporization in the three to five volts range. They support up to around 1000 mAh of charge. Two of these batteries are enough for a day, even if you want to vape constantly. Most batteries are charged with a USB cable or adapter that comes with the kits.

Some vape pen batteries have the by-pass function. The USB charger in by-pass capable batteries connects to the battery by micro-USB. In this way, you can vape while the battery is charging. One example of these batteries is the iTaste CLK!

A popular vape pen was the eGo C, by Joyetech. Probably the safest model of the eGo line. They had a re-fillable tank to plug in the atomizer unit. The tanks weren’t disposable but inexpensive if broken or lost.

Vape pens were superseded by clearomizers. Clearomizers are still pens, but with a tank system that is like a miniature RTA (see below). Some clearomizers use a kind of coil called BCC, for their bottom-changeable coil. Other types of clearomizer coils are dual coil and vertical coil. 

Must Purchase

    Atomizer head replacements: think two per month, but you can be lucky and make them last more than one month
    Tanks and Clearomizers: in case you break or lose them
    New set of batteries after x years 

Liquids For Pens and Clearos

vape guide for the total newbie

You can get anything from 0mg to around 30mg nicotine percentage. If you want to replace smoking you shouldn’t get any percentage below 18mg. If you feel that you don't get the cigarette experience, then get higher percentage liquid. Once you can exist without cigarettes, nicotine can be tapered out. You can buy liquid with less nicotine content to appreciate the flavors more.

You must also consider how are you going to vape. If it’s going to be once every forty-five minutes and a few drags in rapid succession, like a cigarette, get 18% or higher. If you plan to use your pen or clearomizer to vape constantly during the day, then get 16% or lower. 

Regulated Mods

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When buying as a beginner, remember it has to be a regulated mod. The other kinds of vaping mods are mechanical mods and squonks. They aren’t recommended for beginners.

The modality for vaping with mods is sub-ohming. This practice is geared towards both enhanced flavor and cloud production.

There is a wide range of models and prices. It may seem difficult to decide which one to get. An arbitrary standard to classify them could be how many batteries they require. Once you decide you want to have a mod with, say, just two batteries the choice narrows down considerably. 


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Rebuildable tank atomizers are either fully rebuildable or not, but all have a tank. Fully rebuildable are tank-atomizer combos that allow changing resistance coils. The other kind comes with some kind of replaceable atomizer. This latter category is just a modest improvement. You’ll still be buying something pre-made, like atomizer heads for a vape pen.

There are replaceable, pre-made atomizers. One example is the CCELL-GD used by the Guardian tank by Vaporesso. They last for around a month. These atomizers make for a very unpleasant experience by the end of their life cycle. 


The RDTA is more of a hybrid. It pairs the rebuildable atomizer deck of an RDA with the tank technology of RTAs. These devices are more like an RDA with the convenience of a tank. This type of RBA is not for all novices. There is a learning curve. You’ll notice it when you buy the materials. Also when you assemble the rebuildable resistances.

Basic electrical knowledge, like Ohm’s law and how to use a few tools, is a must too.

You can buy the wire coils pre-made. Others make them themselves. What you must do is place them in the vaporizer, screw them, and then wick them with cotton. That’s why I’m saying these aren’t for entry-level vapers who can buy a wholly pre-made solution like the eGo AIO Box.

If you start with an RDTA configuration, you can go RDA later using the box mod and an RDA. This isn’t possible with pre-made solutions where all the components are proprietary.

The choice of coil material depends on what kind of vaping style you want to achieve. Each has a different temperature mode and must be used only in that mode. It’s possible to get coils of materials such as kanthal that will only work on wattage (power) mode. 

Must Purchase

    Battery, if the mod doesn’t come with batteries
    A second set of batteries and charger, if it’s not enough for a day vaping
    Replacement plug-in atomizers for replaceable RBA
    Atomizer ohm meter(optional), these are neat devices where you screw the atomizer and get a reading

RBA/RDA hybrid type:

    Plierswith a cutting section: To manipulate and clip the wire coils
    Screwdriverto fix the coils in the atomizer. The tank/atomizer kit may include one
    Prebuilt wire coilsand cotton, for the wicks. 


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Once you put an RDA as a vaporizer in your mod, it becomes something different. It can’t be denied that the flavor is different when you are using one of these. If you are fastidious about flavor, you must try an RDA.

You can buy a complete kit also and go straight the RDA way, without having used pens and RBAs before. All the pains of maintenance explained in the RBA/RDA hybrid apply. RDAs are for those that want to vape different flavors every day.

Dripping you can switch flavors on an hourly basis. Some flavor fanatics re-wick their atomizers daily. They do it to vape multiple flavors without tasting admixtures. 

Must Purchase

    The same things that RTA owners must buy
    Rubber gaskets that keep the cap on the deck by pressure, replacements in the odd chance the ones that come with the atomizer's worn out

Liquids for RTA and RDA

From 0% to around 6% is standard. It’s pretty much a trial and error and relative to the setup. A consensus would be anything above 10% is overkill. But there isn't a consensus. Generally, if you feel that you need to chain vape, your liquid's nic percentage is not cutting it for you. There are people who vape on RTAs and RDAs a higher amount, akin to the percentages used for vape pens.

Gray Area Devices: Pods

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Something I knew, albeit second-hand, after writing the original version of this article, were the pods.

