What is an Electronic Cigarette?

A straightforward overview of E-Cigs

Electronic Cigarette close up

Ok, let’s start with the basics. As I’m sure you will have realised by now, the world of electronic cigarettes can seem a dark, confusing and mysterious place when first entered, however do not fear, as the below article provides a simple to understand overview on how they work in addition to explaining the different types. It’s not as difficult as it seems. 

Nearly all electronic cigarettes, have three components; 1) A Battery 2) An Atomizer 3) A Nicotine Cartridge. Certain devices (known as two piece) have the atomizer and the cartridge in one, which is called a Cartomizer but don’t worry this is explained further down.

When you take a drag a 3 stage process occurs;

Stage 1) When you take a drag, your suction power, activates a switch which kicks the battery on

Stage 2) The battery then powers the light at the tip of the ecig aswell as sending power to the atomizer part. Inside the atomizer there is a mini coil, which heats up from the electrical charge from the battery.

Stage 3) The atomizer also has something in it called a bridge or wick (think candle wick) which is mesh like piece which sits between the atomizer and the cartridge. This bit touches the e-liquid in the cartridge and feeds a steady stream of e-liquid to the coil part. When the e-liquid touches the heated coil……voila……it turns into vapour, which is what you inhale into your lungs.

So to summarise in simplistic terms, the battery powers the atomizer, which is like a little heater. The cartridge feeds e-liquid to the heater (atomizer) which turns into the vapour you puff on. Easy



Electronic cigarettes come in many difference guises, here is the low down for mini ecigs

One Piece ecigs: aka “the disposable”

This is the choice of many, when looking to give vaping a try for the first time. These come with a pre-charged (non re-chargeable) battery connected to a non-refilliable nicotine cartridge. They normally need to be activated by pushing or twisting a mouth piece which kick starts the battery.

Two Piece ecigs: Battery and a cartomize (nicotine cartridge which has an atomizer built into it)

These kits are now probably the most popular style based on how easy they are to use. These ecigs have the atomizer built within the cartridge which holds the e-liquid. Some bright spark came up with the name ‘Cartomizer’. The other component is a re-chargeable battery.

I personally prefer these kits, because you can change between e-liquid flavours really easily. What I mean is, every time you switch cartomizers you are changing the atomizer too, so any previous flavor you were vaping on isn’t still tainting the flavour.

Three Piece ecigs: Separate battery, atomizer and nicotine cartridge

These kits are where the nicotine cartridge is connected to the atomizer (either screwed or pushed) and the atomizer is screwed into the battery.

There are different styles of ecigs as well which are

Mini e cigarettes – aka ‘cigalike’

Typically these are modeled on a traditional cigarette, in terms of size and how they look, albeit they can have different coloured batteries, cartridges, tip lights etc. Generally there are two different categories for the 'cigalikes';

Micro e cigarette - (50mm - 99mm) The smallest e cigarette which is slighter shorter than a traditional cigarette

Mini e cigarette - (100mm - 139mm) Similar in size to a traditional cigarette

Pen style

Pen style e cigarettes were the original style of e cigarettes and named due to their resemblance to a pen. They are slightly longer than a mini ecig categories at 140mm+. The additional length is generally down to a larger battery, however styles vary again within this design. Must be useful when trying to stealth vape whilst in work.

Fat batteries

These electronic cigarettes are generally the choice of the more experienced vaper. They are much chunkier in general and do not really resemble a traditional cigarette in anyway. They have a larger battery which can last an entire day and are a natural choice for people who can’t be bothered re-charging and switching batteries.


Written by Rob Patrick

Share this with your friends

More reviews