Vaping: The New Smoking?
The Early History of Vaping.
Vaping is not new. You could be forgiven though, for thinking it was. Let’s face it, until the 2000’s you certainly wouldn’t have seen anyone with a vape or e-cig anywhere.
The first modern incarnation of the vaporizer dates back to the early 1920s. Joseph Robinson is credited with coming up with a design for an “electric vaporizer” way back in 1927. Though not, apparently, intended for use with tobacco, his design had a lot in common with what we’ve become familiar with today.
He patented his invention in 1930 but it seems that the idea never made it off the drawing board.
In 1963 Herbert A Gilbert was granted a patent for an electronic cigarette that was very similar to modern e-cigs in operation and appearance.
He pitched his “smokeless electronic cigarette” to many manufacturers, including tobacco companies, but no-one seems to have been too interested. One problem at the time was sourcing a battery small enough for portability, yet powerful enough to vaporize the liquid containing the nicotine.
Mr Gilbert himself is quoted as stating that he believed the tobacco industry put pressure on some of the companies he approached. He also believed they thought the idea was ahead of its time and they’d be better off waiting for his patent to expire. I guess there could be some truth in that.
Gilbert’s invention had a lot in common with modern e-cigs and even looked much the same. He advocated flavourings and believed also that avoiding inhaling burnt tobacco smoke would be a less unhealthy alternative. Now that thinking was ahead of its time!
I can’t help wondering how many stroke, heart disease, and cancer patients could have been saved had his invention taken off. It’s not the nicotine that causes the bulk of the health problems associated with smoking. Nicotine is just the addictive component that keeps users coming back for more.
Introducing: Hon Lik
In the early 2000s, Hon Lik was a medical researcher, working for an agricultural research company in China. His father, a long-term smoker, had recently died from lung cancer. Hon Lik himself was a heavy smoker and had been since his teens. He resolved to quit the habit, and began using nicotine patches to help control the urges.
Now here comes the spooky bit: Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately, as it turned out) he sometimes forgot to take off the patches overnight. The nicotine in his system often gave him vivid dreams and nightmares.
In one of these dreams he saw himself drowning, when suddenly the water turned to vapour, which he could breathe. Waking with a start, he sensed he was onto something and jotted the details of the dream onto a note pad.
Next morning, he began the first stages of designing his own take on a smokeless cigarette.
Using the basic ideas from Gilbert’s design, as well as some innovations of his own, he eventually came up with the first commercially successful e-cig, or vape pen.
Hon Lik co-founded Ruyan, a company that soon became a prominent manufacturer of electronic cigarettes and cigars.
The company ran into trouble when reports started circulating about their product being highly addictive (oh, really?) and being linked to heart attacks in a few users.
China’s state-run tobacco industry, reportedly contributing around 10% of total government revenue, was starting to worry about loss of revenue.
Hon contended that “all tobacco companies” were wary of his company’s products and used their influence over governments internationally to discredit Ruyan (later known as Dragonite International) and their products.
Facing this sort of opposition, and constant copyright battles with newer companies, Dragonite eventually agreed to sell their patents to, of all people, British Imperial Tobacco. It’s been reported that in excess of US$75 million changed hands. Hon Lik apparently received little of that himself.
If you’d like to read more on Mr Hon, there’s an article here on the Guardian website.
(The link will open in a new tab, so this article will still be here for you)
Meanwhile, there have been quite a few improvements in electronic vaper design over the years.
Two brothers from Britain, Umer and Tariq Sheikh, made improvements on the basic three-piece design by combining the cartridge and atomizer into a cartomizer. Matt and Ted Rogers, another pair of British developers, developed the first “mod”. In this context, a mod is a means of firing the heating coil by pressing a button on the vaper.
The Evolution of Modern Vaporizers
The modern vape pen continues to evolve, with more and more manufacturers coming into the market and making their own improvements to the original designs.
Nowadays vape pens are becoming more and more refined in operation and appearance. There are also vapers dedicated specifically for dry herb products, including marijuana.
Some types of vapers can be used with either dry product or e-liquid.
There’s an interesting video here you might find informative…
It runs for just over four minutes.
