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Vaping – The ‘Science’ Bit. Brush up on Your Physics.

How Vaping Works

We all know people who are making the switch from cigarettes to vaping.  You have probably been considering making the move yourself which is why you are reading my blog. While there are many good beginner devices out there as well as some high-end style accessories, it’s also a good idea to know how they work – remember you’re powering up and heating something that runs on electricity, then putting it in your mouth, so it’d make sense to know what you’re doing.

The main parts of a standard e-cigarette are a mouthpiece or drip tip, a cartridge (tank), a heating element or atomizer, which is sometimes accompanied by a clearomizer, and a battery. An atomizer will contain a coil, which is powered by the battery. When in use, this coil heats up and warms the e-liquid. Once the liquid is hot enough – between 100 and 250C – it reaches vaporization point and turns into the vapour you see coming out of e-cigarettes.

woman smoking or vaping an electronic cigarette to quit tobacco

Atomizers have a soft wick on them that absorb the liquid and regulate how much liquid is allowed near the coil in one go.
This ensures that there isn’t too much vapour being produced and the liquid burns at a reasonable rate, so you can have more time to vape before needing to refill. This may sound similar to smoking a water pipe, or hookah, but it isn’t – in a hookah, a burned mixture of tobacco and molasses is drawn through water to cool the smoke, while the technology behind e-cigarettes doesn’t burn anything.
Hookah pens do work like vapes, as they vaporise liquids and don’t involve burning.

All vapers should have knowledge of how resistance and Ohm’s Law works.

ohms law and vaping

An understanding of the relationship between voltage, current and resistance is vital for those who want to use devices where you can adjust the settings. Starting with the basics – an electric current flows when charged particles (electrons) move through a conductor. These moving electrons can collide with the atoms of the conductor, which makes it more difficult for the current to flow and causes resistance. Electrons collide with atoms more often in a long wire than they do in a short wire, and a thin wire has fewer electrons to carry the current than a thick wire. This means that the resistance in a wire increases as the length of the wire increases, and the thickness of the wire decreases. As for Ohms Law – resistance is measured in ohms, and the symbol for an ohm is Ω . The greater the number of ohms, the greater the resistance. In other words, the current flowing through a resistor at a constant temperature is directly proportional to the voltage across the resistor.So if you double the voltage, the current also doubles – and this is the basic principle of Ohms Law.

How does Physics Apply to Vaping?

– The atomizer powering the vapor production on a vape is a heating coil, which works because electrical resistance (the energy lost to the ‘friction’ on the circuit) creates heat, which can be seen as ‘waste’ energy. Some may think a higher resistance atomizer will produce more heat and therefore more vapour, but it’s the power that is most important. The resistance in the atomizer converts a proportion of the energy flowing through the system into heat, so while a higher proportion is good, it’s more important to have a higher amount of energy flowing through the system. With electrons flowing through the wire at a greater rate, this results in them colliding with other atoms and encountering resistance. This is why power (the wattage) is the most important measure of how much vapour you’ll get from your device.

The best vapour production comes from a low resistance with a high voltage – but it’s important to remember that increasing energy in this way means the atomizer will wear out more quickly. Vapers should also pay attention to the maximum wattage their vapes can go up to – as it’s maxing these out that results in exploded devices. In other words, if you supercharge an electrical device, it’ll probably explode. It’s not rocket science.  So now you understand the physics bit you can decide how safe vaping will be for you and as with most things in this life, the more you know the better.  I guess that as vaping becomes more and more part of our lives all products will need to display clearly all these scientific details.


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