The evolution of different types of vapes has brought a number of varying devices to the market in a relatively short period of time.
From the original cig-a-like e-cigarettes to the highly complex and customizable box mods used by competitive and professional vapers - yes, really, that’s a thing - innovation in vape technology has proven that the vape industry means business.
All vape devices share a few key similarities. They all have some sort of battery, whether internal or removable, an atomizer to heat the e-liquid and turn it into vapour, and a tank of some sort to hold the e-liquid.
We’ve broken down the wide range of vape kits and devices into 4 major categories: Cig-a-likes and vape pens, mods, pods, and disposables.
Cig-a-likes and Vape Pens
Cig-a-likes are the most simplistic of the 4 vape devices and were some of the first products developed in the vape market. They are small and resemble real cigarettes.
Most e-cigarettes have a battery, cartomizer, and an LED light to mimic the lit end of a cigarette. They are generally draw-activated with no button to press.
Instead of having separate atomizers and flavour cartridges, most cig-a-likes have a cartomizer that combines the two aspects into one. In disposable cig-a-likes, the cartomizer is swapped out when it is empty, whereas refillable cartomizers can be reused. However, refillable cartridges require you to replace the wicking material once it is used up.
Cig-a-likes are good devices for first-time vape users as they are simple and easy to use and inexpensive compared to more complex devices. Cig-a-likes tend to have a lower wattage resulting in a cooler vape experience but that also produces less vapour than pens, pods, and mods.
The batteries on cig-a-likes are similar to vape pens and usually charge through a 510 thread charger or a micro-USB cord. The cartridges, like pods, offer a hassle-free, user-friendly experience plus the added bonus of not having to carry e-juice.
The main drawbacks of cig-a-likes are their short battery life due to the small size of the battery component to remain similar in size to real cigarettes, and the limited range and availability of replacement pre-filled cartomizers. As pens and pod devices have grown in popularity, the demand and production of cig-a-like products have decreased significantly.
Vape pens are visually very similar to cig-a-like devices. The main differences stem from the larger and more powerful battery component that allows for longer battery life and higher wattages. Many vape pens also come with safety features like 10-second shut-offs to safeguard against accidental activations.
Most vape pens have relatively similar rechargeable batteries with a firing button, battery indicator, and a microchip inside that runs the safety shut-off. More advanced pens also have wattage and temperature controls.
Vape pens, like cig-a-likes, are quite easy to use and highly portable. They come in a variety of sizes and colours allowing you to customize your vape experience. Compared to cig-a-likes, vape pens produce larger vapour production with more pronounced flavours and have longer battery life.
Vape mods are the most powerful and complicated category of vape devices. The term mod comes from the modifications that early vape groundbreakers would make to flashlights in order to produce previously unseen levels of cloud production.
Modern mods are much more sophisticated than the devices created out of necessity and ingenuity in the early days of vaping, but the goal is still the same: bigger, denser vapour.
Mod devices are either regulated with an added circuit board that regulates the device's safety features as well as the customization of temperature, wattage, and voltage or unregulated with no added safety or customization methods. Unregulated mods are NOT for beginners as they are the most difficult to effectively use and pose a risk to the user. They should only be used by highly experienced vapers.
Most mods that you will encounter will be regulated, but it’s always good to double-check before you buy.
Regulated mods have safety features such as short circuit protection to prevent a short circuit from firing the device and damaging the battery, overcharge and discharge protection that prevents the device from firing when the device is overused or overcharged, and thermal protection to keep the battery from overheating.
Mods often include advanced features such as temperature control, variable voltage, and wattage that allow you to adjust the intensity of the flavour, throat hit, and the amount of vapour production.
The other main distinction in the world of vape mods is tube vs box mods. Tube mods fall in with the vape pen-style mods discussed above. Within this category is another split between clearomizers and sub-ohm vape tanks.
Most 510 threaded prefilled cartridges are clearomizers while sub-ohms are generally larger, more globe-like tanks. While there are refillable clearomizers, there are no prefilled sub-ohm tanks.
Box mods generally only use sub-ohm tanks. While there are some box-shaped devices that take clearomizer cartridges, they are more closely related to vape pens or pod devices than the powerful and highly customizable box mods.
