e-Cig Terminology - what does it all mean?
11 January 2018
Here’s a list of the most common terminology and wording used to describe electronic cigarettes and the parts and liquid inside them. This should be a fairly good guide for the average reader and it’s all in alphabetical order. Where terminology is abbreviated, for example atomizer to atty, we’ve only listed it under atomizer. The easiest way to search for your particular word is to press ‘Ctrl’ on your keyboard, and while it’s still pressed down, press ‘F’ and then type in some of the word you’re looking for in the box.
Atomizer/atomizer/atty/ head - They come in all manner of different shapes and sizes but fundamentally they’re a heating element inside the e-cigarette tank area. The battery makes the atomizer heat up and when it’s hot enough it turns the e-liquid that it’s in contact with into vapour.
Atomizer cone - The part that contains and protects the atomizer. Some atomizer cones will come apart as in the eGo-C, others are a built-in unit (eGo-T) so you can't really get to what's inside and you have to replace the whole unit when it's reached the end of its life. These are outdated now.
Automatic/automatic battery - An electronic cigarette battery that does not have a button to make it work. The battery works automatically when the user draws on the e-cigarette. These are hard to come by now.
Base ingredient - This is the main ingredient (which will usually be PG or VG) in e-liquid which is largely made up of water. Without the base ingredient to dilute the e-liquid mixture it would not vapourise as we know it and the liquid would just be nicotine and flavourings.
Battery - This is the most important part in an e-cigarette. No battery = no power and nothing can heat up. If you were to use your e-cigarette without any power it would be a bit like sucking on a straw. The battery is needed to power the heating element in the atomizer so that the liquid can be turned into a vapour (the stuff that looks like smoke).
Battery charger - This is a battery charger used to recharge your e-cigarette batteries from mains electricity or a PC once they’ve been run down. Be aware that not all chargers are compatible with all batteries. Batteries can be ruined with the wrong chargers. Chargers can be mains wall chargers as well as USB chargers for use with PCs and laptops.
Cartomizer/carto - An all-in-one unit; the cartridge and the atomizer are all one unit. It's as the name suggests, the cartomizer is a combination between a cartridge and an atomizer. The two parts have been made into an single piece of equipment. Cartomizers tend to be a little bigger than cartridges so they’ll hold a bit more liquid.
Cartridge/cart/tank cartridge/tank/tank filter - Quite often a transparent plastic tube or plastic tank that is used for drawing on (sucking) and it holds the e-liquid too. Cartridges can also be stuffed with the likes of cotton wool which absorbs the liquid.
Clearomizer/clearomiser - A clearomizer is essentially a refillable clear tank, or one you can at least partially see into so you know your liquid levels.
Cotton - This has become very popular within the interior of coils, instead of silica for example, increasingly you will find organic Japanese cotton along with some wire.
Drip tip/mouthpiece - A hollow mouthpiece that connects to the top of the tank. A drip tip has an opening that allows for air flow and for the user (in some instances) to drip e-liquid directly onto the atomizer/head/coil. Drip tips really should allow for liquid to be dripped in, however, the term 'drip tip' is often used as the generic name for what really is just a mouthpiece.
Dripping - A method of adding e-liquid to the atomizer. The user drips a few drops of liquid directly onto the atomizer. Many users feel this method produces better vapour and taste as there is no ‘filler’ material such as cotton wool involved in the process.
Dry hits - A method used to when 'priming' or 'breaking in' a coil. The user draws from the mouthpiece as normal but without pressing the battery button. The suction created during the draw pulls the liquid into the absorbent material inside the coil. Dry hits can also be caused in error and they can ruin coils!
eGo - A very popular type of e-cigarette and the most popular connection style, ie eGo style battery, eGo style tank. Although originally designed by one particular manufacturer in China, eGo style batteries and tanks are now made by many different manufacturers.
Electronic cigarette/e-cigarette/e-cig/ecig/eciggie - An electronic inhaler powered by a battery. The battery heats up something inside which in turn heats up and vaporizes a liquid (called an e-liquid or e-juice). An e-cigarette simulates the act of smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes and it even has a vapour that looks like smoke!
E-liquid/liquid/e-juice/smoke juice/juice - This is the liquid inside the e-cigarette that is turned into a vapour (vapourized) when using an electronic cigarette.
Filler material/filler - Absorbent material which resembles cotton wool found inside a cartomizer, or cartridge. It helps to keep the liquid running through the cartridge at a consistent rate towards the atomizer. It helps to prevent flooding (the liquid run through too quickly) and it also helps to ensure liquid remains in contact with the atomizer when it’s turned upside down for example.
Flooding - This can occur when too much liquid is supplied to the atomizer. Atomizers require some air in order to properly vapourize the liquid and keep it flowing at a consistent rate. When too much liquid is sent to the atomizer, it will likely cause a decrease in vapour production and flavour.
Gurgling - The sound you will hear when liquid gets into the central airflow tube in a clearomizer for example.
High resistance/HR - This applies to atomizers, cartomizers and batteries with a higher ohm rating than ‘standard’ equipment. HR is very similar to LR (low resistance) in terms of efficiency. HR generally causes the heating element to get hotter faster and produces more vapour.
High resistance batteries/high voltage batteries/HR batteries/HV batteries - These batteries have more power, like a car with a bigger engine, they have more oomph, plus they will use a bit more fuel too (liquid). High resistance batteries are also known as high voltage (HV) batteries and they're known for producing more heat, more vapour and a more intense flavour. Use HR batteries with HR atomizers - If you use an HR battery with a standard LR (low resistance) atomizer, the HR battery will really put a lot of wear and tear on the LR atomizer and you'll get a lot less life from it.