Modern Vape Components & How Vapes Work
Obviously, the battery is the main component of all vapers. It also gives the name to most of the vaporizers we know. (“e” for electronic) It may be activated manually by pressing a button or automatically by inhaling. An LED in the unit will show you when the battery is on. Most vapers come with a charger, but can sometimes be charged with a phone charging adapter.
I’ll be devoting a post to charging vape pens and some of the do’s and don’t’s in the near future.
Attached to the battery, the vaporizer heats the liquid in your vape to the point of evaporation. (Yeah, I know, stating the bleeding obvious) When you then draw in the vapor you get the hit of nicotine (or whatever) you’re seeking.
Early models did this through a “dripping” process. As the name suggests, the liquid from the tank, or cartridge, dripped directly on the atomizer. This type of setup had a fairly simple design. One of the cons though, was that you needed to refill them pretty often.
Other vape components I’ll discuss here are Cartomizers and Clearomizers.
A cartomizer is a combination of cartridge and atomizer, in one integrated unit. Connected directly to the battery it heats the e-juice of your choice until it reaches the perfect temperature that creates vapour, just like an atomizer. In addition, there’s polyfill around the heating coil that allows for a longer vaping time. This is the main advantage when compared to atomizers.
Clearomizers are great for a beginner. This is the newest technology on the market and gives you more control over what you vape. It’s great because you can see the amount of liquid in the tank as they’re transparent. Most Clearomizers tend to have a longer life-cycle. Their wick structure also offers a better flavour experience. Not surprisingly, they are usually more expensive.
Cartridges and Tanks:
These are the containers that hold your nicotine e-liquid (or whatever other substance you choose to inhale). A word of caution. Pure nicotine can be lethal. For that reason, you need to always remember to keep your vaporizers away from kids and pets.
The e-juice, or e-liquid, comes in different tastes. Apart from nicotine and flavours, e-liquid will probably contain propylene glycol (PG) and/or vegetable glycerin (VG). These are non-toxic and are basically carriers for the active components.
UPDATE: September 2019.
It seems the carrier liquids may not be quite as innocuous as we first thought. I fact, there have been several cases of serious illness and even death associated with the carrier liquids in vape pen cartridges.
Stay tuned for further updates in a later post.
Mouthpiece designs vary a little, but efficiency and comfort will be a personal thing.
The Future Of Vaping
As I said earlier, vaping has a long history. What started as primitive Man chucking a few handfuls of herbs into a fire or onto hot rocks has evolved into the present day vape gadgets we can find everywhere.
Today’s sophisticated devices can be found at places ranging from the local gas station to a prestige website. Additionally, with the different flavors available on the market, vaping has become much more enjoyable. Rechargeable and refillable kits have simplified the vaping experience, and can save a lot of money in the long-term.
On the downside, (there’s always a downside) many studies have revealed some negative side effects of vaping. They include dry mouth, dizziness and the accumulation of some toxins in a user’s system. Users also need to be aware that nicotine is a strange substance, capable of acting as a stimulant as well as a relaxant. Heavy users have occasionally succumbed to heart problems from nicotine consumption.
The recent popularity of vaping also raises the question of potential addiction. This is especially pertinent in the case of younger users. Many countries have already placed strict restrictions on vaping.
An increasing number of marijuana users are also switching to vaping as a safer, more pleasant (and more discrete) way to get their regular fix.
Can Vaping Help You Give Up Smoking?
Using a vape pen is undoubtably a safer alternative than cigarette smoking. With this in mind many smokers are turning to e-cigs as a means of weaning themselves off nicotine. This requires fairly strict monitoring of consumption though, and I personally know some who have actually raised their nicotine addiction threshold instead of lowering it.
My feelings are that we’ll see more tobacco companies expanding into the vape market in future. They’ve suffered a lot of bad press and financial losses in recent times so it makes sense that they’ll be watching the vape market very closely.
It seems that there’s still a long future ahead for vaping. New models are always popping up in the marketplace. From time to time I’ll be writing reviews on various market changes and new models that come into production.
Well, I hope you found this article informative.
Are you a regular vape pen user? Perhaps you’re just looking for a bit of info on the subject.
Feel free to check out the other pages and posts here at 4321vape.com.
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Thanks for visiting, and you have a beautiful (or vaporful) day.
Your Friend, Ken.