- Several people have asked me about my e-cigarettes. Indeed, they were a very popular topic of conversation at Vicky & Ryan’s wedding. There’s a few reasons why they kick ass:
- They’re very popular wherever anyone takes them, as they represent a new way to do an old drug. The meeting of technology and consciousness altering. Total conversation piece. Even children will ask to see your e-cigarette.
- The “smoke” doesn’t stink up a place; it doesn’t even hurt your eyeballs if a thick cloud goes into them.
- It’s not even smoke. It’s vapor. Like what comes off your soup when you cook it on your stove.
- None of the added chemicals. People on nicotine gum and the patch will insist it’s 100% safe because all of the dangers are in the smoking process. Regardless of whether this is actually true or not, the same thing applies to e-cigarettes.
- Renowned director John Waters says it’s ridiculous to not smoke in a movie, and that you should do it anyway to keep ushers employed
- Location, location, location: Do what you want, where you want.
- Push social boundaries: E-cigarettes are a way to flick off the current cultural trend of persecuting smokers, by finding a way to smoke that doesn’t make people whine about the perceived harm of secondhand smoke [which is less than the harm of living in a populated area, and is not harmful enough to trigger OSHA protections].
I enjoyed smoking my e-cigarette in museums and restaurants during the wedding weekend. Of course, you shouldn’t call it smoking. It’s vaping, as in vaporizing. No smoke is produced — only vapor (which can look like smoke, especially in high-glycerine mixes). No tobacco is ignited. In fact, nothing is ignited. No oxygen is burned. This evades almost all smoking bans in the country. This also reduces the risk of accidentally burning your house down. You could safely do this in your bed, if you were so strangely inclined.
If you're lucky, and carefully follow my advice, you can be almost as cool as me.
It’s way more expensive up front. But like most investments, it takes money to save money. In the end, you can get your nicotine for much cheaper than the cost of cigarettes. Smoking destroys 90% of nicotine; it never reaches your bloodstream. Vaping does not. Even if the nicotine were the same price, you’d still possibly be spending 10 times less, simply because you’re not destroying 90% of your nicotine.
I first went to E-Cigarette-Forum and read the forums for many hours. In the end, I learned a lot, but I also suffered from the “500 people screaming 500 different things”. I finally opted for the DSE901 mini e-cig. We now have 2 in use, and enjoy them both. It’s small, and is a bit more work to get vapor from than some larger models. But its parts are cheap. The “Ferrari” of the e-smoking world is The Screwdriver. If you want that, you’re going to have to skip all my DSE901-specific advice below. But my liquid nicotine and flavoring advice still applies. The DSE901 is very small; about the size of a pen. That’s what *I* like about it:
This is what you want. This is what you get.
The Clint Way
I also opted for the method which maximizes drug per dollar, maximizes creativity and freedom, and minimizes environmental impact. In other words, I’m doing my own refills, and mixing my own flavors. This makes things harder, but way more fun and individualistic. It’s the Clint way.
There are a few things that you need to truly be set up for all situations. Basically, you need
- the vaporizer (atomizer)
- the drug.
- Optional: your own flavors.
First things first: The atomizer:
- The e-cigarette itself: The atomizer. A good price is $7. You want to have 2 on hand at all times, as heavy vapers will apparently go through these in a few weeks. I got a black one and a white one. I hear they last longer if you store them vertically, but I’m too lazy. Either way, when one breaks, you want a backup. Getting 2 of these and 2 batteries will actually mean you have 2 working e-cigarettes. Great for couples.
The "meat" of your e-cigarette sandwich. This is where the magic happens, and it's only $7.
Next up: Power:
- Power: A battery. A good price is $10. You want to have 2 on hand at all times, so you can use one while charging the other. Most batteries automatically activate when you suck on the e-cig. Some batteries require you push a button. I’d avoid these; they sound like way more work. Also, you get to choose the color of the light on the end. I recommend a blue — it makes it obvious that you’re not smoking. The orange/fire colored ones don’t make it as obvious, and could confuse people.
Try to only use these when you're "out"; use a USB passthrough when you're at home. $10.
- Power: A battery charger. Obvious. A good price is $8 for a wall charger, and $3 for a USB charger. I prefer the ones that plug into your wall, not your computer. You want them to work anywhere. $5 extra is worth that versatility.
This particular one isn't the cheapest price, but it's the best picture. $8.
- Power: A USB passthrough. A good price is $10. Hook this up to your computer or other USB power source. Great hits; no “dying battery weak hits”. Batteries supposedly only last for 2 or 3 months of use, so this decreases your battery use and saves you a lot of money. Plus, your computer is helping deliver a drug to your bloodstream!!! That’s a technological milestone. The current best deal I’ve found is at Rocky Mountain Vapor. They have free shipping on orders over $14, but I have gotten free shipping on their $10 USB passthroughs twice now. The chrome one definitely looks cooler, but the black one is more conforming to the DSE901 look.Note that if you don’t sit close to your USB port, you may want to order a 5′ USB extension cable. We ordered 5 recently, and ended up using them all for various purposes [webcams, wireless keyboard receivers, etc]. We just ordered another 4. NewEgg has some sweet deals if you get 5 or so. Otherwise, shipping is half your cost.
This is what you want. A battery *substitute*, not charger. $10.
This is NOT what you want. This is a *charger*. You're still using a battery this way. They are $5 cheaper than wall chargers, but you're still shit outta luck if your battery dies, and you will lose the $5 you saved by burning through your batteries faster.
