Vapes emerged as long, thin cigarette lookalikes and were essentially electronic devices that simulated tobacco smoking. Unlike cigarettes, e-cigarettes (short for electronic cigarettes), or vapes, as they are commonly known as, generated vapors instead of smoke. The user would inhale the vapour and enjoy a “puff” that mimicked smoking.
Granted there were differences between cigarettes and e-cigarettes, but vaping’s unprecedented success has helped millions of people quit smoking over the years. The credit for this success cannot be directed at the original e-cigarettes alone, although they pioneered vaping. The shared credit belongs to a succession of innovations that have made e-cigarettes convenient, fun, and satisfying.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the top 5 innovations that were instrumental in making vaping the staggering success story it is today, and how they continue to impact vaping as we know it.
1. Vape Mods
Mods are to vaping what steam engine was to carriages. They revolutionized vaping and transformed it from a niche hobby to a credible alternative to smoking cigarettes.
Birth of Mods
A “Mod” is traditionally a vape term that means a ‘modified vape device’. The original e-cigarettes (cigalikes) and vape pens were rudimentary in design and had little appeal to the larger populace. They packed small batteries and could not supply enough power to offer a satisfying experience to early users. On top of it, they were unreliable too, making it a frustrating experience for smokers to stick with them.
To overcome the design limitations of these early devices, vaping enthusiasts began modifying the e-cigarettes to suit their requirements. Some users gave their devices room for larger batteries, added powerful atomizers like dripping atomizers, and other upgrades. The thrill of creation, combined with the promise of a personalized experience, kickstarted an era of experimentation and innovation that birthed brought to life thousands of mods of every kind.
Evolution of Modern Mods
Since the users created their own mods, there was little standardization in the industry. However, the fast-rising popularity of mods made it very clear to manufacturers what their customers wanted from them, and they listened. Today, a variety of mods are available in the market, and there is a high degree of standardization. The “mods” have evolved from their original meaning of ‘modified’ vape devices into powerful, advanced vape devices that are often manufactured and marketed in bulk.
Mods owe their popularity to the abundant availability of Lithium-ion 18650 rechargeable batteries. Typically, mods are not sold with these batteries due to import restrictions, but the batteries are widely available. For this reason, 18650 battery continues to be the most popular battery for mods, and few mods make use of other batteries. The rechargeable and replaceable batteries in mods make it possible for vapers to enjoy an interrupted vaping experience simply by carrying backup batteries.
Different Types of Mods
One of the factors that contributed to the popularity of vape mods is their versatility. There are different types of vape mods, and they all offer very different vaping experiences. So, users can try different mods until they find one that keeps them hooked. Here are the most common types of mods:
- Vape Pens
Vape pens have come a long way since their creation several years ago. Modern vape pens feature powerful batteries and attractive designs to make them appealing, convenient, and fashionable to users. That’s why the pen-shaped mods are now called ‘vape sticks.’
- Pod Mods
Pod mods are beginner-friendly vape mods that make mods easy to use and highly convenient. They feature a battery, e-liquid, and coil built into them. In fact, most pod mods are disposable kind and available at rock-bottom prices. That makes them easily accessible and easy to use.
- Box Mods
This is where the fun begins. Box mods offer a reasonable degree of customizability to users. You can replace the battery, connect more batteries to increase power supply, and swap out your e-liquid tank. Some fancier box mods feature OLED digital displays and even a chipset to offer an advanced user experience.
- Squonk Mods
Squonk mods are an improvement over-the-box mods in the sense that they give users another layer of control over their vaping experience with built-in squeeze bottles. The squeeze bottles allow users to feed the e-liquid up into the atomizer at their will. Most squonk mods feature RDA atomizers.
- Mech Mods
Mechanical mods offer the highest degree of freedom to vapers, but they can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Mech mods are unregulated devices and are highly customizable. Users need to have a firm grasp over Ohm’s Law to be able to design and use a safe, reliable, and convenient mech mod.
2. The Sub-Ohm Tank
Almost every vape trick you see on the internet owes its existence to sub-ohm vaping. It is sub-ohm vaping that makes it possible for vape mods to produce thick, voluminous clouds of vapors that allow vapers to play with them. Besides the visual appeal, sub-ohm vaping also delivers intense, well-defined flavors to vapers, dramatically enhancing their vaping experience.
So, What is Sub-Ohm Vaping?
When vapers use vape devices with coils with less than 1 Ohm resistance, it’s called sub-ohm vaping. Ohm is a unit of electrical resistance. A higher value of Ohm denotes a higher resistance of a coil to the flow of electricity through it. Suppose you have two coils of resistances 1 Ohm and 2 Ohm. Then the latter will resist the flow of electricity twice as much as the former through it.
Why does this matter? It matters because the more electricity flows through a coil, the more it heats up and the more e-liquid it vaporizes, thereby producing richer and more vapors.
For vapers, that means lower-resistance coils are the best way to get more vapors out of their vape mods.
