Vaping devices have improved rapidly over the years. In that time, they’ve evolved from expensive and fairly unreliable contraptions into small, simple, dependable and user-friendly consumer products. While today’s vape kits look much the same as any other piece of consumer electronics, though, they’re actually much more complex than they appear on the surface.
A vaping device consists of several different hardware components including a battery, a logic board, one or more integrated circuits, a heating element, a wick, a tank, firmware code and more – and all of those components need to work together in order for a vaping device to function.
So, why is it useful to understand how a vape works? If your vaping device isn’t functioning as it should, understanding how it works can give you a starting point toward fixing the problem. Even if you never experience a problem, though, you still might like to know how your vape works simply because it’s interesting.
In this article, we’re going to walk you through the operation of a vaping device from start to finish. You’re going to learn about all of the parts of a vaping device and how they interact with one another. By the time you reach the end, you’ll understand exactly what’s happening when you puff on your vape.
How a Vaping Device Works
The main body of a vaping device consists of four main components. We’ll start with an overview of those components before describing how a vape device works in greater detail.
- The battery: The battery cell provides the power necessary for the device to operate. A vaping device uses a lithium-ion cell, which is either removable or permanently soldered to the device’s logic board.
- The logic board and integrated circuit: These components manage the operation of your vaping device, including the monitoring of the battery and the delivery of power from the battery to the heating coil. They also manage the device’s safety features.
- The charging circuitry: These components manage the delivery of power to the battery through the device’s USB port. They ensure that the battery receives power at a specific amperage, and they also stop the charging cycle when the battery is full.
So, what happens when you use your vaping device? Depending on its design, your vape either has a manual fire button or an automatic puff sensor – so the device turns on when you puff on it or when you hold the button. When you do that, the device’s safety circuit engages. Depending on the device you’re using, your vape may have a variety of sensors that check the device’s internal temperature, the current voltage of the battery, the resistance of the connected atomizer and more. If a condition exists that would make your vape unsafe to use, the device should shut down and either blink or display an error message on the screen.
If everything is normal, your device will produce vapour; we’ll explain how that process works in the next section of this article. This continues until the device’s battery is dead, and at that point, you’ll need to connect your vape to your computer to charge the battery.
How a Vape Tank or Pod Works
Although the main body of a vape controls the device’s operation and manages its safety parameters, the tank or pod is the component that actually produces the vapour. No component of your vaping device has a greater effect on flavour quality or vapour production. That means buying a new vape tank or switching to a different pod system can have a tremendous impact on your overall vaping experience. Here’s an overview of the main components in a vape tank or pod.
- The interface: This is the component that allows the tank or pod to connect to the main body of the device. Vape tanks typically connect via screw-like threads, whereas pods are usually magnetic. Power transfers from the battery to the tank or pod through a copper pin that’s sometimes gold plated.
- The reservoir: The reservoir stores the vape juice in the tank or pod and uses silicone gaskets to prevent leaking.
- The airflow system: The airflow system allows air to enter through the tank or pod’s intake vents and leave through the mouthpiece.
- The wick: The wick and the heating element are the two components that make up the atomizer coil assembly at the bottom of the tank or pod. The wick allows e-liquid to pass from the reservoir to the heating element. It also manages the flow of vape juice to prevent e-liquid from leaking out through the tank or pod’s intake vents.
- The heating element: The heating element is a coil of resistance wire or a strip of metal mesh that becomes hot when power passes through it, turning the e-liquid to vapour.
Now that you know the main components of a vape tank or pod, it’s time to learn how those components work together. When you fill a tank or pod, the e-liquid travels from the reservoir to the heating element by absorbing through the wick. When you’re using a new pod or atomizer coil for the first time, it can take several minutes for the wick to become completely saturated. After that happens, you’re ready to vape.
As we mentioned above, the wick in your device’s tank or pod is responsible for transporting vape juice from the reservoir to the heating element. The wick traps the e-liquid against the element. When you vape, the element vaporizes the e-liquid held in the inner portion of the wick, and the wick becomes dry in the process. With the wick now dry, more e-liquid travels from the reservoir to the heating element through absorption. Over time, this decreases the volume of vape juice in the reservoir. When the e-liquid no longer touches the wick openings on the side of the coil assembly, it’s time to refill the tank or pod.
Eventually, residue from your e-liquid will begin to collect on your device’s heating element. That will reduce your device’s flavour quality, causing a burnt taste. When your device’s flavour is no longer acceptable, you’ll need to replace the atomizer coil or pod.
How a Disposable Vape Works
Disposable vapes need their own section in this guide on how vapes work because they don’t store their e-liquid in reservoirs. Instead of having a reservoir, a disposable vape has a large cotton or synthetic wick that’s wrapped around the heating element. The wick stores the device’s entire e-liquid supply, and it manages the delivery of vape juice to the heating element through the process of absorption. When you use the device, the inner section of the wick dries out and is then replenished from the outside of the wick.