Vaping Tips and Advice
Want to know how to set up your e cig device for the first time? Need help with refilling your e cig? Would you like to know how to vape on the cheap? How to articles, tips, advice, savings and safety advice on vaping, e cigs, and e liquid issues.
Do you use an ePuffer ecigar? You may not know that you can save money on pre-filled cartridges by refilling your ecigar with your own e liquid. There’s even the option of saving even more money by ordering blank ecigar cartridges and refilling with your own e liquid. Here’s how!
How to refill your ePuffer ecigar cartridge
- With a slight twisting action, pull off the black mouthpiece from the used cartridge.
- While holding the assembled battery and cartridge in one hand, slowly drip e liquid (5-10 drops max) onto the edge of the soft material inside the cartridge. Avoid dripping any e liquid into the small hole in the centre of the material, as this may flood the cartridge chamber.
- Once all the liquid has been absorbed, you can replace the black tip and start using the device again.
Important: whether you are refilling or just using pre-filled cartridges, you must stop using the device if you notice any burnt flavours – this means either e liquid has run out and the cartridge needs to be refilled or replaced.
How long do ePuffer ecigar flavour cartridges last?
In my tests, I was able to get just under eight days of regular use (using at home and at work) out of each of the two of the pre-filled cartridges, with a twice-daily top-up using tobacco-flavoured e liquid, before they became dull. The cartridge I chose not to refill lasted just over 2 days before flavour ran out.
On balance, it would seem that refilling cartridges is probably the more cost-effective option, as this will give you around a week or so of use before you will need to replace them.
Can I buy blank ecigar cartridges and refill myself?
Yes, you can, and this will save you more money, still. ePuffer supply packs of five blank cartridges at £10.95, meaning that you can fill blanks with your own choice of e liquid, rather than having to pay for the more expensive pre-filled cartridges.
Check out my latest Epuffer ECigar 900 review here!
Still smoking? Maybe you’ve heard of vaping and have seen people walking around using strange-looking e cigarettes that give off clouds of vapour, but you haven’t yet taken the plunge. Here’s a very brief beginner’s guide to vaping in 2019!
The word “vaping” comes from the vapour produced by e cigarettes. E- cigarettes are small battery-operated gadgets that generate a fine spray of nicotine vapour which users inhale. Vaping lets smokers get all the pleasure of smoking with only a tiny fraction of the dangers of smoking.
When you vape, there is no burning of tobacco (or anything else). Instead, people who vape inhale a pleasant-tasting vapour. E cigarettes produce this vapour by heating “e liquid”, which is made from a harmless carrier liquid, flavourings and nicotine.
How do you use e cigarettes?
Most e cigarettes these days have a small power button which you press while you suck on the device. When you press the power button, the battery heats the e liquid in the device and turns it into a thick vapour which you inhale, just like when you smoke.
Likewise, almost all e cigarettes nowadays are fully rechargeable, meaning you don’t need to buy replacement batteries for them. You just plug your e cig into a power source for a couple of hours, and this gives you roughly a day’s worth of power before the next recharge.
While some e cigarettes have disposable/replaceable e liquid “pods”, most models nowadays are “refillable”, meaning you can keep refilling your cartridge with e liquid as required until the cartridge gets too old to use any more (usually several days or weeks).
Does vaping feel the same as smoking?
Many smokers want to know if vaping “feels” the same as smoking before they take the plunge.
When smokers smoke a cigarette, nicotine in the burning tobacco triggers a “swallow” reflex in the throat muscles as they inhale the smoke. This is a pleasurable sensation for smokers. Nicotine vapour from e cigarettes triggers exactly the same sensation in the throat, and so provides the same satisfaction.
Smokers get a “head rush”, or pleasant dizzy feeling from smoking, that they say they cannot get from vaping. It is true that more traditional e liquid formulations do not always “hit the spot” quite as effectively as cigarette smoke, though newer “nicotine salt” (or nic salt) e liquid brands certainly do offer a noticeable nicotine hit or head rush, even to hardened smokers.
How many people vape in the UK?
According to the NHS Smokefree website, there are now around 2.9 million adults who vape (use e cigarettes). The NHS also claims that 1.5 million of these “vapers” have now completely stopped smoking.
These estimates are probably a little outdated because vaping has since become mainstream in UK. This suggests there are now most likely even more vapers out there than the NHS data suggests.
