Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Not only is vaping 90% better for your health than smoking - it also turns shameful addiction into sheer, flavourful pleasure

This time last year, I was convinced that any e-cigarette user who vaped anything other than tobacco-flavoured juice from anything other than a device that looked like a cigarette (i.e. a cigalike) was a pretentious ponce. During the past week I've used my JACVapour ego/pen style vaporiser and my chunky Aspire Nautilus box mod to switch between rich, dark custardy flavours from Vapemate and delightfully sweet fruit mixtures such as Bat Juice, Vamp Toes, Blackjack and Pinkman (the best of the lot) from Vampire Vape. I have become a flavour-chaser to such an extent that there are days when I forget that I'm actually pumping nicotine into my system every time I press the button that activates the coil which turns the liquid into vapour (I'm on an 18ml nicotine mixture, which is 2ml below the maximum allowed under EU rules).

If you offered me a cigarette or a cigar, I would have no problem in resisting the urge - mainly because the urge isn't there any more (or, rather, it's being satisfied by other means). As for the tobacco-flavoured e-juice I was happily vaping last year, the very thought of it makes me queasy. I found an old bottle of what purported to be Golden Virginia in my stash a few months ago, and - being a waste-not-want-not sort of chap - took a few puffs... and almost barfed.

My conversion to New Man Hipsterdom is now almost complete.  Although the silly hat, shades and a vaporiser shaped like a pipe just aren't going to happen, I'm about to order a DIY kit, which will enable me to create my own e-liquid at home, by mixing the four constituent elements - propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine and flavour concentrate - in the comfort of my own study. This will have three benefits: first, I can experiment in order to find the perfect mixture of throat hit, vapour production and flavour; second, unless I've got my sums wrong, it halves the cost of e-liquid; and, third, I can produce it in any quantity I want and store it in bottles five times the size allowed by the ridiculous new EU Tobacco Products Directive.

I suspect that mixing my own e-liquid will be my final step. I've tried what's called direct-to-lung, sub-ohm vaping - there's no resistance when you inhale, so you draw the vapour straight into your lungs, and, because the process involves a lot of heat, it results in huge, billowing clouds of vape, and I just don't see the point, as I don't want our living room to look and smell like a vape shop. I haven't tried "dripping", where you drip e-liquid directly onto the wick and then take a few puffs so packed with flavour it almost blows your sinuses out: I've seen people doing it on YouTube, and it looks like something you'd do in a crack house. Vaping, like smoking, should be an activity that can be enjoyed while doing other things, rather than an activity in its own right.

I don't feel any great need to start producing my own e-liquid - I was always useless at Chemistry experiments in school - but I assume some bunch of ignorant, anhedonic, busybody left-wing health Nazis will eventually try to tax it out of existence, having at first tried but failed failed to ban the practice altogether, so I want to have the means at hand to keep doing it in samizdat.

I'm just reaching the end of my bottle of Strawberry & Kiwi (rather disappointing) so I must check whether my Rhubarb & Custard - which I've been "steeping" for several weeks to allow the flavour to emerge fully - is ready. If it isn't, I'll treat myself to the dark liquorice tones offered by the sublime Blackjack.


  1. … "unless I've got my sums wrong, it halves the cost of e-liquid": I'm pleased to say you've got your sums wrong, at least in my experience – what costs £7 ready-mixed costs £2 be-your-own-alchemist, which enhances the experience of successes and makes failures negligible cost-wise.

    The nicotine I'm using comes in a 72mg solution. I have to dilute it 18 times to get down to my preferred 4mg.

    As you say, it's the taste. I've gone off using my Kanger AeroTank (roughly equivalent to your Aspire Nautilus) and reverted to kindergarten CE5 clearomisers with dual coil heads. Boys in the Second Form laugh at me but the taste's better.

    1. 4mg/mL? I'm really impressed you've got it down that low. One reason for following your lead and going DIY is so I can experiment with lower nicotine levels.

      That cheap, eh? I'm even more enthused.

      The Nautilus - or Big Bertha - and the Aspire coils that go with it, are really good for gloopy custardy, dessert flavours at 70%VG, while I've upgraded to the more expensive cotton-wick coils for the JACVapour E-series pen vaporiser - they don't last long, but they don't half make fruit zing in the mouth.

      My only objection to using a smaller Nautilus tank would be the sheer bother of having to refill the damn thing several times a day. The 2.5ml JACVapour tank is a doddle to refill, but the Nautilus is a bit of a nightmare (and I have to follow a certain procedure during each refill, or the damn thing floods). I predict all vaporisers will be top-loading within two years, and that someone will have sorted out the flooding problem by then.

      Did you read Hugo Rifkind's Spectator article, "The vaping craze isn't about nicotine. It's about gadgets" in The Spectator last May? Spot on, I thought - especially about vape shops, which I really don't like:

    2. 70% VG?
      I start coughing at 30%.

      Because all the Youtube reviewers recommended it, I bought a UWell Crown tank. That's a top loader. A big one. A lot of eLiquid lost. Back to the CE5 …

      HugoF's article, yes there's an element of boy-toys, reminiscent of discussing Bantam 175s and the benefits of shaft-driven over chain, an element we're enjoying here of course, but it jolly well is about nicotine – try going without!

      JamesD made a very deep comment to the effect that we should bloody well have done with it and smoke, not nancy about, vaping. It's aesthetic. Practically ethical. But then I thought about the money. And the smell. And ... I shall obviously never live up to his high standards.

    3. I thought it was PG that was supposed to make you cough?

      Encouraged by your low nicotine percentage, I've mixed some at 12%. Tastes fine - but I'm vaping twice as much as before. It could be quite a while before I get down to 4% (probably never).

      I've mixed my first four 30ml batches - and it really does taste as good as the ready-made stuff. While I'm totally cack-handed at it, I quite enjoy the "mad scientist" aspect of having to wear latex gloves and fiddling about with syringes and bottles of weird-coloured liquid.