Good Question! Read on to learn a bit about where e-cigs came from and how they work.
Electronic cigarettes are battery operated devices that closely mimic the action of traditional cigarettes. They deliver nicotine to the bloodstream via the lungs in just the same way as conventional smoking.
The big difference is that the vapour produced by an e-cig doesn’t have the 4000+ carcinogenic chemicals found in burning tobacco, and what has been detected is so minute that it doesn’t pose a health risk to the user.
A Brief History
Although relatively new and gaining in popularity all the time, electronic cigarettes have been around in one form or another since the 1960s.
Herbert A. Gilbert, an American, patented a smokeless cigarette back in 1963. It generated some interest from manufacturing companies but didn’t take off and disappeared around 1967. While his patented design looks and feels like the electronic cigarettes we use today, the fundamentals are slightly different. It heats the air which is then drawn through a flavoured filter producing no visible vapour.
Fast forward to the year 2000, and the quest for smokeless smoking is taken up by Hon Lik, a 52 year old pharmacist from Beijing after losing his heavy-smoking father to lung cancer. By 2003 he had developed the idea into the electronic cigarette we know today by producing a device that vaporises liquid into a visible vapour, which is then inhaled and exhaled exactly like traditional smoking.
Throughout the years since 2003, the e-cig has evolved into a refined piece of kit. Although there are numerous models and styles, they all function in basically the same way.
What Are Electronic Cigarettes Made From?
E-cigs typically have four components:
Battery sizes vary. Typically, e-cigarettes are roughly the same size as a conventional cigarette, and are styled to look like the body of a normal cigarette. Some are rechargeable, although disposables are not.
A switch, either manual or automatic, activates the battery when the user draws on the tip.
This is the active component and the heart if the e-cigarette. It contains a wick with a small heating element in the form of a coil wrapped around it. The atomiser connects to the battery making an electronic connection between the two, heating the coil when activated.
This is the mouthpiece of the electronic cigarette and acts as a reservoir for the e-liquid. It may contain a wadding material, or it may take the form of a small tank. This is connected in turn to the atomiser’s wick, which feeds the liquid gradually to the coil when heated.
A combined atomiser and cartridge is known as a cartomiser. This is a single component that is both reservoir and coil in one. It connects directly onto the battery and provides an easy, fuss-free vaping experience.
Small quantities of nicotine are suspended in either polyethylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerine (VG). Both types of carrier may be thinned with either water or alcohol and contain flavourings.
This is the fuel that creates the vapour and delivers the nicotine many smokers crave. It sits in the cartridge, ready to be vaporised by the atomiser when the user activates the battery to heat the coil.
And that, in a nutshell, is how the e-cigarette works.
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