Want to quit smoking and start vaping? Start your journey here with our beginner’s guide to vaping.
You might be aware that smoking kills half of its users, and those who try to quit usually have to make several attempts before it sticks. Cold turkey, nicotine patches, gum, medication—not a single NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) product offers guaranteed success.
But evidence shows that vaping has a 59.7% to 74% success rate, making it even more effective at helping smokers quit than nicotine patches and gum. E-cigarettes are immensely less harmful than smoking, too—up to 95% safer, according to Public Health England. And don’t even get us started on the cost of tobacco these days.
If you’re ready to quit smoking cigarettes and make the switch to vaping, we’ve got you covered. We’ll take you through all the steps to get you started on your vaping journey, from finding the right vaping device to explaining all the terms you’ll need to know.
Let’s dive in!
What is Vaping?
Vaping is when you inhale vapour from an e-cigarette. This device contains a battery, a reservoir to hold E-Liquid, and a metallic element—a vape coil. Vape kits work by conducting electricity from the battery through the coil, which then heats the liquid. The result is the vapour which is then inhaled.
There are only a few ingredients that make up an E-Liquid: vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, nicotine, and flavourings. E-Liquids can also be nicotine-free, free of propylene glycol, and there are even some available without flavourings. Still, there are never more than four ingredients in any given E-Liquid.
These ingredients are all safe for human consumption and can be found in an array of pharmaceutical and food products, from soaps to medications to canned foods. Even nicotine can be found in tomatoes, aubergines, and potatoes, among other natural sources.
Is Vaping Harmful?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions about vaping, but no. Vaping is, in fact, less harmful than smoking.
In the UK as of 2023, 43% of smokers who have never vaped believe that e-cigarettes are equally harmful or more harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes. They’re wrong.
The NHS, the UK government, Public Health England, and health bodies across the globe agree: vaping is 95% safer than smoking traditional cigarettes.
Not only is it safer, it’s also the most effective smoking cessation aid on the market today. Plus, making the switch to vaping will save you money in the long run.
How to Start Vaping
To start vaping, you’ll only need a few things. Your shopping list will vary depending on whether you choose a refillable device or a non-refillable (disposable) vape kit, but regardless, you won’t need much—and you won’t need to spend a lot, either.
For disposable vapes, all you’ll need is a steady supply of devices. Your consumption will vary based on previous smoking habits, but if you would normal smoke a pack per day, you’ll likely use about 1 disposable vape per day. Disposables are more costly than refillable vape kits in the long run, but they require less upkeep and are a great entry point for new vapers.
Those looking to save more money should opt for a refillable vape kit. For under £20, you can get yourself everything you’ll need, including:
Most vape devices are only compatible with specific E-Liquids. In addition, they have a part (either a pod or a coil) that needs to be replaced periodically. Much like a printer’s ink cartridge, you’ll need specific replacement pods or coils to maintain your device.
When it comes to finding compatible E-Liquids and replacement parts for your first vape kit, everything will be clearly in the product description. And if you’re ever unsure what to get, you can contact our customer support for assistance.
Vaping can be confusing when you first get started, and a lot can happen when you quit smoking and start vaping. So, let’s break it all down piece by piece.
What Vape Kit is Best for New Vapers?
There are a variety of vape kits that are ideal for new vapers. These vaping devices prioritise convenience, ease-of-use, and compatibility with the high-nicotine E-Liquids you’ll need to start off using when you first make the switch.
Disposable vapes are by far the easiest devices to use, though their cost will stack up over time—and their environmental impact is worth considering, too. For more adventurous beginners, a refillable vape kit is an excellent option.
Let’s break down the choices you have as a new vaper. For a more in-depth look at all the different types available, check out our vape kit guide.
Disposable vapes go by several names: puff bars, vape bars, disposable e-cigarettes, or simply just disposables. These vaping devices have no learning curve—simply unbox and vape, then discard when they’re empty.
Disposable vapes are small, lightweight, and portable devices that come prefilled and pre-charged, requiring zero refills or charging. Ready to use straight out of the packaging, they’re great for quickly satisfying any nicotine craving thanks to their nicotine salts, which provide a smooth throat hit and a quick nicotine delivery.