Pros and Cons of Sub-ohm Vaping
Sub-ohm vaping is not without its drawbacks. But the benefits it offers completely overshadow any inherent drawbacks that come with it. However, sub-ohm vaping is not for everybody. It’s best-suited for advanced vapers who have a strong understanding of the Ohm’s law, enjoy high-concentration e-liquids, and are not switching over from smoking recently.
Here are some things you must consider before you start sub-ohm vaping.Pros
- Sub-ohm vapers produce large, dense clouds.
- The high-temperature vaporization results in warmer and soothing vapors.
- If you like low nicotine concentrations, then sub-ohm vaping is a great option.
- Thick clouds of vapor also mean that you get more intense flavor hits
- More vaporization means faster consumption of your e-liquid. You will burn through your e-liquid when sub-ohm vaping.
- More electricity consumption means you use up your battery power fast and need to replace them frequently
- Sub-ohm vaping is best-suited for vapers who relish the taste and aftertaste of their e-liquid. It doesn’t deliver a great mouth-to-lung experience, which is preferred by ex-smokers who recently quit smoking.
How to Enjoy the Best Sub-Ohm Vape Experience
Sub-ohm vaping is a carefully calibrated experience. To get the most out of your sub-ohm experience, you must be mindful of a few things.
Firstly, high-VG e-juice is best-suited for sub-ohm vaping. High-PG e-juice delivers a strong throat hit. But, as sub-ohm vaping produces thick, abundant clouds, you are already guaranteed an intense throat hit. So, 60% VG or more is ideal for sub-ohm vaping. Anything lower runs the risk of being too harsh.
For the same reason, it’s best to go with low-nicotine concentration e-juices. If you are trying to quit smoking, then a good starting point is with 6 mg/ml or lesser concentration e-juices, and taper it to 3 mg/ml concentration e-juices, which should be the norm.
Power supply has a massive impact on your sub-ohm experience. So, experiment with different wattages before you settle for something you like. And, always make sure that your wattage is within the recommended limit of what your coil can support. The wattage range is usually indicated on them.
One more crucial factor is controlling the airflow. Without sufficient airflow, the heat builds up, and vapers lose control over vapor production. That’s why, most sub-ohm vape mods come with an adjustable airflow feature to give more control to vapers. Use it to get the right quantity of vapor production.
3. Temperature Control Vaping
Temperature control vaping is one of the biggest vaping innovations of the past decade mainly because it spurred a barrage of innovations that continue to evolve how the users enjoy vaping even today.
In one swell swoop, TC singlehandedly reduced the mishaps associated with using mods, improved the consistency of hits, and enhanced the vape experience of countless users.
Introduction to Temperature Control Vaping
The pre-TC vape devices were inconvenient to use for several reasons. For one, they needed the user to control the power supplied to the coils. More power supply meant a hotter coil. Eventually, after several hits, the coil would become so hot that it would burn the e-juice. The result? A dry, burnt hit; hot vapors burning the lips; and a burnt taste that lingered in the mouth.
Regulating the power supply may sound easy to accomplish, but it was a challenging product improvement to make. It required strong theoretical knowledge of how vape devices work.
TC-equipped vape mods made it possible for vapers to merely set the temperature range of their coils and let the mods figure out how to keep the coils within that temperature. This was primarily achieved through a built-in chipset.
Evolv the first TC-equipped vape mod in 2014. Their proprietary DNA chips sent shockwaves across the industry, and even today, they are the gold standard for TC vaping, although Yihi’s TC vape devices are giving them a run for their money.
Pros and Cons of Temperature Control Vaping
The current generation of TC vape mods is lightyears ahead of those from ten years ago. However, they still have a long way to go before the manufacturers perfect them. For now, they offer an excellent set of benefits that come with a small set of drawbacks that most users balance skillfully.
If you are new to vaping, maybe take some time to understand the pros and cons of TC vaping before you jump on the bandwagon.Pros
- One of the reasons the wick gets overheated is because it ran dry. When that happens, you get a burnt hit devoid of any flavor or vapors. With TC, you just get a dry hit. Nothing discomforting.
- The reason you get a bad taste in your mouth when the wick is overheated is because of the singeing cotton. TC vapes prevent cotton singeing and extend the life of both wick and coil.
- TC extends the life of your battery as the vape mods regulate power consumption to manage coil temperature.
- When you go for long hits or extended vape sessions, the heat keeps building up until you get a terrible burnt taste in your mouth. With a TC vape, the coil temperature is always managed within a predetermined limit. So, you get consistent flavor and experience.
- As you transition from wattage control to temperature control, it takes some getting used to. Don’t let that discourage you though. It gets easier.
- Evolv and Yihi produce the best TC vape mods, but they are quite expensive. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, you will have to compromise on the quality and features.
- Not all coils support temperature control. Kanthal is impressive, but that’s just it. It’s the only real player in the market. Ni80 is catching up fast, and stainless steel can be worked with, but they don’t really stand up to Kanthal. So, your coil choices suddenly get limited to just one.