My own vaping story…
Before I started vaping in 2011, I was a lifelong smoker (since age 15) and had tried to give up smoking many, many times over the years (I’m now in my forties). Before 2011, I spent years switching back and forth from cigarettes to gum, from gum to patches, then would stop the patches only to find myself having the odd “cheeky cigarette”, at a party or with friends. A few weeks later, and I’d find I was buying packets of cigarettes and smoking regularly again just like before.
Since my first vape eight years ago, I have smoked only once (in 2012), and didn’t enjoy it at all – I still got the same nicotine hit as before, but the flavour was too smoky and too dirty compared to vapour from my e cigarette. I haven’t smoked or even wanted to smoke since that time. I have vaped on and off ever since, though have had absolutely no desire to return to smoking cigarettes.
Yes, as a vaper, I am still a slave to nicotine, though by choosing to take up vaping, my life has changed for the better. By not smoking cigarettes, I’m avoiding the tar and thousands of dangerous chemicals that are produced by burning tobacco. I now feel healthier than I did when I smoked, I can exercise without getting out of breath, my house and clothes no longer stink of stale smoke and my mind is clearer.
Is vaping safe?
Research into the safety of e cigarettes though still ongoing, is so far very positive.
Official advice from NHS UK is that e cigarettes pose only “a fraction of the risk of cigarettes“. While it’s true that e liquids do sometimes contain compounds similar to hose found in tobacco smoke, these are found at much lower levels.
Vaping is of course not the best way to deal with your nicotine addiction, if it’s the actual addiction side of things that worries you.
Vaping is however, a useful way to limit your access to smoking, even if that means just cutting down your smoking habit rather than giving it up altogether.
There are of course limits to who can use e cigarettes (those under 18, pregnant women, etc). If you are not sure if e cigarettes are right for you, it goes without saying that you should first consult your GP or a smoking cessation professional to look at all the options.
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It is still possible to find high quality e liquids made from real tobacco extracts, though sadly these days, an ever increasing number of commercially-available “tobacco e liquids” contain food flavourings, rather than real tobacco extracts. Making your own tobacco e liquids from tobacco extracts can be an authentic, cost-effective and fun way to get real tobacco flavours in your e liquids just the way you like them.
Tobacco extracts: tinctures and flavour concentrates
Assuming you don’t want to spend several days making your own tobacco extracts from real tobacco, the easiest way to make your own DIY tobacco e liquid is to get hold of some pre-made tobacco extracts.
There are basically two main types of real tobacco extracts that you need to consider before making your own DIY tobacco e liquids: tinctures and flavour concentrates.
Tinctures (often also confusingly called concentrates) are the most powerful real tobacco extracts available and require only a few drops to transform your VG/PG/ nicotine base into a rich-tasting tobacco-flavoured brew. Though tinctures pack much more flavour than flavour concentrates, they are thinner in consistency, and usually much darker and more opaque in colour.
The great thing about real tobacco tinctures is that they go a long way and allow for huge flexibility in terms of flavour strength and quality, and in very small amounts. I usually add only 2ml of these real tobacco tinctures to my usual 50ml PG/VG/nicotine base to create a powerful and distinctive tobacco-flavoured e liquid, though you can get away with using even less if you prefer a lighter flavour.
Tobacco flavour concentrates
Tobacco flavour concentrates are the thick, gloopy, golden-brown coloured liquid additives that make up around 30% of the liquid content of most off-the-shelf Chinese-made tobacco e liquids. Flavour concentrates are almost always PG-based, and are produced by using heat to extract tobacco essences from dried tobacco leaves.
Tobacco flavour concentrates are more widely available than tinctures, and are cheaper in terms of the amount you get vs cost per unit. However, they are also much more dilute, so you need to add much more flavour concentrate per batch of DIY e liquid to produce the same effect as you would with a tincture. Hangsen is the best-known biggest producer of tobacco flavour concentrates, and having tried most of these myself, I can recommend a handful of flavours: “Reds”, “Tobacco”, and “Turkish tobacco” and “Virginia” are all worth getting hold of, though be sure to avoid “Euro Blend”, and any of the clear-coloured bases, as these contain no tobacco extracts.