First off, I want you to take this section of this feature with pincers and not take my word for it. I warned you like this because I haven’t had personal experience with pods.

Pods are controversial in the U.S. because they were targeted at teenagers and they became an epidemic among that demographic.

It may be pods gave vaping a bad name, maybe even as bad as the horror stories of tubes exploding and disfiguring people back in the day. It may be not, I don’t know because I don’t know much about the vaping pod niche.

What I know is that they use a different kind of liquid called nicotine salts that are processed in a way the makes the process of the body taking up the nicotine an even more streamlined biologic mechanism than the already questionable freebase nicotine that normal liquids generate.

Besides, this new technology in both hardware and liquid introduces a very dangerous element of ignorance about the non-compatibility with the previous iteration of devices that use freebase nicotine juice instead of salts.

If you don’t know anything about salts, you may end up doing something as dangerous as messing with mech tubes or coils and end up paying dearly for your error. That something could be trying to vape salts with a coil that was designed for freebase nicotine liquid.

I don’t know if this possibility is really so, what I know is that you have to be exceedingly lacking in the common sense department to do something as silly as trying to vape 28mg nic liquid in a tank designed for 6%, as I did once. That liquid, that was actually to use with a pen, felt as harsh on the mouth, throat, and lung, as it tasted nasty and totally off-key.

In a few words, the problem with nic salts may be that someone who doesn’t know what he or she is doing uses nic salts on a sub-ohm device like the ones reviewed in this article.

Nic salts are 50/50 VC PG content, and are 50 milligrams of nicotine content, while the vape liquids for RDA/RTAs are on average 6 milligrams. They can be vaped on atomizers made for freebase, but only if you have control over the resistance's wattage and build a specific wick meant only to vape salts.

On the bright side, the consensus about pods is that they are practically as effective as smoking a cigarette and have a great potential for helping people switch from cigarettes to vaping.


Not Recommended Devices: Squonk and Mech Mod


Unregulated Mechanical Mod

vape guide for the total newbie

Most of the news about vaping accidents is because of fake products. Also, negligent use or abuse of genuine products, faulty batteries, and user modding. Mechanical mods are the ones to blame most of the time. They are a very basic device. Mech mods evolved from tinkerers who created vaporizers out of flashlights. 

Unregulated Squonk

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Squonks are unregulated like mechanical mods and not recommended for beginners. Similar to box mods, they are bulkier than pens and clearomizers. They have a reservoir of liquid (squonk bottle) inside and feed the coil from below (bottom-feeder mechanism). Each time the coil runs out of liquid, a squeeze of the bottle replenishes the coil.

Helpful Extras

These two extras prolong the lifetime of vaping devices

Heat Sinks

Heat sinks are a nice layer of protection for your device's 510 connectors. They are similar to the heat sinks used in electronic devices like CPUs. If you plan on dry-burning your coils, a heat sink is a must.

Battery Chargers

Battery chargers will guarantee you two things. First, minimal use to non-use of the USB port of the mod, bypassing the risk of connecting it directly to the electric plug. And second, they have features to check your device's batteries and to marry them if they have different charges.


The market for vaping devices has grown so much that choice became overwhelming. I didn’t recommend any device in particular because that would be very objective. Once you learned the basics you can get down to specifics. Do this by getting in touch with online vaping communities.

Bonus  My Personal Vaping Story

vape guide for the total newbie

Until now, I haven't had time to sit down and write my vaping story. I hope this helps you, even if it is just to entertain yourself reading it (I hope), and others who need to know that it is possible to get rid of the smelly ones 100%.

I started vaping in 2012, with generic disposable cartomizers. I was always a cigs-head and if told that in the future I was going to end up kicking the habit, I never would have believed it.

Soon after trying the cartos, I acquired a pen, Ego-C manufactured by the Joyetech brand. I remember using 21% of nicotine and while I enjoyed it, it was never enough for me.

Do not forget that the pens were something like 3-5 watts if I remember correctly. I tried to quit smoking with these kinds of gadgets, but I couldn't.

Maybe if I had used 28%+ nicotine content liquids, I could have stopped the death sticks in 2012, but it took me until May 2017 to start seeing windows where I spent days without touching cigarettes.

In the end, the important windows like whole weeks and months without tobacco, I achieved them by combining the use of a mod and a pen. I vaped 6% with the mod and 18% -16% with the pen.

Now I know that industrial original liquids like Hangsen, while not fancy or premium like, say, Halo, are cool, and a must-have aid to quit smoking. Personally, I think that flavors like USA Mix and Desert Ship by Hangsen are special things for those who do not believe that it is possible to stop smoking without suffering.

When I began to know and love artisan liquids I was able to get rid of the outdated vape pens, and industrial liquids, and use only one mod. I keep vaping at 6% and while I will try to go down to 3% one day, it is not an immediate priority.

My conclusion: You can quit completely and it comes down to finding what works for yourself. It took me five 5 + 2 years (five of unsatisfactory vaping and smoking, plus 2 with relapses), but I made it. I hope you'll be able to achieve it too.

Photo Credits: Ecig Click 2 3, Best Vape Pen, Jim Hedd, Lindsay Fox 2, VapeCraft Inc, Vapin360 2, Terry Ozon wstryder

© Martin Wensley 2019-2020 — Vape Guide for The Total Newbie — Guide Example