Types of vape
Beginners to vaping often feel overwhelmed and confused by the types of vapes available on the market today. Even veterans can get confused when discussing the variety of vape pens, box mods, and devices designed to cater to particular substances or vaping styles. You are not alone in your confusion.
Below, the vaping experts explain the variety of devices you can find when shopping for a vape. These explanations are fantastic for helping you narrow down your choices when shopping for your first vape (or even a second or third device). By the time you're done reading, you'll be a bit of an expert yourself.
How to VapeOf course, before you start looking into different kinds of vapes, it's helpful to understand what you need to vape. There are three primary components you have to vape:
- Vaporizer battery
- Heating chamber/atomizer
- Vaping substance (for example, e-liquid or cannabis)
It's easy for beginners to buy a device that looks complete but is missing a vital component to function. It is especially true with e-liquid vapes (like box mods), which are regularly sold without an included atomizer (this is the component that vaporizes the e-liquid).
It is why we recommend that beginners start with a vape kit. These kits will have everything you need to begin vaping (aside from your preferred substance), so you won't have any undue delays because you forgot a battery or atomizer.
Dry Herb Vapes and Wax Vapes
Dry herb and wax vapes (often designed for use with marijuana flower or extract) are rarely sold without heating chambers, so the likelihood of you buying a device for either one of these substances and that device lacking a necessary component) is very low. However, you should read the product description carefully or reach out to the manufacturer if you are unsure what else might be needed.
Different Kinds of Vapes
Not only are there different kinds of vapes for specific vaping substances, but there are also different styles of vapes that cater to the same substance. Take a look below to see if there's a specific style or design that catches your eye! Some vaporizers can vape your choice of oil, dry herbs, or wax (with a few attachments and accessories).
Oil vapes (often referred to as e-liquid vapes) are the oldest style of vaporizer available. The majority of oils vapes are designed to use e-liquids that have been infused with nicotine, though there are e-liquids available that are nicotine-free. Oils vapes can also use CBD and THC oils, which we will discuss later in this article.
Direct-to-Lung (DTL) and Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) Vapes
Within oil vapes, you'll see choices that are often labeled as DTL or MTL designs. This means the device is designed with one or two options in mind. DTL means the device is designed to breathe vapor directly from the device into their lungs with no interruption (so it goes straight to your mouth).
Second, MTL vapes are designed for the user to draw vapor into their mouth, hold it, and then inhale it. DTL designs are prevalent with large-capacity atomizers designed for e-liquid vaping since it's much easier to create vast plumes of vapor. MTL designs are usually found with devices designed for more viscous oils, like CBD or THC oils.
Dry Herb Vapes
Dry herb vapes will come in two standard designs: convection or conduction. Conduction vapes use a heating element to make direct contact with your dry herb to vaporize it. Unfortunately, this leads to uneven heating, so unless you want to get a mouthful of ash, you'll need to stir your dry herb occasionally as you vape.
Convection vapes use super-hot air for baking your dry herb, which creates the vapor you can inhale. Convection vapes work just like convection ovens, so heat is distributed evenly throughout the heating chamber. This is an excellent choice if you try to target specific cannabinoids or terpenes or simply want a higher-end vaping experience.
Wax vapes will have a variety of different features, but their core function will be the same. They will have a heating chamber where wax is loaded directly onto heating coils. Those heating coils vaporize the resin, which is then inhaled.
Cannabis and CBD Vapes
With cannabis increasingly becoming more popular and legal throughout the world, cannabis and CBD vapes are rising. There are all kinds of different methods to enjoy your preferred cannabis products, ranging from simple and budget-friendly to powerful, high-end devices with complete suites of features.
THC and CBD Oil Vape Pens
The simplest devices you'll find for cannabis are THC and CBD oil vape pens. These vaporizers will either be preloaded and disposable (like the Firefly Mini) or a permanent battery that attaches to disposable, pre-filled cartridges.
This style of vaporizer is small and discrete, which makes them ideal choices for vaping on the go without drawing attention to yourself. Most CBD or THC vape pens will have some kind of variable heat options, so you can tinker with different oils to see which temperature creates your preferred vapor.