These devices have the most battery power, offer the greatest level of personalization, and produce the largest and most dense vapour production. Many of these devices have LED screens that show things like battery life, temperature, wattage, voltage, airflow, and even a puff counter.
In general, mods and box mods, in particular, are not the greatest choice for beginners as they are complex, bulky, and expensive. However, if you’ve used other pens or tube mods and are looking to step up your cloud production game, then it might be time to invest in a box mod.
Mods are also a good choice if you are looking to move to lower levels of nicotine as they most commonly use freebase e-liquids that have a lower nicotine strength. This is the tradeoff for more vapour production, but if that’s not a factor in your decision, the lower nicotine levels of freebase could certainly be a reason to go with a mod system.
Pods, or pod mods, are the newest type of vape. They combine the simplicity and mess-free ease of use of cig-a-likes prefilled cartridges with a longer-lasting low wattage battery as well as an overall improved vaping experience thanks to the use of nicotine salt-based e-liquid.
Similar to cig-a-likes, pod vapes come as either closed or open pod systems. Open pod systems can be manually refilled with your choice of nicotine salt e-liquid an average of 4 to 5 times.
Closed pods are disposable vape cartridges that cannot be opened and refilled. They offer the greatest level of convenience, but there are concerns about the environmental impact of disposable pods.
Fortunately, STLTH pods can be recycled at hundreds of locations across Canada. Pods are collected at these locations and sent to our facility where they are sorted and shipped out to our recycling partner, keeping them out of landfills.
Vape pods are best suited to new vape users, especially if you have switched to vaping from cigarettes. Pods offer a higher strength of nicotine thanks to the nicotine salt e-liquid and the user-friendly setup makes the transition as smooth as possible. Pod devices come in both draw and button-activated styles, and while there are pros and cons to both, it ultimately comes down to personal preference.
While pod devices tend to have a shorter battery life than mods, they are generally on par with most vape pens for longevity and vapour production. However, the quality of vape pods and devices can vary greatly, so it’s important to find a brand that you trust.
STLTH pods are made right here in Canada using the highest quality e-liquids to deliver the most realistic flavours and best possible vaping experience. Our line of 18 STLTH pod flavours are specially crafted by world-class flavour scientists to deliver exceptional taste in every draw.
Additionally, our new STLTH X line of pods features 20 newly designed flavours with improved storage for greater leak protection, a redesigned mouthpiece for greater airflow, and increased atomizer optimization for larger cloud production, as well as an upgraded e-liquid formula for the optimal flavour experience.
Disposable vapes follow much the same principle as cig-a-likes with the exception being that the entire unit gets replaced when it is empty and the charge is gone.
The battery unit of disposable vapes is precharged to coincide with the amount of e-liquid that is stored within. The puff count of a disposable vape gives an approximate idea of how many times the device can be used before the contents and charge are depleted. This count can range from as low as 300 to as high as 5,000.
One of the major draws of disposable vapes is their convenience. This also makes them ideal if you are looking to move away from cigarettes but are unsure if transitioning to vaping as a means of quitting tobacco is right for you. There is no upfront investment in batteries, devices, and liquids that you aren’t sure you’ll even use.
After you’ve tried a few disposable vapes to get the feel for it, if you decide to use vaping as a way to help stay away from tobacco, then you might want to look into getting a pod system before too long. While disposables are a great, low-cost way to try things out, in the long run, they are more expensive than pods, which offer nearly the same level of convenience with a rechargeable battery.
The other issue that arises with disposables is the waste they generate, and not just the volume, but the type of waste as well. Disposable vapes use lithium batteries similar to those used in your phone, laptop, and even in electric vehicles. Tossing valuable materials like that into a landfill is, quite frankly, a tragedy.
Proper disposal of disposable vapes will depend greatly on your individual municipality, but in Toronto, for example, they cannot be placed in either the regular garbage or your blue bins as the batteries inside make them hazardous waste. They can be dropped off at a designated recycling centre in your area, but even these facilities are struggling to know what to do with the increase in wasted disposable vapes.
So, while these are a great option if you’re just trying things out, want to have a few on hand just in case, or prefer the convenience of a smaller, self-contained device for travel, in the long run, pods and open system mods are much better for the planet and your wallet.