Electronic cigarettes are far, far cheaper than analog cigarettes if you know enough about them. Run a search on your favorite search engine, and what you’ll find is a list of small businesses hawking their wares, and not much real information.
In my first blog post about electronic cigarettes, I mentioned our first electronic cigarettes came from the 7-11 around the corner from our home. The brand they sell is ExhaleO2. Their starter kits sell for about $20 and include a charger, an atomizer, a battery, and several cartridges. Most electronic cigarettes have the same components.
The photograph above shows the Xhaleo2 atomizer. It screws directly into the battery on one end and the delicate mesh structure (it’s hard to see in this picture) on the other end of the atomizer is pushed into the cartridge where it comes in contact with the e-liquid (also known as e-juice). Its job is to convert the e-liquid into water vapor that is inhaled through the cartridge.
The atomizer is as essential as it is delicate, and cheap atomizers like the one above are fairly short-lived, but buying the Xhale02 reduces your initial investment so you don’t have to worry so much about breaking parts as you learn how to use them. We used the Xhaleo2 e-cigarette for about a month before moving on to a higher quality maker. Be prepared for some trial, error, and frustration.
The Internet contains much information about how to clean atomizers, and no one seems to agree. Isopropyl alcohol baths are recommended by some, followed by a period of drying; whereas others claim it’s harmful to allow your atomizer to become dry. I’ve tried several methods, including immersion in rubbing alcohol, but the best method seems to be simply blowing out the atomizer. Place the screw end to your lips and blow into a paper towel. E-juice should fly out and land on your paper towel. Dispose of the paper towel carefully.
Nicotine is a drug and a poisonous one at that. Do not leave the paper towel out for your children or pets to find. Stash your cartridges and atomizers out of reach as well. My cat found a cartridge and apparently licked it once. The stuff tastes terrible, fortunately, or she might have continued to lick. She was definitely altered for a few hours and then came out of it, but we were ready to head to the emergency vet if she exhibited more symptoms.
One end of the battery, shown above, is screwed into the atomizer. The other end contains a light, and when you take a drag, the light turns on. It turns off again when the gadget is idle. When the battery runs out of power, the light flashes. Typically one can tell when the battery is running out of power because the e-cigarette isn’t producing much vapor.
Batteries are rechargeable. Xhaleo2 e batteries are charged using a USB plug. Just screw the battery into the charger and plug the charger into a USB port on your computer. Batteries typically take less than an hour to charge, and charges last several hours when they are new. Over time, batteries remain charged for shorter and shorter periods of time. It’s wise to have at least two batteries and one atomizer in rotation, but I strongly recommend having a few new batteries and atomizers at hand for the inevitable failure of the component parts.
Chargers have a small light to show you whether a battery is fully charged again. The light is red or orange when the charge is not complete, and it turns green when the battery is fully charged.
This brand of e-cigarettes employs only prefilled cartridges, which is what makes this particular gadget more expensive to use than I’m willing to pay. The cartridges are a little bit misleading. They are the size of the average cigarette filter, but within the cartridge itself is another smaller plastic container that holds some kind of foam or fiber and a small amount of e-liquid. The container within the container is about a quarter the size, which means it doesn’t hold much e-liquid.
Seven-Eleven markets the ten-cartridge refill packs saying they are equivalent to a carton of cigarettes. My sense is that the refill packs are nowhere near comparable to a carton; however, cartons of cigarettes are far more expensive at around $45 while the 10-pack of cartridge refills costs just $15.
Cartridges for the Xhaleo2 come in just two flavors: mint and regular, where regular means tobacco flavored.
Coming up: Delving into better e-cigarettes and the big, exciting world of e-juice.