(And Open Thread, but that won't fit in the title. Don't feel you need to restrict the subject to e-cigs!)
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This diary is a bit of a pause in the middle of the item explanation to explain a few of the differences between e-cigs and smoking, and also how to use all the fancy new stuff you just got (plus some warnings). I'll spare a word for battery lifespan improvements and best-usage as well.
These Aren't Waterproof!
On the surface, this sounds like a ridiculously obvious statement. After all, neither was your lighter or cigarette pack. The difference here is that one mistake can ruin a battery that would have served you for months yet.
This also has to do with the fact that, unlike your cigarette, this has a liquid-filled cartomizer or other device at the end of it. Those can leak, and sometimes do, and that fluid flowing into the battery can kill it. Always keep an eye out for leaks and remove the cartomizer or tank if a leak becomes apparent.
Single-drop leaks from a cartomizer or tank can simply be swabbed away. These generally won't damage your battery, and almost all batteries are leak-resistant.
If your device does get wet, you can place it in front of a fan or in a bag of dried rice until it's thoroughly dry, then try it.
So What's This Stuff?
The most basic kit will include:
* Your battery or batteries. They're long and skinny (in most cases) and probably heavier than you thought they'd be.
* A charger. For cigarette look-alikes, this tends to be a small device that plugs in and has a screw at the other end (chargers are sometimes two-piece with a USB connection between the plug-in and charger). To charge your electronic cigarette, simply screw the battery onto the charger. In most cases, the tip will light while charging and go out when charging is complete.
Other chargers are common, however, so consult your manual if you have any questions!
* Liquid delivery device, in most cases a cartomizer for a new user. This is about the size of a cigarette filter, and has a screw tip on one end and a plastic insert at the other.
* Manual, warranty, and other paperwork. Please at least scan the manual for any unusual characteristics of your system.
Let's Get Started!
Hold on there, bucko. Lithium batteries are usually shipped at 40% charged as this is the best charge level at which to store them. Lithium is odd in that it stores best at partial charge. Fully charged and fully discharged batteries age faster.
While this isn't a barrier to trying things out, you won't have the best initial impression. It's wise to allow your batteries to charge fully before use. Set up your charger now and plug in/screw in/charge however it charges. Then continue reading to kill some time.
If you plug in your electronic and the light goes out almost immediately, the company probably charged your electronic just before shipment.
Chargers will vary widely in how quickly they charge the battery, and slower chargers are often better and less stressful on the battery. Recharging of cig-alikes usually takes approximately 3 to 5 hours from completely drained, or a safe and conservative recharge rate.
OK, Now Let's Get Started!
Great, your battery is charged (or you're cheating and using a partially charged one, which is fine--just realize it's not quite optimal).
I'm presuming you purchased already filled cartomizers.
Open the package of cartomizers and remove one. If it's in plastic (some are), open that and remove the cartomizer. Most cartomizers will have rubber or flexible plastic coverings at both ends. Remove those--and don't lose them or throw them out! Called "condoms," these are like gold and very useful when refilling cartomizers (see Electronic Cigarettes #1) to keep them from drying out before use.
Don't unwrap all your cartomizers right now or, if you do remove the plastic, don't remove the condoms. If you already removed the condoms, just put them back on.
Putting It Together
See the metal end of the cartomizer? That goes on the metal end of the electronic cigarette. Line them up and screw it on. Don't over-tighten, there's no need. Once you feel resistance and the cartomizer no longer rotates at a touch, you should be fine. If not, you can tighten down a bit more later.
There are two central posts, one on the battery and one on the cartomizer. Over tightening can push one post, the other, or both away from each other. This usually won't be an issue on the cartomizer you're using, but the next one may not make proper contact. If this happens, you can use a pin to pry the posts up slightly (be very careful not to raise the post too much and unseat it).
Next...oh. Wait. That's it. You're done. That was easy.
Your First Puff
You are no longer smoking. In addition to the cheering you hear going on, this also means that the method of use changes a little bit.
If the section below is confusing the first time you read it, try performing the parts that are obvious to you. Trust me, you'll come up with your own method very quickly, and it'll probably work better for you than the one I'm discussing.
Using your tongue and cheeks, s...l...o...w...l...y draw vapor from the cartomizer into your mouth. For most people, a three to seven second draw is optimal for them.
Hold it for a moment (a moment defined as half a second to five seconds). Your mouth, tongue, and upper throat are doing most of the absorption of nicotine using an e-cigarette, not your lungs, so this is what will curb your cravings for a cigarette.