Leaking - Leaks can occur for a number of reasons, the most obvious being a cracked tank. The liquid can also leak out of the bottom of the heating element and onto the battery, which can cause damage to some devices, particularly those with automatic batteries, it can also get into the mouthpiece.
LED/Light Emitting Diode - These are the lights that you will see on e-cigarette batteries for example and they’re used to indicate that the device is activated for use. LED panels are also used to indicate the amount of power available or what voltage you’re using, as in variable voltage batteries.
Low resistance batteries/low voltage batteries/LR batteries/LV batteries - This applies to atomizers, cartomizers and batteries with a lower Ohm rating than ‘standard’ equipment. LR is very similar to HR in terms of efficiency. LR also generally causes the heating element to get hotter faster and produces more vapour. LR often produces more vapour than an atty or carto that has a standard resistance rating. Also relates to batteries Low resistance batteries (LR). Interestingly these batteries do the same job as the HR batteries but they simply do it at a lower voltage. These batteries are also known as LV (low voltage) batteries. They're just as efficient as HR batteries but they're usually smaller. They also provide the same intense flavour and good vapour. With an LR battery you don't get the same power when you draw, but as you should be using an LR atomizer that should not be a problem. Use LR batteries with LR atomizers - If you use a LR battery with a HR atomizer, this will usually result in no flavour and no vapour.
mAh - The mAh stands for milli Ampere hour or milli Amp hour. It’s the measure of a battery's energy storage capacity. If you imagine your battery as a fuel tank in a car, the mAh is the measure of how much ‘fuel’ the battery can hold. The higher mAh rating the more fuel the battery can store inside. The more fuel, the longer the journey lasts. To put it another way, it’s how many puffs you can take before the battery needs to be recharged. Slender e-cigarettes have batteries generally ranging from 90mAh to 360mAh meaning that with these smaller batteries they will need to be charged more often. Manual battery A type of electronic cigarette battery that has a button that is pressed by the user to activate the heating element. The user presses the button (the amount of times depends on their particular device) in order to activate the battery to heat the liquid and produce vapour. This type of battery on an electronic cigarette is less like a traditional cigarette than the automatic style, but the advantages are that it cannot be activated by accident, in your pocket for example, and the battery is sealed and leaking is not a risk.
Mechanical Mod - Essentially these devices are very durable and comprise a top, a base and a metal tube or tubes in between for different battery sizes. The user has to push a fire button to activate (often the base is the fire button). 510 is the standard battery connection. There are no wires, wiring, LED displays and no built-in protection. There is nothing to adjust on a mechanical MOD. Ideally suited to rebuildable atomizers (RBAs) if you want something to work with very low resistances. These are simple devices in terms of the design but they are not for novices due to serious safety concerns regarding batteries.
Milligrams/mg - This measurement relates to the amount of nicotine found in e-cigarette e-liquid. You’ll see these as typical levels: 0mg, 3mg, 6mg, 12mg, and 18mg. Different manufacturers produce different levels but generally speaking, a medium level of nicotine is about 12mg.
Mod (automatic) - Used to describe modifications to a device or accessory (eg a modification to get more vapour production) or very typically mods are large electronic cigarettes that work on larger rechargeable batteries (often high drain Lithium Ion). The bigger batteries give longer use between charging, these devices have multiple personal user features such as variable wattage and variable voltage settings for tailored 'vaping' preferences and optimal performance.
Ohm - A measure of electrical resistance. A lower number indicates lower resistance and therefore faster heating.
Propylene glycol (PG) - The most popular 'base ingredient' ingredient found in e-liquids. It acts as a carrier for the other ingredients such as nicotine and flavourings. When it’s heated it produces a vapour that can be inhaled. PG generally produces less vapour than VG but provides more flavour and more throat hit.
RBA/rebuildable Rebuildable atomizer - atomizers that you can rebuild yourself by buying the cotton and the wire to make coils for them.
Starter kit - An electronic cigarette kit that includes all the basic equipment needed to get started, but it may not include the e-liquid, and they can be aimed at new users and those with experience.
Throat hit - This describes the tingling feeling in the back of the throat when vapourizing liquid that contains nicotine. Typically, as nicotine is the main contributing factor to the throat hit, when nicotine-free liquid is vapourized, there is no throat hit.
USB charger - This is a battery charger used to recharge your electronic cigarette batteries from a laptop or PC once they’ve been run down. One end of the charger will have a USB connection for your PC and the other end of the cable will have a connection compatible with your battery. Be aware that not all chargers are compatible with all batteries, even if they appear to fit. Batteries can be ruined with the wrong charger and it can also be extremely dangerous.
Vape/vaping/vaper/vaping device - These words describe the device and the act of smoking an electronic cigarette. Because e-cigarettes produce vapour and not smoke, people refer to this as ‘vaping’ and they are a ‘vaper’ having a ‘vape’ on a vaping device!
Vapour/vapour production - Vapour, which looks like smoke, is what’s produced when the liquid in the e-cigarette is heated up. Vapour production refers to how much vapour is produced during the average inhale of an electronic cigarette.
Variable voltage/VV/variable - A variable voltage battery gives you the option of turning the power up or down which is used to control vapour production, flavour and throat hit. A normal battery has just one setting.
Vegetable glycerol/vegetable glycerin/VG - One of the ingredients found in many e-liquids. This is a base ingredient the same as PG and it acts as a carrier for the other ingredients such as nicotine and flavourings. When it’s heated it produces a vapour that can be inhaled. VG generally produces more vapour than PG but provides less flavour and throat hit. Because it's thicker it’s not compatible with certain kits.
Wick - A piece of cord, the thickness of which can vary and often with a silica content, residing inside many clearomizers (or atomizers) and it's used to absorb and deliver the e-liquid to the heating element. People generally buy their replacement items with the wick in place, ie ready made, but some users make their own and buy the wick as a separate item.