The beginner’s guide to vaping

A woman using an ecigarette

Over the past few years it’s more than likely that you have heard the term ‘vaping’ crop up time and time again, whether on TV or films, in newspapers, listening to the radio or generally through word of mouth.

But what is vaping and how exactly does one ‘vape’?

Vaping describes the process of inhaling and exhaling vapour that is produced by heating e-liquid in a handheld vapouriser (also known as an e-cigarette).

Simply put, it’s an alternative to smoking that alleviates many of the health risks associated with burning and smoking traditional tobacco. There’s also no smoke, no ash, no smell and no immediate fire hazard. Pretty good, right?

Does vaping involve any tobacco or nicotine?

Unlike regular smoking, vaping does not involve burning tobacco whatsoever. Instead, a mixture called e-liquid (or vape liquid) is heated in a vapouriser to produce vapour that can be inhaled by the user. The resulting plume you see when exhaled is vapour, not smoke.

E liquid comes in an increasing variety of flavours to suit all tastes. There is a tobacco-flavoured e liquid, but again this is only a flavouring and not actual tobacco.

Most e liquids do contain nicotine, however there are many more options when it comes to choosing the exact strength of nicotine. The Flavour Factory manufacture e liquid bottles ranging from 0mg to 18mg of nicotine. The ability to reduce the strength of nicotine over time is one of the main reasons why vaping is considered to be a fantastic quitting aid for those with a nicotine addiction.

Are there any health risks associated with vaping?

Although they are a relatively new invention compared with traditional cigarettes, there is already a huge body of health research out there on the topic of vaping.

So far, short term evidence suggests that vaping e-cigarettes is comparatively safer than smoking regular cigarettes, largely due to the fact that the biggest danger from smoking tobacco is the carcinogenic smoke it produces.

Studies suggest that the composition of e liquid (mostly propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and additional flavourings) is significantly less damaging to the body than the tar and carbon monoxide involved in smoking tobacco. But as with any relatively new subject of study, there is still plenty of ongoing research into the long term effects of vaping.

Vaping also avoids the dangers of secondhand smoke. A recent French study revealed that vapour dissipates within 11 seconds  on average; whereas cigarette smoke lingers in the surrounding air for approximately 20 minutes on average. There is therefore far less, if at all any, public risk involved with vaping.

What do I need to vape?

An electronic cigarette is the main piece of hardware you need to be able to vape. E cigs contain a rechargeable battery that powers an atomiser coil. When this coil comes into contact with the e liquid in your bottle, it vapourises the liquid to produce the vapour that you inhale.

The Flavour Factory stocks a range of high quality hardware, from e cigarette starter kits to premium e cigarettes that you can customise with changeable atomisers for a fresh style and colour combination. All of our e cigs come with a USB charger, perfect for charging while you’re on the move. Simply plug it into a USB port and you’re away!

Of course, you will also need an e liquid bottle. There are plenty of delicious flavours to choose, so that means plenty of tasting ahead to pin down your favourite vape. Once you’ve found your flavour, it’s also worth noting that the cost of refilling an empty bottle can be far less than buying a new one – good news for your back pocket.

When was vaping first invented?

The first modern e-cigarette was invented by Chinese scientist Hon Lik in 2003, inspired by the death of his father following a battle with smoking-related cancer. The now-familiar e-cigarette design launched in the UK in 2006. By 2011 there were over 700,000 e cigarette users.

As of November 2015, that number had skyrocketed to 2.8 million ‘vapers’ in the UK alone – a figure that shows no sign of slowing any time soon.

Top tip: careful when exhaling!

Many vapers prefer to exhale through their nose to maximise the flavour hit they get when vaping their favourite flavour. For most people this is fine but, like regular smoking, if you notice any dryness or irritation to the nostrils by exhaling regularly through your nose then you should look to exhale through your mouth.

Why choose e-liquid?