Portable Dry Herb Vaporizers
Portable dry herb vaporizers will usually be bulkier than THC or CBD vape pens. This is because dry herb vapes have a large heating chamber to hold the dry herb, which necessitates a larger size. While you can find dry herb vapes that are extra petite, you'll be trading performance and vapor quality for a more discrete size.
While these devices are typically designed for only dry herbs, some models have attachments available to accommodate e-liquids. These attachments are called dry herb vape tanks, which can be filled with your choice of e-liquid and then inserted into the device's heating chamber.
THC and CBD Wax Vapes
Earlier, we discussed wax vapes, which are growing in popularity among cannabis fans. Wax offers a more concentrated hit in a shorter amount of time, making wax an ideal choice for long-term cannabis fans or those with acute pain. While the availability of THC wax will vary depending on your state or country, CBD waxes are widely available.
What Is a Vape Pen?
A vape pen is a small, portable device that combines a battery with some heating element to produce vapor. While vape pens started with nicotine-infused e-liquids, they are widely used to enjoy THC and CBD oils.
Vape pens offer a unique design advantage over larger, more powerful devices. Since vape pens are so slim and petite, they are easy to travel with and easy to use in public. For vapers that either want or need to use their device throughout the day, vape pens have proven to be a popular choice.
Different Types of Vape Pens
As we've mentioned, there are all kinds of different vape pens you can choose from. Each has its unique advantages and disadvantages, and which one you choose will be based on which fits your expectations the best.
Fixed voltage vape pens do not allow for variable voltages or temperature changes. Usually, entry-level and budget-friendly vape pens will fall into the fixed voltage category. This is especially true of disposable vapes and draw-fire vapes that may have their features stripped down.
Fixed voltage devices are great for beginners or as temporary travel devices. However, the majority of vapers will quickly outgrow a fixed voltage style.
More experienced users that enjoy e-liquid vaping will regularly end up with devices that have sub-ohm tanks. These tanks have electrical resistances of less than 1 ohm, which means electricity can flow extremely easily. When you can get a bunch of power delivered to the atomizer at once, you'll get enormous vapor production, which cloud chasers love.
In the past, sub-ohm tanks were difficult for beginners. The lack of safety features made it easy to fry tanks that weren't designed to take on so much electricity so quickly. However, modern sub-ohm tanks are usually paired with a box mod, which includes a chipset that has automatic safety features to help prevent this kind of damage.
There are some vape pens that can use sub-ohm tanks, but usually, box mods are a better pairing.
Most mid-level vape pens have the option of some kind of variable voltage. You can usually find the option to adjust the voltage at the bottom of the pen via a turn-style switch, or you can adjust the voltage by rapidly pressing the power button once the device is turned on. The higher the voltage, the hotter your vapor will be!
Variable temperature vape pens and variable voltage vape pens are essentially the same, with one minor difference. A variable temperature vape will actually show you temperature options (by degrees), while a variable voltage vape will show you the specific voltage you have chosen.
It's common for e-liquid vape pens to have variable voltage and for dry herb vapes to have a variable temperature, even though the end result is the same. Higher-end vapes will usually have variable temperature options (often with degree-by-degree choices), especially in box mod style vapes.
E-cigarettes are the earliest form of vape pens since vapes were initially designed to stop smoking traditional tobacco. They are made to look and feel like cigarettes, giving them the smallest vaping design currently available.
Since they are so small, e-cigarettes are usually stripped of features. They will almost always feature a draw-fire design (which we will discuss in the next section) and are almost always disposable.
Draw-Fire Vape Pens
Draw-fire vape pens don't have any physical buttons and usually lack any kind of variable temperature features. Instead, the device powers when the use begins to draw in air, creating vapor in real-time. When the device is no longer in use, it will automatically shut off. You can find draw-fire vape pens in both traditional and disposable designs.
While many vapes use a 510 threaded connection to use oil cartridges, pod vapes offer a different solution. Most pod vapes will use proprietary "pods" pre-filled with e-liquid, which are then placed into a specific kind of vaping device. These devices are very user-friendly, making them popular among beginner vapers.