There are hundreds of disposable vape flavours on the market to choose from, too—so there’s bound to be something to suit your taste.
Disposable puff bars usually have 2ml of E-Liquid with a 20mg (2%) nicotine strength, offering up to 600 puffs per bar, which makes one disposable vape roughly the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes. Some disposables offer other nicotine strengths, too, including 10mg (1%) or even 0mg.
But if you’re making the switch to vaping from smoking, we don’t recommend you start with a nicotine-free vape, as this won’t satisfy your cravings and may lead to you going back to smoking.
For more info on disposables and how they work, check out our in-depth disposable vape guide.
Cons of Using Disposable Vaping Devices
Just because disposables are the easiest choice for newer vapers does not mean they are the only choice. There are a few drawbacks to using puff bars as your full-time device.
They’re not good for the planet, as they produce a lot of waste. They’re made of plastic, contain leftover E-Liquid, and hold a small battery inside. As a result, you’ll need to dispose of them responsibly.
Companies are currently working on finding the best way to dispose of them, but at the moment, you cannot simply discard them in your regular waste bin. They should be disposed of at your nearest recycling centre.
Secondly, all of this convenience comes at a premium. Using refillable vaping device is more cost-effective.
Again, this is something you’ll have to weigh up yourself. Disposables eliminate the learning curve and have zero setup. All the friction involved with figuring out how to charge, fill, or operate a vape kit is removed, which is excellent for beginners. All you need to do is concentrate on giving up smoking.
If you’re looking for a more long-term solution, there are many more e-cigarettes which are ideal for beginners.
Prefilled Pod Kits
Prefilled pod kits or closed pod kits, which use prefilled vape pods that come filled with E-Liquid, are a good option for beginner vapers who want to try a step-up from disposable vapes. This type of electronic cigarette is shaped like a vape pen or a matchbox and is extremely convenient to use.
The device’s pods come pre-filled with E-Liquid and are designed to be vaped until they’re empty, much like disposables—but instead of discarding the entire device, you simply remove and discard the pod, then replace it with a new one. The battery unit can be recharged and reused.
These vapes offer a variety of E-Liquid flavours to choose from (though there are fewer E-Liquid flavour options than refillable kits can offer). If you smoke regular cigarettes, you’ll find that they’re very satisfying without breaking the bank.
Closed pod kits are ideal for beginners who don’t want the hassle of refilling or changing coils. Still, there are even cheaper and more customisable options if you choose a refillable kit.
Starter Vape Kits
Starter vape kits are the easiest refillable kits you can get. The basic idea with a starter kit is that it includes everything you’ll need to get started, minus the E-Liquid, which you get to choose yourself.
Typically, a vape starter kit will contain:
- A device
- A pod or tank to hold the E-Liquid
- One or two vape coils or refillable pods
- A charging cable
This type of Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) vape device is usually either a pod kit or a vape pen, with few or no settings and better battery life than a disposable vape. A pod device or vape pen has very few parts and requires much less attention than a kit designed for more experienced vapers.
Plus, a pod kit or pen is compatible with high-nicotine vape juices, like nic salt, which simulate the throat hit from cigarette smoke without all the added carcinogens and harsh chemicals.
Pod devices and vape pens are easy to set up and maintain over time, cheaper than disposables, and best of all, you get to choose your E-Liquid! This means you get the option of choosing your nicotine strength, deciding between a nicotine salt and a freebase E-Liquid, and finding your favourite E-Liquid flavours.
With thousands upon thousands of options on the market, the vape world is your oyster when you choose a refillable vaping device.
Advanced Vape Kits
Advanced vape kits, or sub-ohm vape kits, are designed for more experienced vapers employing a Direct-to-Lung vaping style (more on this later).
These bulky kits, designed for sub-ohm vaping, often have a variety of settings and options, from temperature control to variable wattage. A sub-ohm kit will usually have a high power output and provide a much longer battery life than other types of devices.