- Power: I don’t have one, but some people opt for a personal charger. Carolyn’s brother has one. It is, basically, a charger that you charge to charge your batteries. It often is made to look like a pack of cigarettes, and has several slots for batteries. It holds more power than a single battery can possibly hold — it holds enough to recharge batteries several times, without having to find an electrical outlet. Of course you still have to charge this charger, but it increases the total amount of power you can carry. Videogame players think of it as a power-up. D&D players think of it as a bag of holding.
Next: The Drug:
- The drug: Nicotine cartridges. A good price is 25 to 60 cents. They come with nicotine usually, but sometimes they are also “blank”. It is basically a mouthpiece with a bit of Zippo-lighter-like wick in it. I am interested in finding a wholesale source for these wicks, as they get destroyed faster than the mouthpiece. I’d rather put a new wick in than pay another 30 cents for another mouthpiece that will fill up a landfill. I’m cheap, environmentally conscious (to some extent) and a do-it-yourselfer. I’ve actually used 2 cartridges for 2 e-cigarettes for well over 2 weeks without issue. There are some teeth marks in them. Eventually, I’ll throw them away. I’d like to find 100 blank cartridges for less than 25 cents apiece. If anyone finds that deal, let me know.
This is what goes in your mouth, and is where you drip your liquid nicotine into once they are empty.
True connoisseurs will want to make their own mixes, and drip them into cartridges rather than buying new ones:
- The drug: Liquid nicotine. Rather than buying a new 30-to-60 cent cartridge for every few hours of use, get liquid nicotine to drip onto the wick. MUCH cheaper. Generally speaking, you want to find the highest concentration of nicotine as is possible, in order to minimize the amount of money you spend. The current best deal I could find is $30 for 30mL of 39mg/mL nicotine from Totally Wicked E-Liquid That’s 1,170 milligrams of nicotine! American cigarettes contain 9mg of nicotine, but you burn off so much that you only get 1mg per cigarette. By those numbers, this is 1,170 cigarettes for $30. That’s 2.5 cents a cigarette. There’s simply no way to beat that. And the deal gets sweeter if you order 5 bottles at time.
Do not inhale fumes. Do not touch to skin. If it gets on your hand, wipe it on your jeans right away. You DON'T want to absorb this through your skin!
- Custom Mixes: LorAnn flavorings. Create your own flavors and blends. Have fun. These are $1 at Wal-Mart, though please don’t shop at Wal-Mart. The selection is actually greater than most peoples’ imaginations. And of course you can mix: I’ve already mixed my chocolate mint with marshmallow to get Mint S’mores.
I've tried 6 flavors so far, and like them in this order: Strawberry-Kiwi, Caramel, Marshmallow, Cinnamon Roll, Cotton Candy, Chocolate Mint. This order is totally different for eating than for vaping. Chocolate Mint and Cotton Candy weren't as good as I had hoped.
- Custom Mixes: Glycerine. Use it to cut your liquid nicotine so it lasts longer, plus it makes more vapor / more “throat hits” / more cool-looking “smoke”. A good price is $5. It’s a cooking agent, so you can find it at craft stores, Wal-Mart, and such. Some people prefer propelyne glycol. I know nothing about that.
"Restores consistency of icing colors." Or liquid nicotine vapor!
- Custom Mixes: 50mL dripper bottles. About 50 cents each. We have 6 for our 6 blends. Honestly, I wish I’d gotten about 10. Even if you stop using an e-cig, these can come in handy later for cooking and such. (But dear god, clean them out THOROUGHLY if you are going them for cooking — nicotine is very toxic!)
I recommend pretending you're a mad scientist.
If you travel, you’ll need a case:
- Carrying case: Some people opt to spend $20 or $30 on a carrying case. Just use a Crown Royal bag, dummy! For your health. Also, it’s helpful to carry a set of tweezers in your case. If you re-use cartridges, eventually that cotton’s gonna fall out. And you really want to avoid touching liquid nicotine as much as possible.
No, NOT LIKE THAT, idiot!
QUICK! TELL ME WHAT TO DO SO I CAN BE JUST LIKE YOU!! WHAT ARE THE CURRENT BEST DEALS??
1) Get a couple batteries (and a charger), a couple atomizers, and some cartridges from ArloECig. The guy kicks ass and is very fast. I mis-ordered and informed him of my mistake 5 minutes later. He had already packaged it up, but removed the item and gave me store credit. Swell guy from Texas.
2) Get e-juice and dropper bottles from Totally Wicked E-Liquid. 39mg/mL concentration e-liquid is hard to come by, but they consistently have it.
3) Get a USB passthrough from Rocky Mountain Vapor. Even though they say free shipping on orders over $14, I’ve ordered a $10 passthrough twice and been charged no shipping. You. can’t beat that price.
You’re good to go for a bit. In fact, you can assemble two e-cigs with these parts. But you still need to achieve flavor mastery:
4) Shop local for your glycerine and LorAnn flavorings – Try Wal-Mart, or craft stores that sell cake supplies. Flavorings are pretty cheap online, but it’s the shipping that kills. Wal-Mart’s price is, of course, the best price I’ve seen. But your selection will be greater online, so make your own choice. If you stop using e-cigarettes, you can still use these to cook with!
5) Celebrate with a bottle of Crown Royal from your local liquor store – then save the bag it comes in.
**** One final tip: WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH e-cigarette-mart.com … In fact, you are best to steer clear of anything outside of America or the UK. Especially anything from China, Hong Kong, or Asia in general. You also don’t have to deal with the possibility FDA seizures, though there were only a few weeks that they did that. (And that’s likely how I lost my stuff from Hong Kong. The idiots made me pay shipping both ways to replace a warranted item too. I had to file a paypal complaint. I recovered about $10 of $30+ wasted dollars. It took 4+ months to resolve.) (more…)