How Do Electronic Cigarettes Work


An E-Cigarette is a cigarette-sized tube containing a battery and an atomizer cartridge that holds liquid. When the user draws in, a pressure-activated switch turns on a mini heating element and produces a vapor that looks like smoke.

This vapor is essentially the same smoke commonly seen in nightclubs, concerts and theaters in fog generators when used for special effects. The vapor can also contain nicotine in doses regulated by the user, and a variety of eliquid flavors: among them chocolate, vanilla, mint, tobacco, apple, and many others. Users can even get the flavor of their favorite brand of cigarettes.


An electronic cigarette contains three essential components: a plastic cartridge that serves as a mouthpiece and a reservoir for liquid, an “atomizer” that vaporizes the liquid, and a battery.

The components are:


The cartridge, a small plastic, glass or metal container with openings at each end, serves as both a liquid reservoir and mouthpiece. It allows the passage of liquid into the atomizer, and vapor from the atomizer to the user’s mouth, without any leakage of liquid into the mouth.

Most models utilize a plastic sponge to keep the liquid in place, but it is common to find a refillable tank that holds the liquid, with a separate tunnel connecting to the atomizer. When the liquid is depleted, users can refill it or replace with another ready filled cartridge. Some users forgo liquid reservoirs and drip liquid directly onto the atomizer in a method known as “dripping”.

A single cartridge can have the same number of puffs as 20 cigarettes.


The atomizer contains a small heating coil that vaporizes the liquid, and generally consists of a simple filament and wicking metal mesh or silica wick to draw the liquid in. It is positioned in the center of the three components that make up the entire electronic cigarette cylinder: the cartridge attaches to one end, and the power unit to the other. The atomizer’s filament will lose efficiency over time due to a build-up of sediment, or it “burns out” entirely, requiring replacement. In some models, the cartridge and atomizer component are integrated into what is known as a cartomizer…..


The term cartomizer describes the combination of atomizer and cartridge in the same unit. A cartomizer consists of a heating element surrounded by a poly-foam soaked in the liquid. This combination is mainly used in the devices that are manufactured to look like cigarettes, and is covered by Gamucci’s patent.

When the cartomizer has been used it can simply be disposed of and replaced with a new one. This is much easier than having to refill your cartridge and clean and replace the atomizer every now and then.


Most portable power contain a lithium-ion rechargeable battery which makes up the largest component of an electronic cigarette. The battery may contain an electronic airflow sensor: activation is triggered simply by drawing breath through the device. Other models come with a power switch, which must be held during operation. A LED to announce activation may also be equipped in the front of the power unit casing.

How long a battery lasts will depend on its charge capacity (in mAh), which ranges from 100 mAh for smaller batteries, to over 1000 mAh for larger ones. E-cigarette performance also depends on the battery’s voltage, which typically ranges from 3.2V to 4.2V. Some variable voltage devices will offer voltages as high as 7V.USB e-cigarettes do not run on a battery and instead supply a constant voltage of 5V using a computer USB port as the power source.

E-cigarette batteries can have different threading that make them compatible only with cartridges of the same threading. The most common types of threading are: KR808D-1 (E8), KR808D-2 (E9), 510, DSE103 and L88B.

Batteries are usually charged via an AC outlet, car charger socket or USB. Some manufacturers also offer a cigarette pack-like portable charging case (PCC), which contains a larger battery to charge smaller batteries of individual e-cigarettes.


Liquid for producing vapor in electronic cigarettes, known as e-juice or e-liquid, is a solution of propylene glycol (PG) and/or vegetable glycerin (VG) and/or polyethylene glycol 400 (PEG400) mixed with concentrated flavors, and optionally, a variable percentage of a liquid nicotine concentrate.

The solution is often sold in a bottle or in disposable cartridges. Many manufacturers offer dozens of flavors which resemble the taste of regular tobacco, menthol, vanilla, coffee, cola, vanilla and various fruits, but nicotine concentrations vary by manufacturer. The standard notation “mg/ml” is often used in labeling, sometimes shortened to a simple “mg” (milligram). Nicotine-free solutions are also common.

Some electronic cigarette users prefer to make their own e-juice in a form known as “DIY”.

Most e-liquids do not contain beta-carboline alkaloids found in tobacco along with nicotine.


There are dozens of e-cigarette models which are sold online and in stores, all under hundreds of different brand names. Most electronic cigarette users initially purchase e cig starter kits that contain a battery, USB charger and a selection of cartomizers (cartridges). Some kits also include a portable charging case (PCC).


In addition to the kits, there are disposable electronic cigarettes which were first invented and bought to market by the Gamucci brand in 2008. These feature a battery, atomizer, and cartridge all in one piece. Unlike the kits, the entire electronic cigarette is discarded when the cartridge becomes empty. Disposable electronic cigarettes are typically marketed to those new to the electronic cigarette market.

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