Some sub-ohm kits even require an external battery (or batteries) to operate. 18650 batteries are the most common type used in these devices. The upside of removable batteries is that you can charge them separately and keep spares as a backup, and they offer better battery life overall.
One downside to sub-ohm vaping is that you cannot vape high-nicotine juices. In fact, the recommended maximum is 6mg, though 3mg is the sweet spot. This is because the high power output delivers large clouds of vapour, which would create a very unpleasant feeling at higher nicotine strengths.
While these e-cigarettes are highly customisable and have better battery life, we do not recommend them for beginners simply due to the vastly confusing settings. Plus, sub-ohm vapers have to mix their own nicotine shots, find the correct E-Liquids for their coils, and understand the settings. New vapers are better off starting with a much simpler device.
What are the Different Vaping Styles?
There are three main vaping styles: MTL, DTL, and RDTL. Each one denotes the way vapour is inhaled into the lungs from an e-cigarette. It’s important to understand which vaping style you fall under before purchasing a vape kit.
Mouth-to-lung (MTL) vaping, is the most common vaping style. If you’re a new vaper making the switch, you’re most likely an MTL vaper.
Mouth-to-lung is essentially the way that we smoke conventional cigarettes. Think of it like drinking from a straw: a two-part process where you suck the vapour into your mouth and then inhale it into your lungs. This vape style is known for its sharper throat hit, higher nicotine strength, more discreet vapour production.
MTL vape kits—like disposables, starter pod systems, and vape pens—are built for Mouth-to-Lung.
Direct-to-Lung (DTL) vaping is more akin to smoking shisha or a water pipe. Better yet, it’s how you breathe: straight into your lungs. DTL e-cigarettes have much wider airflow configurations and use a thicker E-Liquid blend to create larger clouds.
Direct-to-Lung vaping is mostly found in sub-ohm devices used by advanced vapers with lower nicotine strengths and E-Liquids that are higher in vegetable glycerine.
Restricted Direct-to-Lung (RDTL)
RDTL, or RDL vaping, is a cross between Mouth-to-Lung and Direct-to-Lung. This style is generally considered an airier MTL, with equal parts throat hit and vapour production. As you become more comfortable with vaping, you may shift toward RDTL.
You’ll likely find that a number of pod devices offer both MTL and RDTL styles, which usually means that you can adjust the airflow on the device to be tighter or looser to better suit your preferences.
Choosing an E-Liquid
Once you have your first vape kit, you’ll need to choose your vape juice. With tens of thousands of E-Liquid flavours available to set your taste buds alight, it can be hard to decide. You’ll want to take into account nicotine strength, nicotine type, and E-Liquid type above all else. We go into more detail about choosing the best vape juice for you in our in-depth beginner’s guide to E-Liquids if you’re looking for more information.
How Much Nicotine Do I Need?
There are lots of different nicotine strengths available, which will vary depending on the type of E-Liquid you choose. Some people who want to give up their traditional cigarette habit choose to go nicotine-free, but this isn’t the wisest choice.
The nicotine strength you choose should be determined by how many cigarettes you would normally smoke per day.
Heavy smokers of a pack or more per day should start with a nicotine strength of around 20mg, or 2% nicotine. This will provide you about as much nicotine as cigarettes would. If 20mg proves to be too much, try a lower strength.
Moderate smokers may want to opt for a 10mg (1%) nicotine strength, though this isn’t optimal for everyone, and some moderate smokers will require a higher strength. If 10mg isn’t satisfying your cravings, try 20mg.
Concentrations below 10mg are best for light smokers (of less than 5 cigarettes a day) and sub-ohm vapers or DTL vapers using high-powered vape kits. You can find strengths as low as 3mg in freebase E-Liquids and 5mg in nicotine salts.
Remember: you’re vaping to quit tobacco smoke, so you don’t need to go nicotine-free from the jump. Don’t be a hero. Make sure you’re getting enough nicotine to satisfy your cravings as you quit. You can lower your nicotine strength over time as your desire to smoke wanes.
What Type of Nicotine Should I Buy?
There are two different types of nicotine, each offering a different range of nicotine strengths. They also serve different functions. If you’re a new vaper, we recommend nicotine salts.