Despite the lack of concentration, tobacco flavour concentrates seem to add “body” to most home-brewed e liquids (at least in my experience) and I personally like to use concentrates at a ratio of about 10% in all my own e liquids, as they usually make for a softer, mellower vape in general.
DIY tobacco e liquid: best base liquid?
Most DIY vapers have their own preferred blends of VG/PG/distilled water, etc, as indeed have I. Having now switched mostly to DL vaping, I tend to prefer much lower nicotine in my own. As for VG/PG mix, I likewise usually mix my own rather than ordering pre-made nicotine base liquid, as it tends to work out a lot cheaper, though I know some people who prefer the simplicity of buying their base liquid already mixed.
If you want extra authenticity and a smoother throat hit, your best bet is to try mixing with nicotine salts. These are more or less same as regular nicotine bases, but contain an additive which makes the nicotine easier to be absorbed by the lungs and bloodstream.
As a general rule of thumb, if you are using flavour concentrates (the thick, gloopy extracts) to make your own tobacco e liquids, you will need less VG, as your finished concoction will already be quite thick, thanks to the concentrate. I would also recommend a few seconds in the microwave when completely mixed, as this will make the finished liquid silkier and more fluid. Tinctures, on the other hand don’t tend to add much body to your juice, so try upping the VG to 50% or so in relation to overall PG content, and this will provide a slightly smoother, heavier draw when vaped.
Until recently, I’d tried several times to make my own tobacco e liquid from real tobacco but every time the same old problems would emerge: my e liquids would take ages to brew, would always turn out too oily, too dirty, too sweet, too harsh, or just didn’t taste or smell “tobaccoey” enough. Now at last I’m pleased to say I’ve developed a simple four-day DIY tobacco e liquid production process that promises a clean, strong-tasting and authentic rich tobacco flavoured eliquid, with no oiliness or unwelcome flavours. Safety first: please read disclaimer below.
How is this NET extraction method different?
Previous NET tobacco extraction methods I have seen and tried involved a lot of boiling, steeping and soaking in alcohol, and these processes tend to subdue a lot of subtle flavours and create a lot of gunk and tarry aftertastes. Other methods recommend PG as the only solvent, though this tends to extract only flavours but not aroma. My extraction method produces a cleaner, richer NET e juice thanks to an accelerated four-day cold maceration process, zero use of alcohol and no direct heating of the tobacco itself, so less gunk and bitterness.
Why bother making your own NET tobacco e liquid?
There are a lot of suppliers already stocking eliquids that contain real tobacco extracts, and a few that are also selling NET tobacco concentrates and extracts that allow you to mix your own realistic-tasting NET e liquids. Of course, mixing from pre-made extracts is a lot easier to do, though most tobacco concentrates are produced using chemical processes, which can remove a lot of the freshness. Doing the whole thing from scratch is a rewarding process, and will produce a richer, more authentic flavour. It’s also a lot of fun!
Are NET tobacco E liquids safe? Disclaimer:
Making your own e liquid from real tobacco might be seen as a bit of a step back for those vapers who have already weaned themselves off the taste of tobacco. If that’s you, keep vaping on whatever you usually vape – this recipe is for die-hard tobacco loving adults who just can’t get on with vaping factory-bought “tobacco” eliquids, and who run such a big risk of going back on the smokes that only the real thing will do. Even then, I wouldn’t recommend vaping tobacco extracts in the long-term, for obvious reasons. View this e liquid recipe as a one-off treat for special occasions. I am likewise in no way pushing real tobacco eliquid extracts as a safe form of vaping – if you are unsure about the safety of doing this then please don’t bother!
Read on to find out how to make your own NET e liquids from real tobacco in four days!
e liquid from real tobacco: recipe
This method makes about 100 ml of NET tobacco eliquid that may tolerate a little extra dilution with PG/VG (30% or so) though it is best vaped neat. You can use any loose tobacco you like to make this e liquid – I’ve suggested blending the two most common light (golden) and dark (OH) rolling tobaccos in UK because they are fine cut and complement each other well. Pipe tobacco works well in small amounts to add extra flavour, though creates a bit too much gunk if used on its own – it’s also usually rougher cut and so may need more time to soak. Likewise, quantities in this recipe are pretty approximate – I’ve suggested more PG than VG as you will waste roughly one third of the PG you use – you can likewise adjust these proportions to your liking. Your finished NET e liquid will contain a small amount of nicotine – therefore, add extra nicotine sparingly, especially if you are direct-lung vaping – you’ll only need a few drops of extra nicotine.