A man producing vapour from his e-cigarette

If you’re new to the world of  vape liquids and e-cigarettes then you’re probably wondering what e-cigarettes are, what e-liquids contain, whether they are safe and what the benefits are compared to tobacco cigarettes.

We’re here to bring you up to speed…

What is an e-cigarette?

An e-cigarette (or e-cig) is a handheld, battery-powered electronic device that vaporises e-liquid. The process is now commonly known as ‘vaping’. Over the past ten years or so, it has gained significant popularity as a cheaper, safer and far tastier alternative to normal cigarettes that does not contain carbon monoxide or tar.

E-liquids explained

So what exactly do e-liquids contain?

When browsing for your perfect flavour, you’ll see two terms crop up again and again: propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG). Both are common food additives. Propylene glycol is used to make ice cream, frozen desserts and even ketchup, whereas vegetable glycerin is a form of vegetable oil often used as a sweetener and alternative to sugar.

The vast majority of e liquids (also known as e juice or vape juice) comprise a mixture of these two ingredients, flavourings and nicotine, all at varying strengths. One of the most popular attractive features of e-liquids over tobacco is the taste – e liquids are available in a vast range of flavours, from standard tobacco to banana toffee, fruit salad and everything else in between.

The ratio of PG to VG is very important when it comes to pinpointing your ideal flavour. E-liquids that have a higher percentage of PG provide more of a throaty sensation; whereas e-liquids with a higher percentage of VG produce more vapour and are generally sweeter. However, a little too much VG in the mix will tend to mask additional flavourings, so getting the balance right is key.

All of our vape juices are carefully mixed by a team of experienced food technicians in the UK using nature identical flavourings and pharmaceutical grade nicotine. You can learn more about what is contained in eliquids here.

How do e-cigarettes work?

Unlike normal tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes do not involve the process of combustion; instead, they work by heating and dissolving the e-liquid mixture into a vapour that the user inhales.

That means there is no fire, burning, ash or smoke. Vaping also removes the threat of harmful chemicals such as carbon monoxide, tar and other cancerous toxins.

A standard electronic cigarette has four main components:

  • a rechargeable lithium battery (similar to those used in mobile phones)

  • an atomiser

  • a vaporisation chamber

  • e liquid

The battery powers an atomiser which connects to a vaporisation chamber, where the e liquid is converted into vapour. Although similar in appearance to smoke and inhaled in exactly the same way, the plume you exhale is actually vapour, not smoke.

Are e-cigarettes and e-liquid cheaper than tobacco cigarettes?

Generally speaking, yes, particularly in the long run. Our starter kits begin at as little as £15. But once you’ve got the hardware, the savings really start to mount up.

For somebody who usually smokes 10-15 cigarettes per day, a 10ml bottle of e-liquid will generally last for about one week at a similar level of use. 10ml bottles tend to cost the same amount as a 10-pack of normal cigarettes. We also stock 30ml bottles.

Once a bottle is finished, you can then purchase cheaper e-liquid refills which again allows e cig users to save on the overall cost of smoking. And of course there’s no need to turn your house upside down on the hunt for a lighter…

Take control of your nicotine intake

E liquid gives you more control over the amount of nicotine you are inhaling and can even help smokers who a looking to cut down their nicotine intake. A standard tobacco cigarette contains on average 18mg of nicotine, or 1.8%.

We stock a range of e liquid strengths – from 0mg to 18mg – which allows smokers to take a more gradual approach to quitting. Being able to progress through smaller stages of strength makes e-liquid and e-cigarettes a great quitting aid that carries a fraction of the health risks associated with normal cigarettes.

We hear so many success stories of people who have tried and failed to quit over the years by using nicotine patches, gum and other quitting aids, who have now managed to give up nicotine altogether.

The e-cigarette savings calculator

Save money by quitting smoking

Modern day smokers can relate to the fact that smoking cigarettes is more expensive than it has ever been.

A standard 20-pack will now set you back as much as £9 a pop, which amounts to a lot of money if you consider the cost over weeks, months and years.

