What is vaping? We discuss the anatomy of vape devices.

What is vaping? We discuss the anatomy of vape devices.

A man vaping with a vape device in his hand.

What Is Vaping?

Generally considered a safer alternative to smoking, vaping has garnered massive popularity and patronage over the years. However, many people don’t completely understand what vaping entails or what it seeks to achieve.

People often wonder about this innovative device and ask questions like; how does an e-cigarette work? What is it made from? What does it do to the lungs? Can a vaping device aid smoking cessation? Fortunately, this article answers all these questions and some more. You will get a complete insight into its anatomy, purpose, and health implications.

At a Glance

Vaping is defined as the act or process of inhaling vapor from battery-operated or rechargeable devices which are either disposable or refillable. Essentially, using an e-cigarette is referred to as vaping. There are several types of vaping devices, including E-cigarettes, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), Vapes, Vape pens, and Mods.

Vaping devices heat a liquid solution known as an e-juice or e-liquid to produce an aerosol (vapor) breathed into the lungs. The aerosol is typically made of nicotine, flavourings, and other chemicals that stimulate a sense of smoking. They are structured like pens, pipes, traditional cigars, and even USB memory sticks. Though they sport different designs, they have a similar operation mechanism and are made of identical components.

The Anatomy of Vaping Devices

Generally, E-Cigarettes consist of the following components:

  1. Atomizer
    The atomizer is one of the critical components of a device. It features heat-resistant elements that transform the e-liquid into vapor. The atomizer might be built into the cartridge/tank or separated from the unit, depending on the model.
  2. Cartridge/Tank
    The cartridge/tank serves as the e-liquid’s storage compartment. Though the words vape cartridge and tank are used interchangeably and have the same purpose, they are slightly different; the storage unit of a disposable e-cigarette device is called a cartridge, while that of refillable devices are called tanks.
  3. Battery
    Here is the powerhouse of a vaping device! While there are many options available, lithium-ion batteries are considered the ideal choice because they are rechargeable. Notwithstanding, the best vaping device is one whose battery provides sufficient energy without weighing heavily on the device. This could be an e-cigarette or a non-rechargeable vape. The battery is typically engineered at the end of the machine, where the tobacco sits in a traditional cigarette.
  4. Coils
    The coils are technically part of the atomizer and are also known as “atomizer heads.” When the user presses or switches on the vaping device, the coil functions to heat the aerosol (contained in a wicking material). They are replaceable should they encounter a malfunction.
  5. Wick
    The wick, also referred to as wicking material, serves to draw the e-juice into the coil to be heated and vaporized. The wick is typically constructed from different materials, including mesh, wool, cotton, rayon, and ceramic.
  6. E-liquid/E-juice
    Though the E-juice is technically not considered a part of the vaping device, it is a crucial component that cannot be relegated to the background. This is because it is one of the significant components that produce vapor. Without e-juice, the device can’t deliver vapor. Hence, the e-liquid is poured into the cartridge or tank, where it undergoes vaporization. The E-juice offers different flavours, including menthol vape juice, fruit-inspired, lemon vape juice, and traditional tobacco flavours.

The Use and Health Implications

We have already established that using an e-cigarette is a safer alternative to smoking. It is the go-to aid for smokers who want to minimize or eliminate the unhealthy effects of smoking. But the question is, is vaping harmless? How does it affect the brain and the lungs? Let us find out!

What are the health implications of Vaping?

There is scientific evidence to suggest that vaping is less harmful than conventional cigarettes. As such, individuals who smoke can adopt vaping devices as a healthier alternative to cigarettes and tobacco.

The key phrase here is ‘less harmful?!’ Vaping is considered the “lesser evil” because it is devoid of the infamous tobacco. However, it contains nicotine, which is just as addictive. In fact, a vape cartridge has been found to contain large amounts of nicotine, equivalent to the amount found in 20 cigarettes! So is vaping safe? Using an e-cigarette is not entirely safe and harmless, but it is safer than cigarettes.

How it Affects the Brain

When you inhale the vapour from an e-cigarette, the nicotine content is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it triggers the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline) release. Epinephrine stimulation leads to an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. As it is an addictive substance, nicotine stimulates the brain’s reward circuit and elevates dopamine (a chemical messenger) levels in the brain. Dopamine is known to encourage rewarding behaviours which are pleasurable at best. The resulting pleasure might instigate some people to use nicotine shots multiple times at the expense of their health and well-being.

How it Affects the Lungs

The chemicals contained in e-cigarettes and those produced during the vaporization process often leave residues detrimental to the lungs.

One study showed that vapor contains carcinogens, toxic chemicals, and toxic metal nanoparticles from the device itself. The study also stated that the e-liquid of specific e-cigarettes is abundant in nickel and chromium, which may be derived from the device’s heating element. However, there is a need for more research to determine the actual health effects of long-term exposure to these chemicals.

Can You Quit Smoking with Vaping?

Most people consider vaping a means to quitting smoking — hence its true purpose is to curb nicotine addiction. However, there is no substantial evidence to prove that vaping can aid smoking cessation. Additionally, it is not an FDA-approved quit aid, so this claim is not factual.


While using a vape device or e-cigarette is considered safer to use than traditional combustible cigarettes, there is not sufficient scientific evidence to prove that they are harmless. Additionally, some studies suggest that long-term use is associated with health risks.

Ultimately, vaping side effects are misunderstood. On the whole, it is best to approach vaping with caution as the nicotine content can induce addiction, and the e-liquid may contain potentially toxic substances.

For expert advice, we highly recommend contacting us.