When comparing Nic Salts vs 50/50 E-Liquids, you should take into account your needs. If you still feel strong nicotine cravings, it’s a good idea to opt for salt nicotine, as it’ll provide a higher dose of nicotine much quicker than freebase will. Still, freebase does have its upsides.
Nicotine salts—also known as salt nicotine, salt nic, nic salt, and variations thereupon—are a form of nicotine created by adding an acid to the nicotine molecule (usually, salicylic, lactic, or benzoic acid).
This reduces the pH level of the nicotine, which helps to produce a smoother throat hit at higher strengths compared to freebase nicotine. Plus, the lower pH value allows the nicotine to enter the blood stream faster, resulting in a much quicker nicotine delivery.
Salt nicotine is available in 5mg, 10mg, and 20mg nicotine strengths, though the standard is 20mg. Not all manufacturers produce 5mg or 10mg options.
Nicotine salt E-Liquid has really taken off in the last few years and is highly recommended for new vapers.
“Freebase” is the form of nicotine found in cigarettes. This type of nicotine can be found in freebase 50/50 E-Liquids, as well as the nic shots used to add nicotine to shortfills (more on these later).
Freebase nicotine is known for its strong throat hit and prolonged nicotine delivery. With freebase, the nicotine takes longer to kick in, but it lasts in the blood stream longer than nic salts do.
The higher the nicotine strength, the sharper freebase will feel on your throat—whereas salt nicotine will feel smooth regardless of your chosen strength. For new vapers using a high strength, this can often feel too harsh, which is why many opt for salt nic over freebase.
Another upside to freebase is that it’s available in strengths as low as 3mg (all the way up to 18mg)—so, when you’re ready to start tapering your nicotine intake, you can switch to freebase to wean yourself down.
VG/PG ratios are present in every E-Liquid. These two ingredients make up the base of every E-Liquid. Their ratio determines the types of e-cigarettes that will be compatible with a given E-Liquid.
Propylene Glycol, or PG, is a thin, colourless substance used as a food preservative and found in a number of pharmaceutical products. PG is thinner than VG, and for this reason, high-PG E-Liquids are better suited to low-powered devices, like pod systems, vape pens, and starter kits. You’ll find that all nicotine salts and 50/50 E-Liquids fall under this umbrella.
VG, or Vegetable Glycerine, is used in the food and pharmaceutical industries, often as a sweetener or a thickening agent. VG is much thicker than PG, and because of its viscosity, E-Liquids high in VG require lots of power and low-resistance coils to work properly. High-VG E-Liquids should only be used in sub-ohm vaping and advanced vape kits. High VG blends are generally only found in shortfills.
What are the Different E-Liquid Types?
There are 4 main E-Liquid types: freebase 50/50 E-Liquids and nicotine salts, which are used in low-powered MTL devices, as well as shortfills and 100% VG E-Liquids, which require high-powered sub-ohm DTL devices to use.
50/50 E-Liquids come in 10ml TPD bottles and use freebase nic. These E-Liquids are ideal for use in low-powered pod devices, starter vape kits, and vape pens and are designed for MTL vaping.
They’re often very budget-friendly and versatile, and you’ll find strengths ranging from 3mg up to 18mg available. They’ve become less popular with the advent of salt nic in the last few years, but many vapers still appreciate the low-nicotine options they offer.
Nic Salt E-Liquids
Nic Salt E-Liquids come in 10ml bottles and offer high nicotine strengths with a smooth throat hit and a quick nicotine delivery. They’re available in strengths ranging from 5mg to 20mg and are perfect for use in most starter kits, vape pods, and pens.
We’ve covered salt nicotine extensively already, but beginners who are interested in learning more about what salt nic has to offer should check out our guide to nicotine salts for an even closer look.
Shortfills are large bottles of E-Liquid—usually 50ml or 100ml—with no nicotine. They come “short filled” with extra space in the bottle for users to add a nic shot, allowing for a strength of up to 3mg. These juices are high in VG, and as such, they’re only for use by advanced users wielding sub-ohm kits.