Making the switch to vaping e cigarettes is not only a good option if you’re looking to quit nicotine, or minimise the health risk associated with smoking tobacco; it’s good for your wallet too.

Sure, there’s the entry cost of investing in a decent e cigarette starter kit, but the initial cost of vaping hardware plus the regular cost of eliquid still pales in comparison to that of cigarettes and tobacco. Our hardware starter kits start from as little as £15.

You may have to change your atomiser and battery from time to time but it remains a fraction of the long term cost.

So, exactly how much are you likely to save by switching to e-cigarettes?

Of course it all depends on how much you smoke, but roughly speaking a 10ml bottle of eliquid is the equivalent of 100 cigarettes, or five 20-packs, and a person who vapes regularly generally uses 2-3ml of ejuice per day.

The table below shows the amount of money a person who smokes 20 cigarettes a day could save by switching from cigarettes to eliquid…

e cigs

What does e-liquid consist of?

eliquid flavours

Flavour Factory e-liquids get their vibrant flavour from four simple ingredients: propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), nicotine and food-grade flavourings.

Oh, and a dash of water too.

All of our products are made using all natural ingredients, leaving them free from allergens and potentially hazardous ingredients such as Diacetyl.

Both PG and VG are non-toxic, organic compounds that are completely safe for consumption. Both are used in a number of foods, many of which you’ll eat on a regular basis. Most e-liquids contain a mixture of both PG and VG which is commonly given as a percentage. This ratio is a major contributor to the overall flavour and type of vaping experience that you enjoy.

So what is the difference between PG and VG?

Propylene glycol (PG) explained

Propylene glycol is a common food additive that can be found in ice cream, frozen desserts and ketchup. It tends to be more commonly used in e-liquids than vegetable glycerin, due in part to the fact that it doesn’t have a strong taste or odour. This means that PG does not mask or dilute the potency of other flavours added to the e-liquid mixture.

PG has a stronger throat hit compared to VG, more akin to the traditional feel of a tobacco cigarette. It’s thin in consistency, which means it’s less likely for residue to build up in the vaporiser compared with VG.

These flavours have a higher ratio of PG to VG: fruit salad, honeydew melon, mango.

Vegetable glycerin (VG) explained

Vegetable glycerin is also common in the food industry, particularly as an alternative sweetener to sugar. If you’ve ever wondered how some vapers manage to achieve such an impressive billow of smoke when they exhale, it means that their vape juice has plenty of VG mixed in.

Compared to PG, VG has a much thicker, more viscous consistency and a much sweeter taste on its own. When blending flavours, we have to be careful not to allow VG to mask the taste of other additional flavourings. You also get less of a ‘throat hit’ when vaping eliquid that is predominantly composed of VG.

These flavours have a higher ratio of VG to PG: strawberry, tobacco, peppermint, and any ‘cloud’ eliquid.

PG or VG: which is better?

It really all depends on your individual preference. If you prefer flavour intensity and that throaty feeling over plumes of vapour and perhaps a bit more gunk to clean out of your atomiser every now and again, go for PG. If you prefer less of a throat hit but more vapour, natural sweetness and minimising the chance of an allergic reaction, go for VG.

Bear in mind that most eliquids will have a certain ratio of both PG and VG contained as part of the mixture. If you’re unsure which one you’d prefer then it might be worth going for a 50PG/50VG option, there are plenty to choose from!

These flavours have a 50/50 split between PG and VG: rhubarb and custard, blueberry, banana toffee, pear drops.


In addition to propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, most eliquids contain flavourings (or concentrates) that are intended to enhance the vaping experience and replicate a particular taste or flavour. These flavourings are often exactly the same concentrates used in our widely used food and drink products.

Whether you’ve a sweet tooth or prefer a more mellow, traditional taste, there is likely to be a vape juice to match it. Have a browse through our unrivalled range of eliquid flavours and see which one grabs your attention.