Best Temperature to Vape e-Liquids
Most vape coils operate within a temperature range of 100°C (300°F) to 350°C (600°F), which is way too big of a range. We find 100°C (300°F) to be too cold to produce satisfactory amounts of vapour that we enjoy, while 350°C (600°F) tends to deliver a burnt vapor hit.
In our experience, the best TC vape temperature range is 200°C to 250°C (390°F to 480°F). It’s a happy medium that works for most vapers. Yet, it is still an extensive range. You will find your sweet spot somewhere within this range.
Set your temperate at 200°C (390°F) and work your way up in increments of 5 or 10 degrees until you find your sweet spot.
“People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
-- Steve Jobs
The introduction of Bluetooth technology to vape devices was one of the defining moments of the modern vape story. Vapers never knew how much they needed it until they actually had a Bluetooth-equipped vape mod in their hands. Today, these devices have flooded the market and swept away vapers off their feet.
Bluetooth-enabled vape devices are a recent phenomenon, and the first of its kind was produced by the weed vape manufacturer, Pax. Soon after, Juul came out with an improved and more feature-rich vape device-app solution that turned out to be a smashing hit. It was immediately copied by several vape brands and manufacturers in the market.
How Bluetooth Connected Vapes Work
A Bluetooth-enabled vape device allows you to connect your smartphone to it. While this technology is not widely used in 2021, we expect it to become more mainstream in 2022 and beyond. There are already some vape manufacturers who have developed compatible smartphone apps, which vapers can use to connect to their vape device.
Once you connect your smartphone to your vape, you can track a variety of information on your vape activity and device performance.
Benefits of Bluetooth-equipped Vapes
In the future, a bluetooth vape will provide vapers more control over their vape experience and activity. Here’s some likely “Use Cases”:
- Age Verification. Manufacturers can lock a device, requiring vape users to verify their age with the company before accessing the vape’s app. This technology has been trialed in the IQOS Veev (Philip Morris) and the RELX Alpha but unfortunately is still rather clunky and needs more time to develop.
- Find My Vape! You could use your smartphone app to lock and or locate your Bluetooth vape in the event of its loss. This way, you can prevent anyone else from accessing your vape activity or using the vape device.
- Order replenishment - You could monitor the quantity of e-juice in your vape mod in real-time and refill it or replace it when it’s nearing empty. That way, you won’t be surprised with a rude dry hit during one of those satisfying vape sessions.
- Usage Data - Bluetooth vape apps track your vape sessions throughout the day and give you objective insight into the number of hours you spend vaping. If it’s a cause for concern, you will know.
- If you are trying to reduce your nicotine dependency, Bluetooth vapes are a great way to achieve it. You can wean yourself off nicotine in minute decrements over several days, instead of self-imposing harsh restrictions on yourself, which often fail.
Bluetooth is one happy upgrade that not only helps you overcome your smoking addiction but reduce your dependence on vaping as well. It’s a simple but disruptive innovation.
1. Nicotine Salts
Nicotine is naturally found in the form of salts in nature. Tobacco companies found that they can boost nicotine absorption.
The early e-juices had to match the nicotine hit offered by cigarettes to be effective anti-smoking tools. That meant adding freebase nicotine into the e-liquids. However, freebase nicotine e-juices were harsh, left a disgusting aftertaste, and destroyed the flavor profile of the e-juices. So, e-juice manufacturers went back to nature for inspiration.
The new-generation nicotine e-liquids feature nicotine in its salt form. Typically, a weak acid like benzoic acid or levulinic acid is used to create nicotine salts, which form the primary ingredient of nicotine e-juices. This simple innovation had a transformative impact on the vaping experience.
Benefits of Nicotine Salts
Nicotine salt e-juices deliver a faster nicotine fix. Most users notice an almost immediate hit within the first 5-7 seconds of taking a draw. So, when you absolutely need a nicotine hit, and you cannot wait for the world, nicotine salt e-juices work like a charm.
More importantly, the immediate nicotine fix delivered by nicotine salts allows users to consume less e-juice and therefore ingest less nicotine. They can slowly taper down their nicotine ingestion and give it up entirely. As an added advantage, less consumption of e-juice means bigger savings on vaping.
They also offer a smooth, flavorful hit every time. Although you get a strong nicotine fix, the flavor profile is gentle on your taste buds.
Nicotine salts are generally more stable than freebase nicotine, which extends the shelf life of e-juices.
The vaping industry has come a long way since the first e-cigarettes were invented a decade and a half ago. The original devices hold no candle against the sophisticated, trendy, and feature-rich vapes of today.
This evolution was made possible by a slew of innovations – some good and others not so much. And, some of them have survived the test of time. We curated the above list based on the impact these innovations have had on the vaping community as a whole. However, they are many more innovations that deserve an honorary mention too. We have handpicked a few that you need to know.
- Unibody vape designs that made charging on-the-go a reality
- Nicotine salts that eliminated harshness out of nicotine vaping and made it smooth
- Flavorful e-liquids that pulled millions of smokers away from nicotine e-liquids to harmless flavored e-juices
- Extended battery life that prolonged the intervals between each recharge
All of them deserve credit for making vaping a supremely satisfying experience for vapers everywhere.