August 2016

A Newbie’s Guide to Vape Gear Life

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By IAN JONES

For many of us, vaping is less of a way to quit smoking and more of a full-time hobby. Who can resist the appeal of vapemail or checking out the latest products at your local vape shop? This inevitably leads to a stockpile of equipment and juice.

At the same time, the surge in anti-vaping laws mean we’re looking at months, or even years, of upheaval, so it’s even more tempting to hoard vape gear in case the worst happens. With this in mind, it’s worth knowing how long they will last.

Here’s our guide to the lifespan of most vaping products, with tips on how to make them last even longer.

Box Mods and Batteries

Often the most expensive part of any vaping set-up, the mod is the engine that powers your vape.

Fixed Battery Mods – Mods such as the popular Eleaf iStick 50w come with built-in internal batteries so when they reach the end of their natural life they cannot be replaced. They usually work well for 300-500 charge cycles, which means they should last for 1-2 years if recharged every day.

Removable Battery Mods – If longevity is a priority, consider a box mod with replaceable batteries, such as the Sigelei 150TC. If well-maintained, these boxes should last many years. Batteries will last around a year if charged daily, but make sure you buy a good quality charger that won’t overcharge your batteries, such as the Nitecore D-series. Also consider the design of the mod. Products such as the Smok Cube II might look impressive, but if that complicated circuit board gets soaked with juice it could mean an expensive repair bill.

Mechanical Mods – Mech mods have no wires or circuitry so there are much fewer points of failure than with standard box mods. Replacement parts are widely available if anything breaks, making them more cost effective than standard mods. However, these are unregulated so require a good knowledge of battery safety. These should only be used by experienced vapers.

Tank Systems

Most tanks are fairly sturdy and can last many years. However, it’s worth being aware of certain weak points.

Glass Tank – The glass part of any tank is the most vulnerable. Drop your kit and you could be dealing with a sharp, sticky mess. You can buy replacement parts, but prevention is always better than cure. To paraphrase Beyoncé: if you like it, put a rubber vape ring on it. These can be picked up from most vape shops and will help protect your tank.

Connector – Most modern tanks use the 510 connector, with some older set-ups using an eGo connection, but the main weakness is the same. Constantly removing the tank risks wearing away the threads, making it unusable. There are ways of fixing this, such as using a small bit of cardboard to fasten the connections, but it’s best to stop it before it happens. Reduce the strain on the connections by using a top-fill tank, such as the Aspire Cleito.

O-Rings – A worn-out O-Ring can cause tanks to leak. Keep a selection of spare o-rings and replace when your current ones start to look run-down. Again, try not to dismantle your tank often as this can wear them away.

Drip Tip – A well-made drip tip should last for many years. Avoid fragile glass tips and cheap plastic versions as they can absorb flavors, it’s best to stick with stainless steel.

Stock Coils

The lifespan of coils is an ever-present question, and there’s no clear-cut answer. Here are some key factors when it comes to determining the working life of your coils.

Usage – An obvious factor is how often you vape. If you chain vape at high wattage, even the toughest coils will quickly wear out. Be careful to avoid dry hits as this burns the cotton inside the coil, dramatically reducing its effectiveness.

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Juice – Another important element. If you prefer creamy flavors or e-juice with lots of sweetener, this will clog up your coil sooner than other types of e-juice, making it harder to heat and muting the taste.

Type – The physical size of the coil is a good indicator. The huge quad-core coils for the TFV4 can last for weeks, while the relatively small coils for the Aspire Nautilus generally only last a few days. Ceramic coils are known to last longer than the standard cotton type and might be worth trying.

Stock – The onward march of vape technology means that your favorite coils could one day become obsolete.

Personal Taste – Your own tastes play a major part. Some people switch coils as soon as the flavor becomes slightly muted, while others are happy to vape until the cotton turns completely black.

Rebuildables

Clearly, tanks and stock coils come with numerous longevity issues. If you want a stash that will stand the test of time, it’s time to look at rebuildables. Whether an RTA, RDA or RBA, there’s no reason these shouldn’t last indefinitely, providing you have enough wire and cotton.

Wick – Much like stock coils, the lifespan of the cotton wick depends on your style of vaping. But in this case, it’s a simple matter of removing the old wick and adding a new one. And as the cotton industry isn’t likely to go out of business anytime soon, this is ideal for anyone thinking long-term.

Wire – The type of wire you use to build coils is important. Kanthal is most common, and can usually be dry-burned to scrub away any gunk. If you use temperature control on your mod, nickel or titanium coils can’t be dry burned, but do tend to last longer as they don’t apply extreme heat to the juice.

E-Liquid

The natural life of e-liquid can vary dramatically depending on the ingredients and how it is stored. While some e-liquids degrade over time, others can improve.

Storage – Direct sunlight and heat are the enemies of e-liquid. Store all your e-liquid in a dark place at room temperature, and they’ll last much longer. Seal tightly so the flavor molecules don’t evaporate.

Nicotine – Nicotine darkens over time, explaining why that 12mg e-juice you had lying around is now a strange dark colour. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gone bad, but it might take on an unpleasant peppery taste. It isn’t dangerous, but probably isn’t worth vaping.

Ingredients – Depending what flavors are used, e-juice can become muted over time. If your liquid is heavy on creams and sweetener it’s likely to go bad sooner than light fruit blends. Conversely, these heavy complex juices often benefit from steeping, where juice can take on improved flavors when left for weeks. The best way is to smell it — if it has no aroma or smells bad, ditch it. Other additives can have unpredictable effects on e-liquid. Citric Acid can add tartness but the effect fades after a few days.

DIY Supplies – The DIY route is recommended for anyone wanting build a cheap stock of juice but there are a few simple measures to take. PG and VG are fairly stable, though best kept out of direct sunlight. Nicotine degrades over time so store it safely in a freezer in clearly-labelled amber bottles. The lifespan of flavors varies, but store in a cool dark place for best results.

Conclusion

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to the lifespan of vape items but keep in mind that these are just guidelines. There are many variables that can impact on how long your gear and e-liquid lasts, and the most important of all is personal taste. If your set-up works for you and tastes good, that’s all that matters.