Things you need: 3g (1/8 oz) light rolling tobacco, 3g (1/8 oz) dark rolling tobacco, 75ml Propylene Glycol (PG), 50ml Vegetable Glycerine (VG), few drops of distilled water, a few ceramic bowls or cups, basic kitchen utensils, a flour sieve, a microwave oven (or small saucepan and hob), paper tissue or nylon muslin bag, cling film (Saran wrap).
Important: if you can get fresh whole leaf tobacco, you will get better results and your resulting e liquid will be much cleaner and purer in flavour. Most “roll-up” tobacco (in the UK at least) is full of additives and will not give you a great flavour. Better still, you can grow your own tobacco in the UK (though this requires more patience!) and this will give you the best results all round.
Day 1: tobacco preparation and initial cold soak and mash
Put your tobacco (1/4 oz total) into a clean bowl and cover generously with cold PG (but don’t drown it – see picture) and leave for one hour, then mash with a fork for a couple of minutes to release initial flavours. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature overnight, high up and well away from children and animals.
Day 2: soak and mash
Remove cling film and repeat the fork mashing process again – the liquid around the tobacco should be a bit darker now. Cover again with cling film and store as before. You can mash twice (morning and night) to release a bit more flavour if you wish.
Day 3: soak and mash
Remove cling film, mash again and leave to soak as you did the day before.
Day 4: final mash, rough filter, VG soak and flush, fine filter
1) Mash one final time and pour out your PG/tobacco mixture through a fine sieve (a flour sieve or tea strainer will do). This is just to remove the big bits of tobacco and make the liquor easier to process later on. DO NOT throw away the spent tobacco in the sieve!
2) Put the strained juice to one side and meanwhile heat roughly the same quantity (or a little less) of vegetable glycerine and a few drops (1/4 – 1/2 ml or so) of distilled water (if not distilled, tap water’s ok) in a seperate bowl/cup for either a few seconds until finger hot (not boiling) in the microwave, or in a small saucepan on the hob. You can skip the water if you prefer, though it makes the liquid easier to filter later on and shouldn’t affect your vape.
3) Once ready, take your tobacco from the sieve and add to the hot vegetable glycerine. Mix well to extract flavours and flush out any PG left from before the sieving process. Cover the tobacco and glycerine bowl with cling film (to stop water evaporating) for about an hour.
4) Pour the glycerine/tobacco mixture through the sieve into the bowl containing the PG tobacco juice. You may need to squeeze the remaining tobacco in the sieve to extract all the juice from it. Clean hands or a (very) clean garlic press should do the job nicely.
5) Now, throw away the tobacco in the sieve, mix the extracted VG/PG tobacco juice liquid in your bowl and heat until finger hot (microwave or hob).
6) Set up a filter with either a nylon muslin bag or a couple of paper tissues doubled up and laid over a clean bowl (you can secure your filter with clothes pegs or a plate if you wish). Pour the hot liquid onto the paper filter and leave for 30 minutes or so until (or most of the liquid has been filtered.
If the juice takes ages to filter, heat liquid mixture again for a few seconds and try one sheet of tissue filter paper instead of two. The end result should be a dark and suberbly clear liquid that is neither cloudy or filmy (if it is, you’ve done something wrong and will need to throw it all away). It should also taste satisfyingly bitter (thanks to the PG extraction) and should have a strong sweet aroma, as long as you left the tobacco long enough in the VG.
7) When completely cool, add nicotine base liquid to taste, mix well, bottle and enjoy.
DIY Mixing with nicotine salts for a smoother tobacco flavour
For greater authenticity, and a smoother throat hit, I would strongly recommend using a nicotine salt base at 18mg, either on its own, or blended with your regular nicotine base. Adding nicotine salts will improve the flavour and richness immensely.
Final points: this real tobacco eliquid recipe works because the tobacco is given time to yield its most subtle flavours over a few days in the PG, while the short-contact VG soak extracts warmer and sweeter flavours, as well as aroma. You can try extending the PG + mash steep time to a week or more, though you may find that you end up extracting too many nasties, like oils, sugars and starches, which are to be avoided if possible. If your filtered e liquid looks at all oily, cloudy, or has a film over the surface, it’s probably best to discard it.