Inhale the vapor if you wish to. Some inhale normally, as I do, some French inhale through the nose, some don't inhale at all. A few perform a partial inhale and exhale through the nose, creating a visual I call "The Broody Dragon." I'm doing that as I type this.
Eject the vapor any way you like. Additional nicotine absorption will take place if you nose-exhale, but that isn't necessary.
Why Not Like A Cigarette?
You don't expect your hair dryer to dry your hair instantly, or your stove to instantly boil water because they can't output that much heat all at once. Similarly, the resistor in the cartomizer can only output so much heat at once and turn so much liquid to steam.
Some people do fast inhale, but the vapor stream tends to be cold and limited. A slower inhale increases the amount of time the cartomizer has to turn liquid to steam.
Can I Direct Lung Inhale?
Technically, yes, although most beginning users don't care for this method as it tends to irritate the throat and lungs and lead to coughing fits.
The two-stage draw method outlined above works better at first for most people. But of course, experiment to find what works for you.
Direct inhale will help during severe cigarette cravings from what I found, but isn't something I often do.
It Started Fine, But Now It's Getting Weak
Your battery is probably running out of power (or your cartomizer is getting low). Most cigarette look-alikes don't moderate the battery power and output voltage at the voltage of the battery. Lithium batteries start at 4.2 volts, drop rapidly to 3.7, and then drop to around 3.2 to 3.3 before the electronics will no longer activate the e-cig.
You can always feel free to change to your other electronic cigarette and charge the current one. This constant changing, even if you're tolerant of the low-voltage end, is the primary reason most people move on to a larger, moderated battery.
Low cartomizer is covered in the next section.
Started Fine, Now Nothing
Your electronic cigarette could be out of power, or your cartomizer could be empty. You'll quickly learn to tell when your cartomizer is running low, but at first it's tough to figure that one out!
Stand in front of a mirror and draw. If the light at the end of the e-cig is blinking, you've run out of power. Put the cartomizer on a new e-cig and vape on.
If the light is constant your cartomizer is probably out of liquid. Change cartomizers.
When you know your e-cig is charged but the vapor seems thin, your cartomizer is probably running low. Most of us toss those into the refill pile.
Charging Best Practices
I'm going to mostly ignore perfect treatment of a lithium battery as it's beyond what any of us would ever bother to do or could ever do. At home, I do try to be as perfect as possible but I don't do very well at it.
Charge Before Empty
Lithium batteries dislike being fully discharged (although they're tolerant of this condition). From full to empty every time, the typical electronic can be recharged 200 to 400 times (most people just say 300).
From half full to full, that number more than triples. 3 times 0.5 equals 1.5, so your batteries will last half again as long if you only discharge them halfway.
The shallower the discharge before charging, the longer they last, and that is always to your advantage on battery life. However, your own life will intervene! Don't be afraid to fully discharge a battery if you have to because you're out, about, or just forgot. Life happens.
No electronic (with the extremely unusual exception of the manual mod) will allow you to discharge the lithium battery fully, so you always have a slight advantage on charging compared to fully-discharged batteries. Additionally, fully discharged lithium batteries present a danger, another reason it's never allowed.
Keep 'Em Cool But Not Too Cool
If you're comfortable in a sweater to summer gear, so is your electronic. Lithium batteries dislike storage in overly hot conditions, so don't leave your e-cig behind in your car in the summer sun.
The liquid in your cartomizer will become thicker in very cold weather, so storage in your internal pocket is usually desirable. Additionally, vapor production from a cold cartomizer will be weak as the resistor has to raise the liquid temperature much further. Most of us find our pants pockets to be sufficiently warm storage even during the coldest winter mornings.
Cartomizers won't freeze until at least -35° F (pretty close to -35 C), so there's no danger of bursting if stored in a cold car, even in most of Canada, overnight during the winter. Even if colder, the solid is smaller than the liquid and will merely require time to thaw.
Lithium batteries can be stored at similar temperatures (down to -40 F or C), and cold non-condensing storage is preferable if batteries are not intended for immediate use.
But What's Perfect?
Always keep your lithium battery at an internal voltage of 3.7 to 3.8 when in use, at the coldest workable temperature possible, do not expose to impacts, and store wrapped in the freezer at 3.6 volts if long-term storage is required.
That's why I advised not to worry too much about it. The battery isn't terribly expensive, and it's there to serve you, not the other way around.
|Who's Your Li'l Buddy?
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