The Basics

Inside the Electronic Cigarette

An e-cigarette is made up of 3 major components. These are the cartridge, the battery, and the “atomizer”.  The cartridge is made of plastic and is open at both ends, serving as a reservoir for the liquid as well as a mouth piece.

The “atomizer” ensures that users take in the vapor and not the liquid itself when they puff the cigarette. Along with these main components, an e-cigarette also has:

  • Special liquids
  • LED light covers
  • Magnet adaptors


Description of Components

The plastic cartridge holds the e-cigarette liquid and sends it to the atomizer when you take a drag.

Usually, a plastic sponge is placed to hold the liquid, but you can even get refillable tanks that are connected to the atomizer through a tunnel.

The atomizer heats up the liquid with a coil. The liquid enters the atomizer through a filament and wicking metal mesh. A silica wick is also used for the same purpose.

This filament will lose its effect due to the gradual and inevitable accumulation of residue.

You may also come across a “cartomizer”, which is simply a cartridge and atomizer joined together.

The largest part of an electronic cigarette is the battery. Mainly, portable power units in e-cigarettes have a lithium-ion rechargeable battery. The power unit may include an electronic sensor that initiates vaporization when you draw your breath.

On the other hand, manual e-cigarettes have a power switch that has to be pressed throughout the process. Additionally, an LED may be installed in front of the power unit casing to signal the vaporization.

E-cigarette batteries are mainly charged through an AC outlet, car, or USB, but you can also get a portable charging case that looks like a cigarette box. This case has a large battery that charges smaller batteries of e-cigarettes.

Other Parts

E-cigarettes also have magnet adaptors. These are mostly made of stainless steel and they hold the battery and atomizer together.  These adaptors also facilitate the conversion of e-cigarette batteries for use with other threaded atomizers, cartomizers, and clearomizers.


To encourage people to use e-cigarettes, manufacturers produce starter kits. A standard kit may contain:

  • A battery
  • USB charger
  • Multiple cartridges or cartomizers

In addition, some kits come with a portable charging case (PCC) as well.

How the E-Cig Works

Here is how these components function together:

When you take a puff, the battery activates and heats up the atomizer. The atomizer subsequently turns the liquid in the cartridge into vapor, which you inhale just like you would on a regular tobacco cigarette.

I will discuss e-cigarette fluids in detail later. For now, it is good if you know some essentials of exactly what an e-cigarette liquid is.

Basically, the liquid to be vaporized is made of propylene glycol, while vegetable glycerin is also used. Not all liquids have the same quantity of nicotine, and you can even get different flavors to suit your taste.

There is also an option for zero nicotine liquid that can help you to break down nicotine addiction gradually until you eventually quit.

Exploring Different Types of Electronic Cigarettes


Before proceeding, it is important to clarify that e-cigarettes are available in different types and styles, where the former defines the core of the product and latter describes its aesthetics.



There are 3 main types of e-cigarettes and they are easy to remember:


These are great for first timers as they are economical and easy-to-use. One-piece e-cigarettes are single disposable units that come with a pre-charged battery and a nicotine cartridge. They can neither be recharged nor be refilled.


This kit comes with a rechargeable battery and a cartomizer. A defining feature of a 2 piece e-cigarette kit is that you get a new atomizer with every cartridge. This means you will never have to stop during a smoking session due to a burned-out atomizer.

Another benefit is that you can easily switch between different flavor cartridges whenever you like. Since the 2-piece kit comes with a rechargeable battery, it is eco-friendly as compared to a disposable 1-piece e-cigarette.


The 3rd type of e-cigarette comes with a rechargeable battery, atomizer, and a replaceable cartridge.

This kit is more of a luxurious product as it is high-priced (usually costs $250). The atomizers run out quicker in the 3-piece kit, but it is the most eco-friendly option since all its parts are replaceable.



There are 4 main styles of e-cigarettes:

These resemble in appearance to your regular cigarettes, which makes them suitable for new users. But you can be warned in a non-smoking area for smoking one of these!

As implied by the name, this particular e-cigarette looks like an ink pen. They may be longer than standard tobacco cigarettes, but they are comparatively smaller and thinner. The cartridges are larger and pen-style e-cigarettes have long lasting batteries as well.

  • Electronic Cigar

These e-cigarettes are made to resemble regular cigars. They tend to be larger than the previous 2 varieties, which also means that they have larger and powerful batteries and larger refill cartridges. However, you can also get disposable e-cigars.

  • Electronic Pipe

Finally you have the electronic pipe, which serves as your replacement to regular pipes. Since pipes bring with them an element of elegance, they are costly as well. Electronic pipes come with replaceable atomizers, along with large batteries and cartridges.

The e-pipe and e-cigars are for experienced e-smokers and not for starters, as they require more know-how of the device and vaping techniques, and they usually cost more than $100.

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