Congratulations you lucky sods! All the hard work has been done for you already.
Over the last 6 or so years vaping has seen an uptake in the UK and it is estimated that more than 2 million subjects now vape instead of smoke.
This is a good thing, unless you are in the NHS planning Department and 2 million people living longer screws up your “models”.
The battle has largely been won though, people organised on twitter, wrote to their politicians, organised events and so on to work with the government to keep it legal. As you can imagine, a lot of rich companies were interested in not rocking this particular tobacco-fueled boat.
So how do you go about it? Well, lets start with the absolute basics.
A battery provides power to hear up a coil of resistance wire, through which runs some cotton soaked in liquid. The wire heats up, the liquid vapourises. That’s the gist of it. It can be that simple (and in many cases, is.) If you dropped me on a desert island I’d be vaping before nightfall (a wee bit of poetic license is taken at this point). The genie is out of the bottle though, and we can all be vaping without big government or big tobacco. Independence.
Why do people vape? Some want to quit smoking. It works. Some want to “smoke” but cant afford it anymore…vaping works. I fall into the latter as I wanted to save money, but did not want to stop smoking. I bloody well enjoyed my morning cigarette, my after-dinner cigarette, my post-coital cigarette. If you climbed a mountain, as an avid mountain climber, and died doing it, people would say you died doing what you loved. I loved smoking and I wasn’t going to let some busy-body dictate to me. (and there’s another motive..which we will get to).
Ok, so somewhere along the line you’ve decided to get in on the act, and buy one of these vaping-malarky kits. As said, all the hard work has been done for you. You can pop-up to most city centres and boot sales and buy something that will make puffy puffy clouds. Please don’t though.
Your pack of 20 costs around £10. A specialist device costs around £40. Add some liquid and you’ve broken even by week 1. Don’t skimp on your device. And more importantly, don’t skimp on the batteries.
The batteries most commonly used are a size called 18650 (18mm diameter, 65mm in length) although its more of a guideline…some batteries can get to almost 70mm in length. Most of what you will see are counterfeit. I’ll guarantee it. All those bangs you see on the news are because somebody bought the 4 for £10 batteries. A good battery should cost you around £8. I can only recommend ONE UK seller for these with a clear conscience. That is how bad the market is for these batteries. We’re going to be asking the battery for upwards of 20amp to be pushed into an almost dead short. And holding this by our face. Dont piss about with cheap batteries.
They’re the same size batteries as used in many high-power torches, and the Tesla Model S has 7000 of them slung under it. So go find a Tesla and break it for batteries (that’s my Mad Max scenario btw)
If you’ve ever been involved in the upkeep of horses, you’ll know immediately how the vaping forums work, along with their recommendations. Its mainly voodoo. Shills and voodoo. Be very careful taking anybodies advice. 5 Years ago you had dedicated enthusiasts running small shops to keep the juices flowing, but your “average” vape vendor nowadays is in it for the profit. There’s a lot of money to be made in Voodoo. there’s exceptions (as always) so I hope nobody takes offence.
OK, back to the device. The box form factor is popular nowadays, so you’ll end up with a box. It’ll have a manual button you push which triggers power to the coil, which vapourises the liquid. Your box should have replaceable 18650 batteries. You may end up owning a few batteries and end up buying a dedicated charger. This is where you should spend your money..the batteries and charger are your #1 investment. Your batteries will last about a year, assuming you own two and rotate them each day (one in the device, one on charge). You may have another scheme and that’s fine..I’ve personally got around 10 batteries to service myself and the wife, as I sometimes work late so will take a spare battery with etc.
Your box should have the following features:
1) replaceable battery
2) 510 connector
3) usb charging
4) temperature control
I list these to get you an idea of current devices, we don’t want you buying 3 year old technology. Some boxes do have built in batteries (which will expire…and then what?) and some wont have usb charging (if you have your own charger you wont care) and so on.
That’s phase 1. You have a powerplant that is convenient to hold, has a few features, a good clicky button and has all the oomph to keep you off the cigarettes. lets move to phase 2.
The thing on top.
The thing on top is called an atomiser. It atomises (no..vapourises) your liquid. It has a 510 connector, which is M7x0.5mm in pitch. Don’t ask, that’s just the size that flourished. I have a tap and die for that size, it took a while to find. The 510 connector male is on your atomiser, and this screws into your device’s female side. We don’t need to torque it to 100ft/lbs. Just screw it on. It’s not a cylinder head bolt for an essex V6..