A pod vape's design offers unique drawbacks and benefits. Since the design is proprietary, only certain pods will work within a specific pod device (usually, both the pods and the vaporizer are made by the same company or brand). This will significantly limit your ability to choose an e-liquid that might be right for you, as you will be limited to what the manufacturer has selected to produce.
However, a unique benefit of pod vapes is that they often come in unique designs not typically seen in the vaping world. If you want to vape and don't want people to recognize your device as a vaporizer, a pod device may be precisely what you're looking for.
Traditional Vape Pen
Most vaping beginners are familiar with the traditional vape pen design. It features a cylindrical battery that uses 510 threading to connect to oil cartridges. These cartridges are typically disposable, though refillable 510-skinny cartridges are available for those that don't mind the refilling process.
Finally, one of the most popular vaping devices is box mods. Box mods have a large-capacity battery and all kinds of different features, including precision heating options. They are compatible with a wide range of attachments and vape tanks, making them a popular choice for experienced vapers.
What are the Common Characteristics of a Vape Pen?
Keep in mind that vape pens will vary depending on what brand you get, but most vape pens share common qualities. Knowing the common factors will help you to notice devices that don't quite fit the mold, which may make them a better (or worse) fit for your vaping needs.
All vape pens have a battery. Usually, that battery is separate from the other components (though not always). The battery provides power to other components to produce vapor, and most vape pens have batteries that can be recharged. There are exceptions, like disposable vapes, that are generally designed to be thrown away instead of recharged.
Disposable vapes, draw-fire vapes, and pod vapes often have a battery that can't be separated from the other components. This makes it easier to use these vapes, but it will limit what attachments or cartridges can be used with them.
Cartridge or Tank
The tank (with the atomizer inside) is what holds and vaporizes your e-liquid or oils. Often called cartridges, they usually attach to the vape pen via a 510 threaded connection, though some devices don't allow for external attachments (especially disposable vapes or pod vapes).
Cartridges can be prefilled or refillable, but if you're using your vape pen to enjoy CBD or THC oil, they'll almost always be prefilled. If you enjoy vaping e-liquids, you'll usually have a choice of prefilled or refillable attachments.
Finally, the mouthpiece will attach directly to the cartridge, which is where you will draw vapor that is created inside the atomizer. Many mouthpieces come pre-attached to cartridges (especially if you are using prefilled options), but many will allow you to replace and customize mouthpiece options.
Are Vape Pens a Good Fit For You?
Vape pens can be convenient, easy-to-use options for vapers, but that doesn't mean they're a good fit for everyone. Consider the following general pros and cons of vape pens to try and determine whether or not they'll be a good fit for your vaping needs:
- Easy to travel with
- Often lack advanced features (like precision heating control)
- Vape juice capacity is often small compared to options like box mods
- Very few quality choices for dry herb vaping (most vape pens are for e-liquids, oils, or concentrates)
- Lack a removable battery
- Usually do not have replacement parts available (so if a component fails, you'll have to replace the entire device)
What is a Cig-a-Like
Cig-a-likes are the most basic kinds of vape pens you'll find. They are usually the size of a cigarette (and often designed to look like a cigarette as much as possible). If you're new to the vaping scene, you may not have seen a cig-a-like before, but veterans will be familiar. The first commercially successful vapes were cig-a-likes, though they've dipped in popularity.
Cig-a-like devices essentially have one goal: look like a cigarette. This makes them the most discreet form of vaping available since these devices are often indistinguishable from real cigarettes at a distance.
What are the Different Types of Cig-a-Likes
Since cig-a-likes are basic devices, you'll only find two real variations of these vapes: disposable and refillable. Disposable cig-a-likes have been around since the beginning of modern vaping and are still easy to find today in gas stations and grocery stores.
Refillable cig-a-likes are newer and allow users who want the convenience of a tiny vaping device without the extra expense of buying disposable devices. Most vapers who are interested in refillable devices will eventually move towards vapes with more robust features that still allow for public use without drawing unwanted attention.
What are the Typical Characteristics of a Cig-a-Like?
Whether you're using a disposable or refillable cig-a-like, the basic anatomy will be pretty similar across brands. It will also be similar to a standard vape pen, with a few minor designs and feature differences.
