How Electronic Cigarettes Work
Basically, all brands of electronic cigarettes consist of 2 to 3 main parts: a battery, an atomizer & cartridge, or a cartomizer.
The batteries are powerful, and compact, rechargeable lithium ion. Each cell uses either a protection circuit or utilizes safe chemistry (IMR) to prevent and avoid failures. Most e-cigarettes are controlled by a microprocessor in the battery compartment which regulates draw cutoff time, LED activation, and protects the battery from atomizer shorts. The LED can be located on the activation button or at the tip of the device and informs the user when the battery needs a charge and when the device is in use. Battery life is estimated using the milliamp hour rating(Mah) and can range anywhere between 90mah and 3400mah. Each battery is typically rated to have a useful life span of approx 300 charge cycles. E-cigarette batteries come in two configurations, automatic and manual. An automatic battery utilizes a pressure sensor which detects when the user starts to draw on the device and automatically activates the atomizer. Manual batteries require the user to depress and hold a button while taking a draw. Manual devices are far more common, and typically more reliable than automatic devices. Some of the more advanced e-cigarettes have built in converters that allow the user to change the voltage or wattage output.
The atomizer can be considered the heart of an e-cigarette and its function is to heat e-liquid, turning it into vapour. An atomizer requires a seperate tank or cartridge that contains e-liquid. While there are many types of atomizers they all have the same basic arcitecture. Two basic parts make up every atomizer, a silica wick and a heating coil. E-liquid saturates the silica wick which is in direct contact with the heating coil. When the device is activated, power flows from the battery into the coil, heating it up and vapourizing the liquid in the wick. As the user draws on the device air flows in from intakes to mix with the vapour which is then inhaled. Cartomizers or clearomizers work in the same way as an atomizer, however, instead of having a seperate tank feeding the coil, liquid is stored in a built in resevoir. Cartomizers are simply a combination of both an atomizer and a cartridge, hense the name. Clearomizers are simply a cartomizer that has a clear container allowing the user to view the amount of liquid in the unit.
E-liquid is comprised of 3 or 4 ingredients; Propylene Glycol(PG), Vegitable Glycerin(VG), food grade flavourings, and can contain nicotine. Each component of e-liquid has been individually approved for human consumption by the FDA and Health Canada.