Vapes are high tech devices that require several different components to function. While many vape devices have been designed to be user-friendly, there is still something of a learning curve for people who have recently switched from smoking to vaping. Being more familiar with all parts of a vape won’t just put you in a better position when it comes to maintenance and upkeep, it will also allow you to make better-informed decisions when it’s time to buy your next device.
What Are the Parts of a Vape Called and Are They Used in Every Device?
There are many different types of vape, and not all components of a vape are the same across all models. See the table below for a quick overview of what vape components are used in which models:
|Vape Part||Found in|
|Tank||Vape Pens, Box Mods|
|Pods/cartridges||Pod mods, cigalikes|
Vape pens and box mods are common types of vape devices. These types use a tank and are required if you want to use bottled e-juice. Some vape pens and box mods use RDAs (rebuildable dripping atomizers) which do not use tanks but still allow for bottled juice to be used by being dripped straight onto the coil and wicks. Some users prefer this as it can help prevent issues like vape tank leaks.
The atomizer is the part of the vape that allows liquid to become vapour. Often, an atomizer may be referred to as a 'wick’ or ‘coil’, but these are two components of the atomizer itself. Essentially, the atomizer is the whole part of the vape that makes it produce vapour — the coil, the tank (if required) and the wick. Atomizers come in disposable or rebuildable models. The latter is known as RDAs or RTAs (rebuildable tank atomizers) depending on whether they include a tank or not. The advantage of these rebuildable units is that the wick or heating element can be replaced when needed, rather than changing the whole unit. Atomizer parts may be replaced as needed (such as the coil, which typically lasts 1-4 weeks, and the tank, which can be replaced if it develops issues like cracks or leaks).
The tank is used in many vape pens and box mods. Pod mods will not use a tank as the vape juice used by these is pre-loaded into pods that are simply inserted into the device. A tank is where e-juice is held until it is drawn up into the coil and then vaporised. Tank capacities vary device by device. A bigger tank may reduce the need to carry a bottle of vape juice if you’re headed out on errands.
Every vape needs a mouthpiece in order for the vapour to be inhaled. Once e-juice has been drawn from the tank into the coil and wick of a vape, the vapour will then be fed through the mouthpiece. Mouthpieces are usually a uniformly cylindrical shape, but some can be tapered or curved.
The coil in a vape is technically the heating filament, which is a wire within the atomizer. In RDAs and RTAs, vapers may build their own coil wires, but generally, coils are replaced as a whole. Vape coils are responsible for heating the e-juice to produce vapour, so maintaining them by guarding against burnout with priming and choosing suitable PG/VG ratio juices is always recommended.
All parts of a vape depend on the battery in order to be powered up. Vape devices may use one of three types of batteries: disposable (typically found in cig-a-likes), integrated (built into the device and usually lithium-ion) and removable (rechargeable batteries). Some vapes have been designed to run on common AA batteries, but this is not the norm.
It’s important to remember that different vape models will have different battery requirements, so always check with the manufacturer’s guidelines to make sure you are using the right battery and charger. You may also be given the option to pick between manual and automatic batteries when browsing devices. Automatic batteries will power up without the prompting of a button, i.e., the device will activate when it detects an inhale.
Manual batteries require you to manually turn the device on by clicking a button. Manual batteries are usually larger and therefore have more power and longer lifespans than automatic batteries. However, automatic batteries also tend to have auto-shut off options which can lead to less charging overall.
Vape chargers come in several varieties. For vapes with integrated batteries, they are usually charged via USB chargers. External batteries that can be removed will need to be placed in a power bank — this is a sort of battery holder that recharges the batteries once plugged into a power socket. In some cases, it is possible to charge external batteries via a USB port on the device. Some key things to remember when charging vape batteries include:
- Always ensure the charge on each battery is level, i.e., both are 100% charged, rather than having one at 50% and one at 100%.
- Never use damaged batteries.
- If the battery heats up or feels hot while recharging, dispose of it.
- Do not use a USB charger that was not supplied specifically for charging your vape device and always purchase spare batteries or chargers from a reputable manufacturer, ensuring device compatibility.
- Store batteries at temperatures between 40 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
What are the Parts of a Vape Also Used in Heated Tobacco?
Some of the parts found in vapes are also found in heated tobacco devices. There is a battery and heating element, but there is no tank or atomizer as no liquid is needed. A heated tobacco device uses a base device and a tobacco stick loaded with real tobacco leaf. To use, you insert the tobacco stick into the base and wait for the device to warm up. Once used, you can dispose of the tobacco stick. Learn more about IQOS, the number one heated tobacco product in the UK*, right here.
Important information: IQOS is not risk-free and provides nicotine, which is addictive.
*Source: Nielsen data as of September 2020, which encapsulates “smoke-free” product categories - e-cigarettes (hardware and consumables).