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Electronic Cigarette Components

Diagram of an E Cigarette

Find Out What An E Cigarette Is
The electronic cigarette is mainly made of three to four main components that when put together make the e cigarette. This page looks at the different components individually, their separate mechanisms, uses and safety.

Main Components 
The main components of an electronic cigarette are: 

Cartridge

(also known as filter, tank, drip tip)

Atomizer

(also known as burner, vaporizer, atty)

Cartomizer

(also known as clearomizer)

Power Source

(also know as battery)


1. The Cartridge Component

CartridgesThe cartridge component of the electronic cigarette is the end piece that electronic cigarette users (vapers) place in their mouth to inhale the nicotine vapour. There are several versions of cartridges that are bespoke to individual types of ecigarettes however their function is the same. The various forms of cartridges are listed below: 

a) Cloth Filled Cartridges – These can be pre-filled with cloth and soaked with nicotine e liquid. Some come as sealed cartridges which need to be disposed of when the e liquid has gone. Some are open ended and only require the cloth to be replaced and e liquid dripped on to it. 

b) Tank Cartridges – These cartridges have a cylinder shaped compartment that is filled up with nicotine e liquid. E Liquid drips out of the end of the tank cartridge onto the atomizer. Tank cartridges do not require any cloth and hold pure e liquid. 

c) Filter Tips – These are simply mouthpieces that attach to the clearomizer of the electronic cigarette and allow vapers to inhale the vapour through them. They come in all types of shapes and sizes such as round, flat and oval. 

Safety Aspects of Cartridges
Cartridges in all their forms are safe and offer no adverse effects to human being if used correctly. 


2. The Atomizer Component

AtomizersThe atomizer is usually located mid section of the electronic cigarette and is the vapour making part of the e-cigarette. An atomizer is made up of a heating element; these coil elements can be made from metal, ceramic or nickel. The atomizer heats the coil using power from the attached battery and when the e-liquid drops onto the coil it vapourises allowing users to inhale the nicotine e liquid in vapour form, this is then exhaled. There are various forms of atomizers such as: 

Low Resistance (LR) – These burn at a hotter state than normal atomizers and create more of a hit for the ecig user as well as creating more vapour. The only issue with the LR atomizer is that its performance life is a lot less than a traditional one because of the heat it burns at, usually LR atty’s will only last a from 2-4 weeks working at optimum power before they start to deteriorate. 

Standard Atomizers – Non LR atomizers come in different forms such as 510’s, 801’s, 901’s. The difference between these atomizers is their shape, size and type of burning effect. Some are focused on producing more of a hit; some are designed to produce a smoother vape experience. 

Safety Aspects of Atomizers
The atomizer component of the electronic cigarette can have some negative health aspects depending on the type of metal used for the heating coil. Concerns have been raised about nickel and metal coils that are heated and this metal or nickel content getting into the lungs of the vaper (ecigarette user). A ceramic based atomizer gets round this safety concern but ceramic atomizers are still in development stage and are not so easy to get hold of. Although it seems all the metals & their compounds leeched by juices (from the atomizer) appear to get deposited on the hot coil, rather than significantly in the vapour. 


3. The Cartomizer Component

CartomizersThe cartomizer is essentially an atomizer and a cartridge combined into one single unit that comes either as a sealed unit (disposable) or as a refillable unit such as a ‘clearomizer’ (another new term for a styled wick feeding cartomizer). Clearomizers have a reputation of offering consistent flavour and vapour making ability. Today cartomizers are dismantlable allowing vapers to simply change various parts of the clearomizer instead of a full replacement. There are various types of cartomizers such as: 

Dual Coil – These types of cartomizers have two heating coils as opposed to one coil in traditional ones. The addition of an extra heating coil offers a stronger hit and a higher amount of vapour. 

Polyfill – A vertical heating coil surrounded by layers of gauze with a vertical wick, polyfill cartomizers are durable and can take high amount of heat. These were the original cartomizers and are still used today because of their long lasting performance. 

Wick Feeding – A wick feeding cartomizer (clearomizer) has the heating coil located close to the actual cartridge at the top and has a long wick placed over the horizontal heating coil, the wick extends into the plastic or glass encasing were the e liquid is held and absorbs the liquid. The coil heats the wick and vapourises the liquid. 

Gravity feeding – One of the safest cartomizers on the market as it does not need fibreglass or solder and relies on gravity to pull the e liquid down onto a small wick that sticks up into the cartomizer liquid holder. 

Tank – A large e liquid tank with a traditional pollyfill cartomizer in the middle. E Liquid is fed from the tank into the cartomizer through a little hole. 

Safety Aspects For Cartomizers
The only safety concerns related to cartomizers have raised around the use of fibreglass and solder in some cartmomizers, other than that no safety concerns have raised or recorded. 


4. The Battery Component

BatteriesThe battery component of the electronic cigarette powers the atomizer enabling the transformation of e liquid into vapour. Originally most ecigarette batteries were lead acid, alkaline, Ni-Cad (Nickel-Cadmium), and Lithium. Currently Ni-MH (Nickel Metal Hydride), LiIon (Lithium-Ion), and Li-poly (Lithium-Polymer) batteries. The lithium-ion rechargeable battery is the main one currently in use and does not require excessive charging initially, it delivers a high amount of power and for safety reasons should always have a cut off mechanism to avoid instant discharges of the battery. 

Safety Aspects For Batteries
There have been a few incidents of vapers being harmed through the use of cheap and faulty batteries, that for one reason or another failed to cut off and allowed instant discharge of the power causing hand burns. 


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