Avoiding allergies

The biggest problem most vapers face is deciding which flavour and taste sensation they prefer. However, there is a small minority who may experience a slight allergic reaction when smoking either PG or VG. If you find yourself in any discomfort when smoking PG based e liquids, try switching to VG; and vice versa.

10 stats you didn’t know about e-cigs

10 statistics you did not know about ecigarettes

Kicking a nicotine habit is easier said than done.

And although there is a mounting body of evidence to suggest that vaping e-cigarettes can help people to quit smoking tobacco for good, there is still plenty of information on vaping that’s often left in the dark.

Did you know that back in 2010 as few as 8.2% of UK smokers had tried an electronic cigarette; now over 2 million people have tried vaping in the UK, a whopping 50% of all smokers. That number is growing exponentially every single year.

Whether you’re new to ecigarettes or a seasoned vaper, we’ve compiled this neat little infographic to shine a light on ten intriguing stats on vaping that you should be aware of…

 Infographic on ecigarettes, eliquids and vaping
*Stats accurate as of Jun 2014

How to clean your e-cigarette

Adding eliquid

So you’ve got yourself set up with a new e cigarette and tasty e liquid…

Now you need to know how to charge it, refill it, keep it in good knick and avoid any potential problems. Listen up!

Cleaning your e-cigarette

After a while, you may need to give your e-cigarette a good clean to prep the atomiser tank ready for a new flavour or even to remove any inevitable gunk that has gradually built up over time. It’s also very important to keep your battery as dry as possible at all times, so if you notice any drips then you should look to dry them straightaway.

In fact, cleaning your e-cigarette on a regular basis is essential to get the maximum flavour and longest life from your purchase.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to clean an e-cigarette:

  1. Disassemble your e-cigarette

    The first step is to unscrew each section of your e-cigarette: atomiser tank, battery, mouthpiece and any other sections such as drip protector.  Once you’ve got each section on its own, you can start to clean them individually.

  2. Clean the atomiser tank

    Use a lint free cloth or tissue to soak up any excess e-liquid that has built up over time. Avoid using a cheap paper towels because this is more likely to leave random threads and fibre particles behind, especially in the connection area.

  3. Remove any leftover eliquid

    A common complaint people have is that unvapourised juice tends to collect in the atomiser, which then needs to be placed at an angle and drained overnight. You can speed up this process by blowing through the hole where the atomiser and battery connect. This should clear any excess liquid from around the heating coil.

  4. Clean the battery and reassemble

    Use your cloth to clean both the inside and outside of the battery case, particularly any connection points. Make sure your battery is fully charged before reassembling the e-cigarette. Careful not to overfill with e-liquid and allow a few seconds for the e-liquid to soak into the wick before using.

Charging your e-cigarette

Before you can start using your new e-cigarette, you need to know how to charge it and how long to charge it for. Depending on the product the length of charge can range anywhere from 4–8 hours, but we always suggest to leave the e-cigarette to charge for however long the instructions tell you to. Failing to charge the e-cigarette fully may result in performance issues, and you won’t be able to vape for as long.

Most modern e-cigarettes out there now come with a USB charger, which is great for portability. Simply plug in the charger to a USB port (computer or wall socket) and you’re away!

Once fully charged, the battery life depends on factors such as how often you use your e cig and the type of battery itself. As a rough guide, small 400mAh batteries tend to last 4–6 hours, whereas larger 650mAh last for around 6–8 hours. You will gain an additional 1–2 hours battery life for each extra 200mAh or so.

A good tip is to buy a second battery so you can use your e-cigarette safe in the knowledge that when the battery runs out you have another one sitting at home ready to swap in.

Refilling your e-cigarette

Unscrew your drip tip from the atomiser tank and fill approximately 1.5ml of e liquid from the side. Be really careful not to pour the e liquid into the airflow tube you see in the middle. It might look like a tempting fit – but don’t do it!

Replace the drip tip and tighten all the seals as tight as possible. You’re really looking to avoid any mess or spillages at all times.
Give the eliquid a few minutes to feed into the heating coil before you start to vape.