Despite the lack of heating, and relatively fast production time, this DIY tobacco e liquid will contain more soluble compounds than commercial tobacco eliquid, never mind how many times you filter it. Therefore, it’s best vaped in a device with a replaceable wick, and this will need to be changed daily for best results. Try also vaping at a low temperature (ideal power set up for flavour in my opinion is about 3 volts / 17.5 watts with a 0.5 ohm coil) and maximum 8mg nicotine. That’s a pretty weedy build for most sub-ohm vapers but for me these settings provide the best conditions for enjoying subtle flavours.
The problem of coils spitting (tiny drips of hot e liquid hitting the tongue while vaping) seems to be a problem among many new ecig-users, and is something which (even as a vaper of 5 years or so) I have had occasional problems with.
Which coils spit?
I’ve found that the worst offenders for me have been some of the newer (and higher power) dual-coil rebuildable tanks such as the Aspire Cleito and Atlantis, though I’ve also had issues with single-coil RBAs such as the Kanger Subtank Mini (which I nevertheless still adore), as well as some of the cheaper low-voltage non-rebuildable sub-ohm devices.
In general, tank devices which have an open-channel between the mouthpiece and tank are the most likely to spit, in my experience. Some tanks with prebuilt rebuildable coils, such as Kanger’s new Arymi Gille tank include anti-spitback mouthpiece features to stop spitting, though most models require you to find a workaround to solve the problem.
What makes coils spit?
There are multiple reasons for coils spitting and I won’t cover them all here as many are device-specific, though here are a handful of general causes of spitting that I’ve identified myself:
Mouthpiece and socket saturated with eliquid. This is particularly common when you use a device (like Kanger Subtanks) with a metal mouthpiece tip that slots fairly loosely into place allowing e liquid to build up and fill the mouthpiece and surrounding area. This is probably caused by vapourised e liquid condensing onto the cold metal, and will make the surface more likely to carry on condensing vapour.
Voltage too low. Excessively low voltage (on rebuildables) may be due to the build itself or due to a poor connection between coil unit and battery. Low power can mean that you get spluttering and a vapour that is more like a spray than vapour.
Build too tight or loose. Cramming as much cotton into your coil is one surefire way to cause problems such as poor liquid uptake. Similiarly, if you can see spaces between your coil and the cotton inside it, then it isn’t tight enough – this will cause coil to burn too hot in some places resulting in a raspy burn and spots of liquid to be fired out onto your tongue. If (in the case of the Kanger Subtank) cotton is not filling airholes, you will also get too much liquid coming in from the tank reservoir, and this will drown your cotton, thereby causing spluttering and spitting.
Coil set too close to top of RBA. Try to set coil at a natural resting position between the top and bottom of your coil chamber to allow a space all around it, from top to bottom – don’t set too high or low as (especially too high) this seems to make spitting more likely, as well as restricting vapour flow within the chamber.
Coil/battery connection too tight. Connections between your tank and power source should be snug, but not super-tight. This is especially the case with the Aspire Atlantis, though can also affect some of the Kanger devices.
How to make spitting coils less likely
Wipe your mouthpiece and interlocking section regularly with a tissue or rag to remove excess eliquid and reduce likelihood of further condensation – and spitting.
Make sure all connections are clean and dry. A casual wipe of battery-coil connection may be enough day to day, but a thorough hot water rinse of all working parts once a week or so will ensure minimal buildup of dust, grease and eliquid over time.
Increase wattage / voltage if you can. If your device has adjustable voltage, go for a higher wattage and a bigger build rather than the reverse.
Build cosy not tight or loose. When filling coils with cotton, the build should be snug but not too tight or loose.
Make sure coil has enough breathing space. Set your coil up so that there is space and air all around it to allow vapour to flow naturally around the chamber and reduce spitting.
Unscrew and rescrew battery and coil connections to avoid overly-tightened parts.
Consider using a home-made spit guard. If you just can’t avoid moderate spitting, pipe screens are a reasonably cheap and effective way to stop spots of hot e liquid from reaching your tongue. Simply cut into a small disc shape and insert into the space between your mouthpice and the top of the tank section before reassembling again.
Get a tank with an inbuilt anti-spitback protection feature, such as the Arymi Gille.