What Is a Vape Pen? *
A vape pen is an electronic cigarette, or more precisely a type of electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS). They can look like a cigarette, a small flashlight or a pen, which is why they are often called e-pens.
The small pen-shaped devices are called vape pens because a battery-powered atomizer in the device vaporizes a liquid containing nicotine into a mist or aerosol using heat. That aerosol is then inhaled. Vape pens are often used as an alternative to cigarettes, hookah or other forms of smoking tobacco products. They are also very portable and easy to use. Most vape pens can be reused many times, but some are disposable.
Some people have used the ENDS devices to cut back on or quit smoking, though definitive research isn’t available on the effectiveness of using them to quit smoking. Most people use vape pens believing them to be safer than smoking tobacco. Whether this is true is up for debate and research. If using the pens to reduce or quit tobacco, you can progressively lessen the nicotine content in the e-liquid you use, which is one of the benefits of using an ENDS device.
What Is Vaping Liquid? *
Vaping liquid contains a propylene glycol and glycerin base that contains nicotine extracts. The liquids contain varying amounts of nicotine and some have none at all, depending on what the consumer selects. It might also contain other additives, coloring and flavoring. The propylene glycol base of the liquid is GRAS, generally recognized as safe, by the FDA and EPA. According to The American Lung Association, over 7700 flavors are available for consumers, but little to no regulation is in place to know the safety of all of the ingredients used.
Many recipes can be found on the Internet to make your own vaping liquid. If you choose to use a recipe, make sure you measure precisely and follow the directions. You should also choose a recipe that has a lot of feedback on its safety and effectiveness. Adding too much liquid nicotine can be very harmful, so use caution with the amount and care when measuring. The benefits of making your own include reducing the risk of contaminants, using only quality ingredients, and eliminating unnecessary additives.
How to Use a Vape Pen *
You’ll need a vape pen, a charger for it and e-liquid to start. Purchase your products from a reputable seller with quality ingredients. Look at reviews and ask around for suggestions to help find quality supplies. With a market flooded with over 500 brands and little regulation, starting out with a quality product will give you a better and safer experience using a vape pen. Local tobacco shops and hookah bars might be a good place to start when researching brands of ENDS and e-liquids to use.
- Make sure your vape pen is charged and unplugged before beginning. Many have a USB charger for the battery. A fully charged pen will work better and allow you to use all of the liquid without the battery running out.
- Unscrew the tank that holds the liquid from the mouthpiece. If you’re unsure of how to do this, your pen should have some basic instructions to help identify the different parts. The mouthpiece should unscrew easily.
- Pour the e-liquid into the reservoir, filling it to the desired level. Avoid getting any in the center area of the tank. Pouring it slowly down the side works best. Always wash your hands right away with soap and water if you spill any on you.
- Holding the tank upright so the liquid doesn’t spill, screw the mouthpiece back on and make sure it is tight.
- Turn on the device. Your vape pen is now ready to use. Some only require you to inhale to activate it. Others might have a button to push for activation. You can then inhale and exhale from it as you would if you were smoking.
Before using your vape pen, make sure you understand the amount of nicotine in the liquid you have and the proper dosages. Using too much nicotine can cause nausea, vomiting and even strokes. It’s also important to regulate your use as you would with a tobacco product. Nicotine, even when vaped, is still addictive. Though some reports suggest that nicotine isn’t as harmful when used in vaping suggesting it is the chemicals in tobacco and additives to it that are carcinogens, you should still use caution on dosage amounts and avoid excessive use.
If you have any medical condition or are taking medications, you should speak to a medical professional before using a vape pen to avoid complications or contraindications with prescription medications. If you’re pregnant or have a lung condition like asthma or COPD, you should avoid inhaling an y substance. The aerosol can irritate the lungs and cause asthma attacks in some people.
Local Laws on Vape Pens *
After learning how to use a vape pen, it’s also important to learn your local laws regarding their use. Many countries, states and cities have added vaping to their “no smoking” regulations or are considering laws regarding the use of e-pens. Knowing these laws can prevent any fines for using your e-pen in public places. You can always use them in your car, home or places like hookah bars and tobacco shops.
Laws are being changed in part due to the exposure to secondhand aerosol. The secondhand aerosol can contain nicotine, carcinogens and heavy metals. It also has ultrafine particles that can irritate and damage the lungs. Secondhand exposure might be harmful to people with asthma, breathing difficulties, pregnant women and children. When you use a vape pen, be respectful of others and your local ordinances.
The Safety of Vaping *
There are some safety concerns when using e-cigarettes of any kind. Some organizations, like the ALA, have expressed concern over the ingredients in the liquids. Because studies have found harmful chemicals in some e-liquids, they are often being labeled as harmful. Supporters of vaping claim that e-pens are safer than smoking, contain less carcinogens and the aerosol is safer than secondhand smoke. Despite the controversy and varying opinions and research, there are some legitimate concerns on what is in vape liquids.
- At least 10 of 65 carcinogens and reproductive toxins have been found in and might be present in vaping juice. Some studies have found evidence of formaldehyde and antifreeze, as well, in samplings of vaping products. Regulations and quality control standards can reduce the exposure to these toxins. Until then, always choose quality products and look at ingredients carefully.
- Flavoring additives haven’t been tested for safety as an inhaled substance. While safe as an edible, some reports are questioning the safety of these additions for vaping. There is also some concern that the additives, like bubble gum flavor, are targeting children.
- An increase in nicotine poisoning has been reported by the CDC and is associated with vape pens. This could be due to inaccurate dosing claims, people overusing the ENDS devices, or the fact that many people continue to also smoke cigarettes and vape. Whatever the cause, you can avoid this by being careful with your dosage and spacing out vaping sessions.
- Vaping, because the liquid contains nicotine, can become addictive. Addictions of any kind can lead to several problems, like financial issues, health problems and severe withdrawal symptoms. If you are not a current user of tobacco products, it’s important to understand that addiction can result in beginning any nicotine product, including vape pens.
As with any product, do your research and make an educated decision on the safety before using a vaping device. If you use nicotine in other forms, such as hookah or cigarettes, then use an e-pen with caution to avoid overdosing on nicotine.