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How Do Electronic Cigarettes Work?

E-cigarettes generally work by heating a liquid solution into a fine mist, or vapour. This process requires a number of components such as a battery, a container for the liquid and a heating element.

The Battery

Batteries have seen huge improvements in recent years and modern versions of the electronic cigarette have batteries capable of lasting many hours before requiring a recharge. Just like other e-cigarette components, batteries have a limited life span, but can usually sustain around 300 or more charges before needing to be replaced.

A typical battery:
A typical Electronic Cigarette battery

The liquid Container (Tank or Cartridge)

The container that holds the e-cigarette liquid (e-liquid) is known as the Cartridge or Tank. In addition to holding the e-liquid, the Cartridge provides a mouthpiece for the user. Traditionally cartridges held only a small amount of e-liquid but newer models tend to hold more and have moved towards using the name 'tank', rather than cartridge.

A typical cartridge or tank:
A typical Electronic Cigarette cartridge

The Heating Element (Atomiser or Atomizer)

The heating element is known as the Atomiser (or Atomizer) and is responsible for heating and vapourising the liquid into the fine mist that's inhaled. The vapour looks just like traditional cigarette smoke but without the bad smell.

A typical Atomiser:
A typical Electronic Cigarette Atomiser

Combined Tank and Atomiser (Cartomiser or Cartomizer)

Some units combine the tank and atomizer into one single unit. These units are known as Cartomisers (or Cartomizers).

A typical Cartomiser:
A typical Electronic Cigarette Cartomiser

The liquid (e-liquid)

E-Liquid is one of the wonderful aspects of using an e-cigarette as you can choose from many different flavours and nicotine strengths to suit your own personal taste. E-liquid comes in high, medium, low and even zero nicotine strengths, so you can even choose to reduce your nicotine intake over time to help you beat the smoking habit completely - while still enjoying the smoking experience.

Click here for a guide to e-liquid strengths

Electronic Cigarette Kits

Most e-cigarettes can be purchased as a kit, with everything that you need to get started 1. Most kits will include at least one full e-cigarette battery, atomiser and charger.

1 To give you more choice, liquids are usually available as an additional purchase
Typical Electronic Cigarette Kit