The idea behind the atomiser is it
1) has holes for airflow
2) has mounting posts for the wire coil
3) has space for some eliquid (this differs between devices…)
If you vape for a few days, the performance will drop off. The coil gets dirty, like an old frying pan, caked up with rubbish and can no longer effectively transmit heat. It needs cleaning/replacing. Your atomiser should be able to be rebuilt (new coil and cotton), or it has replaceable heads. Personally, I rebuild, but that’s personal and you may feel happier popping online to buy new heads for your atomiser. That’s your choice. Expect to pay about £5 for a new head. Its just wire and cotton though, so learn how to rebuild. If you have bad eyes, find a young ‘un to do it. Tell ’em its V=IR ohms law set to classic mode, and you’re aiming for about 0.5ohm-1.0ohm (usually).(purists may be upset as I haven’t ventured into 0.0005 low ohm stainless steel builds etc. That’s life).
You’ll have a mouthpiece with your atomiser (lips go here). The trend nowadays is for a big, open mouthpiece. That may suit you, perhaps not. Most atomisers though have a replaceable mouthpiece. We’ll call this a drip tip. And for some unknown reason, there’s a vague standard of around 8.3mm OD at the fitment end, which colloquially is called a “510 drip tip”. It makes no sense to me either. You can buy drip tips online (ebay etc) but take note that if your atomiser doesn’t have the correct size hole, the drip tip will just wobble about, or not fit, or just drop through.
Ok, we have phase 1 (power) phase 2 (atomiser) now how about phase 3..the damn expensive eliquid. Your eliquid is made up of 4 components.
1) Propylene Glycol (PG)
2) Vegetable Glycerin (VG)
3) Nicotine (Nic)
That’s it. You can buy it in a shop nowadays, that’s possible.10ml for £5 is usually the price. Give or take. You can pay £1 for 10ml too. That’s possible. Like helmets though, its only your head you’re protecting, on in this case, sucking it into your lungs. As far as I am concerned, DTA (dont trust anybody).
However, all the ingredients are available, you just need a bit of savvy to figure out the proportions. It’s the same as mixing cooldrink. We know our ribena-esque squash is 1:3..so off we go, but how do we do this eliquid.
OK, first thing to take note, the 4 items above are composed of two base carriers, PG and VG. That means, you have flavourings which are pg based, and (rarely) vg based. And you have nicotine that is pg based or vg based. You decide when you buy it. Please buy the PG-based. The highest legal concentration in this country is 72mg for nicotine. You’ll sometimes find 72mg for sale, but more common is 70mg. Like air-rifles at 12ft/lbs, we try shoot under so the law doesn’t become an ass.
For simplicity sake, and because it vapes quite nice, we’ll aim for a 50:50 vg/pg ratio. Half of our stuff is vg, and half is pg.
Lets do a simple mix. I’ve made some assumptions…you’ve bought “normal” flavourings which are pg based. You’ve bought pg-based nicotine. Generally speaking, and this is to taste, your flavourings get mixed in a 10-15% ratio. I like to start on 10% as I am a tight git, and the flavourings aren’t cheap.
So we’re filling our imaginary 100ml bottle. We put in 10ml of flavouring (that’s our 10%). Our 100ml bottle now contains 10ml of “pg stuff” Our tectonic is normally 72mg strength, which is the highest you can obtain in the UK without a poisons license. And you bought pg based nicotine because the vg based stuff is almost impossibly thick to work with or pour. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to aim for 7.2mg. that’s ok and will give your throat a nice tickle. So pour in 10ml of your 72mg pg-nicotine. It’ll end up diluted to 7.2mg once all is said and done (10 of 100 is 10%, so our end strength is 10% of our beginning strength)
Your 100ml bottle now has 20ml of pg based stuff (10ml flavourings, 10ml nic). You now need to top this up with your pure VG and pure PG to get it to a 50:50 ratio. So if we add 30ml’s of PG, our bottle will have 50mls of PG-based “stuff”. And then we can add 50ml’s of our pure VG, and we have the following 50:50 PG/VG ratio 7.2mg strength 10% flavouring.
It is that simple. You can do it while some music is playing. This is the exact sequence I use…I tend to do 10% flavouring, and my 72mg nic needs diluting to 7,2mg (or thereabouts.. its really not as critical as it sounds). I have a few syringes and clean them up once I am done specifically for this purpose. Label them too.
So you can vape your eliquid now, or let it sit. That’s up to you. Same like whisky brewing. You decide. I mix around 1litre at a time and it takes me a few months to motor through it, so at the end its been sitting for a few months. Stuffed if I can tell the difference, but maybe somebody else can.
I’ve left out 1000zillion variables, and this will be in part 2. Thank you for reading.
© RedBudgie 2017