Shortfill E-Liquids are an interesting workaround for the TPD (Tobacco Product Directives) limit on volume for nicotine-containing E-Liquids, but that’s an awfully long story with a lot of legal nonsense.
If you’re interested in learning more about shortfills, check out our shortfill E-Liquids guide for more information.
100% VG E-Liquids
100% VG E-Liquids are a niche type of E-Liquid created specifically for vapers who have an allergy or intolerance to propylene glycol. They require specific sub-ohm devices to use. Like shortfills, these juices come in larger bottles and have no nicotine, so you’ll have to add your own.
100% VG E-Liquids are usually natural-tasting and have much less concentrated flavouring than other juices do, but they open the door for PG-intolerant smokers to make the switch when there would otherwise be no options.
If you want to try vaping PG-free, you’ll have to ensure you know the best vape kits for 100% VG E-Liquids before you get started. Using 100% VG in an incompatible kit can be an unpleasant experience.
Coils and Pods
Coils and pods are the replaceable parts of your e-cigarette. Your device will usually require one of these to be replaced every week or two, though the frequency of upkeep will depend on how you vape, how much you vape, and the E-Liquid you choose.
A vape pod is the reservoir that holds the E-Liquid on an e-cigarette. You’ll find that some have replaceable coils, while some with built-in coils. For pods with built-in coils, you’ll need to replace the entire pod once the coil starts to degrade.
Pods are easy to fill and maintain. Generally speaking, all you’ll need to do is wipe any excess E-Liquid condensation off the bottom with a piece of tissue roughly once a week to keep them in tip-top shape.
Back when vaping first started, an e-cigarette had a glass tank, which had a number of breakable parts and had to be dismantled for regular upkeep. Pods are a relatively new innovation which removes a lot of the maintenance required with vape tanks. And while you can still find glass tanks on the market, these are usually reserved for advanced vapers using mods.
Every e-cigarette houses a coil, otherwise known as an atomiser. This piece of metal conducts electricity from the battery to heat the E-Liquid to create vapour. In the case of disposable vapes or prefilled pods, the coils are built into the device and cannot be replaced.
If you look closely at a coil, you’ll notice small holes around the circumference with pieces of cotton inside. These pieces of cotton—called wicking material—absorb the E-Liquid in order for the coil to create vapour.
Since we’re talking about tiny pieces of cotton, it makes sense that these would degrade over time. All coils have a lifespan, and coil life will depend on a number of factors, including the sweetness of your E-Liquid and how frequently you vape, among other factors.
You can tell that a coil has reached the end of its lifespan when it starts to taste burnt or begins losing its flavour.
Coils can be either replaceable or non-replaceable, which is the case with pods that have built-in coils. In practice, built-in coils tend to degrade slightly faster than changeable coils, though for many vapers, changing replaceable coils can feel like a chore.
There are two main types of coils: high-resistance and low-resistance. Resistance is measured in ohms (Ω).
High-resistance coils are designed for Mouth-to-Lung and have a resistance above 1.0 ohm. Beginners are most likely to use this type. They produce more discreet amounts of vapour and use less E-Liquid.
Low resistance coils (or sub-ohm coils) are designed for DTL and have a resistance below 1.0 ohm (hence “sub-ohm”). They are used in higher-powered devices, produce more vapour, and consume more E-Liquid.
Vaping can be extremely confusing when you first get started, and it can even be daunting enough to send you back to traditional cigarette smoking. Fear not: we’re here to help.
Once you’ve got the basics down, you’ll realize you only need a few things to get started: a vape, some E-Liquid, and replacement pods or coils. And if you choose to go the disposable vape route, all you’ll need is a supply of e-cigarettes.
A vape or an e-cigarette is your best option if you’re trying to quit smoking thanks to its high success rate. Plus, the flavour options are endless.
We’ve compiled an array of beginner vape guides to help you get started on your journey, but if you’re overwhelmed by the process or you’re ever in need of assistance, our expert team of vapers is on standby to assist. You can contact us via phone, live chat, or email for assistance at any point in your journey.
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