Starting at the far tip, cig-a-likes usually have an LED light that shines when a hit is being taken. This serves two purposes. The first is that it allows the vaper to know that the device is on and heating vape juice. The second is that it helps complete the illusion that the device has been lit (since the LED looks like the lit end of a traditional cigarette).
The battery on a cig-a-like is very small (similar to watch batteries). You won't be able to open a cig-a-like to replace it (even on a refillable model). However, since the power needs are so low, you'll still get decent life out of a reusable cig-a-like model.
The cartomizer (which is the component that does the vaporizing) is next and contains the microprocessor and heating elements that allow the cig-a-like to create vapor. Disposable cig-a-likes often have the cartomizer and tank as a single unit to save on space, while refillable options will still connect to a cartridge like a traditional vape pen.
Finally, the mouthpiece is on the opposite side of the LED light. When you're ready for a hit, just take a draw from the mouthpiece, and a cig-a-like will use its draw-fire function to immediately begin to create vapor. It makes it easy to start and stop vaping, though the vapor production will pale in comparison to larger vape pens or box mods.
Is a Cig-A-Like a Good Fit for Me?
A cig-a-like offers a unique vaping experience when compared to other devices. While this unique experience is a draw for some, there are many who will not enjoy using this kind of device. If you're trying to decide if a cig-a-like is a good fit for your vaping needs, take a look at the pros and cons below:
- Extremely easy to use (most are draw-fire activated with no adjustable features)
- Discreet (designed to look like a cigarette, ideal for not drawing attention to yourself)
- Safe to use
- Limited vapor production
- Lack of features to customize the vaping experience
- Very small e-liquid capacity (will produce less vapor and run out more quickly)
What Are the Different Kinds of Box Mods?
Even within box mods, you'll find a vast variety of device choices. Some of the differences are subtle, while others create a unique vaping experience entirely.
Squonk mods offer a unique vaping design not found in any other kind of device. The vape tank is located in the body of the boxy mod and is made with soft, squishy silicone. When the device is powered on, the user squeezes the tank, which forces a rush of e-liquid onto the heating coils.
It makes an enormous amount of vapor at once, which can easily overwhelm beginner vapers. However, squonk mods are a popular choice among cloud-chasers since so much vapor is produced so quickly.
Mods with Rebuildable Atomizers (RBA)
Some box mods use vape tanks that are not designed to be opened and customized. Others use RBAs, which are designed to be opened and have internal components replaced or exchanged. They are far more work-intensive than standard vape tanks because you have to make your coils, install them, and insert a wick of your choosing.
What Are the Best Types of Vape?
There isn't an objective "best type of vape" since whether or not someone sees a particular device as good will be dependent on whether the features and functions included match specific vaping needs. In general, dry herb vapes that use convection heating and fully loaded box mods offer the complete vaping experience, but they may not fit the needs of all vapers.
It is especially true for those who need devices that are travel-friendly, budget-friendly, or discrete.
Choosing a Vape That Works Best for You
The best way to choose the vape that's best for you is to take time to consider what kind of vape would best meet your needs. If you're unsure where to start, considering asking yourself the following questions:
- What's my budget?
- What features are must-haves for me?
- What substance do I want to vape?
- Do I plan on vaping while on the go?
Take time to ask yourself these questions. It will narrow down your choices to specific styles (and maybe even specific brands) of vapes, making the process of choosing a device much more effortless.
Taking Care of Your Vape
Once you've chosen a vape and have it in hand, you need to be sure to take care of it. Make sure you:
- Store it at room temperature (NEVER leave it in your car)
- Do not store dry herbs or wax in the heating chamber.
- Leave vapes upright to avoid leaks or spills.
- Replace aging components before they fail.
These simple steps are a great way to get the most out of a vaping device!
Which types of vape is suitable for you?
There's a lot to consider when choosing a type of vape, so it's essential to take your time deciding. After all, don't you want to have an ideal device on the first buy? If you're considering a dry herb vaporizer, then take a look at the Firefly 2+. It's easy to use, offers a ton of features (including precision heating), and uses convection heating to create excellent vapor!
Thinking about a disposable THC vape pen? You'll be hard-pressed to find a better choice than the Firefly Mini. It comes preloaded with various strains and offers an incredible aesthetic design, uncommon